Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Third of Americans Say Evidence Supports Evolution

When I first saw the title of this Gallup poll, it didn't strike me much. "Yeah, so," I thought, "evidence has supported Darwin's theory of evolution. What's new?" Then I noticed that it said one third agreed with that. Over half of Americans don't know that evidence supports Darwin's theory.

I notice that Gallup says this on a page that invites me to pay to get more information, so I wonder if this is the most outrageous way they could find to say something that's otherwise not controversial enough to induce readers to become customers. For instance, perhaps the poll's definitions of "evidence" and/or "Darwin's Evolution Theory" are such that even I could agree that "evidence" does not support "Darwin's Evolution Theory." Still, it's troubling.

I think it's possible to believe in both evolution as a process and in creation as an origin. It's possible to witness the process of evolution, and I can't imagine saying it just doesn't happen. I could imagine someone saying that evolution does happen but that it's not the origin of life. That is, life on Earth was created (in whatever form you imagine), and it evolved after that.

In 1992, Popular Science had a poll that showed that some startlingly large number of Americans thought they could make radioactive milk safe by boiling it. The poll also picked out some other scientifically unsound beliefs in the populace, perhaps even this same disbelief in evolution. So, I think this Gallup poll isn't really news, but it's good to keep tabs on this. I'll be interested to see if anything's changed in another ten years, but by then I'm sure I'll be less concerned with what's in the country's head as with what's in my teenage daughter's head.
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