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42% Of Americans Believe In Creationism

Darwin Fish

A new Gallup poll finds that 42% of Americans believe that so-called “Creationism” explains the origin of man:

PRINCETON, NJ — More than four in 10 Americans continue to believe that God created humans in their present form 10,000 years ago, a view that has changed little over the past three decades. Half of Americans believe humans evolved, with the majority of these saying God guided the evolutionary process. However, the percentage who say God was not involved is rising.

This latest update is from Gallup’s Values and Beliefs survey conducted May 8-11. Gallup first asked the three-part question about human origins in 1982.

The percentage of the U.S. population choosing the creationist perspective as closest to their own view has fluctuated in a narrow range between 40% and 47% since the question’s inception. There is little indication of a sustained downward trend in the proportion of the U.S. population who hold a creationist view of human origins. At the same time, the percentage of Americans who adhere to a strict secularist viewpoint — that humans evolved over time, with God having no part in this process — has doubled since 1999.

Here’s the chart showing how the public has responded to this question over the past 32 years:

Gallup Creationism
Not surprisingly, the heaviest influences on opinion on this subject are religion, level of education, and age:

  • Religiousness relates most strongly to these views, which is not surprising, given that this question deals directly with God’s role in human origins. The percentage of Americans who accept the creationist viewpoint ranges from 69% among those who attend religious services weekly to 23% among those who seldom or never attend.
  • Educational attainment is also related to these attitudes, with belief in the creationist perspective dropping from 57% among Americans with no more than a high school education to less than half that (27%) among those with a college degree. Those with college degrees are, accordingly, much more likely to choose one of the two evolutionary explanations.
  • Younger Americans — who are typically less religious than their elders — are less likely to choose the creationist perspective than are older Americans. Americans aged 65 and older — the most religious of any age group — are most likely to choose the creationist perspective.

Here’s the demographic breakdown:

Gallup Creationism Two

And we wonder why our students continue to perform so poorly on international science tests.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. C. Clavin says:

    Well I suppose this explains how Republicans keep getting elected…we are, apparently, a Confederacy With 42% Dunces.
    http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/what-bowe-bergdahl-deserves/#comment-1932783

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  2. And we wonder why our students continue to perform so poorly on international science tests.

    Doug, this is a serious question: What’s the solution for this?

    The common libertarian/Libertarian/GOP solution is to get rid of public education, and instead have charter schools, so my tax dollars go to teach kids this creationist crap is real.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  3. CSK says:

    It would be interesting to see how this breaks down state-by-state, or region by region. I’m pretty sure that the percentage of residents of Massachusetts who believe in young earth creationism is considerably lower than the percentage of Mississippi residents who do.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  4. rudderpedals says:

    I think the headline underplays the bad news a bit. 73% believe in a sort of something-ism that has a deity actively involved in either directing evolution (31%) or building humans out of their constituent bits (42%).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  5. DrDaveT says:

    And we wonder why our students continue to perform so poorly on international science tests.

    Don’t underestimate the fraction of students who both believe in Creationism and know what answer they’re supposed to give on the test.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  6. Paul L. says:

    What Technologies/Scientific advancements based on Evolution and the Big Bang theory should anti science creationist deniers not be using to avoid being hypocrites?

    One would be GMOs?

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  7. Matt Bernius says:

    @rudderpedals:

    73% believe in a sort of something-ism that has a deity actively involved in either directing evolution (31%) or building humans out of their constituent bits (42%).

    Having a hard time understanding why that 31% — who clearly believe in the concept of evolution — is all that bad.

    Again, many successful scientists have balanced some sort of religious belief system with a dedication to the practice of good science. There’s no reason one should have to prevent the other.

    BTW, it also appears that, over time, the trend has been for people to move from the Guided Evolution category to the “God had no part in the process” category.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  8. Ron Beasley says:

    @CSK: Good question. I would guess a majority in the deep south, a smaller number in the Midwest and a small minority in the Northeast and on the west coast.

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  9. @Timothy Watson:

    The common libertarian/Libertarian/GOP solution is to get rid of public education, and instead have charter schools, so my tax dollars go to teach kids this creationist crap is real.

    It’s better to declare the 42% a lost cause and let them go off and ruin their children in their own schools than it is to let them poison everyone else’s kids because we have single school board.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  10. Anonne says:

    Because it bears repeating:

    @Matt Bernius:

    “Again, many successful scientists have balanced some sort of religious belief system with a dedication to the practice of good science. There’s no reason one should have to prevent the other.”

    One does not have to abandon religious principles to believe science – and in fact many classical scientists were religious people.

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  11. Gustopher says:

    I think this question has just become a tribal marker, rather than anything people seriously believe.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  12. Matt Bernius says:

    @Anonne:
    To that point, many see the practice of good science as part of their religious vocation (i.e. to do God’s work by attempting to objectively understand God’s creations).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  13. gVOR08 says:

    @Matt Bernius: @Anonne: Yes. A thousand times, yes. There is no necessary conflict between evolution, or science generally, and religion. Evangelicals and politicians have found it profitable to create a conflict.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  14. just me says:

    I am among those who believe in a God guided evolutionary process and can give e correct answers on a science test.

    My daughter attends church regularly and is a bio chem major-she knows the correct answers on a science test and finds much of how disease and fungus work fascinating.

    Also having seen our state’s science test there is actually very little on it that is controversial with regards to evolution (and I live in New England).

    Our students struggle in science here more because our funding is low and they don’t do much lab oriented learning. Science is learned more in the hands on stuff. Our education model is broken and that isn’t because some people believe or don’t believe evolution.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  15. Ron Beasley says:

    @Matt Bernius: One of the great advocates of evolution was the Jesuit Priest and paleontologist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin although he did insist that none of his work be published until after his death.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  16. CSK says:

    @Ron Beasley:

    I found a graph from the National Center for Science Education that bears this out. New England and the Pacific Coast have the smallest numbers of creationists; the East South Central states have the most: 60% of the population.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  17. Tillman says:

    @Gustopher: That’s my impression as well. Look at the dramatic changes in the column of supporters for “God created humans 10,000 years ago” when you go from weekly church attendance to seldom attending.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  18. rudderpedals says:

    @Matt Bernius:

    Having a hard time understanding why that 31% — who clearly believe in the concept of evolution — is all that bad.

    I blame Gallup’s wording (among other things): There’s no need for a guiding deity. Deities don’t do anything. Selective advantage over deep time is enough.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  19. Ron Beasley says:

    @Tillman: My observation here on the Left Coast is that a majority of people go to church for social rather than spiritual reasons – tribal indeed.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  20. mantis says:

    @Paul L.:

    What Technologies/Scientific advancements based on Evolution and the Big Bang theory should anti science creationist deniers not be using to avoid being hypocrites?

    Evolution? Much of modern medicine and agriculture. Basically, please stop eating or going to the doctor. Thanks.

    Big Bang Theory has nothing to do with this.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  21. Dave D says:

    @Ron Beasley: Which is ironic and it goes kind of against some of the things said above re: science/religion. The Catholic faith has accepted evolution to be true and did so under JPII. However, it is completely contrary to their dogma. Jesus came to Earth to die for our sins, because previous to his arrival everyone was in Hell even good people based on the doctrine of original sin. When evolution gets into the mix there is no strict “Adam and Eve” therefore, no original sin. That means Jesus didn’t need to come to save the pious and his sacrifice was only for the sinners among us. That is likely why they got rid of limbo since unbaptized babies had no time to sin and thus are no longer condemned to Hell.

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  22. Paul L. says:

    @mantis:

    Basically, please stop eating or going to the doctor. Thanks.

    Well that is a step up from claiming all Technologies discovered after Darwin.

    Stop using Cars, Computers and the Internet since you hate Science !!!!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  23. Matt Bernius says:

    @Dave D:

    esus came to Earth to die for our sins, because previous to his arrival everyone was in Hell even good people based on the doctrine of original sin. When evolution gets into the mix there is no strict “Adam and Eve” therefore, no original sin.

    I’m not particularly well versed in current Catholic theology. Are they currently Old Testament literalists? If not, then I see no problem with resolving the seeming contradiction between Evolution and Original Sin.

    In other words, if one accepts that Adam and Eve is an allegorical tale, then the concept of Original Sin can remain, largely untouched.

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  24. Franklin says:

    @Matt Bernius: You know, I had typed up a comment somewhat similar to yours. Although I would go even further and say that there may even exist good scientists who fall into the creationist camp (believing that God created everything 10,000 years ago but made it look EXACTLY like it was the result of a millions and billions year process).

    The real danger is people like Ken Ham who think all the science is either fake or misinterpreted. I agree, that’s probably the majority of that 42%, I just don’t think it’s all of them. Or maybe I just hope it’s not all of them. These people have to wonder, though, why God gave them a brain if they weren’t supposed to use it to understand the world around them.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  25. mantis says:

    @Matt Bernius:

    Are they currently Old Testament literalists?

    No, not really. The Vatican accepts evolution since 1950, but still sticks to certain things from OT, like all humans are descended from Adam.

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  26. @Matt Bernius:

    Adam, Eve, and Evolution

    What is the Catholic position concerning belief or unbelief in evolution? The question may never be finally settled, but there are definite parameters to what is acceptable Catholic belief.

    Concerning cosmological evolution, the Church has infallibly defined that the universe was specially created out of nothing. Vatican I solemnly defined that everyone must “confess the world and all things which are contained in it, both spiritual and material, as regards their whole substance, have been produced by God from nothing” (Canons on God the Creator of All Things, canon 5).

    The Church does not have an official position on whether the stars, nebulae, and planets we see today were created at that time or whether they developed over time (for example, in the aftermath of the Big Bang that modern cosmologists discuss). However, the Church would maintain that, if the stars and planets did develop over time, this still ultimately must be attributed to God and his plan, for Scripture records: “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and all their host [stars, nebulae, planets] by the breath of his mouth” (Ps. 33:6).

    Concerning biological evolution, the Church does not have an official position on whether various life forms developed over the course of time. However, it says that, if they did develop, then they did so under the impetus and guidance of God, and their ultimate creation must be ascribed to him.

    Concerning human evolution, the Church has a more definite teaching. It allows for the possibility that man’s body developed from previous biological forms, under God’s guidance, but it insists on the special creation of his soul. Pope Pius XII declared that “the teaching authority of the Church does not forbid that, in conformity with the present state of human sciences and sacred theology, research and discussions . . . take place with regard to the doctrine of evolution, in as far as it inquires into the origin of the human body as coming from pre-existent and living matter—[but] the Catholic faith obliges us to hold that souls are immediately created by God” (Pius XII, Humani Generis 36). So whether the human body was specially created or developed, we are required to hold as a matter of Catholic faith that the human soul is specially created; it did not evolve, and it is not inherited from our parents, as our bodies are.

    While the Church permits belief in either special creation or developmental creation on certain questions, it in no circumstances permits belief in atheistic evolution.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  27. Pinky says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Thanks. I just had a comment eaten by the internet which came at the question from a different angle, but agreed with your statement: that the Church teaches that there is no contradiction between theistic evolution and the doctrine of original sin.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  28. Matt Bernius says:

    @Stormy Dragon & @Pinky:
    First off, thanks for the link Stormy. That said, I don’t think you grabbed the really relevant passage from the page in terms of the Adam/Original Sin conversation.

    From my read here’s the key passage:

    Adam and Eve: Real People

    It is equally impermissible to dismiss the story of Adam and Eve and the fall (Gen. 2–3) as a fiction. A question often raised in this context is whether the human race descended from an original pair of two human beings (a teaching known as monogenism) or a pool of early human couples (a teaching known as polygenism).

    In this regard, Pope Pius XII stated: “When, however, there is question of another conjectural opinion, namely polygenism, the children of the Church by no means enjoy such liberty. For the faithful cannot embrace that opinion which maintains either that after Adam there existed on this earth true men who did not take their origin through natural generation from him as from the first parents of all, or that Adam represents a certain number of first parents. Now, it is in no way apparent how such an opinion can be reconciled that which the sources of revealed truth and the documents of the teaching authority of the Church proposed with regard to original sin which proceeds from a sin actually committed by an individual Adam in which through generation is passed onto all and is in everyone as his own” (Humani Generis 37).

    The story of the creation and fall of man is a true one, even if not written entirely according to modern literary techniques. The Catechism states, “The account of the fall in Genesis 3 uses figurative language, but affirms a primeval event, a deed that took place at the beginning of the history of man. Revelation gives us the certainty of faith that the whole of human history is marked by the original fault freely committed by our first parents” (CCC 390).
    [Source]

    As I read this, the Chruch’s stance (provided it hasn’t changed since Pope Pius XII), is that Catholics must believe that humanity began with a single man (Adam) and woman (Eve) — key passage:

    For the faithful cannot embrace that opinion which maintains either that after Adam there existed on this earth true men who did not take their origin through natural generation from him as from the first parents of all, or that Adam represents a certain number of first parents.
    [Emphasis Mine]

    That definitely reads as a near-literalist position. And that makes it difficult to reconcile with current evolutionary theory which, as I understand, tends to favor polygenism.

    Again, I don’t see issues with allegorical Adam’s and Eve’s and Original Sin. But complete/hard adherence to Catholic doctrine makes it hard to resolve evolution with biblical near-literalism.

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  29. Pinky says:

    @Matt Bernius: I’m not sure what benefit the term “near-literalism” has.

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  30. Matt Bernius says:

    @Pinky:
    Just trying to carve out a space to indicate that Catholics do not necessarily believe in complete literalism like some sects of Christianity (i.e. that the text is an *exact* description of everything that occurred).

    I.e. I’m trying to deal with passages like the following from the texts cited in that article:

    “The account of the fall in Genesis 3 uses figurative language, but affirms a primeval event, a deed that took place at the beginning of the history of man. ” (CCC390)

    I read that as:
    (1) there was an Adam and an Eve, they were tempted and disobeyed a critical direct order from God, which led to original sin and being cast from his direct* presence.
    (2) this action didn’t necessarily need to *specifically* involve apples, a garden, and/or a talking snake

    Make sense? If you know a better word or phrase for me to use, please let me know. My brain honestly isn’t running at top speed today.

    * – There is probably a better word than “direct” here, but I’m trying to get across the idea that the betrayal caused a schism between man and God

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  31. C. Clavin says:

    @gVOR08:
    Yes of course.
    I personally do not believe in God.
    But there is no reason that science can’t co-exist with her.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  32. @Matt Bernius:

    And that makes it difficult to reconcile with current evolutionary theory which, as I understand, tends to favor polygenism.

    I think it’s more a case of current evolutionary theory considers it a meaningless question.

    If you compare a photo of my dad now to when he was 20, it’s easy to say “wow, he went bald”, but you can’t really say “when hair #2,735,462 fell out, he became bald”. Likewise while we can compare a modern human to a hominid from 2 million years ago as say, “these are clearly different species”, it’s impossible to designate a specific organism from the interim as the first modern human.

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  33. Matt Bernius says:

    @Stormy Dragon:
    Completely agree.

    But my understanding is that current evolutionary theory doesn’t support the notion that all human life can be traced back to a single breeding pair.

    Or is that an unfair characterization?

    The entire point of Pius XII is that the orthodox Catholic belief is that all humans (a) descend from a single breeding pair and (b) that before that pair began breeding they committed a trespass against God that resulted in “original sin.”

    Or am I misreading him?

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  34. @Matt Bernius:

    Define “all human life”.

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  35. C. Clavin says:
  36. Matt Bernius says:

    @Stormy Dragon:
    I’ll let Pius XII take that one:

    For the faithful cannot embrace that opinion which maintains either that after Adam there existed on this earth true men who did not take their origin through natural generation from him as from the first parents of all, or that Adam represents a certain number of first parents.
    [Emphasis mine]

    I read that as any and every human being who walks the Earth today came through Adam and Eve as a single breeding pair.

    The single breeding pair thing comes from the concluding phrase of the sentence. In that last phrase Pius definitively states that Adam (and by association Eve) are not aggregate figures.

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  37. Pinky says:

    The Catholic approach to Bible interpretation is similar to the Jewish “pardes” method. “Pardes” comes from four words that start with p, r, d, and s, and frankly I don’t remember what they are. But they’re the levels at which a text is to be understood. First is literal. “Jesus said to the woman ‘go and sin no more’.” That means that Jesus said to the woman, “go and sin no more”. A statement is assumed to be literal unless it can only be understood symbolically. The second level is a generalization, an application of the passage more broadly: like, Jesus tells all of us to sin no more. The third level is exegetical, analysis of the passage with respect to other passages. How does what Jesus says to the adulterer shine light on other things he says about adultery, or on O.T. teaching, or on sin and forgiveness? The fourth level is mystical. What did Jesus write in the dust? Are our own sins so trivial that Jesus can wipe them away with his hand?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  38. Pinky says:

    I think it’s possible to read Pius’s statement as compatible with polygenism. Let’s say that Adam and Eve were the first to cross the threshold to humanity, and be ensouled. Their children could have bred with the other, almost-there homos. There are references to the children of God and the children of Men in Genesis. I haven’t seen the movie Noah, but the Nephilim are the director’s take on this.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  39. superdestroyer says:

    @C. Clavin:

    Do you really think that no Democrats believe in Creationism. You should look up show Latinos and blacks feel about creationism.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3

  40. @Matt Bernius:

    I read that as any and every human being who walks the Earth today came through Adam and Eve as a single breeding pair.

    The problem is you’re kinda mushing several concepts together. If you mean to ask “is there a specific human that all presently living humans descended from?” Then the answer is yes. We can show that there is a specific female human all current humans are descended from:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mitochondrial_Eve

    Likewise we can show there is a specific male human are current humans are descended from:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Y-chromosomal_Adam

    Thing is, those two humans never met each other. In fact Mitochodrial Eve probably wasn’t even born until 150,000 years after Y-chromosomal Adam died. Likewise, Y-chromosomal Adam was not the only male human alive at the time he lived and Mitochondiral Eve wasn’t the only female human alive at the time she lived.

    You’re conflating the concept of ancestry over scores of generations with your intuition of how a family works within the lifespan of a particular human.

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  41. Dave D says:

    @Matt Bernius: Sorry I couldn’t be back sooner but it seems that the commenters above brought out the catechism before I could. That said when I was going through catechism class especially the parts dealing with the OT, because it is Catholicism we focused on the relevant parts and whatnot, but there seemed to be a special emphasis on books/chapters that pertained to the prophecy regarding the coming of the messiah. As far as I can tell Judaism regards both the messianic tradition and sin much differently than how Christendom has come to. To square that circle and as the newer friendlier face of the religion I grew up in, Christ’s sacrifice was not only to redeem those not yet born, but the righteous who had died before, in the tradition of the limbo of the patriarchs, due to original sin. Freedom from original sin is also the way to explain the reverence of Mary. As far as I learned/ put things together Jesus was the logical outcome of a just God for the salvation of everyone who led a good life but hadn’t known Jesus, as well as sinners who did and repented. I could be way off but if your teaching says you are born in sin and need the redemption of their godhead because of it, the lack of the point of original sin negates that.

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  42. Pinky says:

    @superdestroyer: The 2012 version of the story has 19% of Democrats as creationists. (Gallup does not have the most easily-searchable site, and I can’t tell if the more recent survey has the data split by party affiliation. I saw that an earlier version also analyzed the data by region.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  43. Just Me says:

    First of all one issue I have with some non religious folks and often the left is that declare anyone with a religious view of creation as anti science. Somebody who believes in a young earth creation discounts science in the same way all those progressive anti gazers discount science.

    When people latch on to a specific belief they will see what they need to see and it doesn’t necessarily mean they are all anti science-they are mostly just deniers of certain facts.

    Also, many young earth creationists still believe in a certain amount of evolution-in that they believe things have evolved within certain types of species (eg all dog type animals evolved from dog like ancestors thousands of years ago but cats and dogs didn’t evolve from the same ancestor). So they still recognize certain parts of science and a lot of biology even-they just ignore the stuff that doesn’t fit.

    I actually think young earth creationists probably have more objections to geology and paleontology than biology and evolution. You can explain evolution objections more readily than the carbon dating of rocks and other evidence in the geological record.

    As for the Biblical accounts-I personally view the story of Adam and Eve as a local story that probably has some basis in truth and some aspects of allegory. Those early Biblical stories were oral tradition so there is room for human error in some of the story telling. The point of thebOld Testament isn’t to be a history book or a science book but more philosophy-it explains man’s relationship with God and God’s relationship with us and why the world has sin, pain, sorrow as well as joy, love and hope.

    When religious folks start getting caught up in their religious teaching being more than religion they get in Trouble.

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  44. Grewgills says:

    @Just Me:

    Also, many young earth creationists still believe in a certain amount of evolution-in that they believe things have evolved within certain types of species (eg all dog type animals evolved from dog like ancestors thousands of years ago but cats and dogs didn’t evolve from the same ancestor). So they still recognize certain parts of science and a lot of biology even-they just ignore the stuff that doesn’t fit.

    One of the big problems with this version of trying to square young earth creationism is that it denies what they term ‘macroevolution’ in favor of what they see as a lesser ‘microevolution’*, but by compressing the time frame for this microevolution to a few thousand years they have created a type of superevolution that cannot exist within our understanding of biology. It is in some ways worse than simply saying everything was made as is, because it gives a patina of scienciness that appeals to the ignorant for their utter nonscience.

    Those early Biblical stories were oral tradition so there is room for human error in some of the story telling. The point of thebOld Testament isn’t to be a history book or a science book but more philosophy-it explains man’s relationship with God and God’s relationship with us and why the world has sin, pain, sorrow as well as joy, love and hope.

    On that we agree with its intent if not its accuracy.

    When religious folks start getting caught up in their religious teaching being more than religion they get in Trouble.

    Absolutely.

    *ie canines can beget other canine types and felines can beget other feline types

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  45. C. Clavin says:

    @superdestroyer:
    No … I really believe that anyone who believes in Creationism is a dunce.
    It just happens that the vast majority of those dunces are Republicans.
    Anyone can be stupid. But if you are stupid you are more likely to be a Republican.

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  46. Jeremy says:

    @Timothy Watson:

    Well, look at it this way. Because creationist tax dollars go to public education, they fight to have creationism taught in schools. Because the fight is intense, what we end up with is watered down milquetoast BS at best that doesn’t serve everybody. If we got rid of public education, you’d have people go their separate ways…and the creationist schools would likely have a bunch of graduates who couldn’t find jobs, so that would probably change things from one generation to the next. “Don’t do what your pappy did, go to a good secular school.” Or something like that.

    Also, don’t think the libertarian solution is for charter schools, rather it’s for education tax credits instead (at least that’s what Cato’s educational experts say.)

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  47. Tillman says:

    @C. Clavin: So, since a portion of the German population murdered some six million Jews, all Germans are mass murderers?

    (Dear God, I’ve just Godwinned a religion debate. We’re all going to die.)

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  48. Tillman says:

    @Just Me:

    As for the Biblical accounts-I personally view the story of Adam and Eve as a local story that probably has some basis in truth and some aspects of allegory. Those early Biblical stories were oral tradition so there is room for human error in some of the story telling.

    Don’t say that. You can’t say that to a fundamentalist. They will pull out their copy of the Bible, which has GOD in giant letters written underneath the title, implying His Almighty Authorship.

    While creationists and fundamentalists aren’t necessarily the same tribe, the Venn diagram of the two resembles what a plastered man sees when he stares at a circle.

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  49. superdestroyer says:

    @Pinky:

    Considering that only about 19% of Americans believe that God (or any God?) had nothing to do with creation, then it is hard to believe that 80% of Democrats are Creationist. Considering that blacks are much more likely than whites to be creationist and that blacks make up about 25% of the Democratic Party, there is no way the 19% number works.

    Usually you see such partisan reporting as the difference between conservatives and liberals. That usually allows the authors of the study to put Latinos and blacks into the conservative category and avoid the idea that blacks and Latinos in the Democratic Party have very different beliefs from the urban elite whites who run the party.

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  50. argon says:

    And we wonder why our students continue to perform so poorly on international science tests.

    ‘Cause they have idiots for parents.

    I agree with the tribal thing too. There’s a correlation with global warming and creationist sentiment. On the tribal perception: I recall Philip Johnson, one of the early leading ‘lights of the intelligent design movement’ also disputing the causal role of HIV with AIDS. And wouldn’t you know it, a whole bunch of ID supporters just had to become HIV denialists too, because if old Phil was wrong about that well, he might also be wrong about ID. So circle the wagons!

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  51. Pinky says:

    @superdestroyer: You lost me. 80%?

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  52. bill says:

    @Gustopher: i think you’re right. it’s like asking someone about global warming- they just automatically choose one side despite the questions parameters. i think a lot of them do it just to piss off the pollsters!

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  53. C. Clavin says:

    @Tillman:
    Once is a fluke…Twice is a trend…Three times is a habit (pun intended )……..

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  54. ernieyeball says:

    @gVOR08: There is no necessary conflict between evolution, or science generally, and religion.

    Yes there is. The scientific method of finding things out demands demonstrations of proof. Like constructing and testing hypothesis.
    Religion is based on acceptance on faith. No evidence required. In other words religious authorities can make up anything and its adherents are supposed to believe it. Like invisible angels that protect children. Or souls. Or afterlife. Or resurrection of the dead. Or all the other hocus pocus mumbo jumbo that religion and its unquestioning belief in supernatural phenomonena can fabricate.

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  55. Just 'nutha' ig'rant cracker says:

    @Matt Bernius: Because everyone who believes in Creationism is a whack job who wants to destroy the fabric of America and install a theocracy that will take away your rights and send us headlong into a real-life version of “A Handmaiden’s Tale.” Haven’t you been following the discussion?

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  56. Just 'nutha' ig'rant cracker says:

    @Just ‘nutha’ ig’rant cracker: Wow! I stand corrected! This thread was far more civilized than most that I have read here over the past year. Good Job Folks!

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  57. DrDaveT says:

    @ernieyeball:

    Religion is based on acceptance on faith. No evidence required.

    And yet, if this were true, the religious would not see any point in trying to develop rational arguments/demonstrations for the correctness of their beliefs, nor in finding evidence in Nature for the correctness of various religious beliefs. But many extremely religious people do this all the time. The history of such arguments in Christianity alone dates from the very earliest days of the Church, and continues to this day. The Fideists have usually been the minority, even during the Dark Ages.

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  58. ernieyeball says:

    @DrDaveT: …finding evidence in Nature for the correctness of various religious beliefs.

    You mean like this?
    http://cafehayek.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/miracle_cartoon.jpg

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  59. Tillman says:

    @ernieyeball:

    In other words religious authorities can make up anything and its adherents are supposed to believe it.

    It’s a good thing scientific institutions can’t fall victim to fabrications:

    John Bohannon, a biologist at Harvard, recently submitted a pseudonymous paper on the effects of a chemical derived from lichen on cancer cells to 304 journals describing themselves as using peer review. An unusual move; but it was an unusual paper, concocted wholesale and stuffed with clangers in study design, analysis and interpretation of results. Receiving this dog’s dinner from a fictitious researcher at a made up university, 157 of the journals accepted it for publication.

    Dr Bohannon’s sting was directed at the lower tier of academic journals. But in a classic 1998 study Fiona Godlee, editor of the prestigious British Medical Journal, sent an article containing eight deliberate mistakes in study design, analysis and interpretation to more than 200 of the BMJ’s regular reviewers. Not one picked out all the mistakes. On average, they reported fewer than two; some did not spot any.

    And if you think religious belief is by nature “unquestioning,” then brother I’ve got some things to sell to you.

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  60. ernieyeball says:

    @Tillman: I did not cite scientific institutions. I referenced the scientific method of finding things out.

    Questions… Morphology? Longevity? Incept dates?

    or

    …how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?

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  61. Tillman says:

    @ernieyeball: Ah, so you’re comparing an idealized form of science versus a cynical form of religion?

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  62. george says:

    @Paul L.:

    Well that is a step up from claiming all Technologies discovered after Darwin.

    Stop using Cars, Computers and the Internet since you hate Science !!!!

    Yup. Those only run into problems with people who think the world is only 10,000 years old – you’d have to throw out most of quantum mechanics for that to work … and probably a good part of relativity (special and general) if you think the 10,000 years applies to the universe as a whole.

    In practice of course, people cherry pick and we use whatever tools are around irrespective of how they were developed. It’s pretty normal behavior to think that say quantum mechanics and relativity are complete garbage, but still feel comfortable using computers – I suspect the argument goes that the same creation that made that young earth/universe also makes computers function with no need for modern physics to be involved at all.

    I suspect most of the young earth creationist would argue (based on discussions with a few) that we could stop all research in fundamental science and it would have no discernible affect on their lives. Certainly governments often take that point of view (the current Canadian gov’t for instance), saying that the only necessary research is that which is directed at a particular technology.

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  63. george says:

    @gVOR08:

    Yes. A thousand times, yes. There is no necessary conflict between evolution, or science generally, and religion. Evangelicals and politicians have found it profitable to create a conflict.

    In fact, in most of the worlds (and through-out history), it is common for scientists to also be religious, everything from Hinduism to Buddhism to Muslim to Jewish to Catholic to various flavors of Protestantism. Its only in the United States that a significant portion of religious people think the world is 10,000 years old and so end up having to throw out most of modern science in the process.

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  64. ernieyeball says:

    @Tillman: If you say so…

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  65. Matt Bernius says:

    @Pinky, @Stormy Dragon, & @Dave D (et al):
    First, thanks for such refreshing theological discussion and well reasoned points.

    To be clear, I don’t see hard contradiction with religious faith and science.

    Stormy, I completely buy into the point you are making. And that can easily fit into a broader interpretation. However, I think, based on my reading of his writing, the Pious would not agree with what you are writing. And if we are talking about the orthodox view of the Church as a whole (as opposed to the beliefs of individual members), I have a hard time seeing how it would accept Mitochodrial Eve and Y-Chromosome Adam as fulfilling the text of the old testament.

    @Pinky, to your point, you are completely right that hermeneutics relies on balancing symbolic interpretation with literalism. Hence why I do believe a defensible interpretation of Paul’s writings as not being so much about homosexuality as they were condemning depraved behavior being committed at church meetings.

    However, there are critical points where there is little room for symbolic interpretation. Again, Pious’ writings seem to me to be trying to isolate what — in the story of Eden — needs to be taken as literal fact (i.e. one breeding pair) versus what is symbolic (i.e. the snake).

    There is room for personal interpretation, but only up to a point (i.e. I don’t think the Catholic church or any mainstream Christian church would allow Jesus’ resurrection to be seen as purely symbolic).

    Dr Dave, I agree on all your points. The issue is that we still need to deal with the act that created Original Sin. Remember that Adam and Eve were created in a state of grace (in the same way Mary was — as I understand it). Original Sin is initiated by both disobeying God AND eating from the tree of knowledge. Without a doubt, in the Jewish tradition, this is seen as a metaphorical tale.

    But if we go back to Pious’s writing in the encyclical, its clear he is writing that there is a *literal* truth at play here.

    Either way, and this is critical, is that regardless of his overall point, Pious’s writing reminds us that interpretation of the text is continually evolving (ha!). And it’s entirely possible in the future that the Church will reach a view in which Adam and Eve are not necessarily a literal breeding pair.

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  66. Matt Bernius says:

    TL:DR version of the above post, while I don’t think that the Orthodox view of the Catholic Church currently supports *all* of evolutionary theory, it’s also clear that it (a) can eventually change, and that (b) no one is going to get excommunicated if as an individual they adopt a much more liberal reading of the text.

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  67. Ben R says:

    This country was not founded by Christians, but by Deist. (Washington,Jefferson,Adams,Paine,and others). Christians took over later.
    From the numbers presented it seems we may be slowly moving back to Deism.
    To me, that would be a good thing.
    This may be a little ways from the topic at hand, but shows how beliefs have evolved
    in our country.

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  68. Matt Bernius says:

    @Ben R:

    This country was not founded by Christians, but by Deist. (Washington,Jefferson,Adams,Paine,and others). Christians took over later.

    This is a *fundamental* twisting of history.

    Yes, there were some Diests (though the jury is still out to whether all the individuals you list would have considered themselves Diests). However, a significant number of the founding fathers were affirmed and confirmed Christians.

    Part of the problem is that everyone wants to claim that *all* of the founding fathers were X or Y (because that allows them to advance their personal agendas). The dynamics of these individuals and the founding of the country is far to complex for such simple narratives.

    For a good (scholarly) overview of the role of deism and the founding of the US, I suggest this primer: http://nationalhumanitiescenter.org/tserve/eighteen/ekeyinfo/deism.htm

    Beyond all of this, it’s also important to note that the founding fathers — Deists, Christians, and even *gasp* the occasional Jew — made the very specific choice to place no reference to a creator in the Constitution. Which isn’t to say they were attempting to form an atheistic country, but does suggest the emphasis they placed on keeping a separation between religion and government.

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  69. Pinky says:

    @Matt Bernius:

    it’s also clear that it (a) can eventually change, and that (b) no one is going to get excommunicated if as an individual they adopt a much more liberal reading of the text

    I wouldn’t say that. There are some fixed teachings on faith and morals (known as dogma), there are some teachings on faith and morals that have developed over time, and there are matters of scientific discovery. The Church doesn’t take a stand on matters of science, except to the extent that those matters overlap with issues of faith and morals. (Plus, the Church funds scientific research for the betterment of mankind.) Like Cardinal Baronio said, his business is how to move to heaven, not how the heavens move. The conflict comes in when a scientist takes a position that a Church teaching on faith and morals is incorrect. This is what Galileo was accused of – claiming that if the Church said that Scripture said that the Sun moved around the Earth, then the Church was wrong. (Actually, Galileo’s crime was making enemies of powerful Italians, a crime that can still carry a serious sentence.)

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  70. Pinky says:

    @ernieyeball: Faith is the handshake at the end of a deal negotiated by reason. Faith is like a marriage proposal – “I don’t know everything about you, but based on what I do know, I have the confidence to commit”. Faith is a GPS and reason is a map; there’s no conflict because they both move you in the same direction.

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  71. gVOR08 says:

    @ernieyeball: Stephen Jay Gould, the man who wrote the book on evolution (well not THE book but http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Structure_of_Evolutionary_Theory), used to talk about separate magisteria. Science and religion could have their own worlds. If you will, your intellectual activities could be governed by science, but you could have a spiritual world governed by religion. And the two could be kept separate. Not my approach, and IIRC not Gould’s, but it’s worked for millions of people, including a lot of working scientists.

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  72. Grewgills says:

    @Pinky:
    I’ve agreed with much of what you have said in this thread, but not two of your three analogies.

    Faith is the handshake at the end of a deal negotiated by reason.

    Faith is a leap or trust when reason cannot go further for some (Kierkegaard among others). In this way we have the god of the gaps.

    Faith is a GPS and reason is a map; there’s no conflict because they both move you in the same direction.

    Faith tempered by reason has moved many philosophers in interesting and I would argue better directions than previous iterations of belief, but pure reason and pure faith often don’t pull in the same direction.
    The form faith takes can be anathema to science, but because this can be doesn’t mean it must be. Religion can and has coexisted with science and other reasoned examination of the world prior to the scientific method. It requires a blinkered view of history to deny this. Where religions (as opposed to faith in general) have failed is when they jump into the current gaps of science or reason and say there is God. This inevitably leads to a shrinking God as science and reason grow and that leads to conflict.

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  73. Pinky says:

    @Grewgills: I think that you and gVOR08 are seeing an opposition where there isn’t one. I think maybe you’re depicting faith as something that happens without reason, and you’re underselling it. Without getting too epistemological on a thread that’s going to disappear soon, I’d say that reason, observation, and faith are all tools that can be used to point to that which is true, and therefore are compatible.

    Dang. I wish this thread could keep going.

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  74. ernieyeball says:

    @Pinky: Faith is the handshake at the end of a deal negotiated by reason.

    Why did I think the subject at hand was faith in the supernatural? You know, like the Flying Spaghetti Monster worshipped by Pastafarians.
    Let us pray:

    “Our pasta, who art in a colander, draining be your noodles. Thy noodle come, Thy sauce be yum, on top some grated Parmesan. Give us this day, our garlic bread, …and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trample on our lawns. And lead us not into vegetarianism, but deliver us some pizza, for thine is the meatball, the noodle, and the sauce, forever and ever. RAmen.”

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  75. Grewgills says:

    @Pinky:
    Faith is something that happens without reason, that is a defining characteristic of faith.
    According to the OED

    Faith
    1Complete trust or confidence in someone or something:
    2Strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof.

    The second definition is the operative one here. You simply cannot come to faith by reason, it requires a leap when reason reaches its end. Many greater minds than ours have tried and all of them have failed. That is not to say that people of faith cannot also be rational or scientifically minded people, but that their faith is not based on reason no matter how hard they may try to make it so.

    I’d say that reason, observation, and faith are all tools that can be used to point to that which is true, and therefore are compatible.

    If we are talking about personal capital T truths where my Truth and your Truth may differ, then I agree.
    BTW I am an atheist leaning agnostic, but was raised in Catholic schools (sometimes less than comfortably) and have since taught in Catholic schools and support Catholic education, so I am not hostile to faith or religion, I just disagree with you on some particulars.

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  76. Pinky says:

    @ernieyeball: Am I supposed to cry because you made fun of religion? I mean, what do you want me to say to that?

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  77. Pinky says:

    @Grewgills: We’re probably mostly in agreement. As I said (meant to say, actually), reason can negotiate the terms of a deal, but it will only get you right up to the point of the handshake. The handshake takes an act of will – an act of faith.

    Where we disagree, I’d guess, is about whether there is absolute truth, and the means by which such truth can be found. As I see an objective universe, I see that any means by which knowledge of it can be gained will point in the same direction. (That was a long sentence, and I didn’t want to add anything more to it, but let me explain what I mean by “direction”. I don’t mean everything will point to fact A. I mean that if fact A, B, and C are all true, then no means by which we can gain information will, if properly used, point to notA, notB, or notC. And as A, B, and C are compatible in reality, we can say that any legitimate means of finding truth will point in the direction of truth.) Aquinas used the example of how a mathematician would prove that the earth is round one way, and an astronomer another, but they’d both point to the same truth. (I love that example, because it was written in the 1200’s and exposes the falsehood of the “Europeans thought the earth was flat” myth.)

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  78. ernieyeball says:

    @Pinky: @ernieyeball: Am I supposed to cry because you made fun of religion?

    Only if they are tears of joy!!!
    Why are you dissing me anyway? I do not practice any religion or worship any god.
    I am running another test to see if prayer works at 4:00 PM today. That is when I will go to the local Chili’s to see my spiritual advisor Kayla.
    When I asked her to be my spiritual advisor I told her it is the easiest job ever. Since I refuse to be spiritual she doesn’t have to do anything at all. She can put it on her resume and I will always give her a good reference. I told her that her smiling at me is the only religious experience I need.
    Since I try to give her a enough of a tip so she can get an extra gallon of gas it works for both of us! All you god believers out there should be so lucky!

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  79. Pinky says:

    @ernieyeball: And I dissed you…where? Are we having a fight that I didn’t know about?

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  80. ernieyeball says:

    @Pinky: @ernieyeball: And I dissed you…where?

    You accused me of making fun of religion. That is a false charge which is extremely disrespectful. My post of Thur. Jun 5, 2014 at 19:11 was a serious reporting of the behavior of Pastsfarians who worship a supernatural entity called Flying Spaghetti Monster.
    I also conducted a prayer test to check the efficacy of pleas to invisible entities. I am still waiting for the results and will report them when and if they come in.

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