Darwin, eh?

By Razib Khan | March 25, 2011 10:29 am

At The Intersection Sheril Kirshenbaum posts some rather stark data from Gallup and a Canadian outfit on the differences in attitudes toward evolution between Americans and Canadians. Those Tories are different! The answers seem very similar to those on offer for the General Social Survey’s “CREATION” question. I thought I’d compare Canadians to various American demographics. The question was asked in 2004 of over 1,400 Americans. I find it somewhat ironic in that I think there has been some question as to the Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper, and his attitude toward evolution. Harper is a member of the Evangelical Protestant Christian and Missionary Alliance (and apparently has appointed known Creationists to various government positions, something controversial or notable in Canada). In contrast, Barack Hussein Obama is famously more grounded in evolution than angels.

Were created by God in the last 10,000 years Evolved through natural selection Evolved over time through divine guidance DK/NR
Canada, 2011 14 58 19 8
USA, 2010 40 16 38 6
God created man Man has evolved Man has evolved, but god guided Other
USA, 2004 43 12 42 4
Male 38 14 44 4
Female 47 11 40 3
Age 18-34 38 11 48 3
Age 35-64 43 13 40 4
Age 64- 49 13 37 2
No diploma 47 13 36 4
HS diploma 49 10 38 3
College degree 32 15 50 4
Graduate degree 21 26 49 4
Protestant 55 6 37 3
Catholic 37 8 52 3
No Religion 20 32 43 6
Democrat 37 17 44 2
Independent 44 11 41 5
Republican 48 7 40 5
White 41 14 42 3
Black 57 6 34 4
New England 25 15 51 10
Mid-Atlantic 32 15 50 3
E. North Central 42 10 46 2
W. North Central 37 15 46 2
South Atlantic 55 12 28 5
E. South Central 52 6 41 2
W. South Central 53 6 38 3
Mountain 43 13 42 2
Pacific 30 18 46 6

Image Credit: Yosemite

  • http://washparkprophet.blogspot.com ohwilleke

    This survey, with 63% of those with no religion assigning a role to god in the evolution of humanity or being creationist is a good example of evidence that “no religion” does not, as often implied, mean “atheist.”

  • http://www.eurasian-sensation.blogspot.com Eurasian Sensation

    I suspect the US is something of an outlier with respect to evolution; I imagine most other Western nations are much closer to Canada’s perspective. Here in Australia, what we’d normally consider to be a “religious weirdo” would probably be equivalent to 30% or 40% of the US population.

    Still, the “evolution through God’s guidance” probably covers a wide range of perspectives: From the full-on intelligent design believers, to those who believe in natural selection with God fiddling at the margins. I wonder if it’s a way for some participating in the survey to say, “I believe in evolution, but I don’t want to be seen as an atheist.”

  • jb

    My mother, who is Catholic, taught high school biology in Michigan for years. Whenever a student asked about evolution and religion she always pointed out (in front of the class!) that there was no reason why God couldn’t have used evolution to achieve His ends. Our school district didn’t have many hard core Bible thumpers who insisted on a 6000 year timeline, so the students were usually satisfied. My mother always felt it was a little risky even addressing the issue, but she never got into trouble over it. And frankly, as long as you are already religious, divinely guided evolution makes just as much sense, and is just as consistent with the evidence, as pure unguided natural selection. Evolution may indirectly undermine religion, by eliminating some of the necessity for God, but I don’t think it conflicts with most religions directly. We don’t want to play into the hands of the Fundies by forcing people to choose between one or the other.

  • http://occludedsun.wordpress.com Caledonian

    We don’t want to play into the hands of the Fundies by forcing people to choose between one or the other.

    So instead we should refrain from drawing people’s attention to the obvious fact that religious and scientific thinking are mutually incompatible?

    How does science benefit from this silence? How does reason?

  • marcel

    In re: the title.

    Shouldn’t it be “Darwin, eh?”

  • clark

    Caledonian, what do you mean by “mutually incompatible”? I might say romantic thinking is incompatible with science but if I am deciding whom to marry I ought use romantic thinking more than scientific thinking. The fact that even form of thinking isn’t appropriate in every area seems obvious.

    Now we can say that religious thinking might be inappropriate in all domains. But that’s not the same as saying it is incompatible.


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About Razib Khan

I have degrees in biology and biochemistry, a passion for genetics, history, and philosophy, and shrimp is my favorite food. In relation to nationality I'm a American Northwesterner, in politics I'm a reactionary, and as for religion I have none (I'm an atheist). If you want to know more, see the links at http://www.razib.com


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