Thursday, April 16, 2009

Do Science and Religion Conflict in Louisiana?

 
The National Center for Science Education reports on the results from a recent poll in Louisiana [Polling Evolution in Louisiana]. Respondents were asked the following question.
Do you think the scientific theory of evolution is well supported by evidence and widely accepted within the scientific community, or that it is not well supported by evidence and many scientists have serious doubts about it?
39% answered "yes" and 21% didn't know. 40% said that evolution is not well supported by evidence and/or is not accepted by the scientific community.

Let's dismiss the 21% who didn't know the answer. That leaves almost 80% of the population who see no conflict between science and religion. Half of them probably believe in a God who accepts evolution and the other half of them think that the scientists reject evolution, which maked science compatible with creationism.

That's pretty amazing, and scary, when you think about it.



11 comments :

  1. Most people get their disinformation on evolution from their churches. Sometimes I wonder whether or not Bible colleges should be required, in order to be accredited by any organization which offers any sort of graduate degree that includes the word "Master" or "Doctor" should have their candidates demonstrate proficiency in at least understanding the basics of evolution.

    I salute the efforts of the NCSE in the sense that they are at least trying to talk to clergy, but they only seem to appeal to those clergy all ready disposed to accepting evolution as the core of biology.

    As much as I don't like it, if education is going to progress to teaching the methods of actually exploring evolution, we are stuck with getting the clergy on board. (It may be a "trojan horse" into moving society away from a religious worldview, but that's their problem, isn't it?)

    That being said, I am not in favor of the sort of "framing" that certain communications professionals are trying to shove down the throats of atheists.

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  2. What a crappy question...the answer is always "Yes".
    i.e. (Boolean) A + ~A = True

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  3. I think there is a problem here with the accommodation of moderate religion by some pro-science organizations.
    Trying not to step on any religious toes in this debate ties their hands and prevents them stating the basic point that it is not a question of 'evolutionary science' versus 'creation science' - which is, unfortunately, how a substantial proportion of the US public think when they hear about 'science versus creationism'.
    If one is in any way specific about the point at all one needs to say the question is not about creationism but about one very specific form of creationism - fundamentalist protestant creationism.
    I would like to see the results for polls in the US where they worded the options like that (why not throw in a couple of other relgions as well - fundamentalist islamic creationism, fundamentalist hindu creationism?)

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  4. The numbers don't seem all that different from a recent poll conducted up her in Canada.

    Which of these statements comes closest to your own point of view regarding the origin and development of human beings on earth?

    Human beings evolved from less advanced
    life forms over millions of years

    Human beings evolved from less advanced
    life forms over millions of years 59%

    God created human beings in their
    present form within the last 10,000 years 22%

    Not sure 19%

    http://www.angus-reid.com/polls/view/16178

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  5. "Do you think the scientific theory of evolution is well supported by evidence and widely accepted within the scientific community, or that it is not well supported by evidence and many scientists have serious doubts about it?"

    The question itself is inherently flawed. The statement involves two distinct questions which have been lumped together to bolster the argument that only stupid people doubt evolution. The pollsters should have asked two separate questions: 1) Do you think the scientific theory of evolution is well supported by evidence; and, 2) Do you think the scientific theory of evolution is widely accepted within the scientific community. Lumping the two questions together means that if you answer no to one part, such as by saying you don't believe evolution is well supported by evidence, then you have by default answered no to the second part—whether you wanted to or not.

    There is no yes or no answer to the convoluted question. Respondents must choose either double-edged option A or double-edged option B. Either way, the wording forces respondents to give the same answer to both sides of the question. People who believe the majority of scientists accept evolution but also believe the evidence does not support evolutionary theories cannot differentiate the two in their responses.

    The original poll results also states that, "Interestingly, well educated respondents are more likely to recognize that evolution is well supported by the scientific evidence, but are less likely to oppose teaching creationism with evolution in the public schools." So much for the idea all smart people are against teaching opposing viewpoints.

    Lisa A. Shiel
    author of The Evolution Conspiracy
    http://EvolutionConspiracy.com/

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  6. Inbreeding and outcrossing also conflict in Louisiana.

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  7. Dr. Moran wrote: That leaves almost 80% of the population who see no conflict between science and religion.What part of Do you think the scientific theory of evolution is well supported by evidence and widely accepted within the scientific community, or that it is not well supported by evidence and many scientists have serious doubts about it? indicates anything about a conflict or lack of same between science and religion, such that you would conclude both the 39% who answered Yes and the 40% who answered No considered the existence or lack of such a conflict when answering?

    Either there's context I'm decidedly missing here, or there is no premise for the conclusion you draw.

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  8. "(...) to bolster the argument that only stupid people doubt evolution."

    If people who oppose evolution were intelligent, they would know the difference between absence of evidence and ignorance of existing evidence. Translation: how do you know there is no evidence for evolution as opposed to there is, but not being a biologist, you're unaware of it.

    Or is that too powerful a reasoning for you?

    Another point: people who support evolution belong to different worldviews - some are atheists, agnostics and some are god believers. But people who don't "believe" in evolution all share the same worldview - that god (or aliens) created us.

    Now who is more likely to be biased? To ask the question is to answer it.

    An analogy: what if you learned that a bunch of people believe that viruses and bacteria don't exist, and that biologists and medical doctors are wrong? Curious, you do a search and you find out that all those people are members of the Church of Scientology. What do you do? Easy: you discard their opinion as ideology.

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  9. On her blog, Shiel produces this lie with apparently no shame:

    "in fact, no one has ever demonstrated scientifically that one species evolves into another."

    Even the most cursory effort will reveal counterexamples to this claim. Why does she think she can lie so brazenly and get away with it?

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  10. Lisa is correct that the poll question combines two distinct questions in such a way that there are 4 possible positions, yet only two answers are permitted. It is possible that the two excluded cases may be too rare to be significant, or that the answers in the excluded cases will balance out to have little effect. But, there's no information to quantify that, so to assume it would be unfounded speculation.

    The presence of this problem does not support her implication that the poll is designed to yield a certain result or to portray one point of view in a negative light. But, it does call into question the trustworthiness of the poll result.

    In my opinion, the sensible thing to do is to dismiss the poll result as unreliable, and dismiss Lisa's claim of bias as unfounded. All noise. No signal.

    P.s. I'm not taking this position to be even handed or "fair". I consider Lisa's anti-science views to be pure bunk. But a valid argument is a valid argument, no matter the source.

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