Arquivo da categoria: Teoria da evolução

>Four in 10 Americans Believe in Strict Creationism (Gallup)

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December 17, 2010

Belief in evolutionary origins of humans slowly rising, however
by Frank Newport

PRINCETON, NJ — Four in 10 Americans, slightly fewer today than in years past, believe God created humans in their present form about 10,000 years ago. Thirty-eight percent believe God guided a process by which humans developed over millions of years from less advanced life forms, while 16%, up slightly from years past, believe humans developed over millions of years, without God’s involvement.

A small minority of Americans hold the “secular evolution” view that humans evolved with no influence from God — but the number has risen from 9% in 1982 to 16% today. At the same time, the 40% of Americans who hold the “creationist” view that God created humans as is 10,000 years ago is the lowest in Gallup’s history of asking this question, and down from a high point of 47% in 1993 and 1999. There has been little change over the years in the percentage holding the “theistic evolution” view that humans evolved under God’s guidance.

Americans’ views on human origins vary significantly by level of education and religiosity. Those who are less educated are more likely to hold a creationist view. Those with college degrees and postgraduate education are more likely to hold one of the two viewpoints involving evolution.

December 2010 Views of Human Origins (Humans Evolved, With God Guiding; Humans Evolved Without God's Involvment; God Created Humans in Present Form) -- by Education

Americans who attend church frequently are most likely to accept explanations for the origin of humans that involve God, not a surprising finding. Still, the creationist viewpoint, held by 60% of weekly churchgoers, is not universal even among the most highly religious group. Also, about a fourth of those who seldom or never attend church choose the creationist view

December 2010 Views of Human Origins (Humans Evolved, With God Guiding; Humans Evolved Without God's Involvment; God Created Humans in Present Form) -- by Frequency of Church Attendance

The significantly higher percentage of Republicans who choose a creationist view of human origins reflects in part the strong relationship between religion and politics in contemporary America. Republicans are significantly more likely to attend church weekly than are others, and, as noted, Americans who attend church weekly are most likely to select the creationist alternative for the origin of humans.

December 2010 Views of Human Origins (Humans Evolved, With God Guiding; Humans Evolved Without God's Involvment; God Created Humans in Present Form) -- by Party

Implications

Most Americans believe in God, and about 85% have a religious identity. It is not surprising as a result to find that about 8 in 10 Americans hold a view of human origins that involves actions by God — that he either created humans as depicted in the book of Genesis, or guided a process of evolution. What no doubt continues to surprise many scientists is that 4 out of 10 Americans believe in the first of these explanations.

These views have been generally stable over the last 28 years. Acceptance of the creationist viewpoint has decreased slightly over time, with a concomitant rise in acceptance of a secular evolution perspective. But these shifts have not been large, and the basic structure of beliefs about human beings’ origins is generally the same as it was in the early 1980s.

Americans’ attitudes about almost anything can and often do have political consequences. Views on the origins of humans are no exception. Debates and clashes over which explanations for human origins should be included in school textbooks have persisted for decades. With 40% of Americans continuing to hold to an anti-evolutionary belief about the origin of humans, it is highly likely that these types of debates will continue.

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Dec. 10-12, 2010, with a random sample of 1,019 adults, aged 18 and older, living in the continental U.S., selected using random-digit-dial sampling.

For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points.

Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones (for respondents with a landline telephone) and cellular phones (for respondents who are cell phone-only). Each sample includes a minimum quota of 150 cell phone-only respondents and 850 landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas among landline respondents for gender within region. Landline respondents are chosen at random within each household on the basis of which member had the most recent birthday.

Samples are weighted by gender, age, race, education, region, and phone lines. Demographic weighting targets are based on the March 2009 Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older non-institutionalized population living in continental U.S. telephone households. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting and sample design.

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

View methodology, full question results, and trend data.

For more details on Gallup’s polling methodology, visit www.gallup.com.

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>Darwin Foes Add Warming to Targets (N. Y. Times)

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By LESLIE KAUFMAN
New York Times, March 3, 2010

Critics of the teaching of evolution in the nation’s classrooms are gaining ground in some states by linking the issue to global warming, arguing that dissenting views on both scientific subjects should be taught in public schools.

Photo: Bud Craft/Legislative Research Commission, via Associated Press. “Our kids are being presented theories as though they are facts,” said State Representative Tim Moore of Kentucky.

In Kentucky, a bill recently introduced in the Legislature would encourage teachers to discuss “the advantages and disadvantages of scientific theories,” including “evolution, the origins of life, global warming and human cloning.”

The bill, which has yet to be voted on, is patterned on even more aggressive efforts in other states to fuse such issues. In Louisiana, a law passed in 2008 says the state board of education may assist teachers in promoting “critical thinking” on all of those subjects.

Last year, the Texas Board of Education adopted language requiring that teachers present all sides of the evidence on evolution and global warming.

Oklahoma introduced a bill with similar goals in 2009, although it was not enacted.

The linkage of evolution and global warming is partly a legal strategy: courts have found that singling out evolution for criticism in public schools is a violation of the separation of church and state. By insisting that global warming also be debated, deniers of evolution can argue that they are simply championing academic freedom in general.

Yet they are also capitalizing on rising public resistance in some quarters to accepting the science of global warming, particularly among political conservatives who oppose efforts to rein in emissions of greenhouse gases.

In South Dakota, a resolution calling for the “balanced teaching of global warming in public schools” passed the Legislature this week.

“Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant,” the resolution said, “but rather a highly beneficial ingredient for all plant life.”

The measure made no mention of evolution, but opponents of efforts to dilute the teaching of evolution noted that the language was similar to that of bills in other states that had included both. The vote split almost entirely along partisan lines in both houses, with Republican voting for it and Democrats voting against.

For mainstream scientists, there is no credible challenge to evolutionary theory. They oppose the teaching of alternative views like intelligent design, the proposition that life is so complex that it must be the design of an intelligent being. And there is wide agreement among scientists that global warming is occurring and that human activities are probably driving it. Yet many conservative evangelical Christians assert that both are examples of scientists’ overstepping their bounds.

John G. West, a senior fellow with the Discovery Institute in Seattle, a group that advocates intelligent design and has led the campaign for teaching critiques of evolution in the schools, said that the institute was not specifically promoting opposition to accepted science on climate change. Still, Mr. West said, he is sympathetic to that cause.

“There is a lot of similar dogmatism on this issue,” he said, “with scientists being persecuted for findings that are not in keeping with the orthodoxy. We think analyzing and evaluating scientific evidence is a good thing, whether that is about global warming or evolution.”

Lawrence M. Krauss, a physicist who directs the Origins Initiative at Arizona State University and has spoken against efforts to water down the teaching of evolution to school boards in Texas and Ohio, described the move toward climate-change skepticism as a predictable offshoot of creationism.

“Wherever there is a battle over evolution now,” he said, “there is a secondary battle to diminish other hot-button issues like Big Bang and, increasingly, climate change. It is all about casting doubt on the veracity of science — to say it is just one view of the world, just another story, no better or more valid than fundamentalism.”

Not all evangelical Christians reject the notion of climate change, of course. There is a budding green evangelical movement in the country driven partly by a belief that because God created the earth, humans are obligated to care for it.

Yet there is little doubt that the skepticism about global warming resonates more strongly among conservatives, and Christian conservatives in particular. A survey published in October by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press found that white evangelical Protestants were among those least likely to believe that there was “solid evidence” that the Earth was warming because of human activity.

Only 23 percent of those surveyed accepted that idea, compared with 36 percent of the American population as a whole.

The Rev. Jim Ball, senior director for climate programs at the Evangelical Environmental Network, a group with members who accept the science of global warming, said that many of the deniers feel that “it is hubris to think that human beings could disrupt something that God created.”

“This group already feels like scientists are attacking their faith and calling them idiots,” he said, “so they are likely to be skeptical” about global warming.

State Representative Tim Moore, a Republican who introduced the bill in the Kentucky Legislature, said he was motivated not by religion but by what he saw as a distortion of scientific knowledge.

“Our kids are being presented theories as though they are facts,” he said. “And with global warming especially, there has become a politically correct viewpoint among educational elites that is very different from sound science.”

The evolution curriculum has developed far more than instruction on climate change. It is almost universally required in biology classes, while the science of global warming, a newer topic, is taught more sporadically, depending on the interest of teachers and school planners.

But interest in making climate change a standard part of school curriculum is growing. Under President Obama, for example, the Climate Education Interagency Working Group, which represents more than a dozen federal agencies, is making a strong push toward “climate literacy” for teachers and students.

State Representative Don Kopp, a Republican who was the main sponsor of the South Dakota resolution, said he acted in part because “An Inconvenient Truth,” a documentary film on global warming starring Al Gore, was being shown in some public schools without a counterweight.

The legal incentive to pair global warming with evolution in curriculum battles stems in part from a 2005 ruling by a United States District Court judge in Atlanta that the Cobb County Board of Education, which had placed stickers on certain textbooks encouraging students to view evolution as only a theory, had violated First Amendment strictures on the separation of church and state.

Although the sticker was not overtly religious, the judge said, its use was unconstitutional because evolution alone was the target, which indicated that it was a religious issue.

After that, said Joshua Rosenau, a project director for the National Center for Science Education, he began noticing that attacks on climate change science were being packaged with criticism of evolution in curriculum initiatives.

He fears that even a few state-level victories could have an effect on what gets taught across the nation.

James D. Marston, director of the Texas regional office of the Environmental Defense Fund, said he worried that, given Texas’ size and centralized approval process, its decision on textbooks could have an outsize influence on how publishers prepare science content for the national market.

“If a textbook does not give enough deference to critics of climate change — or does not say that there is real scientific debate, when in fact there is little to none — they will have a basis for turning it down,” Mr. Marston said of the Texas board. “And that is scary for what our children will learn everywhere.”