# Americans, theory of evolution, and secularization

• News
The latest NEWSWEEK poll shows that 91 percent of American adults surveyed believe in God—and nearly half reject the theory of evolution.
The NEWSWEEK Poll, conducted March 28-March 29, has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points for questions based on all registered voters and plus or minus 6 percentage points for results based on registered Republicans and Republican leaners. In conducting the poll, Princeton Survey Research Associates International interviewed 1,004 adults aged 18 and older.

The poll: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17875540/site/newsweek/ [Broken]

Myself I find a number of the poll results very alarming, to say the least:
- 48% of the Americans still think God created us about 10000 years ago.
- 13% of the agnostics/atheists think so too!...
- 39% still don't know that the theory of evoultion is well-supported by evidence.
- 48% don't know any atheist personally.
- Only 47% think US is now more accepting of atheism than in the past.
- 26% think that atheists cannot be moral persons.
- Only 14% of the republicans think religion has too much influence on politics.
- Only 42% of the democrats think religion has too much influence on politics.

Assuming this poll gives a correct picture of the Americans, how scared should we be, considering that US is the world's most powerful nation at the moment?
Since the situation is like this despite several decades in world leading position, is it really reasonable to think it's a passing problem that will fade within foreseeable time?
Or maybe some of you won't agree with me these results are a problem at all?

Note that this is not, what some people here like to call, an "America-bashing" thread, since it's based on facts (assuming the poll was correctly constructed).
Neither is it intended to be a religous debate; it's about pseudoscience, narrow-mindedness and secularization.

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Evo
Mentor
I find the numbers that don't understand, therefore don't believe, in evolution and science in general to be appalling.

I'm not that upset about the numbers that claim to believe in God or belong to a church because the majority of them are not insane fanatics. It's the insane fanatics that should worry everyone, unfortunately it is impossible to tell how many fall into the fanatic category.

I am surrounded at work by people that are devout Christians and they pray for me daily (I'm agnostic/atheist). They are very nice people and truly sincere in their desire to help people. They don't try to convert me or preach to me. One is even a minister at her church, and my closest friend at work. It's kind of cute how she comes over and tells me God will save us from our jobs.

The 13% of atheists who think God created us about 10000 years ago could use a dictionary. The survey cannot be too serious.

Skyhunter
Didn't need a poll to tell me that.

We re-elected Bush.

edit....(well almost)

drankin
LOL, I am not surprised or "appalled" at all. For some of you to be so surprised only tells me you might need to get out a little more :) Americans are very spritually and morally motivated. If we weren't we would be... European!

Futobingoro
EL said:
Since the situation is like this despite several decades in world leading position, is it really reasonable to think it's a passing problem that will fade within foreseeable time?
A true cynic wonders how the Americans got to a leading position in the first place. Remember that the United States ascended to primacy during a period in which religion was arguably more prevalent than it is today. Perhaps the "problem" is not as imposing as you make it out to be.

If you are exceptionally vigilant about changing those statistics, put on formal attire becoming of a learned person (or just wear a lab coat with goggles) and go door-to-door. Just make sure you greet the Jehovah's Witnesses as you pass them.

D H
Staff Emeritus
The 13% of atheists who think God created us about 10000 years ago could use a dictionary. The survey cannot be too serious.
Or the survey questions were extremely biased. There is no way 13% of atheists think God created us 10000 years ago.

Kurdt
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
Or the survey questions were extremely biased. There is no way 13% of atheists think God created us 10000 years ago.
By definition its impossible one would think.

Or the survey questions were extremely biased. There is no way 13% of atheists think God created us 10000 years ago.
...and another 27% agnostic/atheists think God had at least a guiding hand in evolution. That's a total of 40% agnostic/atheists who explain things using a god. What a survey!

Art
- 13% of the agnostics/atheists think so too!...
I couldn't find this in the poll. Did I miss it or is it something you inferred?

I couldn't find this in the poll. Did I miss it or is it something you inferred?
You missed it. Look at question 12:

12. Which one of the following statements come closest to your views about the origin and development of human beings? Humans developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God guided this process (or) Humans developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God had no part in this process (or) God created humans pretty much in the present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so?

For Agnostics/Atheists:

27% - God guided process
45% - God had no part
13% - Created in present form
15% - Other/Don't Know

:rofl:

devil-fire
because someone is uniformed about the evidence that supports evolution does not mean they vote for people who are uninformed about evidence for this or that.

personally i think an educated, objective, skeptical citizenry would be the best supporters for a governing body but i think there are also strong points for a population that can be influenced more easily by their leaders. it would be interesting to compare these results to other countries' results like iran, china or india

Skyhunter
Why would they group agnostics and atheists in the same category?

Poorly conducted poll IMO

Kurdt
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
LOL, I am not surprised or "appalled" at all. For some of you to be so surprised only tells me you might need to get out a little more :) Americans are very spritually and morally motivated. If we weren't we would be... European!
So you think Europe can't be morally motivated because its less spiritual? Or just that Europe isn't a moral place?

Art
You missed it. Look at question 12:
Thanks I missed the link to the poll itself.

russ_watters
Mentor
There is a strange contradictory set of views in the world that exists in both America and Europe - it is the juxstaposition of moral absolutism and moral relativism (ie, how can a religious person be a moral relativist?). Part of what is wrong with the poll is that it reflects this phenomena without examining it. The contradictory beliefs of athiests were pointed out - the other side of the coin is that the religious have equally contradictory beliefs on the subject, but the relevant questions were not asked so they aren't as apparent. Because of the contradictions in the views, polls like this give wild results.

BobG
Homework Helper
Overall, there's no problem how the poll was conducted, but obviously some of the individual questions run into problems because of small sample size.

The poll was administered to 1004 people, of whom 30 said they were atheists. Judging the opinions of all atheists on 30 people doesn't work.

100 said they were either agnostic or atheist. That's still a small sample, but better than 30. Unless they expand the poll size, you're not going to get very good data on atheists, simply because they're a very small minority.

Lumping agnostics and atheists together isn't great, but separating them wouldn't improve the reliability of the numbers. I'd treat that group more as accounting for 'other groups' rather than an indication of either group individually.

Even with a larger sample and unbiased questions, you can expect some 'noise' that's more reflective of respondents understanding of the terms than of their opinion. I doubt 13% of atheists believe God created man in his present form, but I can almost assure you that the percentage wouldn't be zero. There's no way to eliminate those kind of results - you use them as a guage on how much influence 'noise' has on your poll.

Even the high percentage of people that don't believe in evolution is somewhat understandable. Evangelicals are the largest religious group in the US and 73% of them believe man was created in his present form. That's a huge block of people influenced more by faith in God and God-endorsed authority figures than objective evidence. Is it any wonder that politicians look at results like that and decide they want the endorsement of guys like James Dobson, Ted Haggard, and Jerry Falwell?

And, yes, having so much influence lie in the hands of people with no public accountability (evangelical leaders) is something to worry about. For how long, I'm not sure. Moving from the religious realm to the political realm is a tricky business and has nearly as good of chance of splintering the Evangelical religion as it does in dominating American politics. I think that has a lot to do with evangelical leaders trying to limit their political issues only to those that have a virtually ironclad consensus among evangelicals.

At the least, there's certainly less risk in offending atheists than in offending evangelicals.

Edit: Corrected obscene spelling error :rofl:

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drankin
So you think Europe can't be morally motivated because its less spiritual? Or just that Europe isn't a moral place?
American morals tend to be spiritually motivated. I don't know what motivates or defines the morals of Europe, to be honest.

Kurdt
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
American morals tend to be spiritually motivated. I don't know what motivates or defines the morals of Europe, to be honest.
If the morals in Europe are not spiritually motivated then they must be motivated by a humanist approach. You would have to get a consensus from other Europeans to support that.

A true cynic wonders how the Americans got to a leading position in the first place. Remember that the United States ascended to primacy during a period in which religion was arguably more prevalent than it is today. Perhaps the "problem" is not as imposing as you make it out to be.

If you are exceptionally vigilant about changing those statistics, put on formal attire becoming of a learned person (or just wear a lab coat with goggles) and go door-to-door. Just make sure you greet the Jehovah's Witnesses as you pass them.

Thats a great question IMO. But just as surely it is now in the process of diving towards mediocrity. My response --ts only half formed, but hey whats new? The real heyday that even led to the possibility of american supremacy occurred not as the history books would like us to believe, in the late 1700's but a hundred and more years later, when it became a friggin free for all religion wise. Now maybe that was a consequence of some larger force, but combined with the resources of our country, the constitution which made the first condition possible, things really rocked. Ups and downs to be sure, but it wasn't really until the Reagan era of linking religion, politics and patriotism into a single glob, that things started to slide. In other words it wasn't sex, drugs and rock and roll that started the declinr, it was the repression. You look at what the US exports most successfully: sex, drugs (or at least the lifestyle) and rock and roll!

Astronuc
Staff Emeritus
You look at what the US exports most successfully: sex, drugs (or at least the lifestyle) and rock and roll!
I thought those were imported starting back in the 50's and then it took off in the 60's.

Lets not forget Recycled paper exported to China.

The upshot is that exports of American recovered paper to China and Hong Kong have grown tenfold to $694 million in 2005 from$66.9 million in 1998, according to figures provided by the American Forest & Paper Association
http://www.pulpandpaper.net/NetLetter/Features/05172006.asp

\$694 million. That is a lot of paper.

I thought those were imported starting back in the 50's and then it took off in the 60's.
which is no doubt what led to the Reagan years, we were simply having too much fun, and others were worried by such.

JS