Republicans more likely to be wrong about Universe, but not by much

By Phil Plait | June 25, 2008 4:00 pm

So a new Gallup poll was released saying that 60% — sixty percent — of Republicans polled believe humans were created as is 10,000 years ago.

But before you Dems get all smug about this, note that 38% of you guys think the same thing.

So Republicans as a whole are more likely to be wrong, but Dems show a strong lack of reality grasping themselves. Independents are at the 40% mark, within the margin of error of Dems.

So, yikes. YIKES.

Here’s the graph in question:

Looking through the poll results is eye-opening. 92% of Republicans think that either God created Man as is or guided evolution. Democrats and independents are at 77% and 76%, respectively.

God played no part? Republicans: 4%. Dems: 17%. Indies: 19%.

I’m not sure how to interpret this. Maybe that claiming allegiance or affiliation with a political party makes it likely you will withdraw from reality to toe the party line. Maybe it’s the other way around.

But one thing is interesting: these numbers haven’t changed much at all in the past 26 years Gallup has been asking these questions. So it wasn’t Newt’s takeover of Congress, or Bush stomping science to death, or the Dems rolling over on their backs whenever a contentious issue reared its head, or anything else like that. People’s beliefs have correlated with their party affiliation like this for decades. And there aren’t any sharp fluctuations, either, so despite the current polarization of politics, these beliefs that the Earth is young and/or that God guided evolution are rock steady. This, despite the very radical changes in the parties since 1982.

This is very thought-provoking, and I’m wondering what it means. The key thing here, I suspect, is that lack of change in belief versus party affiliation despite the changes in the party. I think it may mean that people stick with a political party even though it may evolve — ha! — substantially over time. I’m not sure a Dem or Repub from 1982 would recognize either party these days. In many cases their policies have switched entirely.

What a mess.

Welcome to America. We have a long, long way to go.

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Comments (142)

  1. We may have a long, long way to go, but I see no reason to give up hope. I think humanity in general has come a long way, even if we Americans haven’t done so well.

  2. kimmy

    I find this very scary!
    God is more important than science.
    Very scary indeed.

  3. Cindy

    That’s surprising that it hasn’t changed much in 26 years. No wonder Americans do so poorly in international science and math comparisons.

  4. Robert

    Yeah it’s scary alright,

    but then again they might just be asking the same people…

    They pollsters never seem to call me :-)

    cheers,
    Robert

  5. Ray M

    Do we have similar statistics for other parts of the world?

  6. Gary Mcleod

    We entrust the running of the world to feeble-minded, ignorant, arrogant and superstitious people, that’s why the world is in such a mess. The current political model is defunct, obselete and discredited, no-one really believes it anymore. We need to find a whole new way of deciding and doing things.

  7. IBY

    Goodness! That is a high percentage of people thinking that evolution is a fairy tale!

  8. Francis

    I would imagine that the majority of people would believe in a God (or Gods) and hence that there was some divine guidance. I don’t know how strong the creationist movement is outside the US.

    If we only study objects less than about 6400 light-years from Earth can we get funding from creationists?

  9. Without having more detailed information about such simplistic categories, I might point out that it’s not particularly rational to outright dismiss any possibility of a god either.

    This brand of dogmatic atheist surely falls within the, “Evolved, God had no part”, classification whichever way you dice it.

    So again, using these simplistic classifications, (which I suspect are really too broad to be meaningful), you might just add the 17% of Democrats onto the 38% that believe in ‘Young Earth Last Thursdayism’ if you’re looking for illogical people.

    That would make it:

    Republicans: 64%
    Independents: 59%
    Democrats: 55%

    Then you could ask another question like who believes that Big Oil companies are suppressing an engine that runs on water, or whether crystals have healing powers, and see what THAT turns up.

  10. Gilles

    From my experience when I visit the US (my cousin lives in Atlanta), I see that a majority of people I talk with (Republican and Democrat) consider atheism and even not belonging to any church either a weird foreign idea, if not outright anti-US, or as a proof of elitism, or maybe both.
     

  11. Huh. I’m in the 4% of Republicans. (Politely ignores ZorkFox’s comment.)

  12. Mark T.

    This is the sort of thing that could keep a rational person from sleeping well at night. I’ve already given up on belonging to any political party that forces its candidates to espouse a belief in all-powerful imaginary overlords. Knowing the gory details of how the average American voter thinks (or not) just causes me to worry even more.

    Surely we should all call for more education in this country.

  13. Matt

    I wonder if the lack of change has anything to do with the lack of evolution education since Scopes. As Ray M points out, it would be nice to see similar temporal data for other parts of the world.

  14. EvilBob

    A quote from Mark Twain I spotted the other day says it all:

    “Did you think you had educated the superstition out of those people?”

    “I certainly did think it.”

    “Well, then, you may unthink it.”

    From ‘A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s court’.

  15. Maybe that claiming allegiance or affiliation with a political party makes it likely you will withdraw from reality to toe the party line. Maybe it’s the other way around.

    Actually, I suspect claiming affiliation with a political party is an example of signaling.

  16. Sailor

    To make matters worse, Carl Rove is one of the sane ones who does not believe in a sky fairy

  17. Another point: Don’t be so quick to let Republicans off the hook. Interestingly, the views of self-identified Democrats and independents are all within the margin of error. The Democratic Party is not especially secular, contrary to what you hear on talk radio. But the Republican Party is more prone to biblical literalism because of a shift that took place with the election of Reagan.

    The polling data goes back to 1981, and whatever changes in the parties since then, there was one major overriding change that occurred in 1980: That was the first year evangelical Christians voted en masse for the GOP. That hasn’t really changed in subsequent years.

    So, yes, there is a lot of creationist sentiment across the board, but to the extent that the GOP has been the home of conservative evangelical literalists since 1980, its membership is going to tend to be more creationist than average.

  18. To make matters worse, Carl Rove is one of the sane ones who does not believe in a sky fairy

    There seem to be a fair number of Machiavellian atheists among the GOP’s neoconservative contingent. They agree with Marx that religion is the opiate of the masses, but they think that’s a point in religion’s favor.

  19. Sometimes we inhabitants of countries not called the USA seem to get the impression that when many Americans meet another American the first thing they will ask is what church do you go to.
    Here, where the enlightenment actually took*, the first question you will be asked is what football team do you support. You can go decades without ever knowing into what denomination a friend or acquaintance was born into.

    *Actually here in Australia it probably wasn’t The Enlightenment but a general disregard for any authority including religious authority that was the basis for our current general non-religiosity (almost 20% “No Religion” in the last census with another 10% “not stated/inadequately described”. Also “No Religion” is the fastest growing group by far).

  20. Peter Eldergill

    I’ve never understood what “GOP” is or stands for (being an elitist Canuck)

    Actually I’m serious..what does GOP mean?

    Pete

  21. Speaking of census data I wonder how many people do what I did in the first census I participated in. For the religion question I naively wrote Catholic because I was born into a Catholic family even though I’d been an atheist for as long as I could remember. Of course I haven’t made the same mistake since.

  22. Amy F.

    Peter Eldergill: It means Grand Old Party.

  23. what does GOP mean?

    It is how Americans pronounce Goop.

  24. Dagger

    Ray M. – You asked if other countries have similar statistics. We’ll up here in Canada, I’m sure we would, but the difference is, no one up here ever asks those kinds of specific questions.

    The closest we’ve come to a religious dillema up here is whether each different faith and I do mean each, should be allowed to fund their own schools (faith based funding). Catholics in this country have had their own independant funding since the founding of the country. In fact, on your land taxes, you can select where you want your portion of those taxes to go, public or catholic school. So someone decided this would be a real issue to “bring to the masses”. The entire debate raged (okay that might be to harsh a word, we are Canadian after all) for about a month and a half, maybe two at most. Then it just disappeared because polititians realized, most of us just don’t care about it that much. It’s almost a non issue.

    It really is kind of weird living up here and reading about what your up against down there.

  25. Michelle

    I can live with the “God Guided” part… I mean, if they absolutely want God in the lot, fine. I don’t but I can understand, it’s a big and scary universe and they need some comfort that there’s that big guy behind it all that protects us (and plagues us but that’s love!)… But it shows they have SOME grip on sanity at least.

    Now the 10,000 years folks… I’m scared of these folks!

  26. To the Canadians looking down their noses at us–when I hear about your Human Rights Council (or Commission, or whatever you call that witch hunt up there), I get pretty worried about what YOU are up against .

    Let’s not be deluded folks in thinking that atheism or a disbelief in God somehow automatically denotes intelligence, sanity and an inability to believe in weird things. For example, Stephen Gould was certainly a brilliant evolutionary biologist, but he was also a Marxist, and I don’t think Marxism ranks up there in viable theories of human or economic development

  27. Ken

    How about that poll include a more diverse set of superstitions outside of christian stuff?
    Democrats believe in all kinds of unproven or disproved stuff as well.

  28. Reed

    Scary indeed. The earth was created 6,000 years ago, how could so many Americans be deceived by this 10,000 nonsense!

    Oh wait, the text, unlike the graph label, says “within the last 10,000”. Guess everything is OK then 😉
    /sarcasm

    Seriously, scary stuff.

  29. davidlpf

    Michelle, be afraid, be very afraid.

  30. Helioprogenus

    I’ll make it simple, it seems to be that the static numbers represent the stagnant educational level in our schools. Ultimately, science education just isn’t important enough to fund. Any time schools are tested, they’re usually tested for reading and math skills, so while the attempt is made to improve those (not exactly stellar numbers lately), our science education continues to fall behind. Part of the blame is the ignorant religious morons dictating public policy. Any idiot who believes in imaginary omnipotent etheral being dictating, whether directly, or indirectly, the course of our affairs must have their heads examined. As atheists, we’ve been bending over backwards attempting polite discourse with credulous idiots experiencing some mass hallucination. Perhaps, the time has come to leave politeness aside, and be more forcefull in our attempts at maintaing a secular government. The hand of religion is so far up the collective rear end of politics, it would make a ventrilloquist jealous.

  31. RL

    Well, one thing is true. Your beliefs will drive your choice of party. Its not the other way around.

  32. andrew

    but what is science without humans? beliefs are not the problem. its the roles that we represent ourselves with that separate us.

  33. GOP stands for “God’s Own Party”. Right? Or maybe that’s just how the Republicans like to think of it.

  34. Tom Marking

    I thought the most interesting part of the poll was for those who seldom/never attend church:

    evolved, God guided: 39%
    God created 10,000 years ago: 24%
    evolved, God had no part: 28%

    So even among the non-church goers the percentage of people who think God played some part is 63%, more than twice the percentage who think God had no part. I wonder why creationism would be influencing this group of people.

  35. Joe L.

    what’s even worse is that I bet that if you ask most of those people why they believe the earth is 6-10,000 years old, they would probably say something like “because it says so in the bible”.

    well, no, it doesn’t really. A couple books of the bible have some (conflicting) genologys tracing from Adam/Eve up through Noah and eventually to Jesus, which we know was of course 2000 years ago. So the whole business of “the earth is 6000” years old is just assuming Adam was born in year 1, then adding all the ages of each subsequent generation (it helps that people back then managed to live to 600-900 years old) and coming up with about 6,000. that’s it. nothing else. THAT is enough to dismiss entire sectors of science?

  36. Robert

    Not every Christian has that belief. Nor has it been the predominent belief in Christianity historically. There’s actually a small percentage that believe that, among other thoughts. It’s actually not doctrine, but Theology, a changeable interpretation of Scripture. And, being a Christian, and conversant with all of the different thoughts on the subject, (there are several), that’s the very first time I’ve ever heard the generational argument. BTW, there are two genealogies of Christ, one through his adopted father, Joseph, and one through his mother, Mary, both lines leading back to David the King.

    Where do you find that anyone in Christianity, or the theological community, dismisses entire sectors of science? Unlike athiests and scientists that dismiss anything Christian without any consideration whatsoever – truly the definition of ignorance, just as your argument is truly the definition of a straw man.

    Robert

  37. Ryan Turner
  38. Chip

    The scary thing isn’t only the simplistic fundamentalist creationist beliefs on the surface, but the co-opting and embracing of those beliefs as political leverage.

    There are no doubt Democrats that embrace anti-scientific and backward notions but far and away the Republican Party, on both the state and national level under Bush has politically adopted them.

    Regardless of whether any specific Republican in Congress or the current administration actually believes such things, their party platforms embrace and endorse the beliefs. Their platforms re-frame such insane beliefs under the redefined guise of patriotism and an odd American revisionist history. Their aim is to add public authorization and political leverage via an implication of divine justification for all their schemes. The result ultimately could be a totally backward modern medieval, servile country. In their view what is questioned is anything that challenges their authority. That’s what’s actually behind creationist’s attempts to get into schools and undermine critical thinking in our young people.

  39. Ryan

    I guess I fall within that 4% of Republicans group…

  40. Naked Bunny with a Whip

    @Robert: I assume you stopped reading that article at the beginning of the second paragraph because of the offensive slurs against a varied group of people (academics), and posted it here as an additional example of alienating your readers with gratuitous insults.

    I can’t see any other reason for you to have posted that link, given your stated dislike of such insulting rhetorical tactics.

  41. Robert,

    And, being a Christian, and conversant with all of the different thoughts on the subject, (there are several), that’s the very first time I’ve ever heard the generational argument

    Really? The first time? The genealogical argument is the argument. Look up James Ussher.

    Tom Marking,

    I wonder why creationism would be influencing this group of people

    The seldom/never attend does not exclude the once/often did attend church. You don’t need to go to church to get your wacky beliefs either. Parents, family, friends and schools all contribute to your belief system at some point. Most people don’t choose their religion they are born into it.

  42. Naked Bunny with a Whip

    Where do you find that anyone in Christianity, or the theological community, dismisses entire sectors of science?

    *gapes*

    Wow. Okay, never mind. I have no intention of engaging anyone with such a massive blind spot, someone who is utterly unfamiliar with current events. Do you even *read* this blog? There are examples of Christians dismissing entire sectors of science listed here every few days. There’s a graph of that happening right at the top of this page!

    Unlike athiests and scientists that dismiss anything Christian without any consideration whatsoever

    I’ll join you in condemning such people! Granted, you’ll have to actually find one first. I’ve not run across them. The atheists I know put a great deal of consideration into their dismissal of Christianity. I suppose it’s just easier for you to pretend we haven’t given it any thought.

  43. Reed

    @Robert

    There’s actually a small percentage that believe that, among other thoughts.

    Did you see a different poll than the rest of us ? Or do you consider somewhere from 30%-60% to be a “small percentage” ?

    I admit I’m a bit dubious about the poll results, but taking them at face value, I wouldn’t call it a small percentage.

    Where do you find that anyone in Christianity, or the theological community, dismisses entire sectors of science?

    How about the above-mentioned 30%-60% of Americans who think the earth is 6000 years old ? You cannot believe that without rejecting a huge body of science.

    Unlike athiests and scientists that dismiss anything Christian without any consideration whatsoever – truly the definition of ignorance, just as your argument is truly the definition of a straw man.

    Uh, there are quite a lot of scientists who profess Christian beliefs (though few competent ones who think the earth is 6000 years old!), and many atheists who have come to that belief only after careful consideration. Why would you assume that atheists have not given Christianity any consideration ?

  44. Tom Marking

    Regardless of whether any specific Republican in Congress or the current administration actually believes such things, their party platforms embrace and endorse the beliefs. Their platforms re-frame such insane beliefs under the redefined guise of patriotism and an odd American revisionist history.

    Chip, the Republican platform is a document that you can access over the Internet. The 2004 platform is available as a PDF file at:

    http://www.gop.com/media/2004platform.pdf

    I suggest you download it and do some string searches on the following strings:

    1.) evolution
    2.) creationism
    3.) Darwin

    How many hits did you catch? I count zero. There does not appear to be any direct promotion of creationism in the entire document. I suggest you check your facts first before making such assertions.

    BTW, I’m not a Republican – I vote Libertarian.

  45. Jerry W Barrington

    Gary Mcleod: While it’s true our current system is pretty aweful, you run into a major dilemma when looking for an alternative. Clearly, decisions should be made by smart people. Democracy of any sort hits the snag that the vast majority of the population just aren’t that smart. So, whether they vote directly for policy, or indirectly for policy-makers, they make bad decisions & are easily swayed. Conversely, non-democracy leaves the decisions to a small group. The problem is in who *picks* the group. Usually it is self-selected by people with power. Generally, their main concern is perpetuating their own power rather than the good of everybody else.

    IRONMANAustralia: Dogmatic atheism does have some sound basis. The history of science has been a fairly steady progression of disproofs of various religious claims. And just *try* logically reconciling these 3: omniscient, omnipotent, benevolent! Ultimately, religion is (as stated) “the opiate of the masses”. Many people simply *want* that comforting message that *somebody* is in charge. There’s a reason the Catholics call both their priests and their god “Father”. It’s easier to just go on obeying “Dad” than to make your own decisions. Less stress.

    Dagger: Here in the USA such a simple method of diverting public funds to a church would lead to much legal battling, probably all the way to the Supreme Court. I’m not saying tax money doesn’t go to churches, but they generally have to be sneakier about it. :)

    I have to agree with Ken, that people of all sorts believe in all manner of craziness. Each finds their own opiate. The current skew in the Republican party is an historical anomaly. The real problem is that whatever party they prefer, they elect representatives based on bad thinking.

  46. Why would you assume that atheists have not given Christianity any consideration ?

    I suppose it’s just easier for you to pretend we haven’t given it any thought.

    Maybe that thought comes to mind when reading something like this:

    Any idiot who believes in imaginary omnipotent etheral being dictating, whether directly, or indirectly, the course of our affairs must have their heads examined. As atheists, we’ve been bending over backwards attempting polite discourse with credulous idiots experiencing some mass hallucination.

    Or, for really spicy stuff, try sampling something form PZ’s blog and its commenters.

    You would kind of expect something a little more rational and less schoolyard name-calling from someone who professes to be rational, and not stoopid or deluded like those poor benighted religious fools.

  47. Ben

    Does anyone ever follow up by asking, “Do you believe God planted the fossils to make us think otherwise, or do you believe Fred and Wilma lived with pet dinosaurs?”

  48. I hate this sort of poll, because it forces very narrowly defined categories. What of deists, for example? They may believe in a God, but not necessarily of one that interferes in natural affairs. On the one hand, sure God didn’t guide evolution, and on the other it’s not exactly as if God had no part. Okay, maybe they’re in a minority, but then again I imagine many people may have been uncomfortable answering the question in the first place and declined.

    Still 38% for democrats seems really high. I’m raking my brains for democrats I know who feel that way. I know a few who believe in astrology and shakras, but no creationists.

  49. I’d love to see the stats from other countries… Canada, UK, and Italy would be three interesting comparisons.

    Canada because there is a common perception that Canadians and Americans are indistinguishable except for their choice of condiments on french fries and the alleged use of “eh”.

    The UK and Italy would be interesting because they are western and advanced like the US, but also have established state religion.

  50. RL

    Throw Spain into the mix too. I just read that they want to give human rights to apes. Sheesh.

  51. Bigfoot

    Even religious people shoudl be suspect that God could screw a planet up this bad in only 10,000 years! Maybe that’s why they are sometimes called “God-fearing”? Because if I did believe in an omnipotent God having control on this planet, I would truly be terrified of that entity, and the lack of judgement exhibited heretofore.

    I am also disappointed in the independents, but then I have to remember that they also include those who think the Rebublicans are too radically liberal and those that believe the Democrats are too wildly conservative, so I shouldn’t be surpised by any thought that is present among their collective minds.

  52. bad Jim

    A couple of things: Quite a number of Democrats are blacks, who tend to be evangelical protestants, many of whom are biblical literalists. Secondly, it seems likely that people of faith who accept the theory of evolution wouldn’t be willing to agree that God had absolutely nothing to do with it. I’m not sure that Ken Miller would, and he’s a fairly well-regarded biologist.

    There was recently a comparison of the proportions accepting evolution in other developed countries which showed it overwhelmingly accepted almost everywhere else. At least we came in ahead of Turkey.

  53. bad Jim

    Here’s a New York Times chart of the results by country.

  54. Jerry W Barrington

    David D: The quote you reference merely shows somebody who may well have thoroughly considered Christianity and found it to require belief in “imaginary omnipotent etheral being dictating, whether directly, or indirectly, the course of our affairs”. The fact that he has contempt for Christians does not in any way imply he hasn’t considered their view at all.

    Personally, I was born to Christians and raised going to church up through elementary school. I have examined Christianity, and many other religions, and found them wanting. Foremost of my complaints is the cited belief in omnipotent ghosts. I have never found such beings to be either sufficient or necessary to explain the world.

    So, the quote you complain about could as easily have come from my own mouth, were I so eloquent. Yet your assumption of not considering Christianity would not apply.

    Frankly, whether speaking rationally or resorting to ” schoolyard name-calling” doesn’t make much difference when discussing religion with true believers. They already prefer miracles over logic, so speaking rationally doesn’t help things. [shrug]

  55. LS

    Can we please stop conflating all religious belief with ignorance and anti-science? The 10,000 years numbers (hell, the existence of such a category) is frightening enough. Let us not lump the “god-guided” respondents in with them. There are a hell of a lot of scientists out there who actively practice various religions. And frankly I’m getting a little sick of the “atheism is best!” attitude appearing on many of these posts. And I say this as someone who thinks 99% of religion of all types is utter hooey.

  56. autumn

    I agree that I considered Christianity quite a bit, having been raised as a Lutheran, as well as considering a few other religious traditions (although only until they got to the point of contention which had driven me from Christianity, i.e., “blah, blah, blah, and from this point questions will not be allowed”). All came up short when compared with a general disbelief. I don’t believe in Nymphs, be they of the mountain, ocean, or tree variety. Suggesting an elusive swamp nymph is not going to change my disbelief until evidence is presented.
    As to the insults and “intolerance” shown by some, many people with disbelief have been having conversations with believers for years, if not decades. For the subset of believers referenced in the graph PZ posted, young-Earth-creationists, it is with the hindsight of many years that most commenters here use these terms. The vast majority of YECs are, indeed, morons.

    And, Robert, you really lose your Christian street-cred for having never encountered the young-Earth idea. I was taught of its existence in my confirmation classes, although it is not officially Lutheran Dogma.

  57. LS, and yours would be the 1% that isn’t utter hooey?

    :-)

  58. Mike B.

    I wanna puke. And it’s not from alcohol.

  59. I’ll add the disclaimer straight-up: I’ve had a bit of Chilean wine tonight.

    What I see here is a false tri-chotomy. They are forcing us to choose between one of the following three beliefs: 1) Everything has to be made by God, <10,000 years ago, 2) things evolved, with God’s help, or 3) things evolved, with God playing no part at all. I fault the question.

    To me, God is little more than an English word. An attempt to name that which is unnameable. Anyone who claims to know all about it, is wrong. I kind-of like some of the ideas embodied in Thomas Jefferson-style Deism. One way I like to think of God is as the Author of Creation. Imagine that we’re all characters in a book of His. If He’s a good Author (and I would expect no less), then the universe He writes about has to function with internally-consistent rules. Anything less would amount to bad storytelling. Think “deus ex machina”.

    So some of these rules we know, and some we do not. However things may unfold, whether it is all ordained by God or not, is simply a matter of what we choose to define as God. It’s semantics. I don’t think God really cares whether we believe in Him or not; an author would not expect his characters to believe in him or appeal to his nicer nature. I will not find fault with any of these three categories, except the one with people who think He did it all within the past 10,000 years. Because they’re just wrong.

  60. OK, you know, there are people that have RATIONAL minds that DO believe in God. The Universe is 15 billion years old, Earth is 4.5 billion years old… and evolution is a fact. I don’t like the Xtian’s slamming atheists, or the Atheists slamming ALL Xtians, altho’ the fudies deserve it, so slam the fundie a******* away! (And., no I haven’t had too much alcofrol to brink…. well maybe a little! LOL)

    Keep up the good work BA! These anti-science, anti – real people need to be exposed for what they are!

  61. Dagger

    David D – Down our noses? In fact quite the opposite is true. A good many of us up here watch with great interest the heated battle going on with the religious right and their staunch anti-thinking campaigns. Why did you think we would bother visiting the BA’s blog, or PZ’s or a dozen others? Whether we like or not, we are neighbours and what affects you carries over somewhat to us, a fact that some Canadians would like to deny but which is nevertheless factual.

    Sure, we’re very different in a lot of ways and we have our share of internal problems as well, but there is also no denying that we have our share of morons up here too, which means those of us who are free thinkers have to be just as vigilant. The thing is, your morons are undeniably louder than ours, and the way you combat against that is an invaluable learning experience for if/when ours start the same nonsense.

    The reason I said it was weird was simply because our morons haven’t really gotten started yet or at least have not achieved any notable traction. It was certainly not to imply that we don’t face or won’t face the very same highly publicized problems going on in the US.

  62. CJ Sevilla

    Am I the only one that doesn’t think this is a very bad thing? This poll doesn’t make me any more afraid of any Republicans or Democrats, or worry about the future of my country.

    Within the context of this poll, I think 4%, 19%, and 17% are really high percentages of people that agree with me on at least one thing and I’m happy with that.

  63. Thomas Siefert

    Robert:

    Unlike atheists and scientists that dismiss anything Christian without any consideration whatsoever – truly the definition of ignorance, just as your argument is truly the definition of a straw man.

    I think you will find that atheists and scientist have considered religion (not just Christianity, there are others you know) in more depth than most and that is the very reason they have dismissed it.

    And what is it with you and straw men?

  64. Quiet Desperation

    Newsflash! USA has many Christians!

    Old news. So what do we do about it?

    *cough*lions*cough*

    :-)

    Then you could ask another question like who believes that Big Oil companies are suppressing an engine that runs on water, or whether crystals have healing powers, and see what THAT turns up.

    Or that Big Oil is suppressing the engine that runs on healing crystals and emits only rainbows! :)

  65. Dagger

    Evolving Squid – I couldn’t find any specific numbers for our political parties and their religious beliefs but I did find poll numbers for the entire country on whether they believe in god or not.

    72 % believed in a god
    23 % per cent said they did not believe in any god
    6% did not offer an opinion.
    +/- 1%

  66. QD, your timing is perfect speaking of lions. This bumper sticker, according to crikey.com.au was seen in Sydney recently. Some context; Sydney is hosting a big Catholic love in, World Youth Day, and the pope will be in attendance.

  67. Dadoo

    On a slightly related note (it’ll take a minute to set it up, so bear with me), I am currently at an event called Cisco Live (I won’t give a link; I’m sure you and your readers can Google it). Being an astronomer, you may not have heard of Cisco. Their equipment literally powers the Internet. They are so dominant in the industry, I’d be surprised to hear that more than 1% of the Internet hardware out there is a brand other than Cisco.

    Guess who the speaker is for the closing keynote: our old buddy, Ben Stein. I can’t believe it! Now I’m wondering if Cisco has completely lost any brains they had, and whether or not we should buy any more equipment from them. Any opinions?

  68. Dagger

    Dadoo – Didn’t see the live speech, but Cisco’s intro vid for him is damning enough. “The man with all the answers”. Please :(. Didn’t stop there though. By the time they finished pedestaling him, you’d think he was running for President.

    Why did I just get a cold chill running down my spine…

  69. Too be fair Cisco’s horse was diablo.

  70. RT NZ
  71. csrster

    If God exists, and he is omnipotent, and he is guiding evolution, then he is a real bastard.

  72. Tim G

    I believe that 75 million years ago Xenu brought billions of people to Earth in spacecraft resembling Douglas DC-8 airliners, stacked them around volcanoes and blew them up with hydrogen bombs. Their souls then clustered together, stuck to the bodies of the living and continue to do this today…NOT!

  73. Chip

    Tom Marking – You’re making strawman points –
    I wrote “platforms” (plural) such as state platforms. Here is a summary that includes a link to the Republican Party platform for the state of Texas:
    http://www.tfn.org/site/PageServer?pagename=2008_TXGOP_Platform

    The platform states “America is a nation under God founded on Judeo-Christian principles” and the Republican party is pledged “toward dispelling the myth of separation of church and state.”

    The words “evolution”, “creationism” and “Darwin” are specific terms and therefore not used directly in a political platform. The Republicans frame and redefine within innocuous terminology.

    On Page 17 they use the term “Theories of Origin” and employ innocuous language that in reality devalues and misinterprets the scientific definition of the term “theory” opening the door to superstition in the classroom by law.
    http://www.tfn.org/site/DocServer/GOP_-FINAL_2008_PLATFORM.pdf?docID=582

    Sorry – I’m not impressed by libertarianism which cannot by its very nature solve national problems that will effect our future.

  74. bad Jim

    Shane, that is one awesome bumper sticker.

    In the graph I linked above, most of the evolution believers credited to the USA actually think goddidit. Perhaps that’s enough; they accept at least some of the evidence.

    It would be interesting to find out how many of the Finns or the French agree with Laplace that they have no need of the hypothesis of God. Probably more than 17%.

    Je n’avais pas besoin de cette hypothese-la.

  75. Deepak

    The poll results have got nothing to do with the party affiliation. If a similar poll is conducted for the entire 6 billion population of the world, i think 90% will say god had a role to play in the creation of humans and the universe. Even 90% of scientist would say god had a role to play. Its only a handful of scientist who don’t see the miracles in the happening of every day activity ( be it a sun rise or sun set or the various colors of the flowers) and illogically, without any scientific basis say that the creation had nothing to do with god or intelligent design.

    Unfortunate, that scientist are adamant about their views and refuse to look at the other side of the coin.

  76. Tapani L.

    You may want to check these statistics of traditional religiosity in Nordic countries, although the stats are a few years old (I couldn’t find more recent stats in English):

    Denmark has the highest proportion of those who never pray (50%).

    Three quarters of the population in the Nordic countries state that they believe in God. The highest proportion of believers is to be found in Finland (81%). Finland also has the highest proportion (39%) of those who state that they believe in a personal God as taught by Christianity; the equivalent proportion is 28% in Norway, 20% in Denmark, and 18% in Sweden. In Denmark and Sweden more than half the population (56%) believe in God in a different way from that taught by the church.

    http://www.evl.fi/kkh/ktk/english/norden.htm

  77. TEO

    Har har har. The US has a very very very very long way to go.

    This is sad indeed. What’s wrong with people. God is just mans creation not the other way around. God is created by man as a means to explain away all stuff that man doesn’t understand.

    What’s really sad is the fact that people in the states accuses the muslims to be religious fanatics when they themselves are just as much religious fanatics. Talk about throwing stones in a glasshouse.

  78. Grand Lunar

    I have to wonder if poll takers bother to question people like Phil, myself, and several others that use boards like this.

    I wonder if location has any factor in what people believe.

    It is a rather disturbing sign to see so many people think that humanity just “popped in there” at 10,000 years ago.
    Does it bother these people that we evolved from lesser organisms?

    Speaking for myself, not only am I proud to admit being a product of evolution (the non-guided type, thank you), but also being a collection of material once made by thermonuclear reactions.

  79. KC

    I think I see a flaw in the poll, and skimming over the posts, I don’t think anyone’s pointed it out. According to the graph there were three questions.

    God created the universe as-is 10,000 years ago.
    Evolved, God-Guided.
    Evolved, with no guidance from God at all.

    There are two serious problems with the first question, one that would throw the poll out of kilter:

    1. It ignores Old-Earth Creationism.
    2. It only gives a “steady-state” option.

    This severely limits a Creationist’s choices. In my observations, Young Earth Creationists are more vocal but constitute a minority. Very few Creationists, Old Earth or Young Earth, believe that the world has not undergone some kind of change. One of the few YEC I know believes species can undergo adaptation, but not to the point of becoming another species.

    The end effect is that the poll backs a Creationist into a corner. all who selected the God created option may not believe the Earth is only 10,000 years old, and that it was “as-is.” But there was no other choice. The result is that the poll is skewed toward Young Earth Creationism.

    This also tells us a lot about the ignorance of those who drew up the poll, which I find interesting and makes me suspect the validity of Gallup polls.

    All we really know is that 60% of the responders claiming GOP affiliation and 38% in the DNC believe some form of Creationism. Once that’s understood, I’m not surprised. For about two decades there’s been a migration of theological conservatives (not to be confused with political conservatives) to the GOP because of hostility from the DNC. Those that remain in the DNC tend to be from black congregations (factiod: according to one survey after the 2000 election – and no, I don’t have a cite handy – most white religiously conservative congregations voted for Bush and most black religiously conservative congregations voted for Gore). I think what we’re seeing in this poll is a reflection of this.

  80. Cron

    Hi.

    First of all, I’m sorry for my english.

    It’s the first time I leave a comment, but I want to note a “more common than desirable” fact among americans.

    I’m spanish and live in Spain (Europe). Some times I have some contact with people from USA. There’s a sentence that I’ve heared several times: “Is really this ruin/bridge/aqueduct/building 2000 years old? People were created about 1000 years ago!!”

    Some times I think some of you americans don’t watch TV documentaries, or read books. I believe this situation is something your politicians should try and fix.

    It’s strange that the best world scientists are usually americans too. Odd.

    I’d like to know the results of the same poll in Spain. Maybe we get a fifty-fifty between the two first answers, with some difference attending to political tendencies.

  81. Tom

    @KC – excellent point. I think you’ve found part of the problem in the poll, but the numbers are still bothersome.

    Also, I’m listening to “The Great Influenza” by John M. Barry. The opening of the book describes how behind America was in adopting clinical medicine. I see this sort of poll as another symptom (ha!) of the same problem.

  82. Darth Robo

    Robert

    >>>”BTW, there are two genealogies of Christ, one through his adopted father, Joseph, and one through his mother, Mary, both lines leading back to David the King.”

    Actually I thought I heard somewhere that by making Mary a virgin, the writers of the more recent Bible versions (like those in English) kinda messed up that whole line leading back to David the King thing.

    >>>”Where do you find that anyone in Christianity, or the theological community, dismisses entire sectors of science?

    YEC’s and OEC’s.

    Basically Creationists of any stripe. And that’s not confined to Christian creationism.

    I’m not lumping these in with theists who accept science, by the way, there are plenty of those. They simply accept reality for what it is and also happen to believe in God. I got no problem with that.

    :)

  83. !AstralProjectile

    Who is more dangerous?
    IMHO, the Healing Crystal crowd mostly has a “live and let live” attitude towards science, but the creationists activly try to undercut those “ivory tower” scientists and their “global warming” data, or their “transitional fossils”

  84. jrkeller

    This poll doesn’t surprise me at all. Just google up some info on people who believe in ghosts. It’s about 50%. Significant amounnt of people believe a lot of bizzare crap.

    My ex-wife, who at best would say that God might have created the universe, but nothing more, believes in Ghosts, spirits, etc.

    Cron,

    I lived in Germany for about two years. I was amazed at how ignorant many Germans were of basic American histroy. I was asked on several ocassions if we were still fighting the Indians. Stopped about 100 years ago.

    I personally found it amazing that Europe does have buildings, etc over 2000 years old, especially when the oldest European style buildings in the USA are 300-400 years old. It’s not a religous thing, it’s just that we don’t any thing to compare them too.

    Note: I do realize that the USA has a lot of Indian ruins that may be as old as 1000 years, but they are pretty simple compared to say Notre Dame.

  85. Trey

    I don’t see how you conclude that the “evolved, guided by God” answer is so unreasonable. Yes, all the religions on earth are ridiculous, but how do you know that there isn’t a higher power? How does anyone know there is? You don’t know, I don’t know, and that answer isn’t unreasonable considering. Take a step back and realize who are what you are sounding like. I like your writing Phil, but chill out.

  86. nighstalker160

    I too have a minor problem with the idea of “God guided” being ridiculous.

    Do I believe in intelligent design? Absolutely not, evolution all the way.

    But I am Catholic and obviously have a strong believe in God. I do believe that God is responsible for the creation of the Universe but in a “rules” sense. God crafted the rules of physics, chemistry, biology etc. And as such has “guided” the evolutionary process. I don’t believe God sat down one day and said:

    “Alright, we need eyes…let’s put that together.” But I do believe that he set up the evolutionary process at its beginning and created the basic rules which ultimately led to the evolution of life, intelligent life, etc.

    But the idea that God created people 10,000 years ago AS IS!? Ummm, yeah…NO, not even close. Try again.

    Btw, that’s really disturbing the 38% of Democrats said the same thing. I keep PRAYING that this kind of BS from both sides is just pandering to the religious right (which is a MAJOR controlling interest in the United States nowadays) and that these people don’t actually believe this junk.

    IMO, if God wanted us to be unthinking automotons who just slavishly followed…well he would have made us that way. But he gave us brains and rationality for a reason. I really think when some of these religious right people die this is what they’re gonna get:

    “Thank God I made it to heaven…”

    God: “Yeah…welcome. Just one thing…ya know that gray organ I stuck between your ears. I’m kinda disappointed you never…ya know…used it.”

    “What do you mean?”

    God: “Well, I created you people AS IS 10,000 year ago!? I spent 4.6 BILLION years working on that evolutionary process and you all just decided to IGNORE it!? Not to mention the 10 or so Billion I spent before that working on the universe as a whole. That’s a lot of work for you all to tell people I didn’t do it! Gotta say, that kinda pissed me off! I mean 14 billion years…just…tossed aside. So tell you what, I’m gonna kinda ignore all the years you spent doing good things. So sorry…but you gotta go back and try again. See ya!”

  87. UmTutSut (Sure, why not?)

    >Here’s a New York Times chart of the results by country.

    I’m moving to Iceland….

    Les (Flackosaurus Aeronauticus)

  88. This is downright embarrassing.

  89. @Evolving Squid,

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/4648598.stm

    “Britons unconvinced on evolution

    Just under half of Britons accept the theory of evolution as the best description for the development of life, according to an opinion poll. Furthermore, more than 40% of those questioned believe that creationism or intelligent design (ID) should be taught in school science lessons.

    Over 2,000 participants took part in the survey, and were asked what best described their view of the origin and development of life:

    22% chose creationism
    17% opted for intelligent design
    48% selected evolution theory
    and the rest did not know.

    When given a choice of three descriptions for the development of life on Earth, people were asked which one or ones they would like to see taught in science lessons in British schools:

    44% said creationism should be included
    41% intelligent design
    69% wanted evolution as part of the science curriculum.”

    P.S. even though I’m not American, or live there, you could count me in the 4%.

  90. MartinM

    I think I see a flaw in the poll, and skimming over the posts, I don’t think anyone’s pointed it out. According to the graph there were three questions.

    God created the universe as-is 10,000 years ago.
    Evolved, God-Guided.
    Evolved, with no guidance from God at all.

    No, the question is about the origin of humans, not the Universe. The only loophole I can see is that some OECs might believe that humans date further back than 10,000 years. Even then, since the question asks which option is closest to the respondent’s views, that shouldn’t be a problem.

  91. MartinM

    I don’t see how you conclude that the “evolved, guided by God” answer is so unreasonable.

    The absence of evidence to support it?

  92. Doug Little

    But I am Catholic and obviously have a strong believe in God

    Why is this obvious, I was bought up COE (Church of England) but do not believe in the supernatural. I’ve managed to throw off the shackles of indoctrination. Nightstalker, I like how you depict god as being human and reacting with emotion that fits into your narrow view of what a creator would actually behave like. You are asking us to take a leap of faith in not ruling out the long shot when it comes to creation but then seem to think you know the mind of said creator and it behaves exactly like us humans. Give me a break, to believe that god is somehow toiling over the process of evolution is almost as ridiculous as the YEC stance. Now it’s science fact that Evolution works without any magic involved so I will concede that maybe Abiogensis could have been kick started by a sentient being, not necessarily supernatural but once that baby was smacked there is no guidance needed for Evolution to do its thing. Again it is looking more and more likely that given the vast amount time and vast amount of organic molecules that resided here a few billion years ago the smart money is on a completely naturalistic start for the evolutionary process.

  93. MartinM

    “Just under half of Britons accept the theory of evolution as the best description for the development of life, according to an opinion poll.”

    A result strongly contradicted by the Science paper from which the NYT image cited above is derived. In that paper, the question asked was a simple yes or no, rather than ‘pick the position which most closely describes your viewpoint.’ I’d imagine that the latter invites confusion as to where exactly theistic evolution and similar positions lie, making the simpler question the more accurate one.

    Either that or I need to start beating my fellow Brits round the head with Gould’s Structure of Evolutionary Theory.

  94. Pete

    Tapani, I think your numbers are not quite right about belief in Europe and Nordic countries.

    According to Eurobarometer 2005, % responding that there is a God:
    Finland: 41
    Denmark: 31
    Sweden: 23
    EU average: 52 (thx to Poland mainly)
    + 27% chose that there’s a spirit or life force, not sure how that relates to opinion about whether evolution is guided

    http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/ebs/ebs_225_report_en.pdf

  95. SLC

    Re Deepak

    Mr. Deepak is apparently unaware of surveys that indicate that only 43% of all American scientists profess to believe in a personal god. The number for the membership of the National Academy of Science is 14%. A far cry from the 90% claim Mr. Deepak makes.

  96. BMcP

    My question to you, and it is a sincere honest question, is there any real issue in believing in theistic evolution? After all, one are still convinced of the validity of the theory of evolution, with all the evidence for, and the validity of the theories in geology that show the old age of the Earth and most likely (well I do) the astronomical and cosmological theories about the creation and age of the universe, galaxies, stars, and our own star system.

    If say most Americans became theistic evolutionists and were convinced of the scientific theories of evolution and other sciences that deal with origins and the diversity of life, how would you feel about that?

  97. ozprof

    One interesting thing about all this, BA. What do you think of a creationist being awarded the USA’s highest civilian award just recently? I would be interested in your comments.

    Cheers

  98. Cron

    I’m reading some of the answers, and many of you choose the religious point of the poll.

    I don’t think it’s so important. We cannot say, supported by any science, that any kind of God may exist, no the opposite. I mean, Science has not proved the existence of God, but has not proved the inexistence.

    So, I strongly think that believing or not in any God must be a personal choice when we talk from science.

    The point that amazes me most is that so many people chooses the option “God created as is”, no matter the amount of years, while we know (science has proved) that history doesn’t stand still.

  99. Suzaku

    Scary indeed, but what if the poll is fake? I think I will get the second option if I randomly grab someone to do the question on the street at my front of my house

  100. BMcP

    #ozprof said: One interesting thing about all this, BA. What do you think of a creationist being awarded the USA’s highest civilian award just recently? I would be interested in your comments.

    What did he receive the award for? Was it related to his creationist views or completely unrelated? If it is the latter, then what difference would it make if the receiver is a creationist?

  101. “Either that or I need to start beating my fellow Brits round the head with Gould’s Structure of Evolutionary Theory.”

    MartinM, we could start by beating them with a copy of an introductory maths book. Education in this country has went down the pan (assisted by the prevalence of the “all must have prizes” mentality of anti-competitiveness and abolition of selection)

  102. Rob

    The question doesn’t entirely cover the bases on the pro-science side. If someone believes in science but is also religious, they might well believe that God initiated the process but did not play an active guiding roll.

    They may well not be comfortable choosing ‘God-guided’, as that (fairly strongly) implies that God was in there, making minor corrections as it went along (which kind of implies he didn’t get the mechanism right in the first place – bit of a downer for an omnipotent God). God-guided also sounds like it could be ID wearing its religious cloak. It certainly implies one should be able to see the effects of God guiding it in the fossil records somewhere, and so is non-scientific.

    However, they would also be uncomfortable with ‘God played no part’ as their belief would be that he planned it and knew where it was going, but didn’t interfere in the process once it had been set going. There’s a big gap between ‘guided’ and ‘played no part’ that is not covered.

    So the writers of the question gave two religious options, neither of which is correct scientifically, and one atheistic option, which is scientifically correct. There is no scientifically correct but open to religion option for those who believe in science but are not atheists! That’s a fairly major failing in this poll.

    Robert (not the same one as earlier).

  103. Greg

    It’s scary, but Democrats and Independents show numbers that are generally representative of general polls. The thing about this that I take note of, is that there’s a whole lot of woo concentrated in one place.

    Since we have a two-party system, there really isn’t any balance. On the one side, fantasy (Republicans). And on the other, the average – a mixture of reality and fantasy. Reality is not represented in our political system at all. It’s scary how much the religious right has transformed the Republican party. The current-day Libertarian party is more like “classic” Republicans, even though Republicans still enjoy an essentially Libertarian reputation among many people.

    This is what made me so excited by Obama’s speech on religion on politics. Despite the fact that he’s a frothy Christian, he seems to understand the restrictions on separation of church and state and how pluralistic societies need to function. We’ll see how true to that speech he is…

  104. MartinM

    MartinM, we could start by beating them with a copy of an introductory maths book.

    Well, if you want to teach them, sure. If you’re just looking for maximum damage, you can’t do much better than Gould. Maybe MTW, if there’s a hard-back edition.

  105. Alexei

    You know, I hate arrogant condescen of all kiinds, and both sides of the evolution/creation debate display it.

    It’s funny what power does to a person or a way of thinking. A few hundred years ago the church was branding scientists and heretics, with all the unpleasantness that goes along with that. Now, we rightly decry this as barbarous, irrational, and completely unacceptable.

    Now, the church has lost most of its former power, and scientists have it. You’d think that those whose predecessors were treated in such a manner would forever refrain from similar actions themselves. But apparently not. Ok, so you don’t see folks being burned at the stake, drawn and quartered, or the like. But advocating, even in jest, throwing believers to the lions, or branding folks to be “idiots” or “lunatics” because they dare to *gasp* believe in God?

    You’ll never find me espousing the 6000 year notion, or saying that evolution is bunk, or anything of the sort. I’m an Engineer, I minored in Astronomy, and I understand the scientific method. I keep myself informed on the latest goings-on in physics or astronomy (as time allows) because I find it interesting and I love the thought process (plus astronomy photos are great). Hell, I’m the guy who’s constantly battling back against my family’s tendency to put their trust in “natural healing”, astrology or other bits of pseudo-science.

    But I also believe in God, so I guess that makes me an irrational lunatic in your book, eh?

    The more I hear talk like that, the more I’m convinced that atheism is a religion just like any other. Just because it couches itself in the mantle of science doesn’t seem to be able to sheild it from the bigotry, judgementalism, and hate that you claim to hate about the church and/or religion in general.

    How interesting.

  106. MH

    I suspect that some meaningful fraction of the 10,000 years crowd just doesn’t have a conception of large numbers, and is reacting to the prompting of the question. “Oh, 10,000 is a big number, and I believe in God, I’ll go with that.”

    I bet if you asked those same people an open-ended, “How old is the Earth?” question (or even a multiple choice, with various ranges) without mentioning God, maybe as much as a third of them would give an answer greater than 10,000 years. Such people aren’t too big on examining their ideas for consistency.

    At the least, I would want to control for this by adding a fourth option, “God created humans as is more than 10,000 years ago.” That would differentiate between those are capital-B, capital-L Biblical Literalists and those who just haven’t considered the matter too deeply.

  107. MartinM

    Just because it couches itself in the mantle of science doesn’t seem to be able to sheild it from the bigotry, judgementalism, and hate that you claim to hate about the church and/or religion in general.

    Says the guy generalizing to an entire group based on:

    One comment describing theists as ‘idiots’
    One comment making a crack about lions
    No comments using the word ‘lunatic’

    Interesting, indeed.

  108. Regardless of party affiliation, the average American (or even human IMHO) is scary in what they “believe” or in just how little they really “know” about the universe around them. Sadly, they don’t “care” to know either. For them, knowing that planets orbit the sun, or that atoms make up our bodies is less important than who wins this weekend’s NASCAR race, or what starlet is currently in rehab.

    Note that the third option on the poll “God played no part” still starts with the assumption that there is a God. So that is not the dogmatic answer for atheists, you can’t even answer this poll if you don’t believe there is a God.

    I’m proud to be in the rational minority. And, yes Phil, most of us who are “middle-aged” now find the political parties much more polarized and different and beholden to special interests (i.e. the religious right) than when we were first able to vote 20-30 years ago. :-(

  109. Well, if you want to teach them, sure. If you’re just looking for maximum damage, you can’t do much better than Gould. Maybe MTW, if there’s a hard-back edition.

    Pride of place on the bottom shelf of one my bookcases (because I’m not sure any other shelf could take the weight) is the massive full hardback of Tipler & Mosca’s “Physics for Scientists and Engineers”. That mother is one massive book. Its not so much a book as a “slab”.

    Shame I could never find a hardback version of Wheeler’s Gravitation though – that would be an amazing book.

  110. >> I mean, Science has not proved the existence of God, but has not proved the inexistence.

    What would prove the non-existence of God? Or more correctly, what proof would you accept that God does not exist? The hypothesis that God does not exist is terribly easy to falsify, yet nobody has ever managed to do so.

    Religious people make the claim that God does exist. That should be a pretty easy claim to prove, conclusively, unequivocally… because proving that something exists is pretty straightforward.

  111. flynjack

    As usual such polls are subject to a lot of variance and as such must be taken with a grain of salt. I myself view myself as a conservative but for economic and geopolitical reasons, not religous. I dont personally know a single conservative that believes in a 6000 year old earth. So my personal sample varies distinictly from the survey. In any case, if one accepts the scientic theory of evolution religion need not be excluded. People may choose to believe whatever they wish until the evidence proves differently. Until there is proof of genesis without godly influence it remains a possibility(albeit remote).

    The funny thing to me is that religon its self is an evolved feature of humankind. It IMHO it evolved to provide consequences and guidance for societies to allow more orderly civilizations. It has often failed at this task when differing religous groups conflicted, however among themselves religons have provided stability. It has always amused me at the veracity of the athiest in arguing against religons, when they should simply accept that as the saying goes “they have no dog in this fight”.

  112. Kennedy

    I have worked in television for over 20 years. I have worked with NBC, CBS, Fox, ABC, and I’m now back at Fox again. I have learned through the years that one should be skeptical of polls and “studies”. Whatever you do though, never ever trust news reports of polls and “studies”. This poll was from “Gallup”, and they are usually fairly competent. The sample size (1,017) seems a bit small for a national poll, but not unusual. I had to pick through a poll last week where the sample size was 55,000.

    Who knows, the numbers might be correct. So lets just say that the poll is indeed accurate. So what? On one hand, I’d say it’s a little surprising. On the other hand, I’d say it’s a non-issue. I have no idea who those 1,017 people are and the poll doesn’t tell me anything about the kind of people they are outside of Democrat, Independent, and Republican. I think it’s interesting, but not nearly worthy of the high emotional drama a lot of people here are making it out to be. I know, a lot of you like to obsess over this sort of thing.

    Lets say that you wake up tomorrow morning and find out that somehow during the night, the number of “God played no part” in all of the groups goes to 97%. The next day you will find out that drunk-drivers are still killing people, gas prices are still high world-wide, President Bush’s approval rating is still low, that guy you know still has cancer, Mad TV is still on the air and is still not funny at all, and Al Gore will still be using 20 times more power on his house than the average person.

  113. Sohvan

    Pete: The sites linked by Tapani came from 1995 and 1998 so they were quite outdated. Religiosity in Scandinavia and Western Europe generally has gone down from then. Not all European countries are so secular though. Many of the more eastern countries like Poland are very religious, even when compared to USA. It certainly seems like religious extremism and creationism is a much smaller problem in Europe. It’s also considered polite to keep your religion private. Even politicans don’t make statements about their faith very often in Finland.

    According to the Euro Barometer, the younger and more educated you were, the less likely you were to believe in god. This is pretty much what I’d expect, but I was personally surprised to see women more likely to believe in God than men (58% of europeans for women, 45% for men)

  114. Ad Hominid

    Franklin Harris:

    The polling data goes back to 1981, and whatever changes in the parties since then, there was one major overriding change that occurred in 1980: That was the first year evangelical Christians voted en masse for the GOP. That hasn’t really changed in subsequent years.

    This is a crucial observation. The “religious right” as we know it today dates from the rise of televangelism in the 1970s and the very deliberate decision by the 1980 Reagan campaign to cultivate this phenomenon as a Republican voting bloc. Many conservative ideologues, notably Barry Goldwater, were deeply disturbed at this trend. The religious right ideology required many compromises in traditional conservative principle, notably the right to privacy and individual sovereignty. These principles in fact have been pushed out of the conservative mainstream and are today labeled as “libertarian.”
    We are left with a “philosophy” that is riddled with contradictions. This has led to the astonishing spectacle of a nominally “conservative” administration spending taxpayer money at an unprecedented rate, extending federal power beyond any previous limits, and playing with the idea of amending the Constitution to support specific ideological and social objectives.

    Incidentally, the consistency of these poll figures over the past 25 years is quite striking but I have to wonder how much farther back we would need to extend them to find a major discontinuity. For example, if we go back an additional 55 years (about twice as long as the range of the current poll) we find that the instigators of the Scopes Monkey Trial were almost entirely Democrats; from the Tennessee legislature and the local school board to the media superstar of the day, William Jennings Bryan.

  115. Ragutis

    I just feel like pointing out that Ken Miller, Michael Behe, Deepak Chopra, and Tom Cruise would all respond “Humans developed over millions of years, God Guided”? Yet their understanding of science and thoughts on the processes behind that “development” differ immensely.

  116. Ragutis

    Bugger…

    . not ?, sorry

  117. Jeffersonian

    This is a sterling example of why so many of us independents and Libertarians jumped in with the Dems after all these years : because the stupidity gap widened considerably, with Republicans blatantly lying, obfuscating and denying reality. It’s part of the endarkenment. They have figured out they can stay in power by making the populace less intelligent and by pandering (and giving a false sense of empowerment) to the lowest common denominators in our society. Is it not obvious that if the Republican party continues to break education, they’ll remain in power? Republicans fear education above all else.

    There’s been a lot of reading-into on this data set, however (and false dilemma, as pointed out by Toby). It doesn’t jibe with polls that show 55% of Americans accept evolutionary theory (which would still mean we have to fix the broken education system that has 45% of the populace in ignorance). I’ve polled over a dozen in my own family and it splits right along party lines: the educated ones that enjoy reality are Democrat; the Christians with their fingers in their ears shouting “no-no-no” to evidence all vote Republican.

    @Bad jim
    10Q very much for the link. You’ll note that some of the most xtian countries on Earth are not as backwards as America which once again shows that America has invented it’s own, new version of xtianity that has little to do with actual scripture or history.
    Conversely, those of you who claim to be scared by by this are possibly forgetting that one third of the world lives in Muslim countries with no separation of church and state and an appetite for destruction. Put your fear where it is best served.

    At this point, I do not think I will be voting this year, if the only choice the media/monetary interests give(s) us is the war-mongering anti-science antique goon or the superstitious take-a-small-step dreamer.

    @LS
    “Can we please stop conflating all religious belief with ignorance and anti-science? ”
    No. It’s simple definition.

    @Trey
    “but how do you know that there isn’t a higher power?”
    Trey, the onus is on those who make magical claims, not the other way around. I can’t charge YOU with proving there’s NOT an invisible unicorn in my living room and then use your lack of proof as proof itself because it would be illogical. If you base a system of reasoning on such illogic, then everything we have in everyday life makes no sense. This is why such a system drags us backwards and keeps the world in strife. Logic and knowledge are freedom. Religion is a prison that functions through indoctrination.

  118. Patrick

    I don’t think that this data means all that much. I think it is possible to be believe that God guided evolution and still think that the word God should never come up in a science class.

    The numbers I would fear are the number of people that think that this belief should be taught in our schools.

  119. Tom Marking

    Tom Marking – You’re making strawman points –
    I wrote “platforms” (plural) such as state platforms. Here is a summary that includes a link to the Republican Party platform for the state of Texas:

    Classic bait and switch approach being used here. So your examples all boil down to one state platform from Texas? This defines all Republicans everywhere in your view even though the national platform doesn’t contain the same language.

    What’s good for the goose must be good for the gander. Let’s take a look at the 2008 Democratic Party platform for the state of California:

    http://www.cadem.org/site/c.jrLZK2PyHmF/b.1194161/k.D3E/World_Peace_and_International_Relations.htm

    We must turn Iraq over to the Iraqis: starting immediately, end the wrongful occupation of Iraq and re-establish a commitment to the rule of international law and human rights

    Well I guess that pretty much describes the position of ALL Democrats on the War in Iraq. They think the occupation is wrong. Funny how the Congressional Democrats have funded the war for two years now and given Bush everything concerning the war that he asked for. Apparently ALL Democrats are committed to immediately turning Iraq over to the Iraqis (i.e., getting the hell out of there). Funny how Obama is not saying that on the campaign trail.

  120. Kendall

    Personally, I feel left out… Since only 94% to 96% of each party is accounted for in the poll, I’m going to assume that 4% to 6% of each party is agnostic.

    My vote would be “Evolved, heck if I know if God was involved”.

    Glad to see so many people know better than I do… 😉

  121. Patrick

    To Kendall

    “My vote would be “Evolved, heck if I know if God was involved”.”

    I could not agree more.

  122. Joel

    Phil, it’s possible to agree with you about the crazy creationists and still hold deistic/theistic beliefs. Don’t come down hard on people who have spiritual ideas but put science first – as in evolution is fact, and creationism is crap.

  123. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    I don’t see how you conclude that the “evolved, guided by God” answer is so unreasonable. Yes, all the religions on earth are ridiculous, but how do you know that there isn’t a higher power?

    It is antiscientific because it accepts the fact but not the theory, which includes only natural processes. You can’t pick and choose mechanisms, that is what facts are used for.

    Also, it is a false dichotomy to propose that any specific science is irreconcilable with all of religion. For example AFAIU would some forms of deism and buddhism have no problem with accepting not only the fact of evolution as above, but the theory.

    Without having more detailed information about such simplistic categories, I might point out that it’s not particularly rational to outright dismiss any possibility of a god either.

    That would likely exclude very few atheists. In fact I have never observed any such dogmatic atheists, so I suspect this is a strawman.

    Most atheists come by their position by observing that there are many examples of natural processes and no example of mystical gods. Further they profess to accept facts, theories and ideas provisionally, so if you can provide evidence they will change their mind.

    A typical example is Dawkins, who uses an empirical model to conclude that religion as commonly discussed proposes an improbable, not an impossible, explanation, so he rejects it.

    He is technically an agnostic, albeit not the dogmatic philosophical kind. [There you have an example of a dogmatic position. “It is impossible to know (for a priori formal reasons, AFAIU) if there is or isn’t gods.”]

  124. Doug Little

    The more I hear talk like that, the more I’m convinced that atheism is a religion just like any other.

    Atheism is as much a religion as bald is a hair color.

    Just because it couches itself in the mantle of science doesn’t seem to be able to sheild it from the bigotry, judgementalism, and hate that you claim to hate about the church and/or religion in general.

    Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. You probably consider anyone who believes in Fairies or Unicorns irrational, we just take it one step further. If that means that we are bigoted, judgmental or hateful then so be it.

  125. BILL7718

    So, where do I find a political party that believes in less federal government, a strong military, evolution, and real science?

    Pfff, I’m skrewed.

  126. LS

    Shane, Jeffersonian:

    I am an atheist. I also happen to believe, as does a large percentage of the scientific community, that faith and science are not incompatible. Your argument is with the extreme religionists who refuse all explanations not predicated in faith. There is a huge section of society capable of simultaneously entertaining the idea that life evolved and that there is a higher power that may or may not have played a part in the process at some stage (even as far back as the Big Bang). As many others have pointed out, this poll doesn’t give that segment of society much room to exist, but I suspect many are represented in the “god-guided” segment — which unfortunately and unfairly lumps them in with ID proponents. Frankly, I find the mockery of religion and promotion of atheism as the One True Way every bit as offensive and narrow-minded as the promotion of YEC as the One True Way.

    (apologies for the late reply; I went to bed shortly after posting last night and this is the first opportunity I had to read BA today)

  127. A little late, but to address the point WAAAY up above that Rove is “one of us”: Apparently Bill Moyers made this statement, and Rove retorted on FOX News Sunday (08/20/07) when asked about his alleged agnosticism by anchor Chris Wallace:

    “I’m a Christian. I go to church. I’m an Episcopalian. I think he may have taken a comment that I made where I was talking about how — I have had colleagues at the White House — Mike Gerson, Pete Wayner, Leslie Drune, Josh Bolten and others — who I’m really impressed about how their faith has informed their lives and made them really better people. And it took a comment where I acknowledged my shortcomings in living up to the beliefs of my faith and contrasted it with how these extraordinary people have made their faith a part of their fiber. And somehow or another he goes from taking it from me being an Episcopalian wishing I was a better Christian to somehow making me into a agnostic. You know, Mr. Moyers ought to do a little bit better research before he does another drive-by slander.”

    So it looks like we won’t have to be standing side-by-side with this monster when it comes to keeping creationism out of public-school classrooms. *whew*

  128. Quiet Desperation

    QD, your timing is perfect speaking of lions.

    My timing is ALWAYS perfect.

    (cold stare)

  129. quasidog

    edit :

    “… The former all tend to agree that the Earth cant possibly be so young.” (end of 1st par)

    “…It makes people..” (3rd par)

  130. Ijon Tichy

    To the Canadians looking down their noses at us–when I hear about your Human Rights Council (or Commission, or whatever you call that witch hunt up there), I get pretty worried about what YOU are up against.

    At least Canadians have a conception of human rights which they are trying to implement (however poorly). You Americans are still stuck with the primitive notions of natural rights and property rights. Which explains why we have the obscene situation of the USA being the only country in the world (apart from that right-libertarian paradise, Somalia) not to have signed the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

  131. At least Canadians have a conception of human rights which they are trying to implement (however poorly). You Americans are still stuck with the primitive notions of natural rights and property rights. Which explains why we have the obscene situation of the USA being the only country in the world (apart from that right-libertarian paradise, Somalia) not to have signed the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

    Oh, I get it. When we try to force our abstract concepts and ideals on other people via argument, we’re being backwards, primitive, closed-minded, and, of course, imperialistic. When the same’s done the other way, though…

    Yes, let’s ban certain ideas, because that’s sure to make them go away, rather than just fester in the corners where polite society doesn’t look and become stronger from the evolutionary driver of oppression rather than being exposed for the canards and idiocies they are in a free marketplace of ideas. Perhaps there’s a reason why neo-Nazi movements are more violent in Europe (and Israel, of all places) than they are in the States…?

  132. quasidog

    Um … one of my posts has been deleted ? But you left the edit for my post there. Why ? Did I say something offensive ? I don’t get it.

    If you are going to delete a post of mine, could you please email me and let me know why ? It can be a short 10 second email.

  133. Thermond

    Robert Says:
    June 25th, 2008 at 9:05 pm

    Where do you find that anyone in Christianity, or the theological community, dismisses entire sectors of science?

    My own Christian brother dismisses any science that threatens his creationist view.

    Unlike athiests and scientists that dismiss anything Christian without any consideration whatsoever – truly the definition of ignorance, just as your argument is truly the definition of a straw man.

    Your assertion is the ultimate strawman. Actually many atheists spent years as believing Christians and are quite knowledgeable about Christianity. There are many atheists that consider things Christian for whatever reason. Now do they then dismiss them? Probably, but it is not just out of hand as your strawman implies. Considering and accepting are not the same thing.

  134. Thermond

    Robert, you accuse strawman and then comback with the same thing. Not too smart.

  135. How are you. Genius is one per cent inspiration, ninety-nine per cent perspiration.
    I am from Verde and now teach English, give true I wrote the following sentence: “Cheap airline tickets, wwairtickets is the travel planning and flight booking site.”

    With best wishes :p, Bakula.

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