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Americans are Skeptical of Darwinian Evolution

Post Author: Bill Pratt

Poll results like these demonstrate the failure of proponents of Darwinian evolution to provide persuasive scientific evidence for their viewpoint.  Worse than that, the attempt to squash the intelligent design movement is seemingly back-firing.  Americans overwhelmingly support academic freedom on the issue of the origins and development of life.

It is time for Darwinists to quit saying “Evolution is a fact” and actually provide some compelling scientific evidence that supports the position that random mutations and natural selection are the engines that drove the development of all life on earth.

zogby graph 6 30 09 Americans are Skeptical of Darwinian Evolution


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  • http://airtightnoodle.wordpress.com airtightnoodle

    “Poll results like these demonstrate the failure of proponents of Darwinian evolution to provide persuasive scientific evidence for their viewpoint.”

    This is not the only possible explanation for the results of this poll. The majority of Americans are most likely rather ignorant of both science AND alternative religious theories like creationism and intelligent design. Sure, most people could tell you which they “believe” in when asked, but could they actually explain why and give supporting evidence? Sadly, most probably cannot.

    In any case, the results of the poll itself do nothing to discredit the theory. At one point in time if you polled the everyday man about the shape of the earth, many would probably respond by saying it was flat. Yet we now know that is not the case.

  • Bill Pratt

    This was part of the point I was making. Those who believe Darwinian evolution explains the origin of species have had a virtual monopoly in the American education system for at least 50 years, if not longer. Yet, after decades of teaching random mutation and natural selection, the majority of Americans still don’t find the evidence compelling. Why is that?

    If the evidence was so good, then people would accept it. We don’t have these debates in other scientific fields, as far as I’m aware. How long is it going to take to convince Americans this theory is true?

  • http://irreligiously.blogspot.com Terence

    Hi,

    you are sadly mistaken to say that evolution is not persuasive just because Americans can’t seem to accept it.

    If you read this article by Fox News, America ranks near the BOTTOM in terms of acceptance of evolution, largely due to fundamentalist protestant beliefs.

    Just look around the world: It seems that Americans are lagging behind in accepting evolution. And while the American public may reject evolution, it seems that American scientists and biologists are still overwhelmingly pro-evolution, safe for a few exceptions at the Discovery Institute.

    Therefore to say that evolution is poor science is unconvincing.

  • dan

    The reason ‘unguided process’ is so unpopular is based more on philosophical reasoning than knowledge of evolutionary theory.

    In order for someone to accept that they are the product of an unguided process, they have to acknowledge that they therefore have no real purpose for existing. Even if they believe such a position is theoretically possible, they cannot bring themselves to admit it.

  • http://freemicrosoftpoints.com Jared Stenzel

    I’m American and I believe it. Sure helps after reading angels and demons though.

  • http://airtightnoodle.wordpress.com airtightnoodle

    Some Americans still don’t find the evidence compelling for a number of reasons. First, though evolution is certainly SUPPOSED to be taught to students in grade school, a lot of teachers do a pretty poor job of covering it. This is due to a number of factors, including the fear of backlash of students, parents, and even coworkers…not to mention the fact that sadly some teachers are just plain ol’ incompetent.

    Also, many students are raised in homes that already have an anti-evolution bias. I grew up in one and have experienced this first-hand. This bias works against the student being receptive to the idea. Many students will learn what the teacher expects them to learn to “ace” the test without truly thinking about the concepts themselves (which applies to many areas, not just evolution). In the worst case scenario, these students are sometimes openly hostile or even disruptive in class when the topic of evolution comes up. Unfortunately, to make matters worse, it is often difficult for teachers to respond to such situations due to the religious complications involved.

    You say if the evidence was so good, people would accept it. The vast majority of scientists do, and many people throughout the world do as well! Furthermore, sometimes the evidence might be “good”, or at least able to be spun to make it look “good”, for things that are blatantly false, or even unknowable. This could certainly apply to many common conspiracy theories, or even the ideas presented in the popular movies “The Davinci Code” and “National Treasure”.

    As far as debates in scientific fields, there are plenty of REAL and exciting debates in science, even some regarding evolution. However,the basic theory of evolution, and the fact that evolution does indeed happen, is not one of them.

  • Bill Pratt

    “However,the basic theory of evolution, and the fact that evolution does indeed happen, is not one of them.”

    If you are referring to the idea of common descent, that somehow all lifeforms are related to each other, I would agree that there is little debate in the scientific community, for whatever that is worth (the scientific community has been wrong many times in the past, so we’ll see what happens). If you are referring to natural mutation and natural selection, you are completely wrong. There is significant debate about those mechanisms, yet those are the mechanisms that are taught almost exclusively in public schools.

    The intelligent design community is primarily attacking random mutation and natural selection, not common descent. There are ID folks who accept common descent and there are ID folks who reject it, but they are agreed that random mutation and natural selection cannot account for the myriad lifeforms on earth. I agree.

    By the way, I grew up in a family that had no issues with evolution, but after educating myself as an adult, I found that there were significant weaknesses in the theory.

  • Don Davis

    Interesting debate so far.
    I grew up in a non-Christian home in the UK. The schools I attended all taught Evolution as a Fact rather than a theory, and as a child I blindly accepted the so called facts and the wonderfully illustrated drawings showing the development of humanoids and other species.
    BUT, when I became a Christian and started reading and believing the Bible to be God’s Word, I discovered I had a dilema and lots of questions; did God actually create the world? In seven days? And all the different creatures after their kinds?

    As I continued to read I discovered that Jesus Christ, God on Earth (the Creator come to visit His Creation), actually believed in Adam and Eve. That blew me away. So if the first Human Beings, from which we all come or descend from were actually true and we didn’t evolve from monkeys, then I’m convinced that Jesus who belived in Adam and who made Adam would have told us that Genesis was hogwash.

    From that moment I decided to believe Jesus, the Bible and God’s revelation in His Book. Since accepting God’s own testimony, I’ve found more and more overwhelming evidence that Evolution is just made up ideas by men trying to discover their origins without God in their lives. To be honest I feel quite sorry for people who can’t believe the Bible’s account, but hey guys, that was what I was like myself until the Creator opened my eyes and understanding after receiving Jesus Christ as my Lord and Saviour.

    Regards, Don.

    P.S. I’m not saying that I’m in any way prejudiced against monkeys as ancestors, I just don’t believe it. I love monkeys and apes. They’re cute:-)

  • shw3nn

    Read your own article entitled “If Only I Could See a Miracle, I Would Believe”.

    And understand that, when you ask this…
    “It is time for Darwinists to quit saying “Evolution is a fact” and actually provide some compelling scientific evidence that supports the position that random mutations and natural selection are the engines that drove the development of all life on earth.”
    …I am doubtful that even the most incontrovertible proof would sway you. I do not think that lack of proof is the actual problem here.

    The problem is that you guys believe the theory of evolution is a threat to your mythology.

    This is just like when christians fought the idea of a heliocentric cosmology. The theory of epicycles is exactly like intelligent design. This thing you are doing isn’t new to us, either.

  • Greg

    Where is your “science” to prove it is true? Evolution (as Darwin stated “macro”) is poor science. There is no proof, we cannot observe it, it is not repeatable in a lab. How is this good science? You have more faith than anyone who believes in God….

  • Bradley Debewski

    Argue what you want about evolution, but around ~40% of Americans still think the world is less than 6000 years old. We have tons and tons of very hard and very physical evidence that the Earth is billions of years old and that the Universe is 13+ billion years old.

    Yet these people are the most honest out of the ID/Creationist crowd. They admit that they don’t care about the evidence. Their Bible says the Earth is 6,000 years old so 6,000 years old it is. Overwhelming physical evidence to the contrary be damned.

  • Bill Pratt

    What you say may be true about some Christians, but not all. I, for instance, came to reject Darwinian evolution after reading scientific treatments of it. I do not believe that it is a threat to my “mythology,” as you put it. I am an electrical engineer who understands evidence and data, and when I read about the data that supports Darwinian evolution, I just shake my head. It explains minor changes within species, but it does not explain how cows became whales. Many of my engineering colleagues, who are far more brilliant than I am, agree. They just don’t see it, and they are not Bible-thumping fundamentalists.

  • http://airtightnoodle.wordpress.com airtightnoodle

    Darwin didn’t come up with the term “macroevolution”, which is what you seem to be be implying. Also, science is indeed based on observations. However, this does NOT mean directly observing everything happening right in front of you.

  • http://airtightnoodle.wordpress.com airtightnoodle

    Don,

    I’m glad you became a Christian after being raised in a non-Christian home. :)

    However, I disagree with some of the points you raised.

    First, you refer to “Evolution as a Fact rather than a theory”. This leads me to believe that you don’t have a proper understanding of the word “theory” in the scientific context. In science, a theory is not just something that someone came up with randomly one day with little or no supporting evidence, that may or may not be true.

    Next, you ask the following: “BUT, when I became a Christian and started reading and believing the Bible to be God’s Word, I discovered I had a dilema and lots of questions; did God actually create the world? In seven days? And all the different creatures after their kinds?”

    If one reads the Genesis creation account literally in its entirety, then yes, this poses a problem for evolutionary theory. However, there are many scholars who feel, and I agree for the most part, that there is nothing in the text that necessitates a literal reading.

    You also refer to evolving “from monkeys”. This is not what evolutionary theory teaches and is a common misconception.

    “Since accepting God’s own testimony, I’ve found more and more overwhelming evidence that Evolution is just made up ideas by men trying to discover their origins without God in their lives.”

    This may be what you’ve found personally, and if this somehow helps you in your Christian walk, good for you. However, keep in mind that there are plenty of other believers who have no problem accepting the mainstream scientific view while still being a Christian.

  • http://airtightnoodle.wordpress.com airtightnoodle

    What scientific treatments did you read? Also, evolutionary theory does not teach that cows became whales.

  • http://airtightnoodle.wordpress.com airtightnoodle

    “the scientific community has been wrong many times in the past, so we’ll see what happens).”

    Yes, it has been! :) That’s one of the lovely things about science and the scientific method.

    I’m curious to know how you can state that there is little debate about common descent yet say that there is significant debate about mutations and natural selection.

  • Bill Pratt

    “What scientific treatments did you read? Also, evolutionary theory does not teach that cows became whales.”

    The first treatment I read on evolution several years ago was Darwin’s Black Box. This was the book that really started raising doubts. Since reading that book, I have read several more books both by the pro-evolution folks and by pro-intelligent design folks. Some samples: Evolution by Donald Prothero (just started reading this one), The Origin of Species by Darwin, The Theory of Evolution by John Maynard Smith, Tower of Babel by Robert Pennock, Icons of Evolution by Jonathan Wells, and The Edge of Evolution by Michael Behe. I have a whole bookshelf at home with about 15 more like this.

    I also routinely read articles and essays on the internet about evolution and intelligent design.

    With regard to cows becoming whales, the standard evolutionary story is that land mammals evolved into sea mammals, and I was just using cows to represent land mammals and whales to represent sea mammals.

  • Bill Pratt

    One of the greatest evolutionists of the 20th century was Stephen Jay Gould. He and his colleague, Niles Eldredge, cast severe doubts on the idea that natural selection working on random mutations was the primary mechanism of evolution. They introduced a theory called punctuated equilibrium to explain the fossil evidence. If you read the scientific literature, this debate is still going on. In fact, in Robert Prothero’s book on evolution, he says much the same thing. He says, “The Neo-Darwinian synthesis has been continually scrutinized and challenged by legitimate biological and paleontological data, so the field is rife with healthy controversy.” He quickly adds that nobody disagrees with the fact that evolution has occurred and is occurring; they just disagree about the mechanism (random mutation and natural selection).

    I have seen these sentiments repeated many other times by others.

  • http://airtightnoodle.wordpress.com airtightnoodle

    Hi Bill. One brief comment for now, as I need to get the little one to bed…

    The idea that Stephen Jay Gould proposed is called “punctuated equilibrium”, not “punctual equilibrium”.

  • Bill Pratt

    Yep, I know that. It’s called typing too fast and not proofreading. I’ll go correct it.

  • Donald Davis

    Hi Airtightnoodle,
    Thanks for responding my friend. Firstly, I’m fully aware of what a theory is, but was just stating that it was not taught as a theory. To my knowledge the science has never been proven, and the missing link is still missing. So it’s not just Americans that are sceptical, many thousands of Europeans who’ve been raised in non-Christian homes also find the theory wanting. It’s just that I never really looked at it properly until I became a Christian. I had no real reason to.

    Secondly, it’s not just the Genesis account of the Creation that must be considered. We must also take into account what other writers believed in the rest of Scripture, and the overwhelming evidence for me is that they all believed Genesis to be a literal account. Even Jesus Christ, who made everything, believed in Adam. That’s what challenged me, I was happy for a few years believeing that Genesis was just peotry or a Creation myth because people wouldn’t have been able at that time to comprehend if God explained it all scientifically:-) Now, I know differently, people at the time of Genesis had the same reasoning capacity as we do today. God made us in His image.

    Thirdly, I do believe people can be genuine Christians without believing Genesis to be literal, but as we expose ourselves to the truth of Scripture, God’s Word revealed, the Holy Spirit convinces us of the trustworthyness (is that a word) of the Genesis accounts. For some strange reason I’m happy to believe that God did it in six days and didn’t tell us how.

    My own father could fix a car, but didn’t tell me how, but all I knew was the car worked again after breaking down in the rain. He just smiled and said, “I’ll tell you someday how I did that” I’m sure we’ll all discover the HOW of God’s Creation one day, but for me there are many more important, searching and puzzling issues to be getting on with.

    With respect and kind regards,

    Don.

    Respectfully,

    Don.

  • geochristian

    I disagree with a couple of points made by Bradley Debewski:
    –I see no reason to say that the young-Earthers are more honest than the ID/old-Earth creationists. The old-Earthers are much more willing to look at both the Scriptures and the overwhelming evidence for the Earth being about 4.5 billion years old. What is dishonest about that?
    –The Bible doesn’t say that the Earth is 6,000 years old. The phrase “in the beginning” is not directly tied to the days of creation in Genesis 1, so is somewhere in the undated past. There are additional items in the text of Genesis 1 that would indicate that the days were not meant to be taken in the same sense that the young-Earthers do.

    The only people who insist that the Bible teaches a 6000-year old Earth are 1. Young-Earth creationists, and 2. Skeptics who want Christianity to look stupid. A good number of theologically conservative Biblical scholars either accept an old Earth or at least say that the text allows for an old Earth.

  • http://www.wiipointscode.com/ Wii Points

    Personally, I am also a believer of intelligent Design. God ftw.

  • http://pablosorigins.blogspot.com Pablo

    Yes, there’s a lot of work to be done. One of the ways I try to contribute is through my blog, where I try to explain how evolution works in simple terms.

    That most people believe something doesn’t make it true, you know.

    Pablo
    Pablo’s Origins Blog

  • Andrew Ryan

    Americans are equally likely to not know that the earth goes round the sun. About half of Christians polled in America can’t even name the first chapter of the bible. So education in America is poor. Ask your average American to find their own country on a globe and they’ll fail. That doesn’t mean America doesn’t exist. Among scientists you get very different figures.

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