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Readers Believe in Evolution

April 30, 2014 Popular Culture, Religion 24 Comments

Some questioned the poll topic last week, religion on an urban blog? Well, yes. The two are not mutually exclusive, at least not for some like Eric Jacobson:

Eric Jacobsen the author of Sidewalks in the Kingdom: New Urbanism and the Christian Faith (Brazos Press, 2003) as well as numerous articles on New Urbanism (see related articles). He is a member of the Congress For the New Urbanism and a participant in the Colloquim on Theology and the Built Environment sponsored by St. Andrews University and the Calvin Institute for Christian Worship at Calvin College. He is a full-time student at Fuller Theological Seminary where he is pursuing a PhD in Theology and Culture. He is currently living in Passadena with his wife (Liz) and three children (Katherine – 7, Peter – 4, and Emma – 3). Formerly, he was the Associate Pastor at the First Presbyterian Church in Missoula, MT.

With just 16.1% of the general population indicating no religious affiliation (Pew) the results ended up far different than I originally thought they would:

Q: Which of the following comes closest to your view on the origin and development of human beings?

  1. Human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God had no part in this process 70 [63.64%]
  2. Human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God guided this process 29 [26.36%]
  3. God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time in the last 10,000 years or so 11 [10%]

This is interesting since the results are the opposite of the Gallop Poll this was based on:

Gallup has asked Americans to choose among these three explanations for the origin and development of human beings 11 times since 1982. Although the percentages choosing each view have varied from survey to survey, the 46% who today choose the creationist explanation is virtually the same as the 45% average over that period — and very similar to the 44% who chose that explanation in 1982. The 32% who choose the “theistic evolution” view that humans evolved under God’s guidance is slightly below the 30-year average of 37%, while the 15% choosing the secular evolution view is slightly higher (12%).

Pew has found similar results:

White evangelical Protestants are particularly likely to believe that humans have existed in their present form since the beginning of time. Roughly two-thirds (64%) express this view, as do half of black Protestants (50%). By comparison, only 15% of white mainline Protestants share this opinion.

They offer much more detail here.

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson is agnostic  
Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson hosts COSMOS: A Spacetime Odyssey

Even the term “creationist” has nuances:

Do “creationists” necessarily oppose an evolutionary understanding of the history of nature and the origins of species and humanity?

No. In principle all members of the three western monotheisms (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) are “creationists” in that they believe the order of nature exists because a reality beyond nature, commonly called “God”, is the ultimate cause of all existence. In this sense of the word, many creationists accept an evolutionary understanding of natural history. However, at least four types of creationism can be identified, and each has a distinctive view of the evolutionary sciences and human origins.

“Young-Earth” creationists hold that the sacred text provides an inerrant account of how the universe, all life and humankind came into existence; namely, in six 24-hour days, some 6-10,000 years ago. Human beings were created through a direct act of divine intervention in the order of nature.

“Old-Earth” creationists hold that the sacred text is an infallible account of why the universe, all life and humankind came into existence, but accepts that the “days” of creation are metaphorical and could represent very long periods of time. While many aspects of nature may be the consequence of direct acts of divine creation, at very least they hold that the very beginning of the universe, the origin of life and the origin of humankind are the consequence of distinct acts of divine intervention in the order of nature.

Theistic evolutionists also hold that the sacred text provides an infallible account of why the universe, all life and humankind came into existence. However, they also hold that for the most part, the diversity of nature from stars to planets to living organisms, including the human body, is a consequence of the divine using processes of evolution to create indirectly. Still, for many who hold this position, the very beginning of the universe, the origin of life, and the origin of what is distinctive about humankind are the consequence of direct acts of divine intervention in the order of nature.

Evolutionary theists hold that the sacred text, while giving witness to the ultimate divine source of all of nature, in no way specifies the means of creation. Further, they hold that the witness of creation itself is that the divine creates only indirectly through evolutionary processes without any intervention in the order of nature. (The Smithsonian’s Science, Religion, Evolution and Creationism: Primer)

As an Anti-Theist (atheist), I believe what many of us have learned through scientific research. Each sunday night for the last couple of months I’ve been tuning in to see COSMOS: A Spacetime Odyssey.  In terms of St. Louis, these results tell me over 35% will continue to believe something regardless of facts to the contrary. With such numbers it is hard to change perceptions about place in our region. This show has religious folks upset, resulting in an Oklahoma Fox channel “accidentally: cutting out a mention of evolution and weekly stories like this:

Conservative Christians are really mad about the reboot of the legendary science series Cosmos, starring Neil deGrasse Tyson. The complaint? That an ancient myth about creation invented by Hebrews thousands of years ago is not being included in a show that is there to teach science. Christian conservatives have been taking to the airwaves complaining about the non-inclusion of ancient myths in a science program, with Danny Faulkner of Answers in Genesis whining, “Creationists aren’t even on the radar screen for them,” and Elizabeth Mitchell of the same organization decrying the show for having “blind faith in evolution.” (“Cosmic” meltdown! Neil deGrasse Tyson under siege from Christian right)

I’m just thankful for the separation of church and state!

— Steve Patterson


Currently there are "24 comments" on this Article:

  1. Adam says:

    i think the difference simply reflects that your readership isn’t a representative cross-section of the US population.

  2. neroden says:

    Well, evolution by means of natural selection is pretty much proven. It was proven around the time Darwin published his famous (and very long) book cataloguing the evidence for it, and since then there’s been loads more evidence.

    I’m glad that 90% of your readers are willing to listen to evidence!

  3. joe says:

    amazing how you can be in front of the truth yet miles away from it in your mind! Im praying for you mr. patterson

    • guest says:

      Sort of agree. I fail to see the relevance of this discussion. Creationism or evolution hasn’t a thing to do St. Louis urbanism. Want to engage in a dialogue about “creationism” in terms of the enlightenment and advancement of humanity? God entering the conversation about 10,000 years ago had plenty to do with that. Life forms evolving from amoeba to fish, from to pollywogs to mice, then on to men? Who cares.

    • “One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. The bamboozle has captured us. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.”
      — Carl Sagan

      • guest says:

        What? You don’t believe in the power of the spirit, do you Steve? Or the power of memory? It’s all about the individual in the here and now, right?

        • I believe in looking our for the common interests of humanity, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tragedy_of_the_commons

          • guest says:

            So basically, what you’re saying is you’re a communist. In communism, religious expression is banned. Your atheistic view makes sense to me now.

          • “:Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” http://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/first_amendment

          • guest says:

            Yeah, but that’s for this country. Communist dictatorships don’t allow such freedoms and ban religion. All power to the state.

          • Adam says:

            “common interests” =/= Communism. i know the words sound a little bit similar but discerning grown-ups are generally able to tell the difference.

          • Adam says:

            wow… now that is an (hilarious) evisceration of logic worthy of a fundamentalist.

          • guest says:

            Moi? A fundamentalist?? Pffft. Hardly. But I do believe in the power of the spirit and that god dwells among us. Literally. *Among* us. Not above us. Not apart from us. But among us. Without us, there is no god. Without memory, there is no god. When memory dies, god dies, and we die. All at the same time.

          • Adam says:

            well, that all sounds very nebulous to me but whatever floats your boat. not sure what it has to do with the Carl Sagan quote or your communism hyperbole, which came completely out of nowhere.

          • guest says:

            The communism observation was in response to Steve’s reference to the tragedy of the commons philosophy. Sagan’s quote was about being “bamboozeld”, presumably by schlock religion perveyors. And if you thought the spirit world and notion of god were going to be concrete things, well, you’re being too literal. There’s more to this world than things that can be defined scientiifically. Some of the most religious people I know are mathemeticians and physicians.

          • Adam says:

            yes but you made a number of leaps in logic to get from Steve’s comment to “Communist!”, hence the hyperbole remark.

            i certainly don’t think god and the spirit world are concrete things. i think they’re cultural constructs–products of human imagination and nothing more–which is precisely why they can’t be defined with any sort of logical consistency or empirical confidence.

          • guest says:

            Logical consistency, yes. Empirical confidence, who cares? That would be like trying to define love based on empirical confidence. What’s the point?

          • Adam says:

            One can at east empirically observe behavior between people and define “love” based on a subset of those behaviors, even if we don’t yet fully understand its sociological/biological motivations. The same can’t be said about god and the spirit world. There are no such direct observables on which to construct a definition of “god” or “the spirit world”. In any case, the point of speaking about a thing in concrete terms, and whether or not you care, has nothing to do with whether or not it’s possible.

          • guest says:

            What’s the point here? To try to disprove the existence of god?

          • Adam says:

            i just thought your “communist” response was silly. (and for the record i didn’t say you’re a fundamentalist, only that your response was worthy of one.) then you brought up god and spirits and such, to which i offered an alternative (and more likely IMO) scenario. if doing so means that i’m trying to disprove the existence of god, then your defending him/her/it must mean that you’re trying to prove his/her/its existence?

          • guest says:

            I don’t think you can “prove it” one way or another.

          • Adam says:

            nor do i, but i also feel no need or obligation to believe in something for which there’s no evidence.

          • guest says:

            And why should you? No one’s forcing anyone to believe anything.


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