Read A Book, People

Specifically, read 40Days&40Nights by Michael Chapman.  I’ll have a review up tomorrow.  Because this is absofrickinlutely ridiculous–according to Crooks&Liars, a recent Newsweek poll shows that 48% of the American public rejects the Theory of Evolution.  

Nearly half (48 percent) of the public rejects the scientific theory of evolution; one-third (34 percent) of college graduates say they accept the Biblical account of creation as fact. Seventy-three percent of Evangelical Protestants say they believe that God created humans in their present form within the last 10,000 years; 39 percent of non-Evangelical Protestants and 41 percent of Catholics agree with that view.

41% of Catholics?  Over 50 years ago, Pope Pius XII, and more recently, POPE JPII DECLARED support for evolution, if not Darwin specifically.  What the hell is going on?  All kidding aside, I don’t want to live in a country with that many ignorant people.  This is truly, truly scary.  The dumbing-down of America is running full speed ahead. 

God help us all.

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14 thoughts on “Read A Book, People

  1. Or if one must use the remote control rather than a library card, watch something besides Deal or No Deal or Survivor or the Surreal Life, ad nauseam. Free Speech t.v., Discovery Channel, and the like might just get you thinking – fire up those brain cells. Something that makes you think instead of sit there slack jawwed, with your small frig next to your recliner. I’m nothing if not opinionated. And no I don’t have any “sources” – just my humble opinion, having been shocked numb by the numbskulls out in the blogosphere. I retreat to my reading room and the new book by Joe Hill. Yes – I like my brain candy too.

  2. That’s very interesting, considering what the actual questions look like.

    Question 12: Which one of the following statements come closest to your views about the origin and development of human beings?

    Humans developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God guided this process (or) Humans developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God had no part in this process (or) God created humans pretty much in the present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so?”

    And then, Question 13: “Do you think the scientific theory of evolution is well-supported by evidence and widely accepted within the scientific community?”

    48% (which is the number they cited) of Americans believe that God created humans pretty much in the present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so.

    This was transmuted into “48% of Americans reject the scientific theory of evolution” — a very ironic way of interpreting matters, given that 48% of Americans, in answering question 13, said that the scientific theory of evolution is well-supported by evidence and widely accepted within the scientific community.

    What gets Americans dinged in these so-called “comparisons” to other countries is that only 13% of us provide what is the “scientific” answer to question 12: “Humans developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God had no part in this process”.

  3. Jamie, I don’t think people are as ignorant as you think. Yes, there are certainly people who take the Bible literally, and actually believe everything in it. But I think there are also people who don’t, at least on some level, but believe if they express it, will go to hell or something, simply for using the brain that God gave them. In my teens I was in that stage, when I started questioning things. By adulthood, I was no longer afraid to express them openly, although I probably wouldn’t discuss some of them with religious Christians. And even among those who don’t take the Bible literally, passages about sex and Creation seem to have a special spot for people. I had a discussion with an older religious person once who said that she believe the Bible’s version of Creation literally, despite the fact there are no witnesses to it, but rejects the story of Job, even though there could have been witnesses to the story. I reject both, but think the story of Job is more believable.

    Some of my colleagues are nuns, and from conversations regarding evolution, most of them believe in evolution. Never specifically discussed Creation, but I get the sense that they believe God created the Universe and all, but that it didn’t quite happen exactly as it is said in the Bible. I think part of it is because these nuns are well educated and intelligent. I didn’t know about the Popes that you mention saying they believed in evolution, but I always suspected that they did.

  4. Basically put, Pat, when you look at the questions, they ( http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17875540/site/newsweek/ ) slanted the results.

    For instance, question twelve.

    “Which one of the following statements come closest to your views about the origin and development of human beings? Humans developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God guided this process (or) Humans developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God had no part in this process (or) God created humans pretty much in the present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so?”

    Forty-eight percent chose the last (God created humans, etc.) — which they then transmuted into forty-eight percent not believing in evolution AT ALL. Furthermore, they dropped the “pretty much” that was in the question when they reported the answer.

    What kills Americans by comparison is that we don’t choose the “scientific” answer of “Humans developed over millions of years, but God had no part in this process” — which, differently stated, means “Evolution disproves God”.

  5. First, let me assure NDT that I did not censor his comments.

    I have the Askimet spam filter set to leave comments in moderation only if more than one link is included in a comment. The two above from NDT only appear to have one link in each, and I don’t quite get why Askimet is catching them. It didn’t even leave them in moderation but sent them directly to spam. I usually just delete the entire Askimet spam file every few days–it gets up over 500 in two or three days alone–but for some reason I decided to check through them today. I’ve only done that perhaps five times since this blog’s inception.

    But given the recent furious disagreements between us I want to be sure you know, NDT, I have not somehow magically banned your comments. Even though you were being a complete jackass to me. Ahem.

    NOW:

    As to the slanting of the newsweek poll, I’ll have to look at that again, because if that’s what they did then it’s just plain dishonest and they’re going to get a pretty stern letter from yours truly. Not that they’ll care . . .

    Personally, I think that Evolution IS God’s work, and his method in creating the Earth and everything on it. Do I think that’s a scientific viewpoint? Not really. But I keep my faith and my science pretty separate from each other.

  6. (shrug) No problem, Jamie; I kind of figured your spam filter wasn’t liking something, which was why I kept trying to modify the posting to see if it would go through. Please feel free to delete whichever one you like the least.

  7. Jamie, if I’m going to be hostile to you, you’ll know it. 🙂

    I was saying that it was fine with me if you deleted one of the postings because they’re redundant — and, by “whichever one you like the least”, I meant that you should delete whichever one you thought was the worst of the two in style, tone, whatever.

  8. Jamie and NDT, I am cynical as anyone else when it comes to statistical reports, and that may be the case here. But I see little bias, if any, regarding the wording of the questions.

    Regarding the truncation of the three choices of question 12, I think it was simply done to streamline the column headings. In fact, the first two choices were truncated more than the third choice. The choices are clearly written above the table to refer to. It may have been better to write the choices as A,B,C, and list the in the table. In fact, that’s how I’ll refer to the choices for convenience here. I’m not sure how Newsweek “transmuted” choice C into saying that those persons do not believe in evolution at all. In any case, I assume that there could be people that believe that God created humans out of thin air, or something within the past 10,000 years. And that there has been some change in humans (evolution) in this relatively short period of time. Or that evolution occurred in every other species and that life existed for a billion years or so, but humans were untouched by this. But to me, it’s like someone saying that they are conservative because they believe one part of it, but reject the rest, or that conservatism applies to everyone else but not them. My sense is that those who chose C reject also reject most or all of the scientific evidence regarding evolution. If I’m wrong, I would be curious to see how they reconcile the clear contradiction.

    Also, I don’t see how you conclude that choice B is equivalent to “Evolution disproves God.” Yes, I’m sure most athiests would choose B, but I don’t think they would believe the statement that “Evolution disproves God.” I would say that evolution disproves that Creation happened as stated in the Bible and most or all other holy books. Also, for those of us who believe in God, it’s not an easy proposition to say exactly if and how God plays a role in it. For example, I’m going to Yankee Stadium to watch the game (awfully cold weather). I don’t know how clear it is that God played a role in this or not. But despite this, I would choose A for question 12. Although I gather Deists like Thomas Jefferson would have no problem choosing B.

    As to the 48% that appears in question 12 and 13, that appears to be a coincidence. When you look at the subcategories, the percentages don’t align at all. But 43% do believe in evolution, and I think one could safely assume that almost all of these would answer “well-supported” in question 13. The other 5 or so percent could come from the don’t know or choice C in question 12. One could have trouble accepting or believing a theory, but recognize that there is strong evidence for it.

  9. Let me demonstrate the problem here, Pat.

    But to me, it’s like someone saying that they are conservative because they believe one part of it, but reject the rest, or that conservatism applies to everyone else but not them. My sense is that those who chose C reject also reject most or all of the scientific evidence regarding evolution.

    But later:

    I would say that evolution disproves that Creation happened as stated in the Bible and most or all other holy books.

    So can we infer, then, using the same logic, that you reject “most or all” of everything else in the Bible?

    Evolution, Pat, is very simply defined as this:

    Biological evolution is the process of change over time in the heritable characteristics, or traits, of a population of organisms.

    The fact that this happens is easily demonstrated by Gregor Mendel’s experiments, or by the differentiations among Canis lupus familiaris; if evolution were impossible or incorrect, you would see some sort of static resistance to changes in populations of this sort that simply doesn’t exist.

    Simply put, Pat, evolution does not disprove God, or the creation account of Genesis. It outlines one way in which matters are possible. Genesis does NOT say anywhere in it that what was created still is and was and always will be; it simply establishes that God created the world and everything in it.

  10. NDT, you have a point. I was being a little sloppy here. I was including the Adam and Eve story when I was referring to Creation, and I suppose they should be viewed separately. It’s been a while since I read Genesis. I kind of remember that part of Genesis, the transition from Creation to Adam and Eve being disjointed and/or not making sense. And I don’t remember if Creation specifically talked about God creating humans in the six days (or some other period of time). I’ll have to read it some time again soon. But for now, I’ll amend my statement to say that evolution disproves the Adam and Eve story, i.e., how humans came about in the Bible.

    So can we infer, then, using the same logic, that you reject “most or all” of everything else in the Bible?

    You could, but not by the two passages you quoted. If someone believes that humans came into being within the past 10,000 years, and in fact, believe that’s when God created the universe and all, then yes I would definitely say that these persons reject just about all of the Theory of Evolution. Now, on the other hand, if someone believes just about everything from evolution theory, such as the gradual emerging of new species from previous ones, dinosaurs, that biologically related species have common ancestors, etc., but believes that humans were completely separated from this, do not share common ancestors with our biologically related primates such as chimpanzees and gorillas, and reject the evidence of our homo and australopithicus species ancestors, then I would say these individuals do believe in most of the evolution theory, but I would still be shaking my head.

    I personally do not believe the Creation account and the Adam and Eve story in the Bible. The reason why this is probably the first thing I questioned about the Bible is simply because these events would have occurred long before people started writing down the Bible passages. Stories that came later and with the emergence of communication and writing I would believe more, because there is more of a chance that people witnessed these events. So the logic you inferred does not follow. I don’t believe many of the passages in the Old and New Testaments, but I wouldn’t be able to quantify it at this point.

    I do agree with you that evolution (even beyond the definition you provided and what I was including that evolution entails) does not disprove God. And it does not disprove that God created the Universe. Evolution does not disprove the Creation account, although it clearly disproves the Adam and Eve story. It seems to me though that other scientific evidences pretty much disproves the Creation account. In other words, that light was created on such a day, then the earth was created on another, and the heavens on another, etc.

  11. Pat, depending on how one looks at it, I’m not sure you can even claim that evolution theory disproves the Adam and Eve story. Off the bat, though, I must say it is uncomfortable and questionable to use religion to attempt to “disprove” science or vice versa, but if we’re going to, then some attention has to be paid to the notion of time scale.

    If one is going to endorse a 10,000 year, 365 day absolute time frame based on Biblical interpretation, then yes, the discussion ends here. However, many theologians and biblical scholars put forth the notion that a biblical “year” is not directly analogous and that individual biblical “days” are not a twenty-four hour cycle as we currently define them. Instead they refer to groups of years or days or, more importantly, stages of development.

    Take a day-as-stage view, then the creation story and, indeed, the story of Adam and Eve seem far less inimical with evolutionary theory. What the refer to is process rather than absolute time frame. Interpreting Genesis with this in mind, you have God creating the universe, planets and suns, atmosphere, condensation and plate tectonics, the primordial soup of the early ocean, the lower life forms emerging from those oceans, terrestrial biomes capable of self-replication for those life forms to move into and, finally, mankind on the sixth day.

    When one looks at the creation account presented by the Bible without the notion of an absolute time scale, the order of events strikingly parallels the developmental process that evolutionary theory suggests would occur and the microbiological process order needed to bring about some sort of life.

  12. QuakerJono, I understand that you and Jamie like to keep science and religion separate, and I appreciate that. And I hope not to offend you or anyone else here. Personally, I see religion and science overlap sometimes and have no problem seeing where things are consistent, or where there is a contradiction, in which case I look and see which account has the evidence that supports it. But I will only address the specific issues that you addressed.

    As you suggest, if one is to believe the Creation account in the Bible and at the same time, believe widely accepted scientific theory, one cannot take the account literally regarding the timeline of days. I’m not as convinced as you are that the relative timeline matches accepted scientific theory. But, as I said above, it’s been a while since I read the Genesis account. Further, the accepted scientific theory does not state for certain how the creation of the universe and life began either.

    As for the Adam and Eve story, if it is taken literally, then it clearly is in contradiction with evolution theory in my view. My recollection is that the account states that Adam was the first human. Evolution theory has humans gradually evolving from less advanced related species, and it would be impossible to delineate and say who the first human was. Also, as the story goes, Eve, the first woman, was created by God out of Adam somehow (his rib?). Again with evolution, as the human species was emerging there were women as well as men. Of course, evolution does not disprove that there were Adam and Eve, and they did eat from the tree of knowledge, etc.

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