Saturday, March 31, 2007

Depressing

From a recent Newsweek poll:

Nearly half (48 percent) of the public rejects the scientific theory of evolution; one-third (34 percent) of college graduates say they accept the Biblical account of creation as fact. Seventy-three percent of Evangelical Protestants say they believe that God created humans in their present form within the last 10,000 years; 39 percent of non-Evangelical Protestants and 41 percent of Catholics agree with that view.
Oy vey. This data really isn't all that surprising--many polls in the past have reported similar numbers--but I still find it highly discouraging that, even now, almost three out of four evangelicals could hold a view so inconsonant with all the available evidence.

It should be noted that not all of that 73% necessarily hold to a "Young-Earth" view, (some may, in fact, accept that the earth is around 4.56 billion years old, but still believe that humans are a recent creation), but even so, a person has to throw most of the basic principles of geology and paleontology straight out the window in order to reach the conclusion that humans have existed on earth for only 10,000 years.

I look forward to the day when, like geocentrism and flat-earthism, antievolutionism will be held by only the kookiest kooks of the extreme religious fringe. I can't wait for a time when reasonable people of all faiths can hardly even fathom why evolutionary biology was once considered a threat to their religions (and I guess this is an admission on my part that--contra many people with similar metaphysical opinions--I don't view religion itself as the main culprit behind the rejection of scientific reality). It will happen, someday. Unfortunately, poll results like these lead me to believe that this day is a depressingly long way off. And yet, with deeply religious scientists like Ken Miller, Wesley Elsberry, Simon Conway-Morris, and thousands of clergy all resolutely standing up for the integrity of evolutionary biology, hope springs eternal.

11 comments:

Catherine said...

Interestingly, this religious/scientific problem is actually neither - but a literary problem. When we hit the modern era, people started getting excited about science and, not wanting to be left behind, some groups of Christians decided to join the fun by applying these same tools to their beliefs. Hence, they began to see their sacred, ancient, spiritual/historical/literary texts as scientific encylopedia. How ironic! They weren't rejecting science, but joining it and of course trumped it (in their minds) by bringing their text along as well. But of course, this text was not intended to be an encyclopedia. I wholeheartedly believe the Genesis account to be true...in the genre it was written in, which is not science.

What can you do.

Dave said...

Hmmm. . .I think that's something of an oversimplification of the situation. For instance, while the most recent incarnations of this "fight" have taken place mostly over the past couple of centuries, many skirmishes in the religious/scientific "war" (I'm using the war metaphor very loosely here) before the modern era arose. Nevertheless, I agree with you that, science and religion need not necessarily be in conflict.

z flynn said...

Perhaps these religious kooks are right after all. If there are that many monumentally stupid people who don't believe in science then the human race is NOT evolving but rather DEvolving, returning to a stupider, more primitive state.

I read the last report by the National Institute of Literacy that stated 90 million adults are functionally illiterate, meaning they haven't the intellectual capacity to read or understand even simple phrases such as in a newspaper even if they can tell you the words. With more than 50% of adults being that dim I might wager these polls could be right.

What an absolute horror, as the American Empire falls its populace turns into masses of easily manipulated morons. No wonder the criminal profiteers have taken over so easily.

Catherine said...

Of course its an oversimplification! Its one paragraph! Did you think I thought I was explaining the entire history and every nuance in one paragraph on a blog comment??

Dave said...

I was trying to disagree with you politely. :)

Catherine said...

You disagree that the creation/evolution debate is rooted in the field of literary genre???? Really??? What is your opinion?

(obviously, I'm not trying to be polite).

Catherine said...

That last bit about not being polite was a joke btw. Not intended as fightin' words!

Chris Harrison said...

I think it's obvious that the evolution/creation uh, "debate" is rooted in evolution's perceived threat to Christian doctrine. I suppose you could argue that this is a literary argument of sorts, since Christians that take a non-literal interpretation of Genesis see no odds between their faith and evolutionary science. Still, if the controversy was solely literary, the only debate would be between the literalists and the non-literalists, which it clearly isn't'.
At its heart, evolution vs. creation is the desperate attempt by fundamentalists to preserve the living world as a testament to God's special creation.

Anonymous said...

Dave... I just wondered if knew about this site www.icr.org. Their museum is in your neck of the woods.

Melissa

Dave said...

Hi Melissa,
I'm somewhat familiar with the Institute for Creation Research. I've actually considered visiting, but I haven't been. I think it would be a hoot to go with some people who could enjoy it like I could, but I don't know any people like that.

Literacygirl said...

I think my Mom used to be on the ICR mailing list!!! Do you still love her with Carlson love??? Shhh... she used to really be into creation "science".