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I <3 the Young Turks. Here's their video commentary on the recent depressing-as-ever Gallup poll on evolution vs. creationism.

Here's the exact text of the survey choices:

32% - "Human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God guided this process."
15% - "Human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God had no part in this process."
46% - "God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so."
7% - "No opinion."

There's one glaring (to me) problem here. There's actually a big gray zone between "guided" and "had no part". It would be hard for any believer to answer that God had no part, even if they understand that the whole thing works without any ongoing micromanagement.

I would rather the survey had distinguished between "I believe God must have actively guided the process as it unfolded" and "God did not necessarily have to guide it, at least once it got underway." That question would serve to clearly separate the people who just plain do not understand the facts from those who do, while leaving room for the latter group to still have a variety of innocuous personal beliefs that might be scientifically neither provable nor disprovable.

But anyway, what can you do: there's obviously a lot of value in keeping the survey text completely frozen over time so we can perceive the (depressing) trends. Or perhaps the (depressing) lack of a trend.

Anyway, the video: Ana Kasparian points out something important. I place a lot of blame for this situation on religion, religion, religion, but the true cause is more accurately incuriosity. It's impossible to understand how a thing like evolution can possibly have produced all the natural wonders of life that we see today without putting in an investment of your intellectual energy. Which most people just aren't willing to do -- and that's the problem no matter what church you do or don't go to. Without that, it just seems utterly unfathomable.

Fifteen percent. Man, that is just sad.

Well, that is actually a lot better than it had been in the 80s and 90s (~10%). So I guess I should feel happy.
Osvaldo Doederlein's profile photoJim McMaster's profile photoRob Clark's profile photoKevin Bourrillion's profile photo
(I also just find it cool that the show is hosted by a Turk and an Armenian. Is that weird of me? I mean it's not like I expect her to be all "Your great-great-grandfather keeled my great-great-grandfather, prepare to die!" or anything. Oh, never mind.)
I agree that slightly improving the wording would perhaps have achieved different results, but I have never understood why creationism and evolution (and more generally science) had to be at odds.  If you believe God created everything, wouldn't you want to know how he did it?  Isn't studying the inner workings of atoms or far-away galaxies getting a direct look into the mind of God?

Regarding evolution, why can't it just be figuring out the mechanisms God put in place to create everything?  Sure, there are things in contradiction of that in religious texts, but much of that is symbolic anyway.  For example, what does it mean to create everything in 6 days if what we measure days by didn't even exist then?
+John Tamplin That's certainly how I feel, but what you describe has little in common with Creationism. The core of Creationism is the idea that we were created intentionally, just as we are, as God's children. They can't bear the idea that humans aren't God's special unique superior design. And they just haven't been educated enough about the facts to see what an actually implausible idea it is that anyone could ever have designed us this way. Why do men have nipples, CHECKMATE CREATIONISTS
+Kevin Bourrillion Even so, why does it have to be created all at once?  Surely an omniscient God could form a plan to create all of life by creating some simple rules and know exactly where it will end up.
(Oh, you watch TYT too! It's also one of my favorite shows.)

Depressing poll indeed. If these are stale opinions, sitting with people just because nothing actively challenged them, this is not just in-curiosity (hey, laziness is only natural), but something is broken with the education system.

Would it be ok if 78% believed the earth is flat, just because they didn't travel a lot or weren't curious enough? No - schools are supposed to weed these things out, and here we have a 78% failure rate on this issue
It's a shame the detailed data is not freely available; I'd love to confirm that this issue is much better where I live (NJ/NY). As a recent immigrant with a 3yo girl and a 5yo boy, I'm always alert for any kind of religious brainwashing or discrimination. No problem so far as my son finishes K at his (great) public school, but maybe I'm lucky.
I think you are wrong regarding the reasons: I think it's fear and hope. Well, mostly fear. Bear in mind that not everybody is blessed cursed with a mind that easily follows complex logical chains. Thus, the world is a scary place. You can either believe those arrogant scientist, whom you can't follow because they're talking about abstract things with words you don't understand, and how is the stuff about animals even relevant. We're not animals, right. That's easy. Otherwise being here wouldn't make sense at all. Or you can believe somebody who tells you that it will all be all right, and that your value system is the only one blessed by "god". Yea, that feels good.

The core is that if you don't understand stochastic theory, science does not make any more sense than religion. Plus, many scientist help to drive that point home by making claims about stuff that agnostics like me believe they'll never figure out anyway, which then falls right back into the "hope" bucket: if scientists are so arrogant that they think they can make claims about stuff that they obviously cannot make claims about, perhaps they're wrong about a lot more things?
People gnash their teeth over our failing schools, then insist we teach fairy tales in science class.  How can we compete with the logical world while teaching our children nonsense about the fundamental issue of how our universe began?
+Osvaldo Doederlein the survey had a sample size of around 1k, which is enough to get the pulse of the nation overall, but not enough to drill down to the state level with any precision.
+Rob Clark didn't notice the sample size... yeah, a per-state breakdown would be useless then. But maybe aggregating all states of regions like the east coast, would have enough sampling, remarkably as those states are densely populated so each should have way more than 1/50th of the total sample.
I expect that the variation falls along urban vs. rural lines more than anything else.
+Beau Carpenter  Science and the real world.  You are substituting a book of fairy tales for knowledge.
+Beau Carpenter Gravity is just a theory yet you stay on the planet without flinging off into the cosmos pretty well.  Don't think you'd be telling your kids "When your friend asks you to jump off a bridge, you go right on ahead because gravity is just a theory."

The pathogenic theory of medicine is just a theory and yet it's a fundamental part of modern medicine.  "No doc, you put away your crazy useless antibiotics.  Your germs are just a theory.  I'll fight off this flesh eating disease through the power of prayer!"

Nothing in biology makes sense except in light of evolution.  All of the geologic, cosmological and biological evidence points against a 'young earth'.  I'm sorry, but for anyone in our day and age to believe otherwise is just sad.  It indicates either a hideous failing of our education system or a delusional level of self-deception.

The sky is blue.  Your 66 books can claim it is purple with pink polka-dots all it likes, but the sky is blue.
+Beau Carpenter Gravity is also just a theory. The amount of scientific confirmation of these two theories (and the lack of disproving evidence) can be treated as equal for all intents and purposes.

Yet I'd be willing to bet your faith in gravity is rock solid. You aren't about to jump out of any 20th-story windows, are you. But why? Where does it say in any of those 66 books that you'll fall to your death?

Every day you trust your life to science in literally thousands of ways. You believe it makes bridges safe to cross, your microwave oven safe to operate, and so on and so on. Yet when science is applied to the question of where we came from, then you believe it is mysteriously and inexplicably broken? And all because a book asserts otherwise?

Use your head -- or else what did God bother to give it to you for?
+Beau Carpenter The problem isn't that we can't show you the evidence. We can do that easily. For example, I could say "just go to the library and check out Jerry Coyne's _Why Evolution Is True._" An overwhelming amount of evidence is summarized clearly there.

No, the problem isn't that. The problem is that you won't read that book. You aren't just ignorant, you are willfully ignorant; you don't know and you don't want to know. You already have the only book 66 books you think you'll ever need to understand the truth about the world. You don't want to find out how wrong you are.
I should point out, also, that even Charles Darwin himself labored for decades to assemble an overwhelming body of evidence before he was willing to publish his landmark work. That is the brilliance of his work: he did not just think up a crazy idea and write about it. He had proof. People think up crazy ideas and write about them every day, and you know what? We don't still talk about those people centuries later. They're forgotten. Darwin isn't, because Darwin's explanation for the origin of species has been shown time and time and time again to be right.
+Beau Carpenter "Theory" in science does not mean what you think it means.  When you watch a crime show, the detective says, "my theory is..." and goes about looking for evidence.  That is not a theory, but a hypothesis.

A scientific theory is more like the verdict in a criminal case.  Lots of evidence is examined by both sides, and a theory emerges.  In order to be valid, it not only has to explain what has happened in the past, but predict things that will happen in the future.  The Theory of Evolution predicted the emergence of superbugs, and they happened.  Did the Bible?

You are ignorant because you refuse to accept evidence that contradicts your faith.  The fact you are proud of that makes you not worth talking to any more.
+Beau Carpenter Where does the theory of evolution say you should be able to turn a fish into a human?  At least in any time scale where you could witness it?  Fossils show exactly what you claim not to have happened did happen over millions of years.  The evidence is in those books you refuse to read.
All right, I'm calling it, folks.  Sometimes it seems like there's some shred of good that can be done, and sometimes there is really just nothing you can do. Let's let this one lie.
+Beau Carpenter Observed instances of speciation  

I'll also refer you to Rapid chromosomal evolution in
island mice. Nature. 2000 Jan 13 detailing six instances of speciation in house mice on Madeira within the past 500 years.

You either don't understand what you are talking about or are performing an expert troll.
Oh how terribly sad. Looks like our friend Beau Carpenter has packed up his things and left Google+, and as a result all of his posts to this thread are wiped clean. :-(  Boo.  I hate it so much when that happens.
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