Gallup Poll Shows Ignorance of Evolution

The latest Gallup poll on the subject sheds light on how politics and church attendance correlate with thoughts on evolution.

Partisanship

As the Gallup report states:

This suggests that when three Republican presidential candidates at a May debate stated they did not believe in evolution, they were generally in sync with the bulk of the rank-and-file Republicans whose nomination they are seeking to obtain.

Church

No surprise here, either. Many churches think that science can’t be compatible with faith. Though we need to remember not all churches feel this way and there are pastors who know evolution is correct (even if they may believe God directs it).

The poll also tried to explain how some Americans just get confused by the question. How is it possible to believe in both Creationism and Evolution, as some people stated?

Funniest (or saddest, depending on your perspective) chart you’ll see all day:

Confused

As Gallup’s Frank Newport explains:

These results show that:

  • 24% of Americans believe that both the theory of evolution and the theory of creationism are probably or definitely true
  • 41% believe that creationism is true, and that evolution is false
  • 28% believe that evolution is true, but that creationism is false
  • 3% either believe that both are false or have no opinion about at least one of the theories

Without further research, it’s not possible to determine the exact thinking process of those who agreed that both the theory of evolution and creationism are true. It may be, however, that some respondents were seeking a way to express their views that evolution may have been initiated by or guided by God, and told the interviewer that they agreed with both evolution and creationism in an effort to express this more complex attitude.

I wonder what that 3% does believe…

A quarter of our country can’t even pick the right answer on a simple two-question exam, so they picked both answers. And sadly, that’s better than the 41% who just got it plain wrong.

How embarrassing for our country.

These people who don’t believe in (or understand) evolution… why do they hold that view? Gallup asked the open-ended question and got these responses:

%
I believe in Jesus Christ19
I believe in the almighty God, creator of Heaven and Earth16
Due to my religion and faith16
Not enough scientific evidence to prove otherwise14
I believe in what I read in the Bible12
I’m a Christian9
I don’t believe humans come from beasts/monkeys3
Other5
No reason in particular2
No opinion3

So 14% of people hold the only response I could at least understand (though not accept) that there is not enough scientific evidence. Almost everyone else gave a reason that had to do with their religious beliefs.

After writing about all this, PZ Myers raises the “abuse” issue:

Maybe it’s about time that we recognize religious miseducation as child abuse.

I agree.

I wouldn’t go so far as to call all religious education “abuse,” but it’s warranted in this case. To teach a child that evolution is wrong because the child’s family is Christian (or what-have-you) is mental abuse. We wouldn’t accept it in other areas of education; we shouldn’t let it slide in science.


[tags]atheist, atheism, Gallup, Republican, American, Creationism, Evolution, Frank Newport, God, Jesus Christ, PZ Myers, science[/tags]

  • Miko

    I wonder what that 3% does believe…

    Solipism?

  • http://emergingpensees.blogspot.com/ Mike C

    What was it that Mark Twain said about “lies, damn lies, and statistics”? The ambiguity of that Gallup poll just highlights how worthless and unreliable these kinds of surveys can be. How many people just didn’t understand the question? How many define the terms differently than the Gallup people intended? For example, how many believe that God is the Creator but that he used evolution to do it? (and which answer would you pick if that’s what you believe?)

    Generally speaking, you can’t learn what people really think by asking them to answer multiple choice questions or check little boxes. People’s beliefs are always more complicated than that. If you want to know what people think you have to sit down with them an talk to them. Unfortunately this takes longer and is harder to draw on nifty little charts.

  • http://www.livebreatheanddie.com truthteller

    Who did Gallup go to with their survey? My guess is that it was not a reliable cross-section of American society. Other polls have shown that 96% of Americans believe in God. How then, could evolution numbers raise above the teens? Christians are the number one victims of bigotry in the U.S. and around the world. 160,000 Christians will die worldwide this year because of their faith. Those who protest bigotry will give bigotry against Christians a pass……..this is hypocrisy.

    I write about the details at:
    http://www.livebreatheanddie.com

  • http://mollishka.blogspot.com mollishka

    Much funnier if read as “evolution of ignorance.”

    Teaching a child theistic religion as truth (at least, the Abrahamic faiths) is harmful in the child’s development of normal logic and critical thinking skills, regardless of whether or not something as specific as “evolution is evil and wrong” is included in such teachings. How can it possibly be considered “good” to teach a child that reconciling two completely disparate ideas by fiat (e.g., monotheism meets the trinity, or ‘God loves you no matter what, but you have to have faith for it to count’) is something to be valued?

  • http://off-the-map.org/atheist/ Siamang

    I think Dawkins has poisoned the well with his “child abuse” comments, and so I don’t think there’s anything constructive in using the word abuse here.

    The cause of good science education could be better served with its own specific descriptive phrase. I’d call it religious miseducation.

  • Aj

    For example, how many believe that God is the Creator but that he used evolution to do it?

    Then they don’t believe in evolution, and don’t know what evolution is. The God of the gaps resides in the creation of life and the universe. Evolution has no need for a God. Life doesn’t look designed, it looks exactly like it would if it evolved.

    Generally speaking, you can’t learn what people really think by asking them to answer multiple choice questions or check little boxes.

    If they’re honest, the questions are clear, they’re intelligent and knowledgeable enough to comprehend the questions then yes, you can learn what people think. Christopher Hitchens thinks they answer these polls dishonestly, and I agree, people’s actions support evolution, even if their mouths support Jesus.

    Be sceptical of these statistics if you want, but don’t dismiss them unreasonably. If you object to the methodology through reason then I’d enjoy reading it.

    People’s beliefs are always more complicated than that.

    I’ll add that to the list. The truth lies in the middle of an argument, faith is the evidence unseen, and knowledge comes from within. All nonsense.

    People either believe in evolution, don’t believe in evolution, or don’t understand the question/hold no opinion. Their reasons for answering these questions in a certain way can be complex. It’s quite clear that when asked the majority said they didn’t believe in evolution because of religion or faith.

  • Miko

    Then they don’t believe in evolution, and don’t know what evolution is.

    I don’t think there’s any doubt that most of the people who accept evolution don’t really know what it is.

    people’s actions support evolution, even if their mouths support Jesus.

    Again, that’s because people don’t understand the underlying science and technology. Anyone who thinks that they need a flu shot this year even though they got one last year supports evolution, but most of them aren’t aware of the fact. It’s no coincidence that most of the ID crowd have degrees in applied areas of science. They know that the methods work, but don’t have the theoretical background to realize that the methods they use to argue for ID wouldn’t be usable if ID were actually true. Quite ironic, isn’t it?

  • http://off-the-map.org/atheist/ Siamang

    I don’t think there’s any doubt that most of the people who accept evolution don’t really know what it is.

    Well, I do think that they can accept it as a historical process even if they do not understand exactly how that process functions.

    For example, I accept the theory of aerodynamics, even though I couldn’t possibly explain it in any depth.

    I nevertheless reject outright the idea that sparrows are held aloft by the Holy Hand of God.

  • http://olvlzl.blogspot.com/ olvlzl, no ism, no ist

    For example, how many believe that God is the Creator but that he used evolution to do it?

    Then they don’t believe in evolution, and don’t know what evolution is.

    No, you don’t understand that people can accept evolution by natural selection and believe that was the means of a God to bring about creation. Evolution isn’t the property of atheists. There are probably more people who believe in evolution who also believe in a God in the United States than who are atheists (especially if you accept that 3% figure cited here yesterday, I don’t. Mike C’s reservations about polling are accurate.) Lawrence Krauss, cited here earlier today, said last year that it’s not impossible to believe in a God and to also accept science.

    Science is clearly having trouble in the United States. For it to have non-scientific ideologies try to piggy-back on it won’t help.

  • http://olvlzl.blogspot.com/ olvlzl, no ism, no ist

    Oh, I forgot:

    Christopher Hitchens thinks they answer these polls dishonestly, and I agree, people’s actions support evolution, even if their mouths support Jesus.

    What Christopher Hitchens knows about honesty could probably fit quite nicely on the back of a postal stamp.

  • Miko

    No, you don’t understand that people can accept evolution by natural selection and believe that was the means of a God to bring about creation.

    I always get the impression that people who believe this think that natural selection is a natural law. Which, of course, it isn’t.

  • Aj

    No, you don’t understand that people can accept evolution by natural selection and believe that was the means of a God to bring about creation.

    I’m sure they can compartmentalize. If you say that God directed evolution, then you don’t understand what evolution is. Evolution cannot be “used”.

    Evolution isn’t the property of atheists.

    True, you could be an atheist before Evolution was even thought about.

    There are probably more people who believe in evolution who also believe in a God in the United States than who are atheists (especially if you accept that 3% figure cited here yesterday, I don’t.

    They do not believe God “used” evolution. They are either Deists, believe God didn’t get involved in this case, or only invoke God’s hand in the things we have not been able to explain yet.

    Mike C’s reservations about polling are accurate.

    Reasoned argument, please.

    Lawrence Krauss, cited here earlier today, said last year that it’s not impossible to believe in a God and to also accept science.

    It’s not impossible. Depends what God. It requires conceding to scientific discoveries and to accept God only in ignorance.

  • http://olvlzl.blogspot.com/ olvlzl, no ism, no ist

    Aj, who died and made you Darwin?

  • http://olvlzl.blogspot.com/ olvlzl, no ism, no ist

    I always get the impression that people who believe this think that natural selection is a natural law. Which, of course, it isn’t.

    What an interesting idea. I doubt that most of the people who believe in evolution, atheist and religious alike, would have trouble with the distinction. It’s one of the most amazing thing I’ve discovered about this whole argument, how little even professional scientists know about the logical and philosophical basis of science. Thus that childlike scientism, the mention of which got someone here really worked up the other day. If science is in trouble, basic logic is in even worse shape.

  • http://emergingpensees.blogspot.com/ Mike C
    Mike C’s reservations about polling are accurate.

    Reasoned argument, please.

    Three reasons Gallup polls and similar surveys are almost always suspect:

    1) People define words differently than the pollsters do, so while they think they are answering one thing, the polls reflect something entirely different.

    2) Many times a person’s actual views are not fully or accurately reflected in the limited multiple choice options presented in the poll. I don’t know how many times I’ve taken surveys and wanted to answer “all the above”, “none of the above”, or “bits and pieces of each of the above” to the questions.

    3) People just aren’t familiar with the terminology period. They don’t understand the distinctions involved or what exactly is being asked.

    I’m not saying social statistics are entirely worthless, but I always try to take them with a grain of salt and assume that their “margin of error” is much higher than what they actually claim.

  • Mriana

    I think what this study shows is that the Church still has control of what people think, thus has a hand in what they (the Church) believes what people should be learning. I am concerned that we are going backwards with education and if we are not careful, we will be in a second Dark Age. Every country has it’s Dark Age and the U.S. maybe heading that way if we are not careful, esp if the Religious Reich continues to keep it’s hand in politics.

  • Maria

    I wouldn’t go so far as to call all religious education “abuse,” but it’s warranted in this case. To teach a child that evolution is wrong because the child’s family is Christian (or what-have-you) is mental abuse. We wouldn’t accept it in other areas of education; we shouldn’t let it slide in science.

    I agree. Just wanted to say I had religious education and I was taught evolution (in Catholic school, of all places), so it can happen, though unfortunately, as these polls show, not nearly enough. And I do not consider myself absued.

    The cause of good science education could be better served with its own specific descriptive phrase. I’d call it religious miseducation.

    I agree. Not all religious education is “abuse”. While I’m pretty pissed at organized religion, I have to admit I’m getting a little tired of the word “abuse” bandied about for every instance of religious education.

    No, you don’t understand that people can accept evolution by natural selection and believe that was the means of a God to bring about creation. Evolution isn’t the property of atheists. There are probably more people who believe in evolution who also believe in a God in the United States than who are atheists (especially if you accept that 3% figure cited here yesterday, I don’t. Mike C’s reservations about polling are accurate.) Lawrence Krauss, cited here earlier today, said last year that it’s not impossible to believe in a God and to also accept science.

    I agree. Krauss also said that faith is only the enemy when it gets in the way of knowledge. And I agree with him.

  • Mriana

    Christians are the number one victims of bigotry in the U.S. and around the world. 160,000 Christians will die worldwide this year because of their faith.

    This is simply not true, Truthteller. Once again this is the religious screaming that they are victims when they are not. If America really was becoming anti-Christian…

    The slogan would be “there are no Christians in foxholes”.
    then Christianity would just be called a phase.
    you would see that atheism fills that empty hole in your heart.

    For more see:

    Life In Our Anti-Christian America

    It is not true that Christians are being persecuted. They seem to have an upper hand in everything, as well as their hand in the cookie jar- sometimes more than one.

  • http://eclecticsanonymous.wordpress.com Ben

    @Mike C
    The polling figures are pretty much stable, no matter who is doing the polling. Similar polls have been done and gotten simililar results, although argueably not as extreme.

    A Pew Research Poll from 2005 (Page 22) asked the questions differently. The results were similiar: Life has existed in their present form (42%), evolved over time through natural selection (26%), evolved over time guided supreme being (18%). 10% didn’t know or refused the question. Independants showed little difference to Democrats.

    Only 38% of the Democrats versus 51% of Republicans (59% self identified conservative Repbulicans) chose creationism. The numbers flip for guided or unguided evolution (53% Democrats/40% Republicans).

    While I agree, you can skew the results depending on the order and manner in which the questions are asked, the results have remained more or less constant in America for years. Your arguement that people just don’t understand the questions, that the termoinology isn’t understood, doesn’t hold water.

    @All
    My guess for the 3%, FSM!

    I would take offense at the idea that either “many churches think that science can’t be compatible with faith.” or that

  • Maria

    While they are not persecuted here, there are Christians being persectued in other parts of the world, especially in the Middle East, along with Jews and other religious minorities, like the Bahais. This of course does not justify what the religous reich does in this country. I wouldn’t say they are the “number one victims of bigotry though”. Certainly not in the US.

  • http://emergingpensees.blogspot.com/ Mike C

    Just wanted to say I had religious education and I was taught evolution (in Catholic school, of all places)

    Maria, are you aware of the fact that the Catholic Church has long supported the theory of evolution and sees no contradiction between it and the Catholic faith? It’s not unusual at all then that you would have been taught it in your Catholic school.

    Just thought you’d be interested to know. :)

  • http://emergingpensees.blogspot.com/ Mike C

    The polling figures are pretty much stable, no matter who is doing the polling. Similar polls have been done and gotten simililar results, although argueably not as extreme.

    A Pew Research Poll from 2005 (Page 22) asked the questions differently. The results were similiar:

    Ben, since my arguments were against the “multiple choice” methods of typical polls in the first place, I’m not sure that merely changing questions or possible answers or the poll taking company would affect my arguments much.

    While I agree, you can skew the results depending on the order and manner in which the questions are asked, the results have remained more or less constant in America for years. Your arguement that people just don’t understand the questions, that the termoinology isn’t understood, doesn’t hold water.

    This particular set of data may or may not be accurate. I don’t know. My argument wasn’t about this particular set of statistics. I just don’t trust statistics in general. That was my only point.

  • http://acosmopolitan.blogspot.com Anatoly

    The 3% are those folks that say Earth was a giant computer build by trans-dimentional mice to calculate the ultimate question to the answer “42.”

    Not an entirely unreasonable conclusion.

  • http://eclecticsanonymous.wordpress.com Ben

    @Mike C
    The polling figures are pretty much stable, no matter who is doing the polling. Similar polls have been done and gotten simililar results, although arguably not quite as extreme. (There are arguements to be made why it is getting extremer though.)

    A Pew Research Poll from 2005 (Page 22) asked the questions differently. The overall results were similiar: Life has always existed in it’s present form (42%), life evolved over time through natural selection (26%), life evolved over time guided supreme being (18%). 10% didn’t know or refused the question.

    Only 38% of the Democrats versus 51% of Republicans (59% self identified conservative Repbulicans) chose creationism. The numbers flip for guided or unguided evolution (53% Democrats/40% Republicans). Independants showed little difference to Democrats. Since education is one of the major forces driving belief in evolution, if educated, centrist Republicans are switching to independent for reasons political not religous, that might explain the shift.

    While I agree, you can skew the results depending on the order and manner in which the questions are asked, the results have remained more or less constant in America for years. Your arguement that people just don’t understand the questions, that the termoinology isn’t understood, doesn’t hold water.

    @Mico,

    @Aj

    Then they don’t believe in evolution, and don’t know what evolution is. The God of the gaps resides in the creation of life and the universe.

    That is just so – *sputter* – wrong. Start reading about Professor Ken Miller, devote Catholic and frontline defender of evolution. He is one of the best speakers on the subject simply because he doesn’t alienate a crowd of believers. But to say that he has evolution “issues” or believes in a God of the Gaps is just blatantly wrong. Have you read Miller’s book Finding Darwin’s God? (And remember Ken Miller co-authored the biology book the “ID-iologists” wanted to keep out of Dover.)

    @All
    My guess for the 3%: FSM!

    I would take offence at the idea that either “many churches think that science can’t be compatible with faith.” Many churches don’t actually take a position or take a largely pro-science position (at least the pastors do). The problem is that they think it is just so obvious that they don’t go around “yelling it from someplace really, really high.” Scientific understanding is low. I would argue a Gallup poll asking how internal combustion engines work would get equally abysmal results.

  • http://off-the-map.org/atheist/ Siamang

    I would argue a Gallup poll asking how internal combustion engines work would get equally abysmal results.

    But how many people upon asking whether you put gasoline or whipped cream in the tank would answer “I don’t know, because I believe in Almighty God, Creator of the Edsel?”

  • http://off-the-map.org/atheist/ Siamang

    I would argue a Gallup poll asking how internal combustion engines work would get equally abysmal results.

    But how many people upon asking whether you put gasoline or whipped cream in the tank would answer “I don’t know, because I believe in Almighty God, Creator of the Edsel?”

  • Darryl

    Generally speaking, you can’t learn what people really think by asking them to answer multiple choice questions or check little boxes. People’s beliefs are always more complicated than that.

    True, but not significant for political purposes. We know from asking voters why they voted the way they did that many of them voted for certain candidates because of their stated positions on the values issues. Now, did these voters sit down with the candidates? Did they know the nuances of the candidates’ views? No. They heard simple statements in terms that sounded familiar to them, statements that are subject to wide interpretation, and they voted based on those.

  • http://off-the-map.org/atheist/ Siamang

    Anyway, these people KNOW why they reject evolution. It was an open-ended question, and people responded not from a list.

    They have a VERY GOOD REASON to be wrong on this one. God wants them to be wrong on this one.

    I’m going to peeve off my good Christian friends right here.. but I really do think that evolution denial is a much, much broader swath of Christians than folks are cottoning to.

    I mean, whos the shining superstar of American Christiandom these days, The Purpose-Driven Pastor himself, Saddleback Rick.

    The Saddleback website informs the little children of Christ that Dinosaurs and humans always existed together, because they were created on the same day! YAY! Good little Christian children… there’s no CONFLICT between the Bible and science…. the Bible already won!

    I’ve heard the platitude often from believers that “there’s no conflict between faith and science.” I’ve also heard “We fully embrace the scientific method.” Invariably these same people’s next sentence is: “And the scientific evidence clearly shows that evolution is a fairy-tale.”

  • Darryl

    As I said previously about Senator Sam Brownback (who wants him for President? Anybody . . . anybody?), he is prepared to deny whatever is necessary to conserve his religious beliefs–he will doubt those with evidence in favor of those without it. He is over-confident if not fatuous, and he expects us to admire him for his insight and candor. He spreads his hands wide and takes a tone of voice that expresses surprise that the rest of us just don’t see how simple it all is: faith and reason are not opposed to each other. He exemplifies the arrogance of the erudite theologian just before the next scientific discovery that sends him running back to his books. Thank God he has no chance of winning the Oval Office.

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  • Maria

    Maria, are you aware of the fact that the Catholic Church has long supported the theory of evolution and sees no contradiction between it and the Catholic faith? It’s not unusual at all then that you would have been taught it in your Catholic school.

    Just thought you’d be interested to know.

    Yeah I know. I wish they were that smart with everything they did.

  • http://globalizati.wordpress.com globalizati

    They do not believe God “used” evolution. They are either Deists, believe God didn’t get involved in this case, or only invoke God’s hand in the things we have not been able to explain yet.

    Of course, there are many more devout Creationists and God-of-the-Gaps types and such, but I still think you’re leaving out a small (but significant) group by saying that those who accept God and evolution don’t really accept evolution. One of my friends–a former minister who got disillusioned with megachurches and is on an indefinite sabbatical–has some views that I’ll try to describe. He thinks (if I understand him correctly) that God is behind everything in the natural world; the laws, general principles, etc.. that lead to pretty much everything happening. God is the author of the physical laws, which eventually gave rise to biology, and then of course life evolved (and continues to do so). I guess you could call it Deism-Plus, in that God is the Creator who set things in motion, and is pretty much uninvolved in the physical world, but has chosen to interact with humans in some nebulous, difficult to describe way (and usually through the person of Jesus). I think that’s rather similar to the view presented by Miller in Finding Darwin’s God, but I haven’t read the whole thing.

    I’m a disciple of the Scientism that olvlzl thinks silly, but just because I believe someone is unequivocably wrong doesn’t mean I can’t play anthropologist and understand them either. I tire of unequivocal statements of the sort made by Aj, who I’m guessing doesn’t have many intelligent, religious friends? (Correct me if I’m wrong, please.) I think it would be as good for every atheist to know a few thoughtful Christians as it would for Christians to have good atheists friends, in that we’d all benefit socially, and find much clearer, more reasonable ways to express our views. And recognize that, as Mike C. said, people’s views are usually more nuanced than a multiple choice survey will reveal. If we don’t even know what others think (or worse, don’t want to know), how can we possibly interact with them with anything but hatred or suspicion?

  • http://eclecticsanonymous.wordpress.com Ben

    Almighty God, Creator of the Edsel?”

    That would make such a great t-Shirt! :-)

    globalizati,
    I think you are probably right in that more, not less approachability is necessary. Although, arguing that opinions are more “nuanced that a multiple choice survey might reveal” is true, it also pretty much destroys any hope for widespread understanding social currents beyond “Would you vote for this brain-dead candidate or that one?”

    The Gallup poll isn’t that far off from any other survey on this issue.

    The Pew poll was more nuanced and I have read a number of even more nuanced polls specifically on the issue of creationism/evolution. While not necessarily directed at political orientation, once the overall results are boiled down a choice between evolution (either through natural selection or divine guidance) vs. creationism; the results come out fairly even. America is, sadly, a largely “Creationist Nation.”

    Your former minister fits in the comfortable group who find nothing wrong with science and religion in a parallel existence. I have the greatest respect for those people. They manage to fulfil both the intellectual and the spiritual aspects of their lives.

    Atheism has had far too few charismatic “preachers” who could emotionally and powerfully present the spiritual wonders of the universe without evoking a God. Carl Sagan was a good example of the type of person I am talking about. That is one of the reasons people turn to religion. It fills a need; cultural brainwashing takes care of the rest.

  • Maria

    He thinks (if I understand him correctly) that God is behind everything in the natural world; the laws, general principles, etc.. that lead to pretty much everything happening. God is the author of the physical laws, which eventually gave rise to biology, and then of course life evolved (and continues to do so). I guess you could call it Deism-Plus, in that God is the Creator who set things in motion, and is pretty much uninvolved in the physical world, but has chosen to interact with humans in some nebulous, difficult to describe way

    That’s pretty much how I feel about it. I believe in a Deistic type of higher power

  • Aj

    As far as I know Ken Miller doesn’t believe God is involved in evolution, and that in his book he places God in convenient gaps in scientific understanding. Gaps he thinks science will never be able to fill, conveniently. If someone accepts science, then their God has to reside in the gaps.

    I’ve seen a video of one of his lectures and he indeed is a very good speaker, and he obviously knows about evolution, it’s his job.

  • http://olvlzl.blogspot.com/ olvlzl, no ism, no ist

    Gaps he thinks science will never be able to fill, conveniently. If someone accepts science, then their God has to reside in the gaps.

    Science is a set of proceedures and tools and methodologies invented by human beings and their culture in order to understand the PHYSICAL UNIVERSE, there is no necessity for a supernatural God to reside in gaps though as long as you are looking at the PHYSICAL UNIVERSE you can’t find any possible supernatural aspect of the same things by using science. In that science has to leave questions of God aside, sort of like cookery or high fashion. I don’t know where the problem started, with religion trying to impose itself on science, something that it isn’t equipped to do, or materialists asserting that science can do things it can’t do, give information about the supernatural. It doesn’t matter which came first, that’s where the fundamentalists of religion and atheism have brought us.

    Science is important, it shouldn’t have to carry the burden of pop-atheism or scientism, it’s clear that it has enough trouble without ideologues insisting that science belongs to them. I recently had an argument at PZ Myer’s blog in which the majority opinion would have had the effect of drumming 40% of working scientists out of the profession due to their being “theists”. That would really improve the chances for science, now, wouldn’t it.

  • http://www.missheretic.com/ Becky Robinson

    AJ said: If you say that God directed evolution, then you don’t understand what evolution is. Evolution cannot be “used”.

    But evolution doesn’t deal with HOW the ingredients of life got here. It pretty much says, “These things were here, and this is what happened to them”

    That leaves room for some sort of deity, if one chooses to believe that is how it all started. Yes, it is god of the gaps, but it is a way to rectify both a belief in a god and support of evolution.

    Now, I am a strong atheist who believes that there is nothing supernatural that exists in our world, but I can see how some people can effectively support both science and faith.

  • Vincent

    This sort of polling always surprises me.

    I was raised a Catholic in the midwest in the 70s-80s.
    In 1950 the Pope issued an edict saying that evolution was not incompatible with faith.
    In 1996, the pope wrote a letter in which he stated that evolution was an effectively proven fact.
    (http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/conlaw/vaticanview.html)

    26% of Americans are Catholic (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_Catholicism_in_the_United_States)

    So clearly 26% of Americans to begin with should believe evolution is true. Add to that the atheists (according to American Atheists, roughly 14%), other christian churches that accept evolution such as the Episcopal church (http://www.episcopalchurch.org/19021_58398_ENG_HTM.htm) and any non-christian faiths that accept evolution (I don’t know where to look for that), and we’re at least around 50%

    So why does it so often come out looking like less than that?

  • http://globalizati.wordpress.com globalizati

    olvlzl, no ism, no ist,
    I think you’re right–that science can only tell us about the “PHYSICAL UNIVERSE” as you put it. My problem is.. isn’t that everything? Or at least, everything that humans can possibly make any claim to have knowledge about? Even if there were some special, ‘spiritual’ realm beyond the physical, how would we know? All our knowledge is filtered through our senses, and all our thought processes are rooted in the biological nature of our brain. I don’t think one can assert “there is no spiritual realm,” in the same sense that I don’t think one can honestly assert “There is no God, absolutely,” but what one can very clearly, confidently assert is that we have no evidence for either. Thoughts?

  • http://globalizati.wordpress.com globalizati

    Ben,
    I’m with you. Polling is important, and all of these polls certainly confirm that Americans’ understanding of evolution is extremely poor. So I think I agree with everything you said. I guess the only thing that concerned me is that one not taking polling and make assertions that are more generalized and certain than the data should allow them to do (like saying those who believe in God and evolution necessarily don’t understand evolution). Cheers!

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  • http://olvlzl.blogspot.com/ olvlzl, no ism, no ist

    globalizati, who knows. Berekley practically didn’t think the physical universe existed. If you can find a way to prove the existence or non-existence of either you will make your name in philosophy and science for all time.

    All our knowledge is filtered through our senses, and all our thought processes are rooted in the biological nature of our brain.

    I believe the first one, though I don’t think it’s proven, the second one is widly assumed by materialists but there is no way to prove that all our thought processes are rooted in the biological nature of our brain. I doubt that it can be proven because you can’t do any science about things that aren’t physical so it would be impossible to know what to look for. There is the added complication that we don’t know if there could be no incompatibility between a physical motivation and a non-physical one. All of these are open questions, I don’t understand why allged “free thinkers” are so eager to shut the lid on them.

  • http://olvlzl.blogspot.com/ olvlzl, no ism, no ist

    And I already want to revise. I believe that all discursive knowledge is based on the experience of the physical universe, if that’s all there is to knowledge, who knows?

  • Aj

    But evolution doesn’t deal with HOW the ingredients of life got here. It pretty much says, “These things were here, and this is what happened to them”

    If you mean the origin of life, then yes, evolution doesn’t deal with that. Many fields of science do deal with how the ingredients of life got here. How life came about, is unknown, there could be no evidence of it left, we may never know. That’s not what people were saying in these comments, they were talking about evolution.

    I can see why people are opposed to evolution. The “made in God’s image”, “man above the beasts”, “God’s chosen people”, seems even more absurd if you think that we don’t even have to be here.

    That leaves room for some sort of deity, if one chooses to believe that is how it all started. Yes, it is god of the gaps, but it is a way to rectify both a belief in a god and support of evolution.

    Now, I am a strong atheist who believes that there is nothing supernatural that exists in our world, but I can see how some people can effectively support both science and faith.

    I can’t, it’s like they say “well these things, I’ll use rationalism, scepticism, and science, and these other things I’ll use wishful thinking, supernaturalism, and superstition”. It’s all just apologetics for the premises they arrive at through religion or wishful thinking. With the absence of evidence contrary you can successfully rationalize any premise, even God. That’s also unicorns, space teapots, and the flying spaghetti monster.

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  • http://olvlzl.blogspot.com/ olvlzl, no ism, no ist

    “man above the beasts” Aj

    humanism

    3 : a doctrine, attitude, or way of life centered on human interests or values; especially : a philosophy that usually rejects supernaturalism and stresses an individual’s dignity and worth and capacity for self-realization through reason

    Merriam Websters Online Dictionary.

    So, you don’t have any problem with shamanism, animism, Jainism, etc.

    Evolution doesn’t belong to atheists. Stop being so greedy.

  • Mriana

    So, you don’t have any problem with shamanism, animism, Jainism, etc.

    I won’t say much about Jainism, for I only know what Hemant said about it, but the others deal HEAVILY with the supernatural.

  • http://olvlzl.blogspot.com/ olvlzl, no ism, no ist

    Should have put a doctrine, attitude, or way of life centered on HUMAN interests or values; in bold. That was the point.

    Being old enough to remember the 60s pretty well, and a lifetime subscriber to leftist magazines, I’ve always gotten propaganda from “humanist” and other groups of that kind. I noticed that starting in the early 60s the come-ons began to become increasingly hysterical, warning about the dire consequences of people not being strict materialists, the sky was falling. Well, those groups have been at it since then, and CSICOP ratcheted it up considerably. And they’re still hysterical about the rising levels of belief in pseudo-science, etc. Seems to me that they’re a flop, PR wise. Maybe it would be a good idea to try something a bit less absurd, something that hasn’t been a proven failure by their own standards. That’s what you can expect when an ostensibly “scientific” group is run by magicians and other show biz folk a failed philsopher or so and a bunch of ideological cranks.

    I got another one just Monday. Heavy on name dropping, skimpy on reasonsing.

    It’s time for the adults to take over or things are going to keep going down hill, we’ve wasted fifty years on this nonsense.

  • Mriana

    Well, olvlzl, if you don’t like the Humanist philosophy then don’t read it. There is always file 13.

    I happen to ascribe to the way of life centered on human interests or values; especially : a philosophy that usually rejects supernaturalism and stresses an individual’s dignity and worth and capacity for self-realization through reason. There is more to Humanism than just science, though and it’s not all just magicians. There is also more than just CFI. There is also AHA and other Humanists groups. You’ve hardly scratched the surface.

    You can choose to ascribe to any philosophy you wish, but personally, I get a bit tired of someone criticizing it without anything really substantial.

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