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Almost half of us don't believe in evolution

According to Gallup, 46 percent of Americans do not believe in evolution.

Gallup has been asking this, with same wording, since 1982, and it always comes out pretty much the same, with a plurality of respondents choosing this from among three possible responses:

“God created human beings, pretty much in their present form, at one time within the past 10,000 years or so.”

An alternative response suggests that humans have evolved  from less advanced forms of life but God has guided the process. Thirty-two percent of respondents picked that one.  Fifteen percent said humans had evolved and God had nothing to do with the process.

Gallup has polled the identically worded question 11 times. The biblical answer comes out on top every time, always in the 40s, although it did experience a jump from 40 percent last year to 46 percent this year, but the trend is remarkably stable over 30 years.

The breakdowns are about what you would expect. Frequent church attendees and Republicans are most likely to give the biblical answer, although the gap by party ID isn't as big as I would have guessed.

This graphic is lifted from Gallup's website:

Trend: Which of the following statements comes closest to your views on the origin and development of human beings? 1) Human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God guided this process, 2) Human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God had no part in this process, 3) God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so

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Comments (10)

Now you know

why Mitt Romney has a good chance to become President and the Republicans to maintain control of the MN legislature.

I have heard this before, but

This poll is seriously terrifying, particularly the part about "within the last 10,000 years or so". So dino skeletons are a joke played on us by God? I think we need a LOT more funding for science education. Apparently, a large segment of the American public hasn't been paying attention in class.

It's a very dangerous thing

It's a very dangerous thing to hang your beliefs on provably false concepts.

Faith is belief in the non-proveable.

Faith is not belief in the provably false.

That's called delusion.

This is appalling.

When I was in confirmation class in the 1960's in a very conservative small town, one of the required steps to confirmation was a one-on-one deskside chat with the pastor. He was a pretty humorless and doctrinaire guy and I couldn't imagine what I was going to say to him. I was in the process of doing a report on evolution for science class at the time and I was really into it. Casting about for a conversational topic, I told Pastor Nelson about my research, how exciting I thought it was, and how amazing the process. We both believed that God was guiding it. But I got no pushback---none whatsoever---about the reality of evolution itself.

To think that in the intervening fifty years the willingness of the American people to accept scientific truth has deteriorated to the extent that almost half of us don't believe in evolution is truly alarming. I sure hope we aren't on the brink of a new era of opposition between faith and science, but the signs aren't encouraging.

Appalling, but not a surprise ...

... and not a uniquely American phenomenon either, although that was a bit of a surprise to me.

A poll done for Reuters a year ago involving 24 countries found that 41% considered themselves "evolutionists"; 28% considered themselves "creationists", and 31% didn't know what to believe. What is consistent around the globe is that the more religious the country, the fewer the number of people who believe in evolution, and that is true whether you're talking muslim fundamentalists in Saudi Arabia, or protestant fundamentalists in America. Evolution is most popular in northern Europe and China (few church goers), while creationism is most popular in Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Indonesia, Brazil and the U.S.

While it's tempting to say we have to do a better job of science education (and I suppose we do, for a number of reasons), I'm not sure it would make much difference when it comes to evolution. The simple fact is that traditional and fundamentalist religious teachings do not easily coexist with the theory of evolution (and some other scientific disciplines), and religious people make the choice that produces the least dissonance with their religious beliefs.

Which is one reason I have no use for organized religion. When belief contradicts observable fact, it seems to me that the belief must be modified, or abandoned. Doctrine doesn't allow much in the way of modification, so that reduces the available (logical) choices to just one.

Aquinas pointed out that

Aquinas pointed out that physical science has no bearing on the idea of "being". The God I believe in created the environment that resulted in life. He then allowed every plant and animal to evolve over time--a liberty which maybe is His greatest gift. One of the animals developed the ability to think in the abstract, and has used His example as a guide to good and evil. So the process of evolution, which is accepted by virtually every biologist in the world, does not deny the presence of God.

Scientific illiteracy, the 50 year program

The current assault on scientific literacy began back in the 70 with the Republican "back to basics" push. Reading, writing, and math (the three Rs) were supposed to become the primary focus American education. Science was not in the equation. The whole program has left us with a tattered education program, but there you have it. The fact that Americans have a shockingly weak capacity for critical thought is on the verge of grounding our nation into the ground.

And of course

The people bankrolling this program are cynically getting richer on the products of science (such as geology).
And 'back to basics' was not about doing a better job of reading; simply about cutting educational funding on the grounds that too much of it was wasted on 'irrelevancies'.

Which is why

our lunch is getting eaten economically by countries that value and encourage the study of science.

Wild Card

God is the ultimate wildcard.
If you believe in an omniscient and ultimate deity you can provide an answer to any question.
In this case, God just happened to create fossils such that science would have to find them to be millions of years old, even though the believer -knows- that they are really only a few thousand years old.
This is not an argument against religion; just against applying it literally to all aspects of existence.