Stranger Fruit

i-d6cb1bd84b013624b7e66e62866e25de-080620Evolution_1_jdioodfoppgif_thumb.gif

(source; click for larger version)

So 60% of Republicans – versus 40% of Independents and 38% of Democrats – think that God created humans as is, 10,000 years ago. Let’s get this clear – this isn’t 60% accepting some form of “intelligent design” and allowing the archeological and fossil records to speak for themselves. This isn’t some form of theistic evolution that may be compatible with some form of intelligent design (the numbers there are 32, 36 & 39% respectively). No, this is 60% of Republicans (and 44% of Americans) being abjectly ignorant and accepting a young earth creationist position.  

Let’s take the ID proponents at face-value. Let’s allow them to claim to be aiming to teach “good science.” Let’s accept Phillip Johnson’s claim that ID proponents are "the ones that stand for good science, objective reasoning, assumptions on the table, a high level of education, and freedom of conscience to think as we are capable of thinking." Can we then expect the Discovery Institute to issue a press release decrying the 44% of the American population who clearly are scientifically illiterate and do not realize that we have fossil Homo sapiens going back 200,000 years? Will Evolution News & Views mention that?

Didn’t think so.

Comments

  1. #1 Doubting Foo
    June 24, 2008

    What is more alarming to me is the roughly 40% of all others believe that, too. I wouldn’t expect them to think God had no part but for that many to think we are less than 10,000 years old is scary.

  2. #2 Monado
    June 24, 2008

    It reminds me of that old Chinese curse, “May you live in interesting times.” I wonder how interesting they’re going to make it for us. Thanks for the warning.

    It’s odd that attitudes like that can coexist with some of the best museums and science research in the world. Do you think maybe that they’re just paying lip service? They sure as hell don’t act as if they think God is watching.

  3. #3 razib
    June 24, 2008

    1) yes, but this has been a stable number for a while now, right?

    2) we should do more to emphasize the good-feeling that many ID folk like dembski have toward YEC, though they don’t agree with them.

    3) i am interested that independents are like dems. here’s a hypothesis: dem-leaning independents are generally secular affluent “wine-track” types who balancing out the repub-leaning independents on this question. OTOH, black americans, who are generally more creationist than not, are strongly dem identified so that boosts the number of creationist dems.

  4. #4 John Lynch
    June 24, 2008

    @ Razib

    1. Yes. For nearly 30-odd years now.

    2. Yes, and of course WAD’s hatred (there’s really no other word for it) for theistic evolutionists (the 36% of the American public who accept evolution but believe in some sort of divine guidance).

    3. That certainly sounds plausible.

  5. #5 MartinC
    June 25, 2008

    I don’t think its as straightforward as this poll suggests. There is a lot of cognitive dissonance involved that allows people to believe certain aspects of biological history (such as dinosaurs living millions of years ago) while simultaneously accepting a necessary part of Christian teaching – that the Adam and Eve story is true. I think a lot of Christians realize that Christ dying on the cross to redeem humanity’s original sin doesn’t make any sense if The Fall was just a myth. They NEED the Adam and Eve story to be true in a historical sense and so this probably underlies the actual results you see in the above survey. At the same time most people will admit it is plain that dinosaurs did live millions rather than thousands of years ago – look at the representations of dinosaurs in popular culture – they almost all show a timeline of millions of years. That wouldn’t happen, if even for purely commercial purposes, if a substantial part of the population really felt this was blasphemous (the only ones that disagree are the real YECs who make up a much smaller proportion of the population than is suggested by the poll).

  6. #6 ganv
    June 25, 2008

    Your comment that these are not people “accepting some form of “intelligent design” and allowing the archeological and fossil records to speak for themselves” gets to the heart of the matter.

    I think that the evolution education community has made a big mistake in lumping all intelligent design people with the young earth creationists. Neither one has any data to support their positions, but many forms of ID are not all that harmful to science education, while young earth creationism is a show stopper. A much more effective strategy would be to point out that you have to choose between Biblical literalism and most of the rationally defensible forms of intelligent design. Once those groups are split, then you can focus on the real problem–young earth creationism–without getting into subtle philosophical arguments about the possibility that measurements might detect design. Once people start looking carefully at the fossil record and the DNA data looking for ‘intelligent design’, it is not long until many of them come to understand evolution. That is what happened to me.

    You can’t be a Christian without believing that God is an intelligent designer and creator of the universe. So all Christians believe in intelligent design and creationism. Joining PZ Myers on his crusade against religion will not improve science education in the next few centuries. Helping religious people understand that they can keep much of their belief system and also accept the results of science is the path forward.

  7. #7 Kecia
    June 25, 2008

    @ Martin C, who wrote, “At the same time most people will admit it is plain that dinosaurs did live millions rather than thousands of years ago – look at the representations of dinosaurs in popular culture – they almost all show a timeline of millions of years.”
    I wish that were true. However, YECs claim dinosaurs roamed the earth at the SAME time as humans. The displays at the creation museum in Petersburg, Ky, present dinosaurs alongside humans. (http://www.creationmuseum.org/)
    _________________________________________________

    In general, I’m still torn personally about how to present myself publicly in opposition to YEC and other creationist views. For the moment, I completely support the position and activism of the CFSM (http://venganza.org/). I don’t, however, know how to support changes in widespread ignorance once these people have slipped through the educational system.

    Thank you for the post. I had not read Mr. Johnson’s position before, but I see that I should, despite my aversion to what Mr. Carlin would have called bullshit.

  8. #8 TheNerd
    June 25, 2008

    This gives me hope, as I see that the number which have accepted science’s place in their religion is rising. I think that in the future, we well see fewer people who believe that the Bible disproves scientific evidence and see more people who believe that the Bible is a spiritual methaphor.

    I in no way want to abolish religion, but I much less want to see religion abolish science.

  9. #9 Jim Lippard
    June 25, 2008

    TheNerd: “I see that the number which have accepted science’s place in their religion is rising.”

    I don’t see that. The percentage who agree that humans evolved and God guided the process has dropped by 2% from 1982 to 2006 (38% to 36%).

    Where the gains have occurred for evolution is in those who say we “evolved, God played no part,” which has gone up by 5% in the same time period (from 9% to 14%).

    Those who say “God created as is, 10,000 years ago” has remained fairly steady at 44% in both 1982 and 2006, with a recent drop after peaking at 47%.

    The good news is that the two evolution answers add up to 50% now, versus 47% in 1982. But the progress seems to me to be in the growth of the “God had nothing to do with it” answer. Since I think that’s the right answer, I think that’s a good outcome, but I don’t see anything attributable to accepting science’s place in religion. No doubt some of those who say “God had nothing to do with it” are religious, and are drawing a distinction between the roles of science and religion–1% of “weekly” church attendees, 6% of “nearly every week/monthly” church attendees, and 28% of “seldom/never” attendees. But there’s no comparison over time for that question to see if those 1% and 6% used to be lower.

  10. #10 Robin
    June 25, 2008

    I am just plain scared, that so many people can simply insist on believing what they want to and to hell with the facts!!

  11. #11 Paul Murray
    June 26, 2008

    Look – australian visitors to the USA are sometimes gushingly complemented with “Oh wow, you are Australian? You speak such good english!”

    Americans, for the most part, are vertiginously ignorant of everything except american pop culture. It’s not an evolution-specific thing. Try not to take it so personally.

  12. #12 Michael
    June 26, 2008

    With 150 or so more years of evolution, and being that naturalism is the only conclusion allowed in public schools, yet the percentages remain pretty high with very little flux.

    “I am just plain scared, that so many people can simply insist on believing what they want to and to hell with the facts!!”

    Sounds more like frustration to me. Evolution does in fact rely on a hypothetical proposals and make it sound like there is overwhelming evidence for it…Wimps: Weakly Interacting Massive Particles is a classic example…Astronomers can’t see, but are certain exist, and physicists have never detected. But the indirect evidence for their existence is supposedly overwhelming. They have set up a network to try and detect this hypothetical for what a appears to be the next several years or until another story sounds more plausible to them.

    Now if someone in believe in ID proposed something like this with a different story but with a similar “never detected” outcome to solve a problem in their model, surely it wouldn’t be called science in the atheist viewpoint or in the evolutionist viewpoint. But since the hypothetical story is about naturalism, it’s more acceptable…

  13. #13 Eric
    June 26, 2008

    Michael, thank you for demonstrating a fundamental problem with ID – it’s not based on anything measurable or quantifiable and therefore isn’t science. We’ll ignore that your physics example has nothing to do with evolution, has little to do with anything other than an attack on science in general, and only highlights your ignorance of the scientific method, and use it anyway. Physicists have hundreds of years of observation, measurements, calculations, and models that make predictions – they then set out to prove or disprove those predictions by looking for the occurences they predict. Sometimes they are right, and sometimes they are wrong, but the point is that their work can be used to predict other relationships and they make additional observations and measurements to test these predictions. This is called science. ID is based on stories, makes no predictions, and has no testable theories, so ID “research” is more like looking for Santa Claus. Santa Claus is based on stories, there are many versions from many different cultures but 1 most popular version in the US, and there is also a significant part of the population (children under 10) that believe the stories to be true. Santa Clause is more predictive since it’s a recurring myth rather than a 1 time situation, so it has the advantage over ID of being testable, much like evolution. So even if ID were testable and you approached it scientifically, similar to how a scientist friend’s 6-year-old son devised a Santa Clause detection/monitoring system, it would still not be science because it isn’t based on observation, it’s based on unverified anecdotes. Without mentioning when and how biblical stories came together, which presents a whole other series of credibility issues, ID is based on stories. Every piece of evidence, measurement, observation, and logical interpretation outside of those stories disproves their validity. It is not science.

  14. #14 jj
    June 26, 2008

    @#11 “australian visitors to the USA are sometimes gushingly complemented with ‘Oh wow, you are Australian? You speak such good english!’”

    I don’t think things like that happen in California, well, maybe in the Valley. Maybe they are confused between Australia and Austria, I mean, we do have the Govonator (Arny), and you Aussies are a little more understandable with your English than he is.

  15. #15 MartinM
    June 27, 2008

    No, this is 60% of Republicans (and 44% of Americans) being abjectly ignorant and accepting a young earth creationist position.

    Abjectly ignorant, yes. YEC, not necessarily. The question asked about the origins of humans, not Earth, or the Universe.

  16. #16 MartinM
    June 27, 2008

    .Wimps: Weakly Interacting Massive Particles is a classic example…Astronomers can’t see, but are certain exist…

    If so many astronomers are certain that WIMPs exist, you should have no trouble at all naming half a dozen or so, with supporting citations.

  17. #17 Matt P
    July 5, 2008

    I’m surprised no one has brought up the possibility that Carbon-14 dating is not a perfect system, but actually based off of assumptions concerning the consistency of our planets environment over thousands of years…

The site is currently under maintenance and will be back shortly. New comments have been disabled during this time, please check back soon.