Intelligent Design

In the Big Celebration Year, the Message Just Isn’t Getting Through

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A recent poll from England, taken on the eve of Darwin’s 200th birthday celebrations, shows that nearly half of Britons have serious doubts about evolution. And this despite its being the big Year of Darwin and all the hoopla leading up to it and Britain being the home of Darwin and Dawkins and all that. Somehow the message just isn’t getting through.

Here in the United States, a recent Zogby poll indicates a significant increase in the number of people who think the evidence against evolution should be taught. That’s odd considering how often we’ve been told that there is no evidence against evolution and that its as well confirmed as the theory of gravity. Guess that message hasn’t gotten through either.

And then we have the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology (SICB) boycotting the state of Lousiana and pulling out of New Orleans for their 2011 conference because of the Lousiana Science Education Act, which allows teachers to present evidence against evolution without fear of retribution, something which just doesn’t sit well with the SIBC and other Darwinians. Dr. Micahel Egnor has written an open letter to the SICB regarding their boycott.

For years we’ve had Darwinists telling the doubters that they don’t get it. In this year of celebrating the Founder’s 200th birthday, it seems its the other way around: the Darwinists are the ones not getting it. Despite years of virtual hegemony over how science is taught in public schools both here and in Britain, and despite a plethora of media coverage, special programs and countless popular books and websites, apparently the public isn’t buying what they’re selling!

25 Replies to “In the Big Celebration Year, the Message Just Isn’t Getting Through

  1. 1
    Sal Gal says:

    DonaldM,

    You say that nearly half of Britons have serious doubts about evolution. Were you hoping we would not read the article to which you linked? It says that 25% went for YEC or ID, and 25% were unsure.

    By the way, 27-28% of people in the U.S. are not graduated from high school. What’s the corresponding figure for Great Britain?

    A recent Gallup poll in the U.S. asked, “Can you tell me with which scientific theory Charles Darwin is associated?” Only 55% of those interviewed managed to answer with evolution, natural selection, or the like. Anything a person who cannot answer that question has to say about evolution, whether pro or con, is sound and fury.

    In short, almost half of Americans are not worth listening to on the matter of evolution, and I suspect that the same holds for Britons.

  2. 2
    Sal Gal says:

    P.S. — In the Gallup poll, 36% had no opinion when asked, “Do you, personally, believe in evolution, do you not believe in evolution, or don’t you have an opinion either way?” Among people with high school education or less, 52% had no opinion.

    Again, DonaldM, I think you are way off base in turning the unsure Britons into people with “serious doubts.”

  3. 3
    uoflcard says:

    Sal –

    You say that nearly half of Britons have serious doubts about evolution. Were you hoping we would not read the article to which you linked? It says that 25% went for YEC or ID, and 25% were unsure.

    I don’t understand…what you reported (and what the article says) exactly confirms the statement from DonaldM that you quoted. I would consider “unsure” as having “serious doubts”. He didn’t say 50% said ID was true. He also didn’t imply that “unsure” means “believes it to be false”.

    By the way, 27-28% of people in the U.S. are not graduated from high school. What’s the corresponding figure for Great Britain?

    What does that have to do with anything? Militant Darwinists have been trying to spread their worldview to the general public (see Dawkin’s bus ads on atheism), and it isn’t very effective.

    In short, almost half of Americans are not worth listening to on the matter of evolution, and I suspect that the same holds for Britons.

    As far as we’re concerned (by “we” I mean those that post on evolution and/or ID blogs) I would say that percentage is a lot higher than that. Only those that are truly interested in the subject would have enough knowledge of it to make it worth us listening to them. But these polls were about general public beliefs, which is an entirely different subject than an actual argument for/against Darwinism. In that case, if one is interested in what the majority of people believe, then it is worth hearing from ALL people, regardless of education or knowledge level of evolutionary theory.

  4. 4
    Collin says:

    I think the open letter made a lot of good points, but it was a tad snarky.

  5. 5
    Sal Gal says:

    DonaldM,

    What’s really funny is that I should be pointing out to you that you missed your plum in the “Rescuing Darwin” report. The introduction indicates that 51% of those polled expressed agreement with the notion of intelligent design. There’s more detail on page 32:

    Respondents were explicitly presented with a definition of ID (“the idea that evolution alone is not enough to explain the complex structures of some living things, so the intervention of a designer is needed at key stages”) and asked whether they thought it was definitely/probably un/true. Around one in seven people (14%) said they thought it was “definitely true”, but a surprising 37% said they thought it was “probably true”.

    (One of these days, I’m going to get a new account, and demonstrate that I can argue ID better than most IDists can.)

  6. 6
    DonaldM says:

    Sal Gal – Is it necessary for everything to spelled out? I provided the links to the articles on the assumption that folks here (who are interested) will read them. I didn’t miss the “plum” as you put it. As I originally said (and you obviously didn’t read the full story with the links), 1/2 have doubts.

  7. 7
    Sal Gal says:

    uoflcard,

    Did you read my second post? Many people simply say that they don’t know about evolution — and they don’t! If you actually follow the link to the Gallup poll, you’ll find that whether a Darwin-ignorant person expresses belief or disbelief in evolution is a coin toss. And if you play with the numbers, you’ll find that almost one in five people with an opinion on evolution is Darwin-ignorant.

    The “Rescuing Darwin” report does a good job of showing (see Chapter 3) how heavily the opinions people express depend on how the pollster leads them with questions. Furthermore, it shows how an unholy mishmash of opinion can be elicited from a person. The report suggests that this is a matter of getting people to express opinions on matters they don’t know about or have not given much thought. From the introduction:

    If those figures don’t quite add up (and they don’t) it is because although many people (around a quarter) actively reject evolution, at least as many again are simply sceptical or unsure, and inclined to hedge their bets. [emphasis added]

    To restate, far too many Britons are indifferent to the theory of evolution for one to be justified in saying that they have “serious doubts.” Chapter 3 of “Rescuing Darwin” makes this abundantly clear.

  8. 8
    Sal Gal says:

    If you actually follow the link to the Gallup poll, you’ll find that whether a Darwin-ignorant person expresses belief or disbelief in evolution is a coin toss.

    Oops — got the wording wrong. Consider a person who can’t associate Darwin with evolution, natural selection, or the like, but is nonetheless willing to express belief or disbelief in evolution. That person is as likely to go one way as the other.

  9. 9
    Collin says:

    Sal Gal,

    What you haven’t touched on is the increase in people who believe that the evidence against evolution ought to be taught in schools.

  10. 10
    jerry says:

    Sal Gal,

    What has education have to do with it. Here you are with a good education and you cannot give a coherent reason why you believe in Darwinian evolution or anyone should. You are a walking poster child for why education is meaningless in this debate.

  11. 11
    R. Martinez says:

    All polls and surveys consistently show that half of all adults in the U.S and an almost equal number of Britons are anti-evolutionists, Creationists, and/or IDists.

    Sal Gal (#1): “In short, almost half of Americans are not worth listening to on the matter of evolution, and I suspect that the same holds for Britons.”

    And if they agreed with your theory you would be saying the exact opposite.

    Anti-evolutionism thrives because the evidence supports ID. Darwinian “scientists” are the ones the majority has decided is not worth listening to.

    Ray

  12. 12
    CannuckianYankee says:

    I am usually a lurker and don’t post much, so if the following response is long, please forgive me. All future responses in this post will be short and only to respond breifly to criticisms and/or to correct any inaccuracies in the following:

    Sal Gal:

    “In the 1Gallup poll, 36% had no opinion when asked, “Do you, personally, believe in evolution, do you not believe in evolution, or don’t you have an opinion either way?” Among people with high school education or less, 52% had no opinion.
    Again, DonaldM, I think you are way off base in turning the unsure Britons into people with “serious doubts.”

    It is difficult to make assumptions about people’s knowledge of Darwin based on poll results. There are often factors that are not considered in the interpretation of such results, and there are questions that are not asked in clarifying what people mean by “belief in evolution” for example.

    With these necessary distinctions, the Zogby poll does a better job than the Gallup poll in assessing people’s overall understanding of the subject of evolution.
    For instance, I find it significant in the Zogby poll that liberals and Democrats support academic freedom regarding the teaching of evolution at a higher percentage than do conservatives and Republicans. Furthermore, there’s a clear correlation between the percentage understanding and response to Darwin’s statement:“a fair result can be obtained only by fully stating and balancing the facts and arguments on both sides of each question,” and the general understanding and response to the current notion of allowing both sides of the controversy to be covered in science classrooms. It’s clear that respondents consider Darwin’s statement as being equal to allowing both sides of the controversy to be covered. Thus, most respondents respect Darwin himself as an authority on the freedom to discuss Darwin.

    Another significant observation is that respondents in the age group from 18-29 were significantly more in favor of academic freedom in the science classroom than all other age groups. Significant because they are the age group that is currently being more indoctrinated by Darwinism. They clearly do not desire to continue the indoctrination.

    On the other hand, could we attribute the lower level of Republican and conservative support for teaching the controversy to the fact that a significantly larger number of conservatives and Republicans do not want evolution taught at all in the classroom, whether pro or con? Perhaps this explains the 7-8% gap between Republican / conservative respondents and Democrat / liberal respondents, but the Zogby poll does not factor in this equation.

    Another issue here is Sal Gal’s assertion that a large percentage of Britons (from one poll) as well as Americans (from a Gallup poll) are ignorant of evolution. From the results of the Zogby poll, I can’t find the data supporting that assertion. This is because the Zogby poll did not make any attempt to broadly define evolution as being equal to the neo-Darwinian synthesis, while the Gallup poll clearly implied this by distinguishing evolution and natural selection as attributed to Darwin in one question, while still broadly defining “evolution” without tying it to natural selection or Darwin in other questions.

    There were very few in the Zogby poll (2-5%) who stated “not sure” to the most significant questions in the survey, implying that most respondents were familiar with the issue of teaching the controversy. Another factor is that this was a poll of “likely voters;” implying further that the respondents at least had an education level, which concerns them with issues regarding information on voting. Less educated individuals are less likely to vote. I believe there are other polls that demonstrate this.

    So the Zogby poll actually demonstrates that generally more educated people desire both sides of the issue regarding Darwinian evolution to be taught in the classroom, regardless of their acceptance or rejection of the theory.

    Any other assumptions regarding the education levels of respondents due to lack of a higher education, in my opinion, would simply be attributed to an elitist interpretation of what counts as education. While most Americans perhaps are not educated regarding the specifics of Darwinian evolution, most Americans are at least educated regarding the basics of evolution. Many Americans might not be able to associate Darwin with evolution, simply because at their level of education, they don’t know Darwin, but they know about evolution. A similar analysis would be between Newton and physics. I would guess that many Americans do not know who Newton was, but are familiar with physics in general. It is also significant that most Americans are perhaps more familiar with Einstein than with Newton, while Darwin, despite significant advances in his theory by the “Einsteins” of evolutionary biology, are not familiar with who those “Einsteins” of evolutionary biology are. Could it be that evolution holds less life-essential significance to most people than does physics?

    Furthermore, To correlate postgraduate educated people as having a significantly more credentialed analysis of the origin of life (as the Gallup poll implies), is to dismiss the fact that many individuals form their worldviews before they enter college, and continue their education based on those worldviews. The fact that materialist worldviews are significantly more commonly taught to pre-college students in public schools, is a significant factor in forming their interpretation of college level information regarding origins.

    Sal Gal referred to a Gallup poll in which respondents were simply asked if they believe in the theory of evolution. So Gallup did not differentiate between say Michael Behe’s belief in evolution on the one hand, and Richard Dawkin’s belief in evolution on the other; so it’s a fairly loaded question to begin with. Given that it is a loaded question, I would hazzard a guess that many would respond in the “not sure” or “don’t know” category simply to avoid the vagueness of the question, rather than to demonstrate their ignorance of evolution, despite the fact that in some questions evolution was more clearly defined (but in smaller print) as having to do with natural selection. Nevrtheless, since this poll did not define evolution carefully enough with regard to questions concerting simple belief in evolution, it would be difficult to make a point either way. I know if I were asked this loaded question I might be more inclined to answer in the “no opinion” or “not sure” categories, since my acceptance of evolution in no way determines my acceptance of Darwinism. So the poll is incomplete in that it does not allow the differentiation between those who accept micro-evolution with those who accept macro-evolution. As a matter of comparison, the 74% of postgraduate level respondents who “believe in evolution” would have to include some of those who accept evolution meaning micro changes in species over time, but do not accept the neo-Darwinian synthesis.

    Sal Gal implied (based on the Gallup poll) that a significant percentage of Americans don’t seem to know the correlation between Darwin and the theory of evolution. Well the data from the Gallup poll does not neessarily demonstrate this. It implies that only those with high school or less education are significantly unaware of who Darwin was. The only other group that showed some ignorance of Darwin was the group that had “some college” (27% “don’t know or are unsure” and 10% “incorrect response”), versus 63 % who knew. All other groups knew significantly who Darwin was. The Gallup poll failed to factor in the percentage of Americans who have a higher education (which I would guess is a larger percentage than is sampled in the poll). Making random phone calls is hardly a way to get an accurate sample of the over 300,000,000 (- those under 18) Americans available for polling without factoring in the makeup of those polled by random. I’m not certain if this factoring was done. If it was, then I stand corrected.

    And then Sal Gal states: “Anything a person who cannot answer that question has to say about evolution, whether pro or con, is sound and fury.” I’m not certain given the nature of the Gallup poll, that you can fairly make that distinction. The poll does not delve significantly into other areas (such as education in philosophy vs. science for example) where a person might be able to make an informed agreement or disagreement with Darwin; since much of what Darwinism insists on is based in a philosophical commitment to atheism. Theistic evolution seems to me a highly irrational position and an oxymoron. One cannot really be a theist and not at the same time be a creationist of some sort. So I count Theistic Evolutionists out of the equation. So there is hence, a clear dividing line between philosophically atheistic people on the one hand and philosophically theistic people on the other, related to an acceptance or rejection of Darwinism, but not necessarily evolution as it is broadly defined.

    Keep in mind that the Gallup poll had a much broader base, which included people with little to no education, (and I assume, based on the numbers, that there was a larger percentage of less or non-educated respondents than there were educated respondents) while the Zogby poll was among “likely voters.” It may still be significant that 45% of Americans do not associate Darwin with evolution. However, it’s just one poll, and it appears to be somewhat of a “gotcha” question. Furthermore, it’s a poll which defined evolution in very broad terms.

    I believe the Zogby poll was more accurate in its assessment of peoples’ familiarity with evolution, in that it didn’t seem to have any “gotcha” questions, but assumed that its respnends already knew the association between Darwin and evolution. The Gallup poll was a poll that was concerned with its respondents awareness of terminology and personality, as well as with a broad “belief in evolution” (which is largely a tactic among Darwinists to artificially increase their numbers), while the Zogby poll was concerned with ideas and whether they have a place in the science classroom. Many Americans might not be well educated regarding significant personalities in the history of science, but they are familiar with scientific ideas. A synthesis of both polls indicates to me that people are well aware of the ideas of Darwin, even more so than to the ideas of his detractors, and when ideas are brought to the forefront, people overwhelmingly side with fairness and openness rather than with indoctrination. That’s the way it should be.

    Btw, I fit in the category of having “some college,” and I am well aware of Darwin and his theory.

  13. 13
    CannuckianYankee says:

    Sal Gal: “To restate, far too many Britons are indifferent to the theory of evolution for one to be justified in saying that they have ‘serious doubts.’ Chapter 3 of “Rescuing Darwin” makes this abundantly clear.”

    Ok, the above is a fair statement regarding “serious doubts.” Not knowing, or not having an opinion either way is not necessarily a “serious doubt,” granted.

    However, in context with the other polls – the Zogby most significantly, and in respect to similar results in the British poll and in the Gallup poll, clearly there is a correlation in the overwhelming rejection and/or disinterest in Darwinian evolution, and people’s desire to learn more about Darwinian evolution from both sides of the equation, whether it be ID or some other scientific counter argument or criticism. People are perhaps disinterested in Darwinian evolution because they keenly sense that it is an attempt to indoctrinate.

  14. 14
    jrh says:

    New Subject:

    The Theory of Information Defined Reality, by John Hart

    The Designed Universe.

    1. Matter is the product of information.

    2. Information is a quantum state not a material property.

    3. Atoms are not things, they are relationships.

    4. Objects are connected by their centers of mass.

    5. The information defining reality is arraigned in a
    top down hierarchy.

    6. Gravitational force is propagated hierarchically.

    7. Behavior is determined by memory not function.

    8. Nothing is random.

    9. Pseudo Random properties are assigned to events
    so the physical properties of matter
    will be statistically conserved.

    10. The Twin Paradox is the result of a Pseudo Random property
    being assigned to objects in the event.

    11. Uncertainty is the result of random rounding
    being used to conserve physical properties.

    12. Moving objects are independent systems.

    13. Beings are assigned to objects at the quantum level.

    14. Once beings exist, they exist forever in the quantum state.

    15. Love is the only eternal property and
    a relationship is it’s only expression.

  15. 15
    CannuckianYankee says:

    I must add: it is significant that the Darwinian indoctrination in public schools has done little to change people’s opinions about what stands for truth concerning origins. Most people don’t doubt the broadly held scientific theories concerning physics, while those same people seem to overwhelmingly reject Darwinian evolutinary theory, or at last are indifferent to it. OK, I’m done now.

  16. 16
    jrh says:

    New Subject:

    The Theory of Information Defined Reality:

    The Designed Universe.

    1. Matter is the product of information.

    2. Information is a quantum state not a material property.

    3. Atoms are not things, they are relationships.

    4. Objects are connected by their centers of mass.

    5. The information defining reality is arraigned in a top down hierarchy.

    6. Gravitational force is propagated hierarchically.

    7. Behavior is determined by memory not function.

    8. Nothing is random.

    9. Pseudo Random properties are assigned to events so the physical properties of matter will be statistically conserved.

    10. The Twin Paradox is the result of a Random property being assigned to objects in the event.

    11. Uncertainty is the result of random rounding being used to conserve physical properties.

    12. Moving objects are independent systems.

    13. Beings are assigned to objects at the quantum level.

    14. Once beings exist, they exist forever in the quantum state.

    15. Love is the only eternal property and a relationship is it’s only expression.

    John Hart

  17. 17
    eintown says:

    Polls of this nature are quite useless in the debate of the validity of evolution vs ID.

    It makes no difference whether the common man believes in evolution or not. In fact even biologists do not have to believe in it. What must happen and what does happen is that if a theory fits then one must apply it. In this case, despite public opinion, evolution fits.

    Yes, Dembski is about to publish papers in reputable journals. But the journals are computer orientated. Unfortunately evolution deals with biology…

  18. 18
    DonaldM says:

    John Hart: Please keep your responses related to the topic of the OP. Thanks!

  19. 19
    DonaldM says:

    CannuckianYankee

    “In the 1Gallup poll, 36% had no opinion when asked, “Do you, personally, believe in evolution, do you not believe in evolution, or don’t you have an opinion either way?” Among people with high school education or less, 52% had no opinion.
    Again, DonaldM, I think you are way off base in turning the unsure Britons into people with “serious doubts.

    Thanks for jumping in. In defense of my statement I was basing it off the fact that numbers showed that 51% say that ID is “definitely or probably true.” I’d consider that as having “serious doubts” about evolution. Plus only 37% said that evolution is “beyond reasonable doubt”, implying that 63% don’t think that. Does that imply “serious doubts”? I guess we could quibble over the proper adjective, but I think it does because as I said with years of virtual hedgemony over the teaching of evolution and still 67% entertain doubts is serious.

    I do agree with you that the Gallup poll left definitions a bit “iffy” to say the least. But I find that is true with a lot of public opinion polls. Recently some political pollster called my home and I’m pretty sure I frustrated him because I kept asking for clarification of terms. Each time he would say something like “whatever you take it to mean.” That doesn’t exactly bode well for how polls are taken or data from them is interpreted.

    That said, I think in the case of these evolution polls, that most people understand evolution to be some sort of molecules to man story. Regardless of the levels of understanding of the details of evolutionary theory, I think it is that basic idea that is being either rejected or doubted and is being reflected in these polls.

  20. 20
    Joseph says:

    Any poll about this topic needs to be framed in the following context

    The meanings of evolution, from Darwinism, Design and Public Education:

    1. Change over time; history of nature; any sequence of events in nature

    2. Changes in the frequencies of alleles in the gene pool of a population

    3. Limited common descent: the idea that particular groups of organisms have descended from a common ancestor.

    4. The mechanisms responsible for the change required to produce limited descent with modification, chiefly natural selection acting on random variations or mutations.

    5. Universal common descent: the idea that all organisms have descended from a single common ancestor.

    6. “Blind watchmaker” thesis: the idea that all organisms have descended from common ancestors solely through an unguided, unintelligent, purposeless, material processes such as natural selection acting on random variations or mutations; that the mechanisms of natural selection, random variation and mutation, and perhaps other similarly naturalistic mechanisms, are completely sufficient to account for the appearance of design in living organisms.

    Dr. Behe’s caveat:

    Intelligent design is a good explanation for a number of biochemical systems, but I should insert a word of caution. Intelligent design theory has to be seen in context: it does not try to explain everything. We live in a complex world where lots of different things can happen. When deciding how various rocks came to be shaped the way they are a geologist might consider a whole range of factors: rain, wind, the movement of glaciers, the activity of moss and lichens, volcanic action, nuclear explosions, asteroid impact, or the hand of a sculptor. The shape of one rock might have been determined primarily by one mechanism, the shape of another rock by another mechanism.

    Similarly, evolutionary biologists have recognized that a number of factors might have affected the development of life: common descent, natural selection, migration, population size, founder effects (effects that may be due to the limited number of organisms that begin a new species), genetic drift (spread of “neutral,” nonselective mutations), gene flow (the incorporation of genes into a population from a separate population), linkage (occurrence of two genes on the same chromosome), and much more. The fact that some biochemical systems were designed by an intelligent agent does not mean that any of the other factors are not operative, common, or important.

    So we take all of that and ask which definition(s) of evolution do you accept?

  21. 21
    CannuckianYankee says:

    DonaldM, #19

    The quote you attribute to me is actually that of Sal Gal.

  22. 22
    CannuckianYankee says:

    eintown stated: “It makes no difference whether the common man believes in evolution or not. In fact even biologists do not have to believe in it. What must happen and what does happen is that if a theory fits then one must apply it. In this case, despite public opinion, evolution fits.”

    Well the polls simply indicate that while Darwinian evolutionists continue to assert that “evolution fits,” most people continue to distruss such assertions and want to know more. Such distrust is illuminating in light of the Zogby poll, which indicates an overwhelming popular support for teaching the controversy.

    While I agree that popular opinion is not a measure of scientific truth, one cannot ignore the statistics which show that in this year of Darwin, and after 150 years of the Darwinist monopoly on scientific research and education in biology, most people, regardless of their education levels, remain unconvinced.

    So in this regard, it makes a heap of difference whether the common man believes in evolution or not. The one thing that Darwinian evolution fails to accomplish is convincing the general public, who have been a captive audience to its assertions and fairy tales for 150 years.

  23. 23
    eintown says:

    If there was a poll regarding the intricacies of signal transduction in cancer metastasis to bone or the most appropriate second line therapy for AIDS first line failing patients… I’m sure no one would care what the common man said.

    Why, oh why, is it different for evolution?

  24. 24
    DonaldM says:

    eintown

    If there was a poll regarding the intricacies of signal transduction in cancer metastasis to bone or the most appropriate second line therapy for AIDS first line failing patients… I’m sure no one would care what the common man said.

    Why, oh why, is it different for evolution?

    Oh I don’t know, maybe it has something to do with the fact that evolution is telling a story that has something to do with who we are and where we come from as human beings. Your example only deals with determining a course of treatment for a disease. The story of human origins has all sorts of philosophical and metaphysical implications that your example doesn’t. That’s why public opinion on the matter is indeed important.

    If evolution has been unable to convince the general public in 150 years of virtual hedgemony over science and science education that humans are the product of a blind, purposeless process that didn’t have us in mind, so much the worse for Darwin and evolution!

  25. 25
    jerry says:

    eintown,

    There is an interesting phenomenon with this topic. Read my comment in #10 above. In it I insulted Sal Gal on purpose. Primarily to make a point which I have made many times here before. I could have just as easily have said

    “What has education have to do with it. Everyone including biologists with good educations who oppose ID cannot give a coherent reason why they believe in Darwinian evolution or why anyone should. They are walking poster children for why education is meaningless in this debate.”

    Can we make this observation about any other area of science or technology except for evolutionary biology? The answer is no. So that is why what ordinary people think is important. They apparently have better insight than scientists.

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