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March 14, 2005

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13% of Americans think humans evolved (from a CBS news survey, as cited in the American Soc. of Cell Biology newsletter). The other 87% said they thought God had a hand (either straight creationism or God guiding evolution). Even just looking among Kerry voters, only 1 in 5 believe in straight evolution. We are truly entering a second Dark Ages.

As to the fellow from Kansas, I have to join him in the belief that Kansans did not descend from monkeys. But I'm hoping that they will, any year now.

This does not mean disrespectiong religion; many scientists are devout and of faith... but that doesn't mean deliberately turning our schools into another arm of the American Taliban's war on reality.


This excellent post is closely connected, IMO, to the pro-choice view of the world and not just of abortion rights. What you have to define is the meaning of Pro-Choice in relation to the religious views of others and the use of the State to evangelize ones views!! Any true pro-lifer can easily be pro-choice unless they want to impart their views by force on others. Any believer in intelligent design can still believe it over science taugh according to the proper methods, but should not try to change the scientific method! That is the key, and it is also why pro-choice is so crtiical to the Democracts and freedom from religious tyranny.

Many may tend to suggest that being an activist pro-lifer is not a religiously motivated action, but in this highly emotional area of human activity, I must give any benefit of doubt to the here and now. Freedom means to be free of others religious beliefs, and is critical to the future of American democracy. Pro-choice is the proper American attitude in reproductive freedom and in scientific freedoms because it does not take highly indoctrinated, unscietific views and force them on others!

To expand on NG's comments: there is a strange convergence of the extreme left and the extreme right in matters relating to science. It is seen most clearly in issues like genetically modified food and stem cell research. Both far-lefties and far-righties try to shut down science basically because it gives them the heebie-jeebies. The anti-science jihad in this country (and abroad) is not limited to the right wing.

one more comment - at least among major academic research universities, one might stretch and say 'some' scientists are devout and of faith but 'many' is certainly pushing it and I think 'a few' is probably the most accurate. It is not unheard of but, as I think is true in most of academia, reason and faith are at odds and rarely cohabitate.

sorry to monopolize the comments thread but I remembered & wanted to share with you the (perhaps) first and (certainly) greatest debate on the merits of evolution, between Huxley ("Darwin's bulldog," the public champion of evolution since Darwin himself was a retiring, melancholic hypochondriac) and Bishop Wilberforce in 1860 shortly after publication of On the Origin of Species.

Here is one account:

"Then the Bishop rose, and in a light scoffing tone, florid and he assured us there was nothing in the idea of evolution; rock -pigeons were what rock-pigeons had always been. Then, turning to his antagonist with a smiling insolence, he begged to know, was it through his grandfather or his grandmother that he claimed his descent from a monkey? On this Mr Huxley slowly and deliberately arose. A slight tall figure stern and pale, very quiet and very grave, he stood before us, and spoke those tremendous words - words which no one seems sure of now, nor I think, could remember just after they were spoken, for their meaning took away our breath, though it left us in no doubt as to what it was. He was not ashamed to have a monkey for his ancestor; but he would be ashamed to be connected with a man who used great gifts to obscure the truth."

I have also heard Huxley's rejoinder put, "I would rather be descended from monkeys than from a bishop of the Anglican church."

Science and religion can get along quite well. Yesterday i heard an interview with John Polkinghorne on NPR's "Speaking of Faith." Note: he is a physicist and Anglican theologian who has applied the insights of quantum physics to religious mysteries and the evolution debate. He received the Templeton Prize in 2002.

He argues, persuasively, that scientific theories such as evolution and the big bang can be compatible with religion. That means then that the religious conservatives usurping the voice of all religious people in their quest against scientific thinking.

That made me wonder...is a coincidence that our religious conservatives are taking issue with biology which is the most historical of all the natural sciences. I think the debate is not only about the status of the human (it is certainly that) but also about preserving or reinstating certain kinds of histories (aobu human society and about power and authority within them). It

"I have to join him in the belief that Kansans did not descend from monkeys. But I'm hoping that they will, any year now."

Clearly, the problem is merely with the word "descend." If, instead, it had been said from the beginning that we *ascended* from monkeys, we Kansans could have thereafter preened on our superiority. It's all in the framing! Oh, and just to be clear--I, personally, did not descend or ascend from monkeys but from duck-billed platypusses. If you could see my nose. . .

Kansas, you should see my grandfather's nose.

emptypockets, thanks for the input. I venture to suggest you'd be surprised about scientists/engineers (they are different) and faith ('most' to me means >51%). What's true is people don't talk about it, and most keep it separate from their work.

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