Does The Evolution Fight Matter?

Working off Andrew Sullivan’s comments about a Gallup poll that I wrote about earlier this month, Kevin Drum argues that it really doesn’t matter that a large percentage of the American public doesn’t accept evolution as the explanation for man’s origin:

This 46% number has barely budged over the past three decades, and I’m willing to bet it was at least as high back in the 50s and early 60s, that supposed golden age of comity and bipartisanship. It simply has nothing to do with whether we can all get along and nothing to do with whether we can construct a civil discourse.

The fact is that belief in evolution has virtually no real-life impact on anything. That’s why 46% of the country can safely choose not to believe it: their lack of belief has precisely zero effect on their lives. Sure, it’s a handy way of saying that they’re God-fearing Christians — a “cultural signifier,” as Andrew puts it — but our lives are jam-packed with cultural signifiers. This is just one of thousands, one whose importance probably barely cracks America’s top 100 list.

Contra Sullivan, Drum also argues that one’s position on evolution doesn’t really tell us very much about the cultural divide that Sully laments:

I could spend an entire day arguing politics and economics and culture with a conservative and never so much as mention evolution. It’s just not that important, and it doesn’t tell us much of anything about our widening political polarization. We should keep up the fight, but at the same time we shouldn’t pretend it has an epic significance that it doesn’t. I’m not optimistic about anyone or anything “bringing the country together,” but not because lots of people choose to deny evolution. Frankly, that’s one of the least of our problems.

I tend to think Drum is largely correct here. In the end, evolution is not an issue that most people have to deal with even tangentially in their daily lives and it’s likely that much of this 46% doesn’t really have a good understanding of what Evolutionary Theory is really all about. Polls like the one from Gallup frustrate me intensely because it would be nice if we lived in a country where rational thought was more common, but then again I’m not sure how common reason actually is amongst humanity in general.

As Drum goes on to say, none of this means that we should give in to the creationists and remove evolution from High Schools, or allow pseudo-science like “intelligent design” to be treated as it if were as valid as actual science, those are fights worth fighting. However, in the end, this is hardly the most important issue in the country.

FILED UNDER: Quick Takes, Religion, Science & Technology,
Doug Mataconis
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. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Boyd says:

    As an active participant in many activities at my Southern Baptist church, I realize it’s likely the majority of folks I spend my time with are “Creationists” (a term I dislike intensely, since I believe in Creation, I just believe that God also created Science, which is the vehicle He uses to accomplish a whole lot of stuff. Like creating the Universe, for example).

    But like Kevin, I believe there’s not much point in having that discussion with them. What difference would it make, beyond potentially driving a wedge between us? Those who believe God used a miracle to create the Universe in seven days, and even went so far as to create evidence that it was done over a much longer timeframe, aren’t likely to be swayed by anything I have to offer, and they’re certainly not going to change my mind.

    We have many more things worth discussing; things that will actually make a difference somewhere. Why would I want to get in the way of that by arguing over something where neither of us is going to be convinced by the other?

  2. legion says:

    Refusal to grasp evolution is really more of a signifier of intellectual failure than an actual deficit itself. Compare it to other academic concepts – let’s say: math. Do you really use anything beyond algebra in your typical day? Do you have conversations about finding the length of a right triangle’s hypotenuse or what sine & cosine tell you? Would not grasping the inner details of those things really lessen your ability to thrive in society? I’d wager not. But someone who described those concepts as unnecessary to teach – or better yet, completely wrong – should be laughed out of polite society.

    Instead, we elect them to high office.

  3. Ron Beasley says:

    Evolution is just one aspect of the anti-science attitudes of the US and those anti-science beliefs do matter and are at least partially responsible for the US’s decline and potentially the end of civilization as we know it.

  4. Murray says:

    You’re actually contradicting yourself.

    If you think, as I do, that fighting to keep creationism and “intelligent design” out of high schools is important, then you consider that the fight for evolution matters.

  5. PD Shaw says:

    I agree with Drum; in the hierarchy of importance in our society, which starts with the fine and liberal arts majors on top, the philosopher kings, if you will, and the plebeian fields of the math and sciences on the bottom; all the important people one can know, know nothing about evolution other than what is fashionable to believe. Evolution, Scientology, phrenology, all can come and go without making any difference.

  6. WR says:

    @PD Shaw: Yes,, because it’s all the liberal arts majors for whom you have so much contempt who are the ones denying evolution.

    Because of course everyone you despise must contain every single aspect of humanity that you despise. That way you can stay safe in your bubble of smugness and never interact with a human being who isn’t exactly like you.

  7. PD Shaw says:

    @WR: another humorless liberal? They used to have senses of humor, but I’m dating myself.

  8. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @WR: After reading your word salad there, the only thought I can have is “of course this guy believes in evolution. He’s living proof that it occasionally runs backwards.”

  9. al-Ameda says:

    As Drum goes on to say, none of this means that we should give in to the creationists and remove evolution from High Schools, or allow pseudo-science like “intelligent design” to be treated as it if were as valid as actual science, those are fights worth fighting. However, in the end, this is hardly the most important issue in the country.

    It does not matter if it’s not the most important issue in the country. Rather, it is just another important issue we need to deal with. It’s an important part of the culture wars, a part of the struggle to determine what is taught in public high schools.

  10. G.A. says:

    I would like to see creation and evolution taught side by side.And as one of my favorite creation teachers is fond of saying

    “I don’t care if they teach evolution, I just want the lies taken out of the text books”.

  11. G.A. says:

    (a term I dislike intensely, since I believe in Creation, I just believe that God also created Science, which is the vehicle He uses to accomplish a whole lot of stuff. Like creating the Universe, for example).

    🙂

    I just picked up one of these. Good book.

    http://www.amazon.com/Henry-Morris-Study-Bible-The/dp/089051657X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1339460860&sr=8-1&keywords=henry+morris+study+bible

  12. Franklin says:

    @G.A.: I see you also commented on that amusing one-star review for the book, which was completely not one-star for the reason I thought it would be.

  13. Tillman says:

    Evolution, Scientology, phrenology, all can come and go without making any difference.

    Bull. Phrenology, far as I know, never sued anyone.

  14. al-Ameda says:

    @G.A.:

    “I don’t care if they teach evolution, I just want the lies taken out of the text books”.

    What are some of the lies?

  15. gVOR08 says:

    @G.A.: I would also like to see Creationism taught in public high schools. In a Civics class. As an example of how a small number of dedicated, well funded nut jobs can push an agenda successfully despite the irrationality of their position.

  16. James in LA says:

    Evolution pales in comparison to the revelation that your standard issue human is composed mostly of bacteria. “You” are outnumbered 1000:1 by species, and 100,000:1 by genome. Bacteria communicate much like the internet, but without addressing, with LANs and WANs. And they make up the vast majority of “me”.

    Whatever “I” am. Be that as it may, for those retaining reticence regarding evolution, “germanity” is going to go over like a fart in church. Pick any church.

  17. Tend to agree with Drum here. In my evolution is not even in the top 20, maybe 50.

    Made me think of the neuroscientist who wrote a piece for Psychology Today saying that the question of whether human beings have free will is meaningless because either “yes” or “no” have exactly the same effect on human behavior, namely, none whatsoever. See here.

  18. Herb says:

    In the end, evolution is not an issue that most people have to deal with even tangentially in their daily lives

    Hmm…..not sure I agree with that. Just off the top of my head, I can think of a few not-so-tangential things where an understanding (and acceptance) of evolution would be beneficial.

    The overuse of antibiotics. Genetically modified food. (BT corn is great….until it kills off the susceptible leaving only the resistant to procreate.) Even releasing boa constrictors in the Everglades. Give me an hour and I’ll come up with a whole list.

    After all, evolution isn’t only about the origin of species. It’s also about how species interact and adapt.

  19. HankP says:

    It only matters if you care about learning how things actually work in reality, and care about your kids being taught the same. It also matters if you want to design policies that will actually work in the real world. But sure, aside from that it doesn’t matter at all.

  20. G.A. says:

    After all, evolution isn’t only about the origin of species.

    no it’s not.

    http://www.uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/darwin-reader-darwins-racism/ Oh look four stars..On the side of the page..

    In the face of systematic attempts to efface from public view, Darwin’s racism, a friend writes to offer quotes from Darwin’s Descent of Man:

    Savages are intermediate states between people and apes:

    “It has been asserted that the ear of man alone possesses a lobule; but ‘a rudiment of it is found in the gorilla’ and, as I hear from Prof. Preyer, it is not rarely absent in the negro.

    “The sense of smell is of the highest importance to the greater number of mammals–to some, as the ruminants, in warning them of danger; to others, as the Carnivora, in finding their prey; to others, again, as the wild boar, for both purposes combined. But the sense of smell is of extremely slight service, if any, even to the dark coloured races of men, in whom it is much more highly developed than in the white and civilised races.”

    “The account given by Humboldt of the power of smell possessed by the natives of South America is well known, and has been confirmed by others. M. Houzeau asserts that he repeatedly made experiments, and proved that Negroes and Indians could recognise persons in the dark by their odour. Dr. W. Ogle has made some curious observations on the connection between the power of smell and the colouring matter of the mucous membrane of the olfactory region as well as of the skin of the body. I have, therefore, spoken in the text of the dark-coloured races having a finer sense of smell than the white races….Those who believe in the principle of gradual evolution, will not readily admit that the sense of smell in its present state was originally acquired by man, as he now exists. He inherits the power in an enfeebled and so far rudimentary condition, from some early progenitor, to whom it was highly serviceable, and by whom it was continually used.”

    [From Denyse: Decades ago, I distinguished myself by an ability to smell sugar in coffee. It wasn’t very difficult, with a bit of practice, and it helped to sort out the office coffee orders handily. My best guess is that most people could learn the art if they wanted to. Most human beings don’t even try to develop their sense of smell – we are mostly occupied with avoiding distressing smells or eliminating or else covering them up. I don’t of course, say that we humans would ever have the sense of smell of a wolf, but only that Darwin’s idea here is basically wrong and best explained by racism. ]

    “It appears as if the posterior molar or wisdom-teeth were tending to become rudimentary in the more civilised races of man. These teeth are rather smaller than the other molars, as is likewise the case with the corresponding teeth in the chimpanzee and orang; and they have only two separate fangs. … In the Melanian races, on the other hand, the wisdom-teeth are usually furnished with three separate fangs, and are generally sound; they also differ from the other molars in size, less than in the Caucasian races.

    “It is an interesting fact that ancient races, in this and several other cases, more frequently present structures which resemble those of the lower animals than do the modern. One chief cause seems to be that the ancient races stand somewhat nearer in the long line of descent to their remote animal-like progenitors.”

    [From Denyse: The nice thing about teeth is that, if they give trouble, they can simply be pulled. I would be reluctant to found a big theory on the size or convenience of teeth, given that this fact must have occurred to our ancestors many thousands of years ago.]

    “It has often been said, as Mr. Macnamara remarks, that man can resist with impunity the greatest diversities of climate and other changes; but this is true only of the civilised races. Man in his wild condition seems to be in this respect almost as susceptible as his nearest allies, the anthropoid apes, which have never yet survived long, when removed from their native country.”
    [From Denyse: Native North Americans often perished from human diseases to which they had not become immune in childhood. That is probably unrelated to the inability of anthropoid apes to stand cold climates.]

    This includes the degraded morals of lower races:

    “The above view of the origin and nature of the moral sense, which tells us what we ought to do, and of the conscience which reproves us if we disobey it, accords well with what we see of the early and undeveloped condition of this faculty in mankind…. A North-American Indian is well pleased with himself, and is honoured by others, when he scalps a man of another tribe; and a Dyak cuts off the head of an unoffending person, and dries it as a trophy. … With respect to savages, Mr. Winwood Reade informs me that the negroes of West Africa often commit suicide. It is well known how common it was amongst the miserable aborigines of South America after the Spanish conquest. … It has been recorded that an Indian Thug conscientiously regretted that he had not robbed and strangled as many travellers as did his father before him. In a rude state of civilisation the robbery of strangers is, indeed, generally considered as honourable.”

    “As barbarians do not regard the opinion of their women, wives are commonly treated like slaves. Most savages are utterly indifferent to the sufferings of strangers, or even delight in witnessing them. It is well known that the women and children of the North-American Indians aided in torturing their enemies. Some savages take a horrid pleasure in cruelty to animals, and humanity is an unknown virtue….. Many instances could be given of the noble fidelity of savages towards each other, but not to strangers; common experience justifies the maxim of the Spaniard, “Never, never trust an Indian.”

    [From Denyse: If early modern Europeans in Canada had not trusted “Indians,” they would all have died off pretty quickly.]

    “The other so-called self-regarding virtues, which do not obviously, though they may really, affect the welfare of the tribe, have never been esteemed by savages, though now highly appreciated by civilised nations. The greatest intemperance is no reproach with savages.”

    “I have entered into the above details on the immorality of savages, because some authors have recently taken a high view of their moral nature, or have attributed most of their crimes to mistaken benevolence. These authors appear to rest their conclusion on savages possessing those virtues which are serviceable, or even necessary, for the existence of the family and of the tribe,–qualities which they undoubtedly do possess, and often in a high degree.”

    [From Denyse: Charles Darwin, let me introduce you to Hollywood, before you say any more silly things about the supposed immorality of “savages.” ]

    Making slavery understandable, though of course distasteful now:

    “Slavery, although in some ways beneficial during ancient times, is a great crime; yet it was not so regarded until quite recently, even by the most civilised nations. And this was especially the case, because the slaves belonged in general to a race different from that of their masters.”

    [From Denyse: Not really. In ancient times, slaves were typically unransomed captives in war, convicted criminals, or people who had fallen into irrecoverable debt. In Roman times, there would be nothing unusual about being a slave to someone of the same race as oneself. Slavery based on race alone was an early modern legal invention, aimed against blacks.]

    Mass killings of savages is understandable as a type of species extinction:

    “At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate, and replace, the savage races throughout the world. At the same time the anthropomorphous apes, as Professor Schaaffhausen has remarked will no doubt be exterminated. The break between man and his nearest allies will then be wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilised state, as we may hope, even than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as now between the negro or Australian and the gorilla.”

    “The partial or complete extinction of many races and sub-races of man is historically known….When civilised nations come into contact with barbarians the struggle is short, except where a deadly climate gives its aid to the native race…. The grade of their civilisation seems to be a most important element in the success of competing nations. A few centuries ago Europe feared the inroads of Eastern barbarians; now any such fear would be ridiculous.”

    “[Flinders Island], situated between Tasmania and Australia, is forty miles long, and from twelve to eighteen miles broad: it seems healthy, and the natives were well treated. Nevertheless, they suffered greatly in health….With respect to the cause of this extraordinary state of things, Dr. Story remarks that death followed the attempts to civilise the natives.” [–Obviously the problem was trying to civilize these barbarians!]

    “Finally, although the gradual decrease and ultimate extinction of the races of man is a highly complex problem, depending on many causes which differ in different places and at different times; it is the same problem as that presented by the extinction of one of the higher animals.”

    Of course the degradation extends to the intellectual:

    “There is, however, no doubt that the various races, when carefully compared and measured, differ much from each other,–as in the texture of the hair, the relative proportions of all parts of the body …Their mental characteristics are likewise very distinct; chiefly as it would appear in their emotional, but partly in their intellectual faculties. Every one who has had the opportunity of comparison, must have been struck with the contrast between the taciturn, even morose, aborigines of S. America and the light-hearted, talkative negroes. There is a nearly similar contrast between the Malays and the Papuans who live under the same physical conditions, and are separated from each other only by a narrow space of sea.”

    [From Denyse: I would imagine that the aborigines of South America felt some resentment over the loss of their continent to invaders from Europe … ]

    ” A certain amount of absorption of mulattoes into negroes must always be in progress; and this would lead to an apparent diminution of the former. The inferior vitality of mulattoes is spoken of in a trustworthy work as a well-known phenomenon; and this, although a different consideration from their lessened fertility, may perhaps be advanced as a proof of the specific distinctness of the parent races.”

    “So far as we are enabled to judge, although always liable to err on this head, none of the differences between the races of man are of any direct or special service to him. The intellectual and moral or social faculties must of course be excepted from this remark.”

    And… drum roll.., the main conclusion:

    “The main conclusion arrived at in this work, namely, that man is descended from some lowly organised form, will, I regret to think, be highly distasteful to many. But there can hardly be a doubt that we are descended from barbarians. The astonishment which I felt on first seeing a party of Fuegians on a wild and broken shore will never be forgotten by me, for the reflection at once rushed into my mind-such were our ancestors. These men were absolutely naked and bedaubed with paint, their long hair was tangled, their mouths frothed with excitement, and their expression was wild, startled, and distrustful. … He who has seen a savage in his native land will not feel much shame, if forced to acknowledge that the blood of some more humble creature flows in his veins.”

    [From Denyse: Sounds like a local rave to me. Not my ancestors (who were, as it happens, rigidly correct people, but my 2009 fellow Torontonians.)]

    “For my own part I would as soon be descended from …[a] monkey, or from that old baboon… –as from a savage who delights to torture his enemies, offers up bloody sacrifices, practices infanticide without remorse, treats his wives like slaves, knows no decency, and is haunted by the grossest superstitions.

    [From Denyse: Yuh, I know. I know women who have divorced guys like that too … but, when founding a theory in science, it strikes me that … ]

    And let’s not forget sexism!

    “The chief distinction in the intellectual powers of the two sexes is shewn by man’s attaining to a higher eminence, in whatever he takes up, than can woman–whether requiring deep thought, reason, or imagination, or merely the use of the senses and hands…We may also infer, from the law of the deviation from averages, so well illustrated by Mr. Galton, in his work on ‘Hereditary Genius,’ that if men are capable of a decided pre-eminence over women in many subjects, the average of mental power in man must be above that of woman.”

    “The greater intellectual vigour and power of invention in man is probably due to natural selection, combined with the inherited effects of habit, for the most able men will have succeeded best in defending and providing for themselves and for their wives and offspring.”

    [From Denyse: Re women vs. men: Actually, if we leave Darwin’s obsession with natural selection out of the matter for a moment, we can come up with a simple explanation for the difference between men’s and women’s achievements. Men are far more likely to win Nobel Prizes than women – but also far more likely to sit on Death Row.

    For most normal achievements, women will do as well as men, given a chance. Women do just as well as men at being, say, a family doctor, an accountant, a real estate agent, a high school teacher, etc.

    It’s only in outstanding achievements – either for good OR for ill – that men tend to dominate. One way of seeing this is that the curve of women’s achievements fits inside the curve of men’s achievements, either way.

    Natural selection does not explain this because most men who have outstanding achievements do not contribute a great deal to the gene pool as a consequence.

    Either they produce few or no children, or their children do nothing outstanding. So Darwin did not really have a good explanation for this fact.

    What should we do? Breeding of people and letting the weak die off:

    “The advancement of the welfare of mankind is a most intricate problem: all ought to refrain from marriage who cannot avoid abject poverty for their children; for poverty is not only a great evil, but tends to its own increase by leading to recklessness in marriage. On the other hand, as Mr. Galton has remarked, if the prudent avoid marriage, whilst the reckless marry, the inferior members tend to supplant the better members of society. Man, like every other animal, has no doubt advanced to his present high condition through a struggle for existence consequent on his rapid multiplication; and if he is to advance still higher, it is to be feared that he must remain subject to a severe struggle. Otherwise he would sink into indolence, and the more gifted men would not be more successful in the battle of life than the less gifted. Hence our natural rate of increase, though leading to many and obvious evils, must not be greatly diminished by any means. There should be open competition for all men; and the most able should not be prevented by laws or customs from succeeding best and rearing the largest number of offspring.”

    “We civilized men, on the other hand, do our utmost to check the process of elimination; we build asylums for the imbecile, the maimed, and the sick; we institute poor-laws; and our medical men exert their utmost skill to save the life of every one to the last moment. There is reason to believe that vaccination has preserved thousands, who from a weak constitution would formerly have succumbed to small-pox. Thus the weak members of civilized societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man. It is surprising how soon a want of care, or care wrongly directed, leads to the degeneration of a domestic race; but excepting in the case of man himself, hardly any one is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed.”

    [From Denyse: But how would anyone know who the “worst animals” are among people?]

  21. Herb says:

    @G.A.: I guess since Darwin was a racist, he was wrong about everything else?

    Modern science pretty much rejects the idea of race entirely. It’s a social construct based on mostly superficial differences. White, black, European, Asian…we all have the same common ancestors.

    I forgive Darwin his ignorance on these matters. We didn’t really start to understand genetics until the 1950s.

  22. Mikey says:

    @Herb:

    We didn’t really start to understand genetics until the 1950s.

    And when we did, it did nothing but support evolutionary theory. This was far from a foregone conclusion. Understanding genetics and DNA could have led us in an entirely different direction. It could even have supported “intelligent design.”

    But it didn’t–indeed, it was found to support evolutionary theory. A body of science created nearly 100 years after Darwin, science about which he could have known nothing, supports his theory. It’s amazing.

    This is why acceptance of the fact of evolution is important: because, as the (very Christian) biologist Theodosius Dobzhansky wrote, “nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.” Rejection of evolution means rejection of the primary means of understanding nearly everything about us, and about the world around us, and how the myriad forms of life interact and propagate.

  23. @Donald Sensing:
    Sorry – meant to write, “in my church evolution is not even in the top 20.”

  24. Scott says:

    @Boyd: The trouble with not discussing this is that these people are messing with my kid’s education. The anti-science, anti-intellectual crowd is forcing themselves onto the school boards and state boards of education. You cannot just ignore them.

  25. The thing is, the evolution question isn’t really nicely isolated like that. It becomes a template for other evidence-based decisions. It becomes a wedge issue against other evidence-based decisions.

    If you think it is all right to pick and choose here, you have to allow it everywhere. You lose your grounding.

    Noting of course that many do work with religion, the evidence, and the fossil record, without conflict:

    In the course of her research, Ecklund surveyed nearly 1,700 scientists and interviewed 275 of them. She finds that most of what we believe about the faith lives of elite scientists is wrong. Nearly 50 percent of them are religious. Many others are what she calls “spiritual entrepreneurs,” seeking creative ways to work with the tensions between science and faith outside the constraints of traditional religion…..only a small minority are actively hostile to religion.

  26. WR says:

    @PD Shaw: Have you ever noticed that people who are actually funny never have to accuse others of being humorless?

  27. george says:

    @G.A.:

    I would like to see creation and evolution taught side by side.And as one of my favorite creation teachers is fond of saying

    “I don’t care if they teach evolution, I just want the lies taken out of the text books”.

    Sure, so long as you allow equal time for all of the major creation myths (the native American ones would be the best to start with, since they were here first, but also Buddhist and Hindu beliefs right off the bat).

    And since the point is to be fair rather than to represent what since thinks, we also should allow for all the alternative theories for physics (starting with Aristotle’s, and maybe reaching Newton by Phd?). In fact, there are hundreds of alternative theories for every aspect of science – and I mean at elementary levels. If we teach about atoms, its only fair we also teach the theories of continuous matter. If we teach conservation of momentum, we have to teach Aristotle’s theory of impetus. And this is just brushing the surface. Just think, there were even as late as Watson & Crick’s time different models put forth for DNA (Linus Pauling had 3 strands if I recall correctly). We should be teaching all of them – of course, that’s assuming we get as far as DNA, which I doubt, since that’s part of the evolutionary theory, and has to be shared with a score of other biological and creation theories.

    With any luck, by the time our kids graduate from high school, they’ll have been exposed to thousands of different theories for every scientific discipline. The probably won’t have gotten to F=ma, or balancing chemical formulas, but that is less important than knowing that every theory gets a fair share of time or not, whether it is accepted by the scientific community or not.

    Because it really doesn’t matter if the US falls behind in science and technology – its been proven time and time again that scientific and technological advancement isn’t important for a country to keep its place on the world stage.

    Oddly enough, I agree with the basic idea put forth by Doug – its a pointless conversation for the most part. And I too think God started the whole thing, and evolution is part of the mechanism (why create the physics that allows for say DNA encription if you’re not going to use it?). But teaching anything other than accepted science is opening a can of worms which will end up with accepted science being given just a few percent of class time, because there are a lot more alternative theories than accepted ones.

  28. As a measure of cognitive dissonance …. someone should poll to see how many followers of the Paleo Diet also maintain a disbelief in evolution.

  29. Herb says:

    @john personna:

    “Nearly 50 percent of them are religious. Many others are what she calls “spiritual entrepreneurs,” seeking creative ways to work with the tensions between science and faith outside the constraints of traditional religion”

    Not really surprising. After all, it’s not belief in God that prevents people from accepting evolution. It’s belief in biblical literacy.

  30. @Herb:

    Yes, the rise in evolution disbelief coincides with a rise in fundamentalist churches, the mega-churches, etc. Their biblical literacy requires a young earth as well.

  31. More on evolution as a wedge issue at Scientific American.

    Science is social, but when political ideology takes precedence over experimental evidence the results can be fatal.

  32. Franklin says:

    @george: I like that argument.

  33. PD Shaw says:

    @WR: That’s funny. FWIW, I have a liberal arts degree, and don’t considerable myself a self-loathing non-STEMer, I just think its funny that there would be any surprose that evolution does not matter in terms of developing most people’s education or employment.

  34. Herb says:

    @john personna: My thought is that in order to believe in biblical literacy one must first do a few things:

    A) Read the whole Bible
    B) In the original language
    C) While also becoming an expert on the regional history of the time. That’ s right, better PHD in ancient Levantine and Roman-period history.

    If one did that, and remains convinced, I’d say they did the due diligence. But if they start quoting some out of context passage from the KJV, I’m tuning out.

  35. grumpy realist says:

    If I were running a high-tech company and I had any applicant who was a creationist, that person would not be hired.

    Reason: if in light of all of the evidence out there you stubbornly continue to believe in creationism “because the Bible says so”, I don’t want you in any position whatsoever having to draw logical conclusions from any data. Because you’ve shown me that you will ignore data that goes against your theory; you are NOT a scientist.

    Contrary to what a lot of rightists like to think, science is one of the few belief systems that is constantly trying to overturn itself. The reason that we don’t accept beliefs like a) astrology b) hollow earths c) creationism is because there is absolutely no data out there which provides support for any of it.

    To all creationists out there (yes, that’s you, G.A.): if creationism is so obvious, when why is it that you look at the actual evidence out there (DNA, lines of descent, etc.) the theory that people come up with is evolution, NOT creationism? Was God a joker? Maybe He is testing you, to see if you’re just someone who bows to authority and whatever is written down in a book, as opposed to someone who uses his own brain and actually thinks.

  36. Scott says:

    @john personna: Just look up what Lysenkoism did to the Soviet Union. In their quest to prove environment had primacy over genetics, they basically made Lysenko the only correct theory. Just another example where Marxist Leninist ideologues are similar in approach to religious fundamentalists.

  37. legion says:

    @Herb:

    it’s not belief in God that prevents people from accepting evolution. It’s belief in biblical literacy.

    DINGDINGDING! You, sir, are win. People who take their Holy Books (in any religion) as parables and lessons to live by tend to be reasonable and quite decent. People who take them as the literal Word Of God (regardless of the translations its gone through) are dangerous mo-fos. What’s especially galling is that those people are the most likely to egregiously _fail_ to follow any aspect of those literal Words they don’t care for…

  38. G.A. says:

    I guess since Darwin was a racist, he was wrong about everything else?

    Don’t guess look it up.

  39. george says:

    @G.A.:

    Yup, even his concept of micro-evolution (to use a creationist talking point, he just called it selection within species) is wrong, right? The whole genetics/DNA thing is a smoke screen developed by evolutionary geneticists …

  40. G.A. says:

    Sure, so long as you allow equal time for all of the major creation myths (the native American ones would be the best to start with, since they were here first, but also Buddhist and Hindu beliefs right off the bat).

    lol, I would put creation science up against anything you got. It would make little sense though.And I do not feel like arguing about your dating methods.Or your history. Or the rest of that self defeting agument you laid out.

    I do keep getting the strong feeling that you guys don’t have the slightest concept about what creation science is though, by way of all the clueless stereotypes and attacks.

    And I am saddened that many of you believe in God but don’t believe His Word or that he can create every thing with it and make it so that it is understandable in some tiny way with what we know as science.

    These are issues you guys need to explore on your own, I know my limitations and that I will only tick you off.But it is not like I have not been asking folks around here to look these things up for many years now.

    Heck I am attempting tongue training again so I should be avoiding this place, but I am a addict, sigh….forgive me again if you can, Me and discipline lol…

  41. george says:

    @G.A.:

    I agree, this is no place to get into an argument about the science involved. I’ll just add that I can make as strong a case for The Onion’s parady “Intelligent Falling”, as you can for “Intelligent Design”. The difference is, I don’t think that’s enough to warrant it being taught in schools.

    Seriously, for everything taught in science (even limiting it to high school and below), there are hundreds of alternative theories. If we’re going to give every alternative equal time, rather than just sticking to the consensus of scientists, then within a generation we’re going to have students with a superficial knowledge of lot’s of alternative science, who won’t have heard of Newton’s Laws or be able to balance a simple chemical equation. There’s nothing special about creationism as an alternative to accepted science – it’s got a thousand siblings with the same validity, in every field of science. I don’t think you have any idea of what you’re wanting to turn our schools into.

  42. She says:

    @G.A.:
    G.A. I refer you to the following:

    Darwin’s Sacred Cause: How a Hatred of Slavery Shaped Darwin’s Views on Human Evolution (9780547055268): Adrian Desmond, James …

    Regards.

  43. G.A. says:

    There’s nothing special about creationism as an alternative to accepted science – it’s got a thousand siblings with the same validity, in every field of science. I don’t think you have any idea of what you’re wanting to turn our schools into.

    As a True believer and a student of history I know what the theory of evolution and it’s six parts are turning our schools into.And I will give that there is a consensus of scientists that is larger than mine when it comes to evolution, we do also have a large consensus.Would ours not be larger if it was main stream and taught as fact?

    Consensus Is not something one should puts their faith in.

    G.A. I refer you to the following:

    I truly believe I understand who Darwin was and what he did and why. and his history.but I will take a look at it.
    .

  44. george says:

    @G.A.:

    Consensus Is not something one should puts their faith in.

    Sure, but how else do you decide what to teach in schools? The only reason we teach Newtonian physics rather than say Aristotle’s is because of consensus. Same thing for teaching oxidization/reduction in chemistry instead of alchemy. Proof only exists in formal systems like math and logic – all we have in science is consensus.

    It might be fairer to teach creationism, alchemy, Aristotle’s physics, Lamarck’s biology, and a hundred other things along with what we currently teach, but I don’t think the end product would be good for the country. There are only a certain number of hours in a school day, and if you try to teach everything, you end up teaching nothing well.

  45. SFG says:

    One small caveat: what you’re referring to are physical laws. Science is a human activity where we try to figure them out. 😉

    Other than that, agree greatly.