Religion wrongly considered to be sole cause of Darwin-doubting
Religion: How has it deepened the divide between Americans and science?
It's been there forever. There really is a huge history of not being able to grapple with this issue in the U.S. Other countries have handled it better in many ways. There is just a ton of data on Americans, why they don't accept science, particularly evolution, and what their views on religion are. And there is zero doubt that religion is the block.
"Zero doubt that religion is the block"? Baloney. Religion is a contributory block, but it is certainly not the only block. A previous post on this blog says,
A Pew Research Center report says,When asked what they would do if scientists were to disprove a particular religious belief, nearly two-thirds (64%) of people say they would continue to hold to what their religion teaches rather than accept the contrary scientific finding, according to the results of an October 2006 Time magazine poll. Indeed, in a May 2007 Gallup poll, only 14% of those who say they do not believe in evolution cite lack of evidence as the main reason underpinning their views; more people cite their belief in Jesus (19%), God (16%) or religion generally (16%) as their reason for rejecting Darwin's theory.
The above poll results do not take into account the importance of the strength of the scientific evidence that contradicts religion. IMO the stronger the scientific evidence, the greater the tendency of people to accept science over religion. For example, geocentrism [link], like creationism, is supported by the bible (also, re: the conflict with Galileo, geocentrism was once an official doctrine of the Catholic church), but practically all fundies accept heliocentrism because heliocentrism is based on direct observations and is plausible. In contrast, evolution -- the macroevolutionary kind -- is not based on direct observations and is not plausible. Also, more people accept an old earth than accept evolution because an old earth is plausible, even if not based on direct observation. So I was a bit surprised by the above poll data because I thought that the main reason for people's non-acceptance of evolution was a belief that evolution is not plausible on scientific grounds, not that evolution conflicts with their religious beliefs. However, the above poll results only give the "main" reason for non-acceptance of evolution, whereas some respondents may have had two or more reasons, e.g., both science and religion, so perhaps more than just 14% of those who did not accept evolution believed that scientific evidence was lacking. As for myself, a belief that the scientific evidence is inadequate is my sole reason for my non-acceptance of evolution -- religion has nothing to do with it at all. And I am more influenced by my ideas about coevolution than by Intelligent Design or irreducible complexity.
Loony Mooney continued,
Religion is the reason they think they can't accept evolution. That's because they are told by their pastors from the pulpit, all across the country, that evolution is an assault on their identity, their moral universe and their ability to raise children who get taught this. So there's been an attempt to create a hermetically sealed environment in the conservative Christian community that keeps this stuff out. And that's a huge problem.
The world of science is very angry about this, and justifiably so. They are sick of playing Whac-A-Mole with the anti-evolutionists. Every year, maybe more than every year, there's a new battle.
"They are sick of playing Whac-A-Mole with the anti-evolutionists"? LOL What a jerk. There are lots of anti-evolutionary "moles" that have not been successfully "whacked." I am glad they are getting sick of it, though -- it shows that we are finally getting to them.
What can scientists do to bridge the gap?
They can learn about everybody else. They can understand everybody else and understand what the blocks are. What's preventing people from embracing science? We know it is religion, but do we really know why people are creationists? When I look at how many scientists approach the evolution issue, I don't see that understanding.
If I read ScienceBlogs, what I see are endless eloquent refutations of the creationists based on science. It's been done to death. Obviously, that doesn't convince anybody. And that's because people who don't believe in evolution are not driven by scientific considerations. So that's not how you should be trying to reach them.
"And that's because people who don't believe in evolution are not driven by scientific considerations"? Bullshit -- many are.
In an earlier op-ed -- which has attracted a lot of criticism, especially from Darwinists -- Chris Mooney and his sidekick Sheril Kirshenbaum said,
A smaller but highly regarded nonprofit organization called the National Center for Science Education has drawn at least as much of the New Atheists' ire, however. Based in Oakland, the center is the leading organization that promotes and defends the teaching of evolution in school districts across the country.
The NCSE is "highly regarded"? Not by a lot of people! To a lot of people, the NCSE really sucks.
Mooney's and Kishenbaum's op-ed says of the NCSE,
In this endeavor, it has, of necessity, made frequent alliances with religious believers who also support the teaching of evolution, seeking to forge a broad coalition capable of beating back the advances of fundamentalists who want to weaken textbooks or science standards. In the famous 2005 Dover, Pa., evolution trial, for instance, the NCSE contributed scientific advice to a legal team that put a theologian and a Catholic biologist on the stand.
I was astonished that the Dover plaintiffs had the chutzpah to choose a theistic evolutionist as a lead expert witness in a establishment clause lawsuit, and was also astonished that the judge tolerated such a choice. It would have made much more sense for the plaintiffs to choose, say, PZ Myers, who would get up there and testify that he metaphorically pukes on the shoes of accommodationists who try to appease cafeteria Christian theistic evolutionists.
As I have said many times: to be accepted as the literal truth, both the gospel and the bible's creation story require belief in the supernatural, but the creation story otherwise makes much more sense than the gospel. The creation story is fairly straightforward whereas the gospel is full of illogic, inconsistencies, ambiguities, and unintelligibility. The creation story is consistent with the idea of an all-powerful god whereas the god of the gospel is a weak and limited god who must struggle against Satan for control of the world.
Jerry Coyne said in response to Mooney's and Kirshenbaum's op-ed,
The “new atheists” have been on the scene for exactly five years, beginning with Sam Harris’s The End of Faith, published in 2004. But American’s attitudes to evolution have been relatively unchanged (with 40+% denying it) for twenty-five years. This means two things:a. American illiteracy about evolutionary biology cannot have been due to criticism of religion by the “new atheists.”
b. The dominant strategy of scientific organizations engaged in fighting creationism over the past twenty-five years has been accommodationism: coddling or refusing to criticize religious people for fear of alienating those of the faithful who support evolution. This has been combined with incessant claims that science and religion are perfectly compatible. This strategy has not worked.
So as Coyne points out, the NCSE folks and other accommodationists are stubbornly continuing to pursue a failed strategy. But Coyne, like the accommodationists, fails to understand that one of the big reasons why the strategy has failed is that religion is not the only basis for Darwin-doubting; the inadequacy of the scientific evidence is also an important basis -- perhaps even the most important basis -- for Darwin-doubting.
Ironically, what originally attracted me to ID was that it is not based on religion. But the Darwinists are insisting that ID is only religion and many of them would rather talk about religion than talk about science.