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U.S. Lags Behind Europe, Japan in Acceptance of Evolution

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So reports Ker Than a Staff Writer for Space.com and LiveScience.com.  You can get the whole story here:  http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,207858,00.html. 

Mr. Than reports that a new study compares attitudes toward evolution in 34 countries.  The US ranks “near the bottom” when it comes to public acceptance of evolution.  Other findings:


The study found that over the past 20 years:

— The percentage of U.S. adults who accept evolution declined from 45 to 40 percent.

Of the other countries surveyed, only Turkey ranked “lower” than the U.S.

In Iceland, Denmark, Sweden and France, 80 percent or more of adults accepted evolution; in Japan, 78 percent of adults did.

The authors of the study blame the U.S. and Turkey’s low ranking on religious fundamentalists, Christian in the US and Islamic in Turkey.

Mr. Than interviewed Paul Meyers, a biologist at the University of Minnesota, and Eugenie Scott, the director of the National Center for Science Education, for the Darwinist viewpoint.  They made the usual noises about ID being a stalking horse for young earth creationism, which Mr. Than appears to have swallowed whole.  He reports the following as a fact, not as anyone’s opinion:  “The latest packaging of creationism is intelligent design, or ‘ID,’ a conjecture which claims that certain features of the natural world are so complex that they could only be the work of a Supreme Being.

Mr. Than interviewed Bruce Chapman, the president of the Discovery Institute, for the ID viewpoint.  “A better explanation for the high percentage of doubters of Darwinism in America may be that this country’s citizens are famously independent and are not given to being rolled by an ideological elite in any field,” Chapman said. “In particular, the growing doubts about Darwinism undoubtedly reflect growing doubts among scientists about Darwinian theory. Over 640 have now signed a public dissent and the number keeps growing.”


BarryA, Mike Gene found some misrerporting by Than here.
Did you see that? The mean score on the Index of Genetic Literacy was slightly higher in the United States than the nine European countries combined! Miller obscures this fact by then arguing that Americans really aren't that smart about biology, while refraining to make such comments about the very European countries that scored worse. But the fact remains that Americans scored the best on the Index of Genetic Literacy yet their score is singled out to argue "the poor grasp of biological concepts, especially genetics, by American adults as an important contributor to the country's low confidence in evolution."
Than made sloppy and misleading reporting. scordova
It is called the “No True Scotsman” fallacy. Conceived by noted IDer Anthony Flew :-) tribune7
Tribune7, Good question. I suspect Ms. Scott defines “mainstream” as “people who agree with me.” There is actually a name for this rhetorical trick. It is called the “No True Scotsman” fallacy. BarryA
Eugenie Scott says one thing that will help is to have Catholics and mainstream Protestants speak up about their theologies’ acceptance of evolution. Would she be tolerant of a Catholic or "mainstream Protestant" who said there is "much truth in evolution but there is obviously an intelligent designer behind it all"? How would that be any different than what the Discovery Institute says? Would the Prosteant still be "mainstream"? tribune7
“A better explanation for the high percentage of doubters of Darwinism in America may be that this country’s citizens are famously independent and are not given to being rolled by an ideological elite in any field,” In what sense "better"? There is some evidence to support the link between religion and scepticism towards evolution - not conclusive but evidence. Chapman's statement seems to be pure conjecture. Maybe "better" in the sense that it would suit him better? PS does Turkey have a long tradition of free-thinking? Mark Frank
A lot depends on what questions are asked. For example, in a recent formal poll of physicians, the same people were asked three different questions about belief in evolution and the results were markedly different for each question. When asked, "What are your views on evolution -- accept, reject, or undecided," 78% responded, "accept"; when asked "do you agree more with evolution or more with intelligent design -- evolution, intelligent design, or no opinion," 63% responded "evolution"; and when asked, "What are your views on the origin and development of human beings?", only 38% said, "humans evolved naturally with no supernatural involvement" (the other choices were guided evolution, were created in present form, and "I don't like to think about such matters"). See http://im-from-missouri.blogspot.com/2006/06/many-physicians-skeptical-of-darwinism.html Larry Fafarman
kairos, I think you probably have a good point there to factor in. I think the translation into other languages is a problem to factor in here. You reminded me of my argument that the number of scientists on the dissent from Darwinism list are mostly American scientists. I had in the past argued this was probably because of a translation factor similar to as you noted. So, I think here, you make an equally viable point. JGuy
“A better explanation for the high percentage of doubters of Darwinism in America may be that this country’s citizens are famously independent and are not given to being rolled by an ideological elite in any field,” Chapman said. It's possible but (as European) I propose a much simpler explanation. Simply in Europe there isn't a public controversy about and only for the last one or two year (and mainly starting with Dover process) European people has been able to read something about on newspapers. Moreover take into account that very often even the most important ID books haven't up to now translated into the local language (I had to order all of them in English). Anyway things are going on.For example in ITAly just in these days a newspaper (Il Foglio) has started a series of full-page articles (in the Tuesday to Friday editions, up to now seven) about ID, after having interviewed both sides. The article of yesterday was an interview to Mike Behe. Kairos kairos
From the article:
"The more you understand about genetics, the more you understand about the unity of life and the relationship humans have to other forms of life," Miller said.
Or, if you understand genetics, you might see that biological life forms are the Handwork of One Designer, as proposed by the Message Theory.
[Eugenie] Scott says one thing that will help is to have Catholics and mainstream Protestants speak up about their theologies' acceptance of evolution.
Let's invite Bishop Spong and let him say how evolution and gay marriage are in agreement with Christian theology. That will make religious fundamentalists accept evolution on the spot!
But scientists do not share doubts over evolution.
Translation: "The scientists who believe in evolution share no doubts over evolution"
They argue it is one of the most well tested theories around, supported by countless tests done in many different scientific fields.
That's right. And the scientific fields that clearly suport evolution are -->
Scott says promoting uncertainty about evolution is just as bad as denying it outright and that ID and traditional creationism both spread the same message.
I wonder if Scott realizes how damaging this sentence is for evolution. The only theory in the world which, after questioning, makes people loose faith in it, is evolution. Now, why is that? Darwinists advocate more knowledge about science in order to understand evolution, but, from their own lips, they admit that, if you cast doubt on evolution, peolpe won't believe in it. Mats
Yeah, Gil. The only authority the 60's generation didn't expect to be questioned is THEIR authority. Having failed in the promisses of the "age of Aquarius", and the era of peace, love and brotherhood that would soon soon emerge(maybe), and having had theirs dreams of "sexual liberty" being destroyed as their friends, one after the other, died of AIDS, the 60's liberals clung to evolution as a safe guard against what was their enemy from the start: Christianity. Today, as they see their religious doctrine (evolution) being attacked left and right, they defend it with a passionate fervor because..........they have nothing else. Mats
My view is greatly intersects with what Bruce Chapman said in his interview excerpt in the above article. After properly normalizing all of those countries by their respective economies, I might go even further and wager that the countries which question evolution greatest will have a bias towards producing more productive scientist per captita. [The economic normalization is important, since ecnomocial advantages is a tremendous factor in scientific & technological output] BTW: I thought it interesting to read that there were "LOWER" RANKINGS assigned to those that dissented or doubted Darwin. Why couldn't it be that Turks and Americans had high rankings for doubting Darwin and for being more independent thinkers? ;) hmmm - seems to cut many ways. Obviously seems the very point that BarryA was making as he quoted those terms. JGuy
Perhaps the "question-authority" admonition of the young, secular, iconoclastic liberals of the 1960s (now in positions of authority, with their own sacred doctrines) has come back to haunt them. Americans have always questioned authority; that's why we're so creative and innovative. Plus, it's a lot of fun. GilDodgen

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