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Evidence and Evolution, Faith and Facts

Evidence and Evolution, Faith and Facts July 12, 2010

Jerry Coyne has posted a link to a new survey which seems to confirm the results of other surveys about knowledge of science, acceptance or rejection of mainstream science, and other related topics in the United States. I’m astonished by his confidence that atheism is the key to combatting antievolutionism and other forms of anti-scientific irrationality. Coyne writes, “We atheists see religion itself, and its adherence to superstition and acceptance of irrational ways of thought, as the root cause of not only evolution denial, but of a whole host of maladies that afflict society.”

But the truth is more complex. Bill Maher is a good example. He is an atheist, and has bought into forms of pseudoskepticism such as Jesus-mythicism and the anti-vaccination movement.

Humans have a remarkable ability to compartmentalize. That’s precisely the reason why one can encounter highly educated religious believers who have never applied their critical thinking skills to their religious beliefs, or investigated their faith with the same academic rigor they have in some other areas.

On this very topic, although addressing politics rather than science, is an article in The Boston Globe entitled “How Facts Backfire.”

Also in related news, Biologos continues a series on evidence for evolution. Richard Hall mentions an article that you just know young-earth creationists are going to misuse. Danut Manastireanu shares a quote attributed to the Buddha that is relevant, and might seem like good advice, were it not for the fact that our common sense is not a reliable guide (as Buddhism itself emphasizes!). Clayboy asks if reason is God’s practical joke. Michael Heiser looks at claims of dinosaur and human figurines having been found together. And Ted Herrlich follows up on a post at The Panda’s Thumb about the evolution of Intelligent Design.

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