From GodÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Numbers:
Nine in 10 (91 percent) of American adults say they believe in God and almost as many (87 percent) say they identify with a specific religion. …Nearly half (48 percent) of the public rejects the scientific [sic] theory of evolution; one-third (34 percent) of college graduates say they accept the Biblical account of creation as fact. Seventy-three percent of Evangelical Protestants say they believe that God created humans in their present form within the last 10,000 years; 39 percent of non-Evangelical Protestants and 41 percent of Catholics agree with that view.
Just 3 percent of the public self-identifies as atheist.
There are numerous tangents one can take from this article. I’ll take at least three.
The first tangent is that the real battle ground for ID’s success in the USA is not in the atheist demographic of the population (which is about 3% of the population)! The battle ground is within the community of theists. Given that 91% of the population are theists and that 48% are creationists, it means 43% of the population are some sort of theistic evolutionist (TE). The TE’s are the largest demographic group where ID stands to make serious gains over time.
The second tangent is that it is unclear if the 34% number of creationists graduating college is a higher number than in the past. Furthermore, how many non-creationists college grads are friendly to ID? I would not be surprised if either the number of pro-ID and/or pro-Creation numbers will be higher in the future.
The third tangent is that even though I’m an evangelical Christian, I value and appreciate many of the atheists in our society. Many of the greatest defenders of the Christian faith were former atheists (CS Lewis, Lee Strobel, and so many others). But there are other reasons for people of faith to value the presence of atheists in society, even if the majority never become like CS Lewis….
I prefer that people believe or disbelieve in something for the right reasons, not societal pressure nor wishful thinking, but because it is their heart and mind’s conviction. I have often found it disappointing to hear atheists expressing the very same questions and doubts that I had in my mind only to hear Christian apologists giving such anemic responses that I was actually more inclined to disbelieve after hearing them!
The questions that atheists have raised are legitimate, and they are the questions many believers privately hold but may be too worried to raise in church circles. Therefore, I have been strangely grateful for the atheist community’s forthrightness and for their provoking discussions of interest to me. Had it not been form them, some of my private questions and doubts might have gone unanswered for a lifetime….
But many of my questions have been answered. See an essay by a provisional atheist Frank Tipler that was featured in the book Uncommon Dissent edited by Bill Dembski. The essay is available for free at ISCID at this link: Refereed Journals: Do They Insure Quality or Enforce Orthodoxy?.
I use the phrase “provisional atheist” for Tipler because he formally views himself as an atheist [see page 305-307 of his book Physics of Immortality]. However, he thinks the possibility of God’s existence is very strong based on theoretical physics. He writes in his book
When I began my career as a cosmologist some twenty years ago, I was a convinced atheist. I never in my wildest dreams imagined that one day I would be writing a book purporting to show that the central claims of Judeo-Christian theology are in fact true, that these claims are straightforward deductions of the laws of physics as we now understand them. I have been forced into these conclusions by the inexorable logic of my own special branch of physics.”
In addition to the design arguments in physics are the design arguments in biology. ID proper in biology does not prove God’s existence nor does it say He is the Designer. However, Lee Spetner (a bio-physicist from Johns Hopkins) articulates how ID and the failure of Darwinism relates to the debate over atheism:
There may be good reasons for being an atheist, but the neo-Darwinian theory of evolution isn’t one of them.
Finally, Dawkins notes here
Some of the greatest scientists who have ever lived Ã‚Â including Newton, who may have been the greatest of all Ã‚Â believed in God. But it was hard to be an atheist before Darwin: the illusion [sic] of living design is so overwhelming.
[note: Dawkins misspelled the word “reality” 🙂 ]