39% Believe in Evolution

From a recent Gallup poll:

PRINCETON, NJ – On the eve of the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth, a new Gallup Poll shows that only 39% of Americans say they “believe in the theory of evolution,” while a quarter say they do not believe in the theory, and another 36% don’t have an opinion either way. These attitudes are strongly related to education and, to an even greater degree, religiosity.

entire article

This is also quite interesting:

http://richarddawkins.net/images/publicAcceptanceEvolution.jpg

Science Magazine article

What a repulsive and condescending article!

The major problem with any such survey is that the questions are often loaded. “Evolution” as a term has so many potential definitions that the word is almost worthless. When somebody like Dawkins asks the question, you can bet that the meaning is “Did life originate via random chemical reactions with energy input (solar or geothermal) and subsequently evolve into more complex life forms as a result of totally random and undirected natural forces?” Heck, I’D answer no to such a question!

But if the survey were taken and clearly defined the term ‘evolution’ as the label given to describe a ‘process by which simpler life forms changed over time and became more complex life forms’ I’d happily take that definition on as the best scientific explanation humans have come up with for WHAT happened.

Where people get suspicious of evolution is more a suspician of the PEOPLE that try to use the scientific theory of evolution as a theological club to beat God on the head with.

This disgusting article suggests that religious people are dumb bumpkins who are obstructing the advance of scientific knowledge. The author seem utterly unaware that at LEAST as guilty are the scientists who attempt to use science to further their secularist and usually utilitarian ideology on the rest of the world.

If average Americans need more science education, then scientists need more education in philosophy!

Science has been politicized by BOTH sides in recent years and impartial observers should be calling ALL the culprits on it. Criticizing just one side is no different than taking sides. At that point you, like the author of this article, are a filthy hypocrite.

manualman, please provide quotes from the article that specifically demonstrate why it’s “repulsive,” “condescending,” and “disgusting.”

Mmmkay:

“… the evolution issue has been politicized and incorporated into the current partisan division in the United States in a manner never seen in Europe or Japan.”

“…individuals who held strong pro-life beliefs were significantly more likely to reject evolution than individuals with pro-choice views.”

“These results should be troubling for science educators at all levels. Basic concepts of evolution should be taught in middle school, high school, and college life sciences courses and the growing number of adults who are uncertain about these ideas suggests that current science instruction is not effective.”

My translation:

The US population still displays a disturbing tendency to disbelieve that humans are accidental bunches of chemical reactions and we clearly need more ‘scientific’ based education to rid them of their backward beliefs and show them the superiority of scientism. This will have the beneficial effect of undercutting their other antisocial behaviors like opposing abortion on demand…

BTW, these are from the article linked at the bottom of the OP’s post.

Interesting. In 2008, about 50% thought that evolution was correct, with about 36% denying it.

Apparently, this is the first year “no opinion” was so high. I suspect, that we’d see pretty much the same results this year, if they used the same questions.

Not surprisingly, the poorly educated were much more likely to deny evolution.

http://sas-origin.onstreammedia.com/origin/gallupinc/GallupSpaces/Production/Cms/POLL/lvtmmfl19eqfl0cpgxojzw.gif

Not surprisingly, those who know more about the theory, are more likely to accept it as true:

http://sas-origin.onstreammedia.com/origin/gallupinc/GallupSpaces/Production/Cms/POLL/10pckeutbeseofsox9qrpg.gif

What is surprising is that creationism is increasingly the ideology of the elderly:
http://sas-origin.onstreammedia.com/origin/gallupinc/GallupSpaces/Production/Cms/POLL/s_ff8lvlpe-7g8anx-amsg.gif

Or perhaps the educational reforms of the past 20 years are working.

If that’s what the survey suggests, then why must the researchers sugarcoat it?

Well, I believe that one has to include Jesuit Fr. Teilhard de Chardin and the pope in that 39%.

Are they Americans?:confused:

And just WHO are these scientists and WHAT specific “ideology” are they imposing? I hear this nonsense screamed all the time by hyperventilating people who claim to be religious and that they are being attacked, yet when asked to show examples, the only response is chirping crickets…

It’s just a rhetorical device. Not meant to be taken literally.

I’m a little surprised that it’s so low. But I guess, too, that it might depend on what people understand by the question. Did people understand it as asking whether they believe evolution is likely in some manner or other, or did they understand it as being the entire explanation of man’s existence, as a totally secular thing?

I wonder what it means to “believe” in evolution? I ask as a life scientist.

Evolution is, and always has been a scientific theory, not a scientific law. As such, it has, in science, a lesser standing in certainty than, say, Newton’s Laws of Motion. (I know relativity supersedes them in certain instances, but they are valid where relativity effects do not exert themselves.) You can fly to the moon using Newton’s Laws of Motion. You can’t do anything comparable using evolution.

My studies were in population genetics. And I came to the conclusion that evolution has persisted in hard science for one reason: we still learn things when we run experiments where its predictions fail to be confirmed.

Believe? Wrong word, I’d suggest. Accept as a valid (though not verified) scientific theory? Sure. Does the theory need work, if it is to be changed into something that will be seen as a scientific law? Yup, lots.

Blessings,

Gerry

Uh, it seems there’s some confusion about what a scientific ‘law’ is, versus a ‘theory’. A theory is not convertible to a law, or vice-versa. “Law” is not a promotion up from “theory”. A law is a conscise description of observations or behaviors that are believed to be universal – having no known exceptions, and a wealth of affrimations. But as such a law is descriptive, where theories are explanatory. The “law of gravity” is different from any “theory of gravity”, for example. Both are useful in science, but not to be confused. The ‘law of gravity’ says that mass attracts mass in proportion to the square the distance between, always and ever, without exception. A theory of gravity attempts to provide a physical model for why this is the case, why this empirical truth is in fact, an empirical truth.

Anyway, more than needed be said on that, but I’d certainly agree that you’d have to mangle up the theory of evolution pretty drastically to fashion it into something you could call a scientific law!

-Touchstone

Evolution is, and always has been a scientific theory, not a scientific law. As such, it has, in science, a lesser standing in certainty than, say, Newton’s Laws of Motion.

No. A law and a theory both make predictions, but laws are weaker than theories in that they don’t explain the phenomena.

Hence, Kepler’s laws describe how planets move around the Sun. Newton’s theory of gravitation explains why. After Newton, the same forces and motions could then be applied to comets, the Moon, and apples falling from a tree. The theory is generally applicable, because it explains the phenomenon.

I never said a law was a promoted theory. And on the showing of the posts, my point that there is a marked difference between the two is taken.

If there are any doubts that evolution through natural selection is not in need of work, consider.

In a very stable environment, the theory predicts that genetic variability will decrease, with the genome coming to the content best suited to the constant environment. We’ve looked at stable environments, in cave and benthos settings. We did not find the same degree of genetic variability in the populations there as in more variable environments. However, we did not find less variability, as evolutionary theory suggests. We found more, and to a statistically significant degree.

What we have here is a scientifically useful, but quite unproven, theory.

Why are not all of us happy neoDarwinians?

	 				The question in the title is asked, and answered, by Gunter Theissen, a geneticist from Friedrich Schiller University Jena. He points out that "many of the biologists criticizing gradualism have been geneticists". These scientists are not looking for a fight with the consensus evolutionary theory, and if the Modern Synthesis were "able to fully explain the origin and diversification of life", they would embrace it.

“Unfortunately, the Synthetic Theory and its contemporary derivatives have major shortcomings, for example in explaining evolutionary novelties and constraints, and the evolution of body plans, which to me appear to be especially interesting aspects of the evolutionary process. As long as population genetic based evolutionary theories such as the Synthetic Theory cannot fully explain all aspects of evolution, scientists as well as lay people will, for good reasons, keep looking for better explanations.”

more…

Be careful on your last assumption based on the data. It could also be showing that as people mature, their belief in pure scientific evolution (i.e. no God involved) diminishes. People don’t retain the mindsets they acquired during their youth, even with “reforms” to the brainwashing techniques. :wink:

Be careful on your last assumption based on the data. It could also be showing that as people mature, their belief in pure scientific evolution (i.e. no God involved) diminishes.

That wouldn’t be “pure scientific evolution”, since science can’t say that whether or not God is involved. You see, it is a matter of better education.

People don’t retain the mindsets they acquired during their youth, even with “reforms” to the brainwashing techniques.

When were you indoctrinated to believe that evolutionary science is “no God involved?”

In a very stable environment, the theory predicts that genetic variability will decrease,

No. In fact, a stable environment is only half of the problem. Stasis only comes about when there is a well-adapted population in a stable environment. So, for example, we had a very stable environment in Hawaii before it was colonized by insects and birds. But because of all the open niches, there was an explosive radiation of species unique to Hawaii before they were fully adapted, and then stasis returned. As a result, fruit flies (for example) have much more variation than is found in most other places.

with the genome coming to the content best suited to the constant environment. We’ve looked at stable environments, in cave and benthos settings. We did not find the same degree of genetic variability in the populations there as in more variable environments.

It’s called “stabilizing selection.”

However, we did not find less variability, as evolutionary theory suggests. We found more, and to a statistically significant degree.

Which would suggest that the populations are not yet fully adapted. The age of the population in that environment would be an important clue. Did you check that?

**
Ecological genetics of the cave beetle Neaphaenops tellkampfii (Coleoptera: Carabidae)
Oecologia
Volume 44, Number 1 / December, 1979
Pages 63-67
Edwin J. Turanchik, Thomas C. Kane
Department of Biological Sciences, University of Cincinnati, 45221 Cincinnati, Ohio, USA
Department of Zoology, Michigan State University, 48823 East Lansing, Michigan, USA

Summary:
Genetic variability and similarity were examined in eight populations of the Kentucky cave beetle Neaphaenops tellkampfii (Coleoptera: Carabidae) using the technique of polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. Results indicate that N. tellkampfii has high genetic variation within and high genetic similarity among local populations. These results are in sharp contrast to the patterns of low variability and similarity reported for other cave dwelling species in the same region. It is concluded that the differences in genetical population structure among cave species in the Central Kentucky Karst are related to ecological differences among the species.**

What we have here is a scientifically useful, but quite unproven, theory.

In science, nothing is actually “proven.” Science is inductive, making inferences from evidence, and the truth is always provisional on finding new information.

Whatever…the term isn’t important, you knew what I meant. As you state, God is not taught in the science classroom. My use of the term “pure” meant removing God from scientific discussion, which you are generally in favor of unless you are now saying that they should add it in.

[quote=The Barbarian]When were you indoctrinated to believe that evolutionary science is “no God involved?”
[/quote]

“Brainwashing” was a joke, son. You need to relax and enjoy life a little.

My point is that as people mature, their religious beliefs mature. Since many people equate the question about evolution with being devoid of creation, it is natural that people who become more religious will answer ‘no’ to such a poll. Do you have any polls with these options?:

A - Evolution devoid of supernatural influences
B - Evolution with supernatural influences (either at origin or throughout)
C - Creation by supernatural being(s)

If so, I would vote ‘B.’ I hope that doesn’t void my non-scientific, salesman credentials with you. I wouldn’t want you to start calling me a professional creationism denier or professional evolution denier. :stuck_out_tongue:

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.