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Education United States Science

48% of Americans Reject Evolution 1856

Posted by Zonk
from the we-need-just-a-touch-stronger-educational-standards- dept.
MSNBC has up an article discussing the results of a Newsweek poll on faith and religion among members of the US populace. Given the straightforward question, 'Is evolution well-supported by evidence and widely accepted within the scientific community?', some 48% of Americans said 'No'. Furthermore, 34% of college graduates said they accept the Biblical story of creation as fact. An alarmingly high number of individuals responded that they believe the earth is only 10,000 years old, and that a deity created our species in its present form at the start of that period.
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48% of Americans Reject Evolution

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  • by Kelson (129150) * on Saturday March 31, 2007 @03:33PM (#18558441) Homepage Journal
    America continues to worry about losing its edge in the high-tech industry.

    But that couldn't possibly be related to poor science education, could it?

    Note: I'm referring specifically to the 48% who believe that evolution is not well-supported by scientific evidence and that it is not widely accepted within the scientific community. Well, and the people who think the universe is less than 10,000 years old, despite all the evidence to the contrary. You can believe in God and have an understanding of science, just like you can have morals without being religious. But thinking that evolution isn't supported by evidence, or isn't widely accepted by scientists, is just plain ignorance.
  • by Harmonious Botch (921977) * on Saturday March 31, 2007 @03:34PM (#18558457) Homepage Journal
    Ok, there's a mislabeling of vitamin C, and NY politicians are posturing about something, and a majority of Americans are christians.
    THIS IS NEWS????
    C'mon editors, what happened to news for nerds, etc?
  • by heinousjay (683506) on Saturday March 31, 2007 @03:34PM (#18558461) Journal
    We'd better start evangelizing science to these poor bastards.

    Come on, who cares? Let people be ignorant. It's not like bringing people of below average intelligence or fundamentalist mindset into the scientific fold is going to make them valuable contributors. It'll just be a new type of ignorance to deal with. Let them be.
  • by 808140 (808140) on Saturday March 31, 2007 @03:39PM (#18558531)
    Frankly, even the rabidly fundamentalist anti-evolution junkies are aware that evolution is widely accepted in the scientific community. This doesn't stop them from trying their best to discredit the theory and convert people over to their way of thinking, but they'd have to be utterly daft to not realize that most scientists do not in fact agree with their point of view.

    I agree; this has to be ignorance, not religious zealotry. It's one thing to say "Evolution is bunk, and there's a pervasive anti-religious conspiracy in academia promoting it" and quite another to say "No scientists really believe in evolution." As far as I know, none of the fundies are actually saying the latter and expecting to be believed. The former, however, is one of their standard talking points.
  • by voice_of_all_reason (926702) on Saturday March 31, 2007 @03:40PM (#18558549)
    Exactly. Let's look at the question again: Is evolution well-supported by evidence AND widely accepted within the scientific community?

    Note the logical construct "and". They're asking for A and B to be true. This rules out:

    People who think A is false (any religious zealot)
    People who think B is false (anyone who believes in evolution but is disallusioned by its acceptance)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 31, 2007 @03:40PM (#18558557)
    Actually that's not a well constructed poll. It's asking 2 things at once in a single yes/no question (Is evolution well supported, is evolution well accepted). So of the people who said no are they saying no to one of the questions or both?
  • by El Cubano (631386) <.moc.rexennoc. .ta. .otrebor.> on Saturday March 31, 2007 @03:42PM (#18558581) Homepage

    But that couldn't possibly be related to poor science education, could it?

    Beacuase you can't possibly have faith (or religion, your choice) and be well educated in sciences, could you?

    I'm willing to bet that the reason the US is losing its technological edge has little (if anything to do with religion). Look at how the teacher's unions are simply stifling any sort of competition in the education "market". They try vehemently to have vouchers outlawed. They prevent school districts or states from "grading" schools based on the performance of their students (which might give parents clues were to live/not live.

  • April Fools (Score:2, Insightful)

    by pseudosero (1037784) on Saturday March 31, 2007 @03:43PM (#18558591) Journal
    That's clever, April fools joke the day before April. It has to be. Please.
  • by Gerzel (240421) * <brollyferret&gmail,com> on Saturday March 31, 2007 @03:44PM (#18558609) Journal
    Most of them just use the tactic of saying things longer and louder than everyone else in the room and eventually people will believe you.

    In America this has worked.
  • I know why (Score:5, Insightful)

    by geek (5680) on Saturday March 31, 2007 @03:46PM (#18558623) Homepage
    Most Americans (people over the age of 35ish) were never taught evolution in school and those who were have been taught poorly. I didn't realize the piss poor job my teachers did in junior high and high school until I took an anthropology class in college. People still like to quip that we evolved from monkeys but don't realize we evolved seperate from monkeys and share a common ancestor.

    The ignorance to evolution is amazing in this country. It's no surprise at all people haven't embraced it here like they have overseas in Europe.
  • by ewhac (5844) on Saturday March 31, 2007 @03:46PM (#18558627) Homepage Journal
    ...And 33% of people polled still think Bush is doing a good job in Iraq.

    People wonder why this country lost its lead in manufacturing and, most recently, technological development. Why is a fairy tale -- and an expurgated, badly translated fairy tale at that -- so much more compelling than the tools and concepts that allow you to take control of your own life and environment?

    Schwab

  • by sycomonkey (666153) on Saturday March 31, 2007 @03:47PM (#18558633) Homepage
    If God had physically come down to earth, found a man living in one of the first civilizations, and tried to explain to him the Big Bang, stellar evolution, how the Solar System developed, and biological evolution, the man would be totally confused. It takes years in a modern school system to even parse these concepts. If other Christians can take Revelations and half of Jesus's stories figuratively, if they can understand that it didn't actually (or won't actually) happen exactly like that, WHY can't they understand this about Genesis? Is it so hard? I'm confused. It seems obvious to me. It actually follows the scientific evidence vaguely well, ex. "The earth was without form and void" meaning Earth hadn't coalesced from the nebulous cloud of material orbiting the new Sun.
  • by lavid (1020121) on Saturday March 31, 2007 @03:47PM (#18558641) Homepage
    Yeah, they're just in charge of the executive branch....

    I'm pretty sure that this is just as bad since we see these people putting words in the mouths of and censoring federally funded scientists.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 31, 2007 @03:50PM (#18558669)
    So, to paraphrase, you're saying:

    Let ignorant people remain ignorant, because what harm could they possibly do to our society? ...incidentally, have you been off-planet for about six years?
  • by metlin (258108) * on Saturday March 31, 2007 @03:53PM (#18558723) Journal
    Come on, who cares?

    We care, because these people are also making our laws, electing our politicians and teaching our kids.

    These people would be deciding that scientific research is bad (it's already begun, look at the funding cuts in science and technology and the government stance on stem cell research etc). These people will also be electing idiots into office, idiots who believe that a voice-in-the-sky talks to them. And these people will be teaching -- no proselytizing -- to our children.

    Do you really want to live in such a society? I, for one, do not. If anything, it scares me to no end.
  • by zymurgy_cat (627260) on Saturday March 31, 2007 @03:54PM (#18558733) Homepage
    Come on, who cares? Let people be ignorant. It's not like bringing people of below average intelligence or fundamentalist mindset into the scientific fold is going to make them valuable contributors. It'll just be a new type of ignorance to deal with. Let them be.

    That would be all fine and well except for one thing: they're reproducing....and at a higher rate than those of us who value science. And those people and their progeny will vote.
  • by ewhac (5844) on Saturday March 31, 2007 @03:55PM (#18558749) Homepage Journal
    Facts -- like gravity, and the sphereoid shape of the planet -- exist whether or not people "believe" in them. A leaf doesn't have to believe in photosynthesis to turn green.

    Schwab

  • by PrvtBurrito (557287) on Saturday March 31, 2007 @03:56PM (#18558757)
    My take on this issue is that people who do not have extensive scientific educations are being asked to 'believe' in science in a manner similar to how they 'believe' in religion. Science is fundamentally based on observations and the progression of the scientific method. That said, for most of us, we never see the evidence, nor do we see the details of each hypothesis test. This is further complicated because the body of scientific literature is massive and for every scientific field you can find crap science. Peer review is fallible.

    I think we are requiring people to 'believe' in science, simply because science has become too complicated to cover adequately with a standard, non technical education. This creates a conundrum. These people are being required to choose religion -- remember they have been in church since birth -- or science. For them, this must be very difficult. When we listen to a scientist, we hope we are hearing testimony based on evidence, when we hear a preacher we hope we are hearing testimony based on belief.

    That said, as a scientist familiar with evolutionary theory, I am troubled by the level with which we understand the mechanisms of evolution and that 48% of people don't even understand the most basic of concepts within it. Should we require people to swallow science without evidence? Should we follow *anything* without evidence? I know I don't, ironically, science doesn't allow me to.
  • Obviously... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by bmo (77928) on Saturday March 31, 2007 @03:59PM (#18558813)
    I am not surprised.

    Half of the US population has IQ's below 100.

    48 percent of people are stupid and believe that Genesis is the literal Word Of Gawd and that science is some sort of mental buggery? This is not news.

    The fact is that we're *this* close (holding thumb and forefinger a millimeter apart) to burning (well, hanging and pressing, actually) witches again in this country. The code words for "witches" these days are "terrorist," "paedophile," and "science teacher."

    --
    BMO
  • by igb (28052) on Saturday March 31, 2007 @04:01PM (#18558835)
    Constructing a poll on a topic as politicised as this is incredibly hard. As another /.er points out, it's a proxy for `are you a godless liberal or a True American', and unless the poll is taken in secret any area in which morons with a belief in creationism are prevalent will over report a belief in creationism. Once the opinion is taken in secret, the game changes, as those anti-abortion politicians in whichever state it was with the proposed law found out: people may support you when their neighbours can hear, but not when they're in private. Moreover, knowledge of how accepted an idea is in scientific discourse is hard to judge for anyone who doesn't follow the topic reasonably closely: as I suspect the vast majority of the world goes about their daily business without worrying about the current status of punctuated equilibrium versus gradualism, why would they care?

    Anyway, enough of this. I want someone to help me evolve the long, thin, incredibly strong fingers I'm going to need to open up ther case of the Mac Mini to my right and slot in the replacement disk drive.

    New Doctor Who was great tonight, by the way. Rose was great, but you're all going to love Martha Jones. Except for the creationists, of course, who are going to hate The Doctor kissing (whisper it) a black woman.

  • Pot, kettle, black (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GuyMannDude (574364) on Saturday March 31, 2007 @04:03PM (#18558869) Journal

    Let people be ignorant. It's not like bringing people of below average intelligence or fundamentalist mindset into the scientific fold is going to make them valuable contributors. It'll just be a new type of ignorance to deal with.

    First you call them ignorant (which is true). Then you call them stupid. Then you call them religious fundamentalists. Then back to ignorant. These are all very separate categories, which you would understand if you had the above-average intelligence that you probably believe you possess. Given the large percentage of the population that is being cited, I think it's unlikely they are all below-average in intelligence. I didn't RTFA so I don't know about their religious beliefs. I submit to you that these are probably people of average intelligence who are ignorant. That means that we as scientists are not getting the word out in a manner that most people find compelling. The problem is not with them, it is with us.

    Perhaps you should check out the film Flock of Dodos [flockofdodos.com] before you start pointing fingers at who is to blame. (Hint: the dodos are not the intelligent design folks, it's the scientists who are in danger of becoming extinct because they can't communicate simple facts to the mainstream audience.) Elitist attitudes like yours ("hey, if they can't keep up, fuck 'em!") is partially what drives the mainstream to give ID folks a listen.

    GMD

  • by porkThreeWays (895269) on Saturday March 31, 2007 @04:04PM (#18558877)
    That's what is scary. People making life changing decisions for you believe things with little/no scientific backing. That's why the country is the way it is. That's why we lost the edge we once had. There's a rebirth of celebrating ignorance and we are in the middle of it. Hell, we are basically as a culture in a dark age right now. Once knowledge is acquired it's like our culture as a whole has to check the bible to see if it's credible. Would you want people with the ability to kill you at any moment completely impermeable to reason?
  • Re:The Prostate (Score:2, Insightful)

    by kcbrown (7426) <slashdot@sysexperts.com> on Saturday March 31, 2007 @04:06PM (#18558907)

    Anyone who believes in Intelligent Design has never considered the prostate, let alone actually had prostate trouble. Even a human engineer wouldn't design a component like that. They want me to believe omnipotent, omniscient being did that?

    An omnipotent, omniscient being always gets what it wants, by definition.

    All that pain and suffering in the world? All the bad things that simply happen on their own without human intervention? If an omnipotent, omniscient being exists, those things are there intentionally.

    The bottom line is that if you believe in an omnipotent, omniscient creator, then you believe in an evil, sadistic being, by definition, and one need only look at the world to see it. No being that cared about what it creates would intentionally set up the universe such that pain and suffering were possible, much less undeserved pain and suffering, and certainly not one in which pain and suffering were necessary for survival (i.e., hunters and prey).

    And no, "free will" doesn't help you here, because the universe constrains your free will, sometimes to the point where all your available choices are bad. No being that truly cared about you would set up the universe to make that possible unless said being had no other choice (so much for omnipotence).

    Call this a troll if you will, but before you do, work through the logic. You'll find that an omnipotent (can do absolutely anything), omniscient (knows everything) being that cares about its creation and allows undeserved suffering in the world is a logical contradiction.

  • by grammar fascist (239789) on Saturday March 31, 2007 @04:15PM (#18559011) Homepage
    Everyone's a sheep. Modern neuroscience pretty much confirms that most of us run on autopilot most of the time. The real question is, who's your shepherd?

    I think the average Slashdotter mostly agrees with Jesus about this. The difference is, the average Slashdotter believes that he's not a sheep, and sees this as insulting. Well, reality check. You are. But who's your shepherd? If there's a single most important decision you can make in your life, it's this. Is it Jesus? Mohammad? Richard Stallman? Pamela Jones? Jimmy Carter? Al Gore? Brad Pitt? Your parents? A good friend? A friendly and knowledgeable professor at school?

    A little bit back on topic, is anyone else disturbed that unwavering belief in the theory of evolution has become a litmus test for intelligence?
  • by swillden (191260) * <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Saturday March 31, 2007 @04:15PM (#18559013) Homepage Journal

    Actually that's not a well constructed poll. It's asking 2 things at once in a single yes/no question (Is evolution well supported, is evolution well accepted). So of the people who said no are they saying no to one of the questions or both?

    My thought exactly, except that I'd point out another aspect of the question that's overly broad. "Evolution" isn't a single theory, it's a whole complex set of theories, some of which have very solid observational evidence supporting them and others of which are almost pure hypotheses. For example, on the one hand, it's scientifically indisputable that species do evolve. We have seen it happen under controlled conditions in the laboratory, as well as having a deep fossil record. On the other hand the theory of punctuated equilibrium is just a fairly random stab at trying to explain why the fossil record seems to show long periods of little change separated by short periods of massive change. There are lots of other examples all across the spectrum.

    Personally, I'd have had a hard time answering yes to the question "Is evolution well supported", not because I don't believe it is, but because I *know* it's a political question, not a scientific question, and I know that if I say "yes" I'll be indicating assent to a much broader range of ideas than those I actually believe are supported.

    A better poll would have asked several, more precisely-focused questions, such as: "Do you believe evolution occurs?"; "Do you believe that the large number of species that exist today evolved from a small number of ancient species?"; "Do you believe that humans evolved from earlier species?"; "Do you believe that evolution is a result of purely random chance?"; plus similar questions oriented towards getting the individual's opinion about the scientific support and opinions of scientists, such as "Is there solid scientific evidence that evolution occurs?" and "Do most scientists believe that evolution occurs?".

    The result would have been a much better view into the understanding and beliefs of Americans, rather than just their religio-political views.

  • by theendlessnow (516149) * on Saturday March 31, 2007 @04:19PM (#18559067)
    You have to understand that a Christian CAN be a scientist. There actually is quite a bit of evidence for a young earth. I don't think that a true scientist can say that evolution is fact. There are just too many contradictions. And in fact, more recent scientific discoveries tend to suggest that evolution is the religious dogma of blind zealots. Rather than accepting evolution as blind fact, scientists should be doing experimentation to support the idea of evolution... however, many of the experiments are done with faulty reasoning and make assumptions (of things that are not even good theory). Evolution is a hypothesis at best. The world has truly forgotten what the scientific method is. Now... we accept things as theories based on the popularity of the scientist. Which is sad. So... what will the future hold. Today's science is founded more and more on popularity. It has become more and more like science fiction. Science (those that do not believe in God) want to make sure that God does not exist... so, as evolution continues to fall apart (because humans DO like to learn and explore... so TRUE scientists will exist), the scientific community WILL undoubtably have to come up with another Godless answer to the creation of humanity. Personally, given our infatuation with science fiction, I believe that the next big popular "theory" will be the space seed theory. While it does not answer original creation, it will help satisfy the evidence of a young earth and a history that only goes back 4,000 years.
  • by WatchTheTramCarPleas (970756) on Saturday March 31, 2007 @04:21PM (#18559093) Homepage
    Its very likely many of those who took the survey and answered in what seems the ignorant maner didn't read or completely comprehend the question as anything beyond "do you believe in evolution or not." I know several intelegent Christian people (this hopefully includes myself) who would have done the same especially if this were an online survey or some other quick format. How many slashdot readers don't go on to read the actual article?
  • by Clock Nova (549733) on Saturday March 31, 2007 @04:22PM (#18559099)
    I don't understand this line of thinking. Evolution is extraordinarily intuitive. In fact, it makes perfect sense. Two animals are born. One is unable to adapt to its environment, and dies. The other one is able to adapt to survive in its environment and lives long enough to reproduce, thus passing on its genetic material to the next generation. Repeat. Profit. What's not to understand?

    This is, of course, a bit oversimplified, but I find nothing about evolution difficult to understand.
  • by fireweaver (182346) on Saturday March 31, 2007 @04:22PM (#18559105)
    The next time a jesus chrispie gets in your face about this, ask him this: "OK, so the bible says god this, that, and the next thing. Does it say anywhere HOW he did it? And if it doesn't, did you ever wonder why? Did it ever occur to you that if god is POWERFUL enough to make a universe and populate it with life, then he might also be SMART enough to make it run AUTOMATICALLY according to certain laws, such as gravitation and evolution, that don't require constant meddling and micromanagement? And that these laws are simple enough that us mere humans can actually learn and understand them?"

    I.e. "In the beginning, god created heaven and earth. For further details, consult a science book".
  • by Brandybuck (704397) on Saturday March 31, 2007 @04:26PM (#18559167) Homepage Journal
    Why is it that we insist on freedom of thought, unless it's thought we don't want people thinking? Am I the only one who sees the inherent hypocrisy of orthodox free thought?

    You're not going to Hell for not having a literalist interpretation of Genesis. But... neither is society going to hell in a handbasket because not enough people believe in evolution. It's okay if your auto mechanic believes something different from you. Your software isn't any better or worse because an evolutionist|creationist wrote it.

    Really, it's no big deal. Take a deep breath and relax. You'll find you'll live longer for it.
  • by bishmasterb (536143) on Saturday March 31, 2007 @04:28PM (#18559187)
    You hit the nail on the head.
  • by daniel23 (605413) on Saturday March 31, 2007 @04:28PM (#18559189)

    There is a theory that the day the soviet union ceased to exist after decades of cold war, some folks in the US started to believe that from now on all limits had gone. Multilateral treaties? Climate change? Geneva Convention? Any science with unwanted results? All those questions get answered like:

    "We're an empire now, the rules have changed. We don't have to ask, we define what is real and what not."

    There is another theory that this in fact is the truth.
  • by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Saturday March 31, 2007 @04:28PM (#18559207) Homepage Journal

    Evolution is, to many, extremely unintuitive,

    Quantum mechanics is pretty "unintuitive" too. Is it more "intuitive" to believe that the cosmic thunderer created the World in six days and that the first woman was fashioned from Adam's spare rib?

    It's fascinating that there's a one-to-one relationship between those who don't believe in evolution and those that don't believe in global warming.
  • Re:The Prostate (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rhakka (224319) on Saturday March 31, 2007 @04:30PM (#18559229)
    as a devil's advocate, the alternate explanation could be that your idea of what it means to care about something could be wrong, what is "undeserved" sufferring could be wrong, and that sufferring for some is not in fact the best the thing for the creation as a whole.

    Since you don't know the "End state" of the creation, or its purpose, you have no way to judge that. You are using your own arbitrary guidelines for all of these things, and since you are neither omniscient nor omnipotent you have no logical grounds with which to judge such a being... to even presume you have the barest idea of what such a creature would do and why, and whether that means it "cares" about its creation or you or not is totally irrational.

    don't get me wrong, I'm not saying there IS such a massively perfect, caring being out there. But as a flawed, limited being such as you or I cannot possibly construct any logical arguement that addresses the motivations of such a superior being... you have absolutely no qualification to judge. All you know is what "feels bad" to you; and you are not perfect, so you don't really know what IS bad, just what seems bad to you.
  • by pla (258480) on Saturday March 31, 2007 @04:33PM (#18559267) Journal
    Come on, who cares? Let people be ignorant. It's not like bringing people of below average intelligence or fundamentalist mindset into the scientific fold is going to make them valuable contributors. It'll just be a new type of ignorance to deal with. Let them be.

    As much as I may not want to, someday, I will get old.

    When that happens, I want stem cell therapies available to fix my joints and my heart and my cancer and my alzheimers and just about everything else that might go wrong with me short of sudden death. And if stem cells don't work, clone me a pithed organ donor. Not that I plan to live forever, but I would very much like to keep going at near full capability until the day I drop.

    But as long as we have enough ignorant fundamentalists around to vote even a few of them into places like the whitehouse, where they can block funding for such research, we have a huge problem.

    As the easiest and most obvious solution, we just need to ban religion (disclaimer - I believe in a creator deity; I just don't have a big enough ego to pretend I know what it wants). Failing that, if we can teach a large enough percentage of the population to (accurately) view books like the Bible and Koran as "inspirational fiction", then perhaps we'll stop seeing blocks on federal funding for stem cell research.
  • by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Saturday March 31, 2007 @04:35PM (#18559299) Homepage Journal

    I'm ready to accept evolution just as soon as the science is more credible than faith and the Bible.

    That's why you work at Wal-Mart and collect disability instead of performing thoracic surgery. I pray that you're not home-schooling your kids. We've got enough of your kind bringing down the national average already.
  • by Seumas (6865) on Saturday March 31, 2007 @04:35PM (#18559305)
    Sadly, their ignorance affects the rest of us. They get to vote. They make laws that affect us. They help decide the direction of the entire nation. If the number grows much larger, it's a small step from what we have now to a world in which we have no free speech and science funding is cut in favor of building more churches and religious statues in public places (remember, something like 50% of highschool students think the first amendment goes too far!).

    If these idiots didn't have a serious amount of weight behind them, this wouldn't matter. But that means only one or two percent of the other side have to be swayed into voting along the lines of these idiots and you can see how things like stem cell research, space exploration and biological discoveries will be limited by sheer ignorance.

    Also, I find these statistics to be somewhat questionable because only last week I read that 18% of people 18 to 30 classify themselves as atheists (as opposed to the current 2% of the entire population that considers themselves atheists).
  • by Nyeerrmm (940927) on Saturday March 31, 2007 @04:36PM (#18559323)
    As another example I've just recently been learning about optimization algorithms (I'm using a Particle Swarm Optimization routine to determine a randomly optimized satellite constellation for imaging,) and even though I wrote the code myself and know exactly what it's doing, I still want to anthropomorphize it and believe its doing it intelligently instead of just randomly selecting points and discarding those that don't give good results.

    Basically, it's very easy to attribute intelligence to a natural process, simple algorithm, etc., even if you know exactly what's going on.
  • by cyphercell (843398) on Saturday March 31, 2007 @04:39PM (#18559353) Homepage Journal
    Personally, I often just stop talking to people like that, doesn't mean I believe them. Of course the average person seems to think that the last person talking wins.
  • by c6gunner (950153) on Saturday March 31, 2007 @04:42PM (#18559405)
    It's not in TFA, but the poll also reported the following statistics:

    27% of Agnostics and Atheists think God guided the process of evolution
    13% of Agnostics and Atheists think God created man in his present form.

    So a better title for the article might have been "40% of Atheists believe in God".

    When you're getting that kind of result, it might be a clue that there's something wrong with your methodology.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 31, 2007 @04:45PM (#18559449)
    That's a sad, convoluted way to amalgamate two very different things to try and pass market economics as what they aren't. Evolution is science. Market economics are religion, and much akin to astrology.
  • by akaky (254772) on Saturday March 31, 2007 @04:49PM (#18559501)
    I'm not surprised by the percentages, frankly. I'd be interested in seeing the trends. I'd (like to) be surprised to see if it was really all that different in the past. That said, I do think it reflects on our state of education in good ol' USofA. Possibly a good excuse to rail about the state of science education in particular, but I'll take it, 'cause I think it does indeed suck.

    I love the story of Genesis; there's good stuff in it. Almost as good as the Silmarillion.

    As chance would have it, I'm reading through my old copy of Carl Sagan's Cosmos. Now, I know it would be viewed as dated (both factually and cinematographically), but it was a tremendous influence on me. It addresses topics in a very approachable and friendly manner, and is (as I remember it) very far from preachy. It lit me on fire about science, and though I don't make my money in science, I think this program had an impact on my science-based view of the world.

    But this is more than 20 years ago now. Short of a Sputnik analog, what voices do we have to popularize science?
  • by HiThere (15173) <`charleshixsn' `at' `earthlink.net'> on Saturday March 31, 2007 @04:49PM (#18559505)
    I've read the original article (perhaps) which indicates that this article is misrepresenting the data, but even there I couldn't find out how they selected who they would ask questions of.
  • by xerxesVII (707232) on Saturday March 31, 2007 @04:50PM (#18559511)
    Until your faith in God and His word generates something so simple as a God-powered toaster, you are kindly invited to keep your pet out of science classrooms. Foundations of scientific thinking are not based on "God did it."
  • by Clock Nova (549733) on Saturday March 31, 2007 @04:51PM (#18559533)
    Um. . . yes, it does.
  • by Bin Naden (910327) on Saturday March 31, 2007 @04:51PM (#18559535)
    A little bit back on topic, is anyone else disturbed that unwavering belief in the theory of evolution has become a litmus test for intelligence?

    I disagree. The best intelligence litmus test is to be skeptic and never accept everything as the complete unquestionable truth. The way I see it, the creationists have about 0.000001% chance of being completely right, the evolutionists have about a 30% chance of being completely right. The complete truth is probably either a slight modification of the evolution theory or a completely different concept that either no one has ever thought of, or that no one is capable of thinking of.
  • by misanthrope101 (253915) on Saturday March 31, 2007 @04:54PM (#18559575)

    But who's your shepherd?
    When religion builds an airplane, I'll buy into your figures of speech. Until then, I'm down with science. It works.

    A little bit back on topic, is anyone else disturbed that unwavering belief in the theory of evolution has become a litmus test for intelligence?
    It hasn't. The issue is that "skepticism" towards the theory of evolution is emblematic of a rejection of science itself. This rejection of science takes place within a context of all the technology, medicine, and other wonders that the scientific method has produced. This all-out denial of the obvious fact that the scientific worldview is useful, productive, and beneficial does tend to call these people's intelligence into question. If they aren't stupid, what are they?

    I read a comment on Slashdot just a few days ago (really wish I had bookmarked it, since I'd love to read it again) where the poster mentioned evolution, the Y2K bug, avian flu, and said "science just has no credibility left." I wanted to say "so I guess you won't be using medicine, driving in cars, or POSTING ON THE INTERNET anymore...?" but I've said it before, and the absurdity of rejecting science while depending on it so heavily is just lost on these people.

  • by BetaJim (140649) on Saturday March 31, 2007 @04:56PM (#18559601)
    Because of my car's bumper stickers I'm frequently asked: "Do you believe in evolution?" Instead
    of just saying that I do, I try to raise their consciousness a bit by answering "No, I accept
    that evolution is the theory that best explains the evidence." This usually gives them a pause.
    Belief is often closely associated with faith, and faith is something that isn't necessary to
    accept evolution. Only evidence is needed and there is lots of that available.

    I'm a teacher and my bumper sticker if very appropriate and funny in several different ways, it
    reads: "Leave no child behind - Teach Evolution." I wish I had another one as this one is very
    faded.
  • by casper75 (44745) on Saturday March 31, 2007 @05:00PM (#18559661)

    In America this has worked.
    should read "This has worked."
    No single group of humans has a monopoly on ignorance.
  • by Panzergheist (609926) on Saturday March 31, 2007 @05:00PM (#18559671)
    Most people glaze over when it gets to the point of genetics adapting enough to change the subject into a completely different species. Discounting time and scale, microevolution is quite easy to understand, but macroevolution is a whole other bucket of trouble. I also think this is where a lot of contention from religious folk comes from. There is a common belief among the religious that all evolutionary studies refer to and entail only macroevolution.

    Just my two-cents that hopefully bought you a different point of view. ;)
  • by Seumas (6865) on Saturday March 31, 2007 @05:01PM (#18559681)
    I think an important point to note is that a lot of people are more concerned with accepting and dismissing facts and evidence and theories based on whether these things fit their world view when they should instead be shifting their world view to fit in with facts and evidence. My world view may involve a flat earth, but when it's proven to be round, I should probably alter my worldview.
  • by erroneus (253617) on Saturday March 31, 2007 @05:06PM (#18559737) Homepage
    It's pretty well-known that most people who call themselves Christian don't practice it in their daily lives and in essence, don't actually or truly believe. They are just club members who don't pay their dues. But when you corner these people, they will assert that they are true believers to the very end. It's best nnot to provoke Christians by asking them direct, polarizing questions. Better to let them go on acting like heathens. They will have children and they too will be non-participating Christians except that they will not likely go to church but once in a while... the next generation after that will be lighter still. Eventually, religion will fade away. It's fighting religion that keeps it alive.
  • by SpinyNorman (33776) on Saturday March 31, 2007 @05:11PM (#18559811)
    is anyone else disturbed that unwavering belief in the theory of evolution has become a litmus test for intelligence?

    Why is it disturbing to define intelligence as having a modicum of knowledge and rational analysis capability?

    DNA + "survival of the fittest" = evolution. It's not a theory - it's just a plain consequence of the the tautology "survival of the fittest" and the fact that we're based on a naturally varying chemical hereditory mechanism (DNA). If you don't understand that people who have more children leave more descendents, or that we're based on DNA, then, YES, you are stupid.
  • by cephal0p0d (1052252) on Saturday March 31, 2007 @05:14PM (#18559835) Homepage
    "What I believe in cannot be proved correct scientifically, therefore it cannot be proven wrong scientifically." No, see, it doesnt work that way. What you believe cannot be proven, period, therefore it is imaginary.
  • by CodeBuster (516420) on Saturday March 31, 2007 @05:15PM (#18559849)
    Was it not Adolf Hitler who said that, "The people will more easily fall a victim to a big lie than to a little one"?
  • by SpinyNorman (33776) on Saturday March 31, 2007 @05:19PM (#18559897)
    Evolution can not be wrong. It's not a theory - it's just a plain fact.

    If your DNA causes you to have more children than me, then the DNA of our species has taken a step in the direction of your DNA rather than mine. If the DNA of species A group #1 has diverged from that of species A group #2 to the extent that they can't interbreed then (by definition) one of these groups is a new species.

    There may be additional subtleties to how evolution actually plays out (there's plenty of post-Darwin realizations such as that it's environmental change that drives punctuated equilibrium), but the mechanism itself can't be wrong - it's just plain fact. More children = more descendents with your DNA.
  • by Andrew Kismet (955764) on Saturday March 31, 2007 @05:20PM (#18559919)
    Not yet, but the USA is trying damn hard.
  • by humungusfungus (81155) on Saturday March 31, 2007 @05:25PM (#18559973)
    "It's fascinating that there's a one-to-one relationship between those who don't believe in evolution and those that don't believe in global warming."

    Fascinating, but not entirely surprising. I think that of people who reject global warming (or climate change etc etc), many do so because they make the implicit assumption that the earth is here for us; that it was somehow designed to accommodate us, no matter what. To imply that we are negatively affecting to human-hospitable climate of the planet would imply that God screwed up.

    If you believe in evolution, and recall that 99% of every species that has walked the earth or swam in it's oceans is now extinct, and that the timeframe of human existence is rather paltry compared to the age of the planet well....one can concede a bit more readily that it is actually possible that we are the ones screwing things up and that no-one is going to come and save us.

  • by Dadoo (899435) on Saturday March 31, 2007 @05:31PM (#18560053) Journal
    Evolution has been forced on and indoctrinated into youth today and yet these figures seem to show that young adults are growing up with a faith in a higher power.

    Umm... Acceptance of evolution and faith in a higher power are not mutually exclusive. Just ask the Catholics.
  • by shaitand (626655) on Saturday March 31, 2007 @05:33PM (#18560073) Journal
    'It is true that I grew up in a Christian home, but I believe what I believe no matter what science says because of the personal impact it's had on my life.'

    The things you have faith in are things you THINK are true. The things that science has shown are things everyone KNOWS to be true. You can have faith all day long but refusing to accept the findings of science is not ignorance, it is utter stupidity.

    P.S. Science has not disproven Christianity, Science has disproven many of MAN'S interpretations of what is found in the Bible. That is the beauty (or curse) of the Bible, almost everything in it can be interpreted in so many ways that you can disprove interpretations until the end of time.

    Personally I am agnostic, it is possible that a being created everything. I shy away from this possibility because as incredible and complex as everything around us is and as difficult as it is to believe that this aways was it is just that much more difficult to believe that a being that was so much more powerful, beautiful, and complex to have been able to create all this around us has always been. Having a creator may solve 'where did we come from and why are we here' but it only shifts those questions to become 'where did the creator come from and why is it here'.

    As far as any religion on Earth being correct. Of course not, that is just silly. Some semi-literate desert dictator who wrote a book to enslave and manipulate didn't guess it right.

  • by j35ter (895427) on Saturday March 31, 2007 @05:35PM (#18560107)
    My dear friend,
    Your faith and the fact that you believe in God shouldn't make you a creationist per se.
    Remember that many of the most inquisitive, rational and critical minds were members of the Church. Even though they had to follow an official Canon, they never took the Bible for granted. Aware that this book was written down by stone and bronze age nomads, they just refused to take for granted that God created the world in 6 (earthen) days. Look at people like Thomas Aquinas ans William of Occam. Would they have shared the creationists views? I think not!
    They rather marveled at the way God led the creation of nature and the universe.
    After all, how could you have explained a bunch of stone age shepherds what the big bang was and how DNA works. Once you start looking at the Genesis from this viewpoint, you might see the true revelation behind these words.

    I consider myself agnostic, although I had the opportunity to let myself be warmly embraced by faith.
  • by Scrameustache (459504) on Saturday March 31, 2007 @05:39PM (#18560157) Homepage Journal

    Basically, it's very easy to attribute intelligence to a natural process, simple algorithm, etc., even if you know exactly what's going on.
    All religions evolved from animism, and animism comes naturally to everyone.
  • by Volante3192 (953645) on Saturday March 31, 2007 @05:41PM (#18560189)
    (On a personal note, I fear you're going to be modded down inappropriately... You're articulate in your point and state it very clearly. While I'll admit to not being fully aware of your past history, at least in this case it doesn't seem bad. It's the people who kneejerk a -1 that are just as bad as the raving nutters that trumpet this from on high...)

    I have no problem with people believing in one or more deities. Some feel the need to have a higher power looking over them. I, personally, am confused by this necessity yet I see some reasoning behind Voltaire's statement that if there was no god, we would invent him.

    Yet to be willfully ignorant of the scientific process and instead believe solely in a god is to inadvertantly question him. If you believe that the world is only 10,000 years (or 6,000, or whatever the going age is), then how do you explain the dating processes scientists use that result in objects older than that? The most common argument I hear about this is that "It's the way He wants it to be," yet that throws into question the believability of a benevolent deity since why would a benevolent deity purposefully mislead his creation?

    I shudder what would happen if fundamentalists in Europe back in the 1500s and 1600s had been able to fully supress what was discovered. Would we still believe that Earth is flat and the solar system was geocentric?

    If you do not believe in evolution, how can you understand how penicillin has become ineffective and how superbugs are being uncovered; strains of bacteria and virii that, while exhibiting all the characteristics of previous ones, are immune to the same attack styles?

    Truth and fact are two seperate ideas. They can very well be mutually exclusive.
  • by diablomonic (754193) on Saturday March 31, 2007 @05:46PM (#18560233)
    this is not meant as a troll, just an honest (perhaps offensive) opinion.

    What it all comes down to is: Most (50%+) of people are stupid.

    Expecting some one with below average (and average isn't something to be proud of either) intelligence to overcome this evolutionary handicap and the often lifelong indoctrination from their family/parents, to understand and believe a conflicting concept which, while it seems simple to me, obviously isn't to them, is perhaps expecting too much. Especially given the joke that is passed as education ("edumacation") in many places in America/many other countries.

    Ah well.

  • by Wildclaw (15718) on Saturday March 31, 2007 @05:50PM (#18560279)
    Faith is the one the worst things ever to befall upon mankind. It is a destructive force that destroys reason and makes otherwise intelligent people into idiots.

    Do I have faith in my fellow man? The answer is no. Having faith is just ignorance. This doesn't mean that I don't trust my fellow man. I know from empirical evidence that most people are nice and friendly, and if money or power (both known to corrupt people) isn't involved I have good reason to believe them. For closer friends I have even more empirical evidence to base my decisions on, so I trust them more. It is a basic question of risk vs reward. If there is little to no risk, I don't have any good reason not to trust others. The more risk there is, the more reason I need.

    Do I have faith in God? No, and even if there were evidence that god existed, I still wouldn't have faith in him. And my trust would be pretty limited, considering his track record according to the bible. I don't even have faith that what I experience is real. I just accept my experiences as real, because speculating the opposite doesn't have any advantages and a whole lot of disadvantages.
  • by linvir (970218) on Saturday March 31, 2007 @06:00PM (#18560407)

    It is true that I grew up in a Christian home
    This is the only reason you believe in the things you do. It's got fuck-all to do with "seeing beauty and power surrounding things". Your parents were brought up as Christians, so they brought you up a Christian. If they'd decided instead to bring you up to believe in Power Rangers, you'd believe in a superhuman team of ninja warriors defending the earth from an evil witch living on the moon, and you'd be posting Slashdot comments telling us all about the "beauty and power" you see in things, which convinces you of the existence of Power Rangers no matter what those oppressive science types might say about there being no recorded sightings of huge robots or aliens doing battle in remote wastelands. And of course, you'd say it was "because of the effect it had had on your life" as well.

    You're a slave to the meme forced upon you by your parents, a believer in an idea considered idiotic by the vast majority of scientists and Christians, and an embarrassment to the 21st century.

    GO GO POWER RANGERS! YOU MIGHTY MORPHIN POWER RANGERS!

  • Re:The Prostate (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Micah (278) on Saturday March 31, 2007 @06:16PM (#18560591) Homepage Journal
    > What kind of "intelligent" designer puts a recreational facility next to a waste disposal site?

    *Sigh*. I'll bite, and hope I'm not modded through the floor. Even though the designer did it that way (note that I'm not arguing for or against evolution here ... but I do believe in God's involvement, however he did it) he seemed to figure out how to make it work. I am copying a message I recently read on some web forums dedicated to discussing sexuality from a Christian perspective. The context is oral sex:

    ********
    One of the really cool things about God's design of the male body is this: When sexual arousal begins, two very important things for OS begin to take place. First, the opening to the bladder is squeezed shut, making it difficult for urine to pass through (which is why it's difficult for guys to urinate while they have an erection). Second, the Cowper's glands, which are located close to the prostate, secrete a substance that neutralizes any remaining urine in the urethra.

    So, when your FW performs OS on you, rest assured that she will not be getting any urine in her mouth!

    Just another cool thing God did to bless the marriage bed, I figure! :)
    ******* [end message copy] *********
  • by hobo sapiens (893427) <TWAIN minus author> on Saturday March 31, 2007 @06:17PM (#18560601) Journal
    That saying cuts both ways, ya know. Most people in the US as well as the world believe in evolution. What if evolution were the big lie? What will we think in 100 years? Will we laugh at evolution like we laugh at Phrenology or Lobotomy? Or will we finally get past the genesis creation account and look at it as some silly old superstition?

    Most if not all ancient legends and myths have been shown to be totally untrue. But, so have theories and teachings that had the backing of the scientific community of the time. So let us not think that just because evolution has the approval of the scientific community now that it always will or that it is infallible. When you blindly follow something, be it scientific or religious, without taking the time to examine your beliefs, it could be you who falls victim to The Big Lie.

    Since you brought it up, in a very non-Godwin-invoking way I will point out that Hitler was a perfect example. Normal, everyday people went right along with his plans. Why? Because nobody stopped to think. They all fell for The Big Lie.

    To this day, Hilter lives in London trying so see how he can get people to go along with the bocialist party's platform. (if you aren't laughing, then just do yourself a favor and ignore this entire paragraph, except the part about ignoring it, this part I mean. Don't ignore that last sentence. Or that one. Or...ok, moving on...)

    I guess my point is that many, in fact, I'd say most people believe in what they believe in because it's comfortable to them. Many people who believe in creation do so because it's what they were raised to believe and haven't thought about it. Lots of people who believe evolution do because their high school science teacher told them it is correct, or because they are afraid of public ridicule.

    There are a lot of blind followers in both camps. The question is: Are you one of them?
  • by miro f (944325) on Saturday March 31, 2007 @06:22PM (#18560651)
    another example of something that can be disproven but not proven is every scientific theory, such es (for example) the Theory of Evolution.

    It is essentially the act of being falsifiable that actually makes Evolution a real scientific theory, and the fact that it has stood for so long (with modifications) that makes it so widely accepted.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 31, 2007 @06:24PM (#18560669)
    Actually there are a lot of evangelicals who are concerned about the environment and a lot of secular libertarian types who willfully believe that global warming is all nonsense.

    It's all about what fits into your world view. Conservationism fits in with the good shepherd mentality and libertarianism is a zero sum game in global warming type scenarios... so they would rather disbelieve global warming than believe libertarianism isn't a panacea.
  • by mattpointblank (936343) <mattpointblank@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Saturday March 31, 2007 @06:25PM (#18560681) Homepage
    The sad part here is how backward the Church is being (assuming that those 48% are all God-fearing Christians). Rather than trying to fill the gaps in science or offer alternatives for the trickier aspects (where did the Big Bang come from? What was there before? etc), Christianity (or its public face) tries to send us back to medieval concepts. Their mistake is denying clearly factual evidence (the Earth is 6000 years old? Ancient fossils are there to test our faith? etc) rather than moving with the times and working alongside scientific theory and using it as a backup for Christian beliefs rather than a contender.
  • by Tom Christiansen (54829) <tchrist@perl.com> on Saturday March 31, 2007 @06:30PM (#18560749) Homepage
    Theory is a problem-word. No big surprise: I'm sure most /.ers
    realize this. But I can't help but wonder whether we don't all
    underestimate how *much* of a problem this little word is.

    Referring to the *theory* of evolution makes too many people think of
    some dubious hypothesis, perhaps just another man's opinion, rather
    than of the fact-constructed model for explaining observed phenomena
    that it truly is.

    I bet if we talked about the *model* of evolution, we'd have less
    trouble than we currently do with all the knee-jerkers who attack
    the word theory. A model is stronger than a mere conjecture, but
    even an unproven conjecture as it's used in math or science is on
    firmer territory than figmental tenets of something like, oh,
    Frisbeetarianism (just to pick a religion I'm unlikely to get
    lynched over).

    Consider number theory: no one imagines number theory to be some vague
    notion open to individual interpretation and belief. Imagine if
    instead of talking of Newton's three laws of motion, these were
    bundled together and called Newton's theory of motion. Swap law into
    theory and what happens? Sound a bit shakier?

    Not if you understand that theory means more than just somebody's
    guess. The Dictionary records 7 principle senses for the noun theory;
    of these, the first 2 are obsolete, and the 7th is for combining forms
    such as theory-neutral or theory-making. The last main sense, sense 6
    (whose first citation is from 1792) is the one giving us grief here:

    6 In loose or general sense: A hypothesis proposed as an explanation;
    hence, a mere hypothesis, speculation, conjecture; an idea or set of
    ideas about something; an individual view or notion.

    However, sense 6 that's *not* the operative definition for theory as used
    in number or automata theory, or in the theories of gravity, of relativity,
    or of evolution. Instead, it's sense 4 (first cited in a 1638 example) that
    applies here, usually in subsense 4a but sometimes in 4c:

    4a A scheme or system of ideas or statements held as an explanation or
    account of a group of facts or phenomena; a hypothesis that has been
    confirmed or established by observation or experiment, and is
    propounded or accepted as accounting for the known facts; a statement
    of what are held to be the general laws, principles, or causes of
    something known or observed.

    4c A systematic statement of the general principles or laws of some
    branch of mathematics; a set of theorems forming a connected system:
    as the theory of equations, of functions, of numbers, of probabilities.

    If our treatment of science and math in primary and secondary education in
    the United States weren't in such sorry shambles, more Americans might
    understand that *this* sort of theory isn't so much a loose notion as a
    model that explains observed phenomena and predicts others, all subject
    to empirical testing.

    Which would be easier: fixing general science education in American public
    schools, or adopting a term like evolutionary model? Although the second
    may seem only a small measure compared with how serious the first is,
    wouldn't it still be a good idea to attempt the second anyway?

    Perhaps I've been listening too much to George Lakoff or Jeffrey Feldman
    talking about the importance of word-choice in framing discourse and
    debate. But I truly see this "theory"=="hypothesis" misunderstanding as
    an unnecessary source of trouble, and think underplaying "theory" in
    favor of something more readily apprehended by the layman might help.

    --tom
  • by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Saturday March 31, 2007 @06:31PM (#18560767) Homepage Journal
    Everybody likes to say how sick they are of political correctness, yet the one area of life where political correctness is MOST in force is when it comes to questioning someone's religious beliefs.

    It's perfectly acceptable to call someone crazy for believing that maybe spewing pollution into the environment for centuries might be harmful, yet heaven forbid someone suggest that just maybe it's kind of strange to believe that Joseph Smith met an angel in the desert who gave him a set of gold-plated dinnerware inscribed with the Word of God and then he proclaimed that everyone should wear special underwear. It's OK to call a woman who choses not to carry a fetus to term a murderer, but don't you dare suggest that there's no reason to believe that some magic juju called a "soul" enters a cell at the moment of conception, or you'll be called a troll and flamebaiter.

    I believe in morality, I believe in ethics, and I might even believe in God, but please don't expect me to swallow your Iron Age superstition. Is it really so hard to see that much of the pain in the world is being caused by narrow-minded fools believing that THEY have the TRUTH and everybody else is destined to burn in hell for eternity? Do you really not realize that it was exactly this kind of exceptionalist thinking that led people to fly planes into the World Trade Center believing that God not only wanted them to do it but would reward them? Can we really not call "bullshit" when people start claiming that there's more evidence for the magical events of the Bible than for natural selection and the Origin of Species?

    Sam Harris makes a ton of sense when he wonders why it is that we are not allowed to take all the knowledge gained by science into account when forming our spirirtual beliefs. For some reason, we're supposed to disregard all of the insight that science has given us into the Universe when it comes to spirituality. He asks why it is that it's so taboo to suggest that picking one "book written by God" out of all the "books written by God" and claiming that THIS one is the REAL "book written by God" is just a little bit "counter-intuitive".

    We are told that most Americans believe that Faith should be part of our political life and they demand that our leaders be men of this "faith". If faith is "belief in that for which there is no evidence" then I say we've already had enough of leaders who ignore evidence when making decisions over war and peace, life and death. I say it's time that we had a little less "faith-based" foreign policy and "faith-based" economic policy and "faith-based" environmental policy and a little more reality-based decision-making.

    But if you're going to claim that faith and religion should be part of public life and political behavior, then you best be ready to have questions raised about just what kind of magical thinking you base your political beliefs upon. And for God's sake, stop hiding behind Political Correctness when it comes to people challenging the nature of that magical thinking.
  • *snort* (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jpellino (202698) on Saturday March 31, 2007 @06:37PM (#18560845)
    "1: The existence of God is proven (or disproven) definitively to every dead human being."

    You're kidding, right? Because this would presuppose awareness, if not conscoiusness and self-awareness on the part of a human after death, for which you have zero - and I do mean zero - evidence. No one, not even you, can prove that a dead human being is anything more than compost.

    Your argument starts off with an unprovable statement. A glib and clever-sounding one, to be sure, but unprovable.

  • by jcr (53032) <jcr.mac@com> on Saturday March 31, 2007 @06:48PM (#18560981) Journal
    I know how fashionable it is to bash the USA, but if you think we're ahead in that race, then you need to visit a few more countries. I could tell you about places where people believe in witchcraft and have been known to hack their neighbors to pieces over it, and I'm not talking about things that happened centuries ago.

    -jcr

  • by FiloEleven (602040) on Saturday March 31, 2007 @06:52PM (#18561015)

    The things you have faith in are things you THINK are true. The things that science has shown are things everyone KNOWS to be true.
    A small but important correction: the things that science has shown are things which we believe to be true because the evidence points in that direction. That is to say, science uses evidence to produce a model, and we accept the most accurate model because we have nothing better. The scientific process is always open to new evidence, and if new evidence contradicts our current model then we refine the model to account for the new evidence.

    Science is meaningful and helpful, and it would be a real shame if its pursuit were to be abandoned, but calling science truth is just as bad as calling it a lie.
  • by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Saturday March 31, 2007 @06:52PM (#18561023) Homepage Journal
    OK, wildclaw, you make sense. You look at the evidence, and you come to a slightly different conclusion than some other people looking at the same evidence. But you're a long way from denying that Man can have a deleterious effect on our environment.

    If you listen to the extraordinary reaction of the Religious Right (and the non-Religious Right like Hannity and Limbaugh), you'll hear something completely different. To them, any discussion of global warming or any sort of negative effect on climate due to more than a century of industrial pollution is a total threat to their entire world-view. To them, it's not enough to say that "yes, the climate is heating up, but it might not be because of people". They have to completely deny any possibility that there's anything at all wrong with dumping plutonium in our drinking water or mercury in our food supply. They're not just arguing with the conclusions of scientists, they're hysterically demanding that it not even be SUGGESTED that pollution is bad in any way, and it's perfectly acceptable for some 22 year-old with an associates degree in political science from Regent University to edit scientific journals because George Bush said so. I'm not exaggerating.

    Science itself is under attack. Not just this one area of science, but the most basic concepts of scientific thought, and indeed, logical thought. What scares me the most about the turn of the thinking of the Right in the US is their insistence that reality itself is biased against their beliefs and so, reality itself must be at fault. It's not unlike the kind of thinking that led to the backwardness of certain parts of Europe during the Middle Ages or Cambodia under Pol Pot, where anybody who wore glasses was suspect because it meant they could read a book, and thus, might not have polished off every drop of the koolaid. If we're going to have any kind of chance in the coming decades, it's going to fall upon people like us, those of us who actually have read a science text that didn't suggest that the Earth is 6,000 years old, to stamp out this kind of ignorance with extreme prejudice. And, it means we're going to have to give those poor souls who grew up being told that Science and Humanistic Thought are B.A.D. because they "go against Scripture" a lot of kindness and understanding, as well as some decent reading material and patience.
  • by jasen666 (88727) on Saturday March 31, 2007 @07:03PM (#18561155)
    Close. Their business model is more about making people feel guilty about everything, and extorting money from them. The protestants have taken the other, feel-good route.
  • by Clock Nova (549733) on Saturday March 31, 2007 @07:04PM (#18561159)

    And that's what always rubs me in this debate. At some point, evolutionists take a lot of things on faith, because quite simply, given the lack of actual evidence, it is easier to believe than an external being creating life in its full form. But at some point, faith and belief in something that can't be proven is just as much like believing in a God that created us, which also can't be proven (oh, I know, at least one side is "scientific" about its beliefs).


    I don't think that it's faith that scientists go on; it's probability. We simply accept what is likely to be true based on evidence already collected and analyzed. In fact, we're quite happy to be proven wrong, nearly as happy as when we're proven right, because both bring us closer to the truth. And truth is the ultimate goal, is it not?
  • by ArtDent (83554) on Saturday March 31, 2007 @07:05PM (#18561169)
    Hobo sapiens, meet science. Science, hobo sabiens.

    One of the many neat things about the way science is practiced, with numerous independent scientists continuously challenging each other's theories and discoveries, is that it doesn't tend to produce Big Lies.

    It's conceivable, though highly unlikely, that one day evolution will be disproven completely. If that happens, it will be entirely to science's credit.
  • by Clock Nova (549733) on Saturday March 31, 2007 @07:10PM (#18561213)
    Jeez. Semantics. The ability to adapt is a function of many things, not just genetics. My explanation was meant to be as simple as possibly, but it's not wrong.
  • by David Rolfe (38) on Saturday March 31, 2007 @07:21PM (#18561323) Homepage Journal

    The origin of the earliest forms of "life" (simple single "cells", pre-DNA, pre_RNA) is surely one of the easiet things to answer - this is nothing more than self-sustaining chemical reactions occuring in a lipid bubble (maybe naturally occuring - oily froth by the sea shore, or maybe the fatty polymers being a product of the chemical reactions that occured inside them). I

    Ahh, no its not. [...] The simplest organism [has] millions and millions of base pairs of DNA, which could not come randomly together by chance.

    'Could not'? Could not come together or did you really mean could improbably come together (even as a result of a chain of improbable events)? The great thing about the uncomprehensible vastness of both time and the universe is that improbable events still happen. I think this is the 'real' problem people have with non-supernatural origins. For some improbability is equivalent with impossibility, and they have no problem with that. To those people, I suggest this: imagine the odds of winning a 6-49 lottery (i.e. your odds of winning are better than 49*49*49*49*49*49, but still a really huge number, right?). Now, why is it that it makes the news when someone DOESN'T win the lottery in Florida in any given week? It's mostly because even though the chance that you will win is small, the chance that someone will win is pretty good! Now, if you can, expand this idea to the whole giant incredible hugeness of the universe and time*. Even though the chance that some particular random winning "mutation" (used loosely to cover abiological reactions as well) is small those "mutations" still win.

    Improbable events still happen!

    *I apologize for our lack of words to convey the quanities involved here. How do we even talk about the number of chemical reactions that happened in the whole of the universe for the billions of years that these pre-life reactions where taking place in the millions of billions of planets that could sustain them? What this all means to me is that life in the universe is not all that unlikely. Life like us is, but life isn't.
  • by init100 (915886) on Saturday March 31, 2007 @07:26PM (#18561373)

    I know how fashionable it is to bash the USA, but if you think we're ahead in that race, then you need to visit a few more countries.

    The difference is that the USA aspires to be a world leader in almost every field. Compared to other western countries, the USA certainly has the most religious influence on politics and daily life. The high-tech profile and the importance of religion looks somewhat strange in the eyes of other industrialized/high-tech countries.

  • by aepervius (535155) on Saturday March 31, 2007 @07:40PM (#18561505)
    You are a stinking animal. Get over it. Love (the passionate one you feel in the first 5 years of meeting somebody) can directly be linked to hormons delivery in the brain. This 5 years periods can definitvely be traced to the divorce rate being higher at the end of it, and the drop off when that type of neurotransmitter drop down in level. As for the "longer" love I would not be surprised that there is a similar explanation based on neuron pathway created during those 5 years. Remmember the brain learn by repeating.

    Yes this is all chemistry despite you prefering to think you have a soul and be a "higher" being than the rest of the animal, in reality you are a mamal and you simply go in a complexer "rut". Sorry to break it to you , you aren't "superior" and "chosen".
  • by eremitic (831609) <chris@nosPaM.eremiticdesign.org> on Saturday March 31, 2007 @07:49PM (#18561595) Homepage
    This must be the 48% that also believe Abass Ayeni Dantate, a very wealthy Nigerian, has over $35 million waiting to be transferred directly to their bank accounts.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 31, 2007 @08:00PM (#18561703)
    Do you think people thousands of years ago would be able to comprehend what we know now about the Big Bang and evolution?

    Yes. They were just as intelligent then as we are now but they didn't have the advantage of our relatively recently acquired scientific method. The scientific method is the best bullshit detector we've devised yet. Besides, an all-knowing and all-powerful creator god would have been able to impart that knowledge if it had wanted to do so.
  • by gordo3000 (785698) on Saturday March 31, 2007 @08:10PM (#18561809)
    it probably looks strange because unlike almost every other major country, the US is hardly 1 demographic(the only other country like this is England in my opinion). India, China, S. Korea, Japan, are all very homogeneous countries with India being the least so(though, as high tech development in that country is limited to two or 3 places, the diversity of the entire country is unimportant).

    It wouldn't look nearly as strange to Europe if they realized that the US is larger than the combination of England, Spain, France, Germany and Italy. Its about par if you add in Portugal. Now look at the diversity across those countries and see if your surprised that people get arrested for disturbing the peace when handing out religious flyers at a gay pride meeting in england while abortion remains a very hotly debated issue in Portugal(and still, I think, illegal though there is a movement to change that).

    Now, take out the UK as a country with its own incredible diversity as I said above, and you can then add in about 6 smaller European countries. And still, the land area of those countries would be trivial in comparison to the US. Distance definitely breeds different opinions on issues.

    The real problem is people try to talk about the US in generalization because those same generalizations work well in a country with a much more homogeneous population(for example, the influence of the roman catholic church in Italy cannot be compared to the influence of religion in the US simply due to the diversity of Christian beliefs in the US ranging from roman catholics to southern baptists to Mormons to far more liberal groups).
  • by adrianmonk (890071) on Saturday March 31, 2007 @08:17PM (#18561859)

    Jeez. Semantics. The ability to adapt is a function of many things, not just genetics. My explanation was meant to be as simple as possibly, but it's not wrong.

    Apologies. What I meant to emphasize was that your explanation (being short) wasn't able to convey evolution exactly right. Not because your understanding is wrong or because you aren't good at explaining things, but because evolution has subtleties that are nontrivial to grasp.

    It's not immediately obvious how it could work considering that an individual's DNA can't change in response to the environment. It takes some deeper thought to grasp that, through breeding and mutation, the population's DNA makeup is shifting so that it explores the search space of DNA sequences (actually, the search space is broader than that in a way) and creates a mix that favors the sequences that are useful in its environment.

  • by Clock Nova (549733) on Saturday March 31, 2007 @08:19PM (#18561879)
    And, of course, that's exactly what I meant. The word 'adapt' doesn't have to mean direct action on the part of the organism. If it's neck is longer, and it can reach the food, while the other one can't, it has "adapted" to fit its environment.
  • by Millenniumman (924859) on Saturday March 31, 2007 @08:36PM (#18562059)

    No, it doesn't. With science, I can study the scientific method.
    With power rangers, I can watch the show.

    I can read the research and reproduce the experiment. I can see for myself what the evidence is.
    First of all, there is no way of verifying that what you see indicates reality. There isn't really any reason to believe it is, except that most people do to some extent. Second of all, it is not possible for anyone to do all the experiments and gather all the evidence to indicate any complex theory is correct.

    I can think about the evidence and come up with the same theories.
    Once you accept a lot about power rangers, the rest makes sense. Woohoo.
     

    However, nothing I do or say will make God appear.
    Nothing you say or do will make bacteria become humans before your eyes.
     

    Nothing I do or say will show me that the earth is truly 10,000 years old, or that man lived with the dinosaurs.
    Nothing you say or do will show you that the earth is billions of years old. Any evidence you can gather to that effect will be based on accepting a lot of what others have said.
     

    The only source of information I have on Creationism is the bible, which was written by several people, many of whom had agendas, and has been translated and edited dozens of times before it came into my hands.
    There are more sources of scientific information, though I'm not sure what that proves, but they are also written by many people with agendas.
  • by hobo sapiens (893427) <TWAIN minus author> on Saturday March 31, 2007 @08:42PM (#18562123) Journal
    Appreciate the response. Not sure if I should talk your post as condescending or humorous/informative, so I'll choose the latter. I wasn't sure what I'd get from saying what I did. A flamebait mod evidently, but there are lots of Morons With Mod Points out there. I was not trying to say anything inflammatory. I guess you're not allowed to question groupthink.

    Anyhow, I digress.

    I understand the scientific method and how peer review works and so forth. What you say makes my point exactly, though: I don't think anyone is questioning the basic tenets of macroevolution. I don't work in the field, so I don't know with any certainty. I'm just a regular programmer type guy. Just guessing based on what I read here. Every time I read a discussion here on /. on the topic, I see about ten comments that say something to the effect of "Evolution is an unimpeachable fact". When I see statements like that I start to wonder if science is taking place anymore.

    I think the scientific method is one of the best detectors of rubbish-disguised-as-truth there is. All I am saying is that I hope it's being adhered to. I hope people don't blindly push evolution like some people blindly push religion.
  • by Garse Janacek (554329) on Saturday March 31, 2007 @08:54PM (#18562259)

    Exactly. For most of my life, even past college, I was a creationist (raised Evangelical). This didn't in any way hinder my ability to think intelligently, or to do lab work for a biotech company, or to ace my science classes, or to graduate from a good school with honors. In most of life, your opinions on the practical origins of life just don't matter very much. Now, one of the places where it does matter is if you're a biologist, or a teacher of biology, or someone who is in a position to legislate on the actions of the former two, so this is a legitimate political conflict. But it's very frustrating when people assume that this one opinion is the only important factor between "intelligent supporter of science" and "superstitious Neanderthal."

    Now, eventually, I did change my opinion, and now I'm quite convinced of evolution. But the reason I changed my mind highlights another issue here: I read more about it, and finally found persuasive evidence that answered the objections I'd had for years. I couldn't reconcile that evidence with what I had believed, so I changed my mind.

    The thing is, it's not like people had never before tried to argue with me or change my mind. Plenty had, and some had been quite smug about it, too. But no one had actually been able to answer my objections. I would even go so far as to say that I had a better understanding of the scientific method than many of the people who had tried to change my mind, since they often offered very poor or contradictory "scientific evidence," or used simple tautologies and ended up saying "See? It's obvious!" Essentially, I now think they were right, but not because they had any particularly good understanding of the subject, but because they had been taught the right thing and believed it.

    Now, most of the time there's nothing wrong with believing what you're taught within reason. Skepticism is healthy, but it can't be applied to literally everything or society couldn't function. But in this case, these people who believed their teachers without really understanding the issue were treating me as stupid for... believing my parents/acquaintances/pastors/whatever without really understanding the issue. Even though I understood more about the issue than they did.

    Ultimately, I'm not saying it doesn't matter what people believe. It's largely irrelevant to daily life, but some people are interested in legislating about this issue. And even though the bulk of the population will never be scientific experts, I think more correct impressions are generally preferable to less correct impressions. So in fact, I think people should teach and advocate evolution -- but they need to drop the instant contempt for people who disagree. People who don't believe in evolution are not generally any stupider than people who do. I happen to think they're incorrect, but smart people believe incorrect things all the time, and it's very easy to condemn the belief coming from an environment where all the pressure from an early age is in favor of evolution. Most of the people who believe in one or another form of creationism were raised in environments where the opposite is true. So, if you're trying to advocate or explain evolution, show a little more respect for people who haven't had the exact same life experiences that you do, and be aware that this is not the litmus test of their intelligence (in either direction :-P).

    My favorite comic on this subject. [xkcd.com]

  • by Estanislao Martínez (203477) on Saturday March 31, 2007 @09:11PM (#18562445) Homepage

    It is essentially the act of being falsifiable that actually makes Evolution a real scientific theory [...]

    This is a popular statement of Karl Popper's falsificationist philosophy of science. Falsification is known to be an inadequate demarcation criterion for what counts as science. No evidence can falsify any particular hypothesis, because we can always revise some belief other than the hypothesis.

  • by onlyfacts (997036) on Saturday March 31, 2007 @09:18PM (#18562507)
    I am more worried about the 52% who really don't have a clue why they believe in evolution other than "some smart people say I should". I would wager that more of the 48% know why (with good reason) they don't believe than the 51% do know why (with good reason) they believe in evolution.
  • by gordo3000 (785698) on Saturday March 31, 2007 @09:47PM (#18562745)
    Second of all, it is not possible for anyone to do all the experiments and gather all the evidence to indicate any complex theory is correct.

    buddy, after this line, you should have stopped. no scientist will ever call any theory correct. all theories are models that accurately(to a certain level of experimental precision) describe what will be your physical observation when you do 'x'. Now,theories have evidence to support them by making unique predictions that other theories do not and then having those predictions be born out in an experiment.

    now with science, you only need to base what you think on what others have said to the extent you do not wish to recreate the entire body of human knowledge. the main difference is that with the bible, you will only ever have what another person has said. To give a more specific example, I have at least 3 distinct choices I can make about Jesus Christ. 1) he is the some of Jehovah as his disciples have said, 2) he is a prophet of Allah, one of a long line of prophets leading up to Muhammad, the last prophet, or 3) that he is a Bohdisattva who, after achieving enlightenment, fabricated a more easily believable tail for those far from enlightenment to start them down the correct path. All three have equal evidence supporting them, hearsay. One may give greater weight to the story given by Jesus's disciples simply because they were in close proximity to him, but that does not make much sense simply because the oldest copy of a gospel is from about 160 years after Jesus died.

    Now take a scientific case, carbon dating of organic materials. choosing to what extent you wish to recreate previous science, I can find various amounts of organic material from different time periods and measure the concentration of C-14. I can also do experiments in the lab and measure empirically the decay rate of C-14. I can do this in one of many ways and check for consistency with previous data on the decay rate of C-14(to check for consistency in this rate for the last 100 years).

    I can then choose whether or not to apply this decay rate to C-14 over all of history or not or I can limit myself to a certain number of years that the precision of my experiment lends to using. Now, I can gather various organic material from different sites to check concentrations for C-14 over time and see if 1) concentrations of C-14 are the same for all organic material of a given age and 2) if the data lends credence to the belief that the concentration of 'new' organic material 1000 or 10,000 years ago is the same as it is today. Once I have shown 1 and 2 to be correct(if I do), I can then go search for organic material which is similar to other materials but can be shown through the decay in the concentration of C-14 is older than 10,000 years(really I only need to do ~6,000 years to show the lack of consistency in a literal reading of the bible). Now at this point, you can merely show that the concentration of C-14 is x, and it is up to the reader on how to interpolate the data. but given the other data behind C-14 dating and whether or not it has held accurate for dated human remains of the last 3000 years(marked graves help in this) lends credence to the hypothesis that this object is probably more than 6000 years old. of course, you can reject this, but then it will be up to you to show evidence as such. If your net evidence is saying that what scientist 'y' said was influenced by his agenda, you have basically ignored the mountain for the grain of sand.

    Now, this was just a series of experiments to show that object x may be older than 6000 years. it neither requires a belief in a complex theory nor basis in the hearsay of 1 particular scientist(or any subgroup of scientists). now, there may exists a more complex over arching theory that can take all these observations and predict them in a more fluid manner, but that is irrelevant to the facts presented. Complex theories are not required to study radioactive decay. The complex microscopic theories are required to understand mechanisms of radioactive decay but the mechanism is unimportant to the conclusion that object x is older than a certain interpretation of the bible says it should be.
  • by Bush Pig (175019) on Saturday March 31, 2007 @10:19PM (#18563019)
    I've had a look. It's nonsense - the babblings of a lunatic.

  • by Das Modell (969371) on Saturday March 31, 2007 @10:25PM (#18563069)
    So are you saying that the poll is inaccurate? If 48% of Americans reject evolution, does it matter that the country is highly diverse?
  • by MattHaffner (101554) on Saturday March 31, 2007 @10:46PM (#18563261)

    I think the scientific method is one of the best detectors of rubbish-disguised-as-truth there is. All I am saying is that I hope it's being adhered to. I hope people don't blindly push evolution like some people blindly push religion.

    Typically, and especially in our modern era where the method has been practiced for many decades now, seasoned scientific theories are not radically overturned. There may be grand new insights into the underlying reason why a current theory works as well as it did before the new discovery, but that "old" version of our understand still works to explain the same things it did before. We just might understand even better why it worked so well for the conditions or environment we were trying to describe at the time.

    Newton's universal law of gravity still is a great description of how massive bodies respond to each other, but it doesn't say anything about how photons--massless particles--respond to massive bodies. Einstein gave us a deeper understanding of gravity that applied even more universally than Newton's law, but it didn't invalidate Newton's law. It's still the best formulation to use for non-relatavistic, massive bodies.

    Evolution is a sound scientific theory because it has made predictions and stood the testing of those predictions. When new discoveries are made outside of those predictions, it has still held up as the best theory to explain the similarity and diversity of life on the planet. When we discovered what makes life distinct through DNA and genetics, we didn't throw out our idea of evolution at the species-scale. Instead, we gained a deeper understanding of how the more obvious physical differentiations happen through the everyday chemistry that drives living things.
  • America the Great (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mark_MF-WN (678030) on Saturday March 31, 2007 @11:17PM (#18563545)
    Don't you love how Americans can only maintain their delusions of adequacy by comparing their nation to the very shittiest, backwards little hellholes on the entire planet? God forbid Americans ever compare their nation to, you know, other modern industrialized nations?

    Here's the deal: stop saying that America is the greatest nation on Earth, the most advanced nation on Earth, the home of the free, the home of the brave, or any of that other bullshit, and MAYBE people will stop pointing out that every one of those claims is a baldfaced lie.

  • by miscz (888242) on Sunday April 01, 2007 @12:31AM (#18563973)
    At the time Jesus was living he could supposedly do amazing stuff, make dead people alive, change water into wine and he couldn't explain shit? Did he have to resort to vague stories that could mean anything? We're talking about stuff that human being can understand after all. This doesn't make sense, your religion sucks. The methapor thing is the way church wants to stay relevant.
  • by ozmanjusri (601766) <aussie_bob@hotmail.cOPENBSDom minus bsd> on Sunday April 01, 2007 @01:03AM (#18564149) Journal
    Why is people believing in god such a big problem for some?

    It tells us you are prepared to reject empiricism and make a leap of faith.

    Thought Experiment:
    My project depends on strict conformance to logic and evidence in order for me to be certain of success, and I have two candidates seeking employment.

    One candidate has demonstrated that they will base major life decisions on their belief in an invisible supernatural entity.

    The other candidate has demonstrated that they will use logic and observation to drive their decisions.

    Which would be the greater risk to the project?
    Which should I employ?

  • by Alsee (515537) on Sunday April 01, 2007 @01:08AM (#18564171) Homepage
    I hope people don't blindly push evolution like some people blindly push religion.

    I'm sure that there exist people blindly pushing evolution, just as there are people blindly opposing evolution. The important question is, what do the non-blind people see and say about it? You don't need to understand quantum mechanics to be able to make a reasonable first pass at sorting out who does and does not have a PhD in quantum mechanics and is or is not professionally working in the field at prestigious international physics lab. You do not have to be a rocket scientist to be able to figure out who has a PhD engineering degree and is professionally employed at NASA or one of the other national space agencies as a rocket scientist.

    Newsweek magazine 29 June 1987, Page 23: "there are some 700 scientists (out of a total of 480,000 U.S. earth and life scientists) who give credence to creation-science, the general theory that complex life forms did not evolve but appeared 'abruptly'". That works out to 685-to-1. And what would be the common slang term for a minuscule fraction of one percent scientist who is considered "non-credible" by the other 99.85% of the professional credentialed scientific community? That term would be "crackpot". Approximately one in 685 earth and life scientists fundamentally rejects evolution, approximately one in 685 credentialed earth and life scientists is a crackpot. There seriously does not exist any genuine controversy over the basics of evolution in the scientific community, no genuine controversy amongst the "non-blind", amongst the people who have actually dedicated their lives to studying the subject in school getting a degree and actually analyzing and challenging the evidence.

    I'm just a regular programmer type guy.

    Excellent! Seriously, excellent! I too am "just a regular programmer type guy", and there are few people as well equipped as us to cure "blindness" on evolution directly see just how powerful it is, to witness first hand that it in fact does work. While people generally look at evolution as a physical biological process, it is more fundamentally a mathematical process and an information processing process. Essentially any system possessing the four properties of (1) replication (2) inheritance of traits (3) mutation of those traits and (4) selection, essentially any such system will exhibit the evolution process. Those four traits pretty well define the necessary and sufficient conditions to enable and ensure evolution to occur. There is an entire sub-field of computer science dedicated to evolutionary algorithms and genetic algorithms. Algorithms to harness the information processing power of evolution, to harness the information creating power of the evolution process.

    As a programmer, you really should explore evolutionary algorithms and genetic algorithms. They are critical algorithms that seriously should be in the "toolbox" of any sophisticated programmer. They enable a programmer to tackle and solve certain classes of programming tasks and problems that are virtually impossible to solve in any other way. You wouldn't want to use evolutionary algorithms / genetic algorithms on most kinds of routine programming tasks, they are entirely inappropriate for the vast majority of programming tasks, but where they are appropriate knowing these algorithms expand your range and can give you the ability to program for otherwise "impossibly hard" problems. In fact more than half of all Fortune 500 companies apply these sorts of algorithms somewhere or another in their business.

    You can use DNA analysis in a court of law to map out a family tree way beyond any reasonable doubt. You can use DNA analysis in a science lab to absolutely establish and map out evolutionary family tree of species in the exact same way and with the same "beyond any reasonable doubt" absolute certainty. You and I are not laboratory DNA analysis experts, but if you take the time to look at the qualified experts in the field they will 9
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 01, 2007 @01:22AM (#18564253)
    Speaking of American's ignorance of science, an instructor at McCook Community College in Nebraska is offering a creation "science" course this fall [mccookgazette.com]. No, he's not offering it as a religious studies class, but as a physics class. 'Physics 2990: Creation Science' will cover such important topics as:
    • The age of the earth, the earth's beginning, and where the earth is heading
    • The Garden of Eden and life on earth before the flood and the major changes which have taken place since that time
    • Dinosaurs in the past as well as in the present
    • The flood, ice ages, mountain formation, coal and oil formation, and the Grand Canyon


    Why don't we just get Kent Hovind out of jail and make him Secretary of Education and get it over with? I mean, the way scientific ignorance is celebrated, hell even encouraged, in America you might as well.
  • by asninn (1071320) on Sunday April 01, 2007 @02:08AM (#18564471)
    Challenging established theories is certainly an important part of the scientific method, but I think it *is* justified to say that certain things are actually *true*, even when they can't technically be completely proven.

    Take gravity, for instance. Our understanding of gravity certainly has evolved (no pun intended; I think scientific progress itself is a perfect example of an evolutionary process), and we don't even HAVE a complete theory of gravity right now (IANAP, of course - I am not a physicist -, so please bear with me if I spout rubbish), but nobody would actually dispute that gravity exists, for example.

    I think evolution is similar. Of course, evolution isn't a force of nature in the same way that gravity is, but the basic idea is so obviously correct that I don't see how anyone can reject it; and in fact, even the most rabid creationists do not seem to reject "microevolution", either (which conveniently allows them to benefit from new antibiotics, for example). (Of course, the distinction between "micro-" and macroevolution" is really artificial, so the only way I see how you can believe in one but not the other is to believe that the Earth is literally only a couple of thousands of years old, as some people apparently do. But then you've got other things that you need to account for, and ultimately, you end up with a fragile, artificial construct that only rests on a foundation of "it's like this because god made it this way". But I disgress.)

    In any case, you're absolutely right that we should question our theories - even to the point of questioning evolution itself if data arises that provides some initial evidence that it might *possibly* not be happening. But that doesn't mean we can't still think of it as *true*.
  • by OriginalArlen (726444) on Sunday April 01, 2007 @02:20AM (#18564513)
    Mystery #1: how on earth Americans can have been fooled by Bush, not just once but twice, the second time ignoring four years' worth of evidence of what an evil fuck he is...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 01, 2007 @02:53AM (#18564677)

    but nobody would actually dispute that gravity exists, for example
    Gravity was never the issue. Gravity is the hypothesis, it is the observed action we see. That is like saying that when investigation how light works that we are talking about proving whether light exists or not. Light is the label on the observation we see. Of course that observation exists because it is...observable. With gravity it is how the relationship works not that the relationship exists at all. It is the same thing with Global Warming. Global Warming is an observed action. Temperature rising across the globe? The cause for debate is WHY.
  • by init100 (915886) on Sunday April 01, 2007 @03:28AM (#18564891)

    In fact, there is little to no direct correlation to designing anything electronic and man being the illegitimate son of a monkey.

    Except that both electronics and evolution are subfields of natural science. If you are prepared to reject evidence of evolution in biology, why not reject scientific evidence in physics (of which electronics is a subset) too if it goes contrary to your belief?

    Furthermore, the "man being the illegitimate son of a monkey" part says a good part of your picture of the fact that man descended from monkeys. Why is this so offensive to some people? I don't see why.

    It isn't like it is fact that evolution exists, we haven't witnessed it

    Yes we have, just not in the way the creationists try to misrepresent it. We have seen evolution happen in bacteria and viruses, and in animal domestication and plant horticulture. The creationists excuse this by calling it microevolution, while claiming that macroevolution (evolving a new species from another to the point that they cannot interbreed) does not exist. The difference between the two is just the timespan involved though, as macroevolution is just the aggregate of a large number of steps of microevolution. Arguing that we have one without the other is therefore absurd, which gives the creationists the credibility they deserve, i.e. very low, among the educated part of the population.

    Why is people believing in god such a big problem for some?

    Actually, believing in god is not the problem. The problem is rejecting evidence of and old earth and gripping for straws to fit the evidence into the creationists' world-view. Genesis could actually be a metaphorical description of the creation of the earth, and does not have to be at odds with the scientific evidence. It is all based on interpretation.

  • by joto (134244) on Sunday April 01, 2007 @03:48AM (#18564971)

    What if evolution were the big lie? What will we think in 100 years? Will we laugh at evolution like we laugh at Phrenology or Lobotomy? [snip] Most if not all ancient legends and myths have been shown to be totally untrue. But, so have theories and teachings that had the backing of the scientific community of the time. So let us not think that just because evolution has the approval of the scientific community now that it always will or that it is infallible.

    That we will laugh of evolution in the future is highly unlikely. Just because some scientific theories have turned out to be wrong in the past (e.g. geocentrism, the luminiferous aether, static earth (no plate tektonics), Lamarckism), doesn't mean that it is equally likely that any scientific theory turns out to be utterly wrong. The theories that have been shown to be wrong, have often had serious problems associated with them, even before a better theory out-competed their brainshare. Typically they would either not make much sense (the theory could be made to predict the outcome of experiments, but no mechanism suggested itself for why it was that way), or didn't fit reality (the theory made sense, but couldn't predict the outcome of experiments).

    Darwinian evolution makes sense. In fact, it makes so much sense, that many scientists considers it a tautology. In other words, it's self-evident to the same degree as the logical expression "A or not A, is true". It also fits experimental data. And we have observed it happening in both nature and in genetic laboratories. Not only has it been observed, it's probably observed new cases daily. We can discuss and discover new mechanisms for transfer of genetic material, discover refinements to the theory, such as inter-species transfer of genes through viruses and bacteria, and so on, but Darwinian evolution remains. Just like things didn't stop falling down even though Einstein refined Newtons theory of gravity, Darwinian evolution won't cease to exist even if scientists discover other mechanisms of evolution.

    Or will we finally get past the genesis creation account and look at it as some silly old superstition?

    Most intelligent and educated people have looked at it as some silly old superstition since the renaissance. That's when science was "invented" as a discipline.

    I will point out that Hitler was a perfect example. Normal, everyday people went right along with his plans. Why? Because nobody stopped to think. They all fell for The Big Lie.

    This is incorrect. There are many factors involved in Hitlers success, and the most important is not that people "accepted" him. Hitler was a very good motivator and speaker. He had a propaganda ministerium that was even better. This made him able to say one thing to the people, and do something else (i.i. he could say "we take care of disabled people in special camps" which really mean "we systematically kill non-aryan people, homosexuals, and disabled people in special camps"). He used childhood indoctrination, i.e. Hitler-Jugend, so that kids would accept him blindly. And he used plain old coercion ("if you do not accept these new policies, we will break into your house at night and arrest you and your family"). Also, he had been able to stay in power for a long time, which gave him the opportunity to concentrate more political power for himself.

    Many people who believe in creation do so because it's what they were raised to believe and haven't thought about it. Lots of people who believe evolution do because their high school science teacher told them it is correct, or because they are afraid of public ridicule.

    There are a lot of blind followers in both camps. The question is: Are you one of them?

    If you believe in something because you haven't given it much though, doesn't mean that you are a blind follower. A blind follower is someone who has made a choice to believ

  • by Ash Vince (602485) on Sunday April 01, 2007 @03:56AM (#18565001) Journal
    There certainly are alot of morons with mod points out there as this doesn't strike me as a troll in the context of this debate.

    I thoroughly agree with this sentiment. Religion is just an easter bunny story for adults. Jesus probably did exist but like all of the muslim prophets (yup, for those who don't know he is also a prophet of Islam) he was just another guy trying to suggest better ways of living 2000 years ago. Some of his suggestions will still be valid, some of them are not so useful now.

    Another thing to remember is that the bible was not written by Jesus. It was drafted several hundred years later when the Roman Empire adopted Christianity as a means of holding the empire together. This is what religion has always been very good at, getting people to live the way you want them too. Sometimes it will be for the good of the society, sometimes it is just for the good of the people running the religion. The first few popes were also the roman emperor by some coincidence.

    I could carry on, I could post lots of links to the things that Jesus said regarding organised religion and how they are similar to the sentiments Karl Marx repeated more recently ("Religion is the opiate of the masses") but whats the point. All it does it make god botherers more entrenched in their ridiculous faiths (As far as I am concerned all organised religion is utter rubbish, Christianity and Islam are just as bad as each other).
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 01, 2007 @01:54PM (#18567975)
    "not entirely true. we can hypothesize from the fossil record and we can prove micro-evolution (ie intraspecies evolution) Science has never observed and thus has never PROVEN the existence of a species jump as would be required to prove the theory of Macro-evolution..."

    Entirely true. Speciation has been observed in the lab and in the wild many times. [talkorigins.org] A quick glance at pubmed [nih.gov] will quickly turn up many articles showing speciation events.

    Second, we don't prove theories in science, we disprove them. It's been over 150 years and nobody's done so much as put a dent in evolution, but the evidence in support keeps piling up.

    Third, there is no known barrier between microevolution and macroevolution. In nature what constitutes a species is not always clear, so neither is where microevolution ends and macroevolution begins.
  • by Mike1024 (184871) on Sunday April 01, 2007 @02:16PM (#18568073)
    You don't need to understand quantum mechanics to be able to make a reasonable first pass at sorting out who does and does not have a PhD in quantum mechanics and is or is not professionally working in the field at prestigious international physics lab.

    I was once at a talk by a sociologist studying masculinity who said (and I'm paraphrasing here) "I got interested in this field because the ideas presented matched my experiences, and so 'resonated with me'". A student in the audience later cited the same motivation in entering the field.

    I, on the other hand, didn't think much of his ideas; they didn't match my personal experiences at all. However, I didn't enter the field, study for years getting a PhD and becoming a respected expert, in order to refute his ideas. In fact, I pretty much did nothing.

    The mapping from sociology to evolution is obviously a poor one, but it serves to illustrate a point: Academic study may self-select people who agree with ideas in that field, because people who do not agree with these ideas are unlikely to enter the field.

    Just my $0.02.
  • by Anthony (4077) * <adavid@adavid.com.au> on Sunday April 01, 2007 @03:51PM (#18568595) Homepage Journal

    Lysenkoism spread widely under one regime where oppression and political patronage could trump scientific thought.

    Evolution is accepted as fact by scientists and in countries where scientific fact is publically acknowledged across the social strata. Where else in the world can public figures like Ann Coulter get an opportunity to not only display their ignorance but a large percentage of the population endorses that ignorance? It seems this false war is being waged against science as it threatens the power base of Christian sect leaders who's basic means of power is strident, willful ignorance.

    My feeling is those threatened by the fact that global temperatures are rising and global CO2 levels are rising with a distinct anomaly since the Industrial Revolution, have everything to gain by opposing the dissemination of facts and reasoned inference.

    My hypothesis is that science thrives in liberal (not the US definition) societies with clear controls that minimise concentration of power and provides fundamental services to its populace such as health education etc. To do otherwise gives too many opportunities to would-be despots to control others.

  • by gabecubbage (711618) on Sunday April 01, 2007 @05:03PM (#18568939)
    I don't mind my country of origin getting called out for being the home of millions of people who lazily and habitually defer to the loudest voice in the room, rather than take a moment to form their own opinion.

    And I don't mind the actions of my government being loudly decried as arrogant, clumsy, and in some cases: motivated by genuine corruption.

    Nor do I mind when religious zealots of any nation are criticized for allowing a narrow set of dogma and ritual dictate their entire world view.

    What I DO mind:

    I resent statements that begin with "Americans are...", "Americans believe...", and "America thinks..."

    The United States consists of roughly THREE HUNDRED MILLION PEOPLE spread (thinly!) from one North American coast to another. I live in the northeastern USA. I have more in common with my friends in Quebec than I do with Texans, Floridians, or even West Virginians. And I guarantee you there are plenty of Austin, Texas residents who take issue with being lumped in with the entire state. Or even their neighbors.

    The U.S. is a very big place, brimming with brilliant, vibrant and insightful individuals whose eyes are pointed right out into the big bright world outside. It's a country born out of a vast cultural confluence -- constantly in flux not only as one moves across state lines, but year to year, as well.

    Please keep in mind that there are many of us in the U.S. who DO understand the significance of an established peer-approved scientific theory, who DON'T believe that might always makes right, and -- believe it or not -- even hold onto a thick immutable optimism that our homeland might one day come around.
  • by rainman_bc (735332) on Sunday April 01, 2007 @05:45PM (#18569153)

    What if evolution were the big lie?
    Thing is, if science came out with evidence refuting evolution, people in the scientific community were to welcome it and move on. They wouldn't cling to it like religious people do.

    That's the beauty of the scientific method. It thinks with an open mind and openly debates topics. It doens't talk about ignoreance of facts, in fact you need to use fact to support your thesis otherwise no one will listen.

    As opposed to anyone who believes solely in the bible who dismisses any empirical reasoning in favour of faith. It defies logic and reason and comes only out of ignorance of fact.
  • by alexo (9335) on Monday April 02, 2007 @01:06AM (#18570825) Journal
    Rather, it's about Revolution.

    Ignorant people are easier to manipulate.
    They are less likely to question the acts of their government.
    They are less likely to cause problems.

When you make your mark in the world, watch out for guys with erasers. -- The Wall Street Journal

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