Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

Newsweek poll: Belief in special creation by college graduates at 34%…


From God’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 ­ including Newton, who may have been the greatest of all ­ 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” 🙂 ]

[...] that far more Americans believe things you’d likely find completely bonkers. For instance, Forty-eight percent of Americans believe the literal, Biblical account of creation (including 34 percent who are [...] Thirteen Percent Isn’t All That Much, Considering. : The Sundries Shack
Very interesting. Hey SeekAndFind. I have a Bachelor of Arts degree from a somewhat prestigious and secular New England college and I think Darwinism is positively satanic. Plus, I think it is really great that there are people out there like Paul Nelson and Sal Cordova who are trying to preserve the integrity of the Biblical Record. Is it really true that even some Darwinian scientists are saying now that life began not from a single primordial cell, but many? DanaMcgee
I'm not trying to imply anything by asking this question but I am just curious... I wonder what percentage of the people who Did Not graduate or go to college believe in creation? I wonder if there are any cross-tabs for this survey. SeekAndFind
The problem of Darwinism's spread is not atheism, imho. The problem is TE's like Howard van Til have promoted Darwinism as effectively as anyone. The prevalence of Darwinism is not really because of atheists, it's because large numbers of TE's like Van Til, George Murphy, Keith Miller, and Ken Miller have supported it. The newsweek polls are suggestive of TE's being a driving power behind Darwinism, but not quite explicitly. It would be a worthy study to see how many instrumental Darwinists were theists. I would argue though, that if Darwin's theory were true, I think I would have less reason to believe, personally speaking. If my situation is similar to many, then TE's have arguably done a lot to promote an unscientific idea which has eroded many people's faith. The irony is that Tipler [a provisional atheist inclined toward God's existence] is given the cold shoulder by Howard van Til. van Til was previously someone who professed Reformed Christian Theology at Calvin College. Van Til straying from the faith was mentioned by Dembski Howard Van Till’s journey from Calvinism into freethought What was van Til's reason for rejecting Tipler's work? Here is Tipler's account:
I first became aware of the importance that many non-elite scientists place on “peer reviewed” or “refereed” journals when Howard Van Till, a theistic evolutionist, said my book The Physics of Immortality was not worth taking seriously because the ideas it presented had never appeared in refereed journals. Actually, the ideas in that book had already appeared in refereed journals. The papers and the refereed journals wherein they appeared were listed at the beginning of my book. My key predictions of the top quark mass (confirmed) and the Higgs boson mass (still unknown) even appeared in the pages of Nature, the most prestigious refereed science journal in the world. But suppose Van Till had been correct and that my ideas had never been published in referred journals. Would he have been correct in saying that, in this case, the ideas need not be taken seriously?

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