Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Eve Rode The Dinosaur To School

Forty percent of Americans believe that God created humans as they are about 10,000 years ago. That's the bad news. The good news is that this percentage used to be even higher, 47% in the 1990s. The survey doesn't say if that same forty percent believe that Eve was persuaded by the snake to eat the apple, but I suspect they do. Hence the creation theme parks and such. Where all animals were brought in Noah's ark.

From a new Gallup poll asking people about their views on how humans came about:

Most Americans believe in God, and about 85% have a religious identity. It is not surprising as a result to find that about 8 in 10 Americans hold a view of human origins that involves actions by God -- that he either created humans as depicted in the book of Genesis, or guided a process of evolution. What no doubt continues to surprise many scientists is that 4 out of 10 Americans believe in the first of these explanations.

These views have been generally stable over the last 28 years. Acceptance of the creationist viewpoint has decreased slightly over time, with a concomitant rise in acceptance of a secular evolution perspective. But these shifts have not been large, and the basic structure of beliefs about human beings' origins is generally the same as it was in the early 1980s.

Americans' attitudes about almost anything can and often do have political consequences. Views on the origins of humans are no exception. Debates and clashes over which explanations for human origins should be included in school textbooks have persisted for decades. With 40% of Americans continuing to hold to an anti-evolutionary belief about the origin of humans, it is highly likely that these types of debates will continue.
I sometimes do despair. On one side we have this and on the other side we have the Evo Psychos. Either way women lose, you know, but that's not at all new in the history of "mankind"*, and neither is the idea that bad science is pretty close to religion, perhaps even bad religion. The same fervent belief, the same refusal to be moved, the same simple explanations. The same low-level concrete, dualistic thinking.

Not that I equate the two, naturally. Just pointing out that we should never confuse religion and scientific thinking this way. They belong in different parts of the brain and the ability to accept parables and metaphors is crucial for the former.
*As invisibly pointed out in the picture we usually see depicting evolution.