Mike the Mad Biologist

Gallup Poll About Religion and Evolution

Granted, at this point, I’m not going to trust polls ever again, but Gallup released a poll that examined religious beliefs. Part of the poll dealt with evolution and creationism. I found two good articles on the topic (here and here). As an evolutionary biologist, it’s nice to see others, especially non-scientists entering the fray. It can be really frustrating at times, when you feel like you’re the only one fighting the battle; the support helps and is appreciated.

I think part of the problem stems from a complete misunderstanding of what science is, how is works, and what it can’t tell us (metaphysics, for example). Unfortunately, the right (and it’s not just the religious right, but the right) in this country has declared unrelenting war against any form of intellectualism, going back to Spiro Agnew. Combined with the bizarre conservative acceptance of post-modernist deconstructionism, evolution is portrayed too often as another competing ideology or religious belief, when instead it should be viewed as an evidence-based process.

Again, this stems, in part, from mediocre K-12 science education in this country. More specifically, if my experience is any indication, most teachers with BAs or BSs in biology (and the number of biology teachers without even these credentials is staggering) know very little about evolution. It’s often not a mandatory part of the college curriculum-many biology majors (and for that matter, PhDs) are only exposed at most to two or three weeks of evolutionary biology in a freshman survey course. In addition, I think it is the hardest discipline in biology to teach because it requires the most abstract and verbal thinking (not to mention mathematics). Then these unprepared teachers are expected to teach what is perhaps the most theoretical and difficult part of biology to high school students. Maybe we should consider ourselves lucky that ~50% of Americans accept evolution at all…

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