Happy Darwin Day!

12 Feb 2009 06:42 pm
Posted by: Donna

This is disappointing:

PRINCETON, NJ — On the eve of the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth, a new Gallup Poll shows that only 39% of Americans say they “believe in the theory of evolution,” while a quarter say they do not believe in the theory, and another 36% don’t have an opinion either way. These attitudes are strongly related to education and, to an even greater degree, religiosity.

While Gallup shows a clear link between church attendance and views on evolution, I don’t blame religion, per se, for this shocking pandemic of ignorance in our country. Notice that of the people who indicate they seldom or never go to church, only 55% believe in evolution. Like I said, it’s not religion that’s responsible for this. Most mainstream Christian denominations accept evolution and have no problem reconciling it with their spiritual teachings. The Vatican recently released a statement recognizing that evolution is not in conflict with faith. Seriously, y’all don’t think the Church would taint her prestigious universities with anti-science nutbaggery, do you? At Notre Dame they teach evolution in science class and Genesis in religion class.

So what gives? Why are so many Americans not down with the Darwin? Well Divas, I attribute it to a well-organized effort to cast doubt on what is an accepted and scientifically substantiated theory. When I say ‘theory’ I’m using the term in it’s scientific context: a comprehensive explanation of a phenomena that is supported by facts and is testable. No, Intelligent Design doesn’t pass muster as a scientific theory. It’s a theory in the wishful-thinking way that “I have a theory that Myrtle secretly wants me” is a theory but it’s not a scientific one. It’s just not, no matter how hard anti-evolution people try to make it sound science-y while acting like victims because people expect them to produce evidence if they want their idea taught in schools. But religious extremists, mostly of the fundamentalist Christian variety, have seized the dialogue and have skillfully used semantic tricks and former sitcom stars with bananas* to spread their mental poison and sow the seeds of doubt in the populace to the extent that even many non-fundamentalists aren’t sure what to believe. They need to be stopped because, frankly, this is getting embarrassing. Also because if the U.S. hopes to not turn into a dirtwater Third World craphole, we better improve the scientific literacy of our citizens. Pronto.

* Actual Kirk Cameron quote:

“Evolution is unscientific. In reality, it is a blind faith that’s preached with religious zeal as the gospel truth. I’m embarrassed to admit that I was once a naïve believer in the theory. The issue of intelligent design is extremely relevant at the moment. Atheism has become very popular in universities—where it’s taught that we evolved from animals and that there are no moral absolutes. So we shouldn’t be surprised when there are school shootings.”

Oy vey. 

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