The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life has a fascinating study that compares belief in evolution against certain religious strata.

Here’s the Pew Forum graph, and several things surprise me:

1.  Buddhists are at 81%
2.  Jehovah’s Witnesses are at 8%
3.  Catholics are above the mean at 58%

Are the “Unaffiliated” at 72% agnostics and atheists?

That graph may suggest more tolerance of Darwinism than is actually present in the populace.

Pew writes:

Recent public opinion polls indicate that challenges to Darwinian evolution have substantial support among the American people. According to an August 2006 survey by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life and the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, 63 percent of Americans believe that humans and other animals have either always existed in their present form or have evolved over time under the guidance of a supreme being. Only 26 percent say that life evolved solely through processes such as natural selection. A similar Pew Research Center poll, released in August 2005, found that 64 percent of Americans support teaching creationism alongside evolution in the classroom….

This view is not shared by the nation’s scientists, most of whom contend that evolution is a well-established scientific theory that convincingly explains the origins and development of life on earth. Moreover, they say, a scientific theory is not a hunch or a guess but is instead an established explanation for a natural phenomenon, like gravity, that has repeatedly been tested through observation and experimentation. Indeed, most scientists argue that, for all practical purposes, evolution through natural selection is a fact. These scientists and others dismiss creation science as religion, not science, and describe intelligent design as little more than creationism dressed up in scientific jargon.

How do we resolve the chasm between scientific fact and religious dogma?

Are the scientists required to kneel and bow before the godhead; or are the true believers required to accept the irrefutable facts of the scientific method?


  1. I remember before from here that the Pope said something that Catholics can believe in evolution if they also believe it was God that put the soul in the body and I wonder if that’s why that is why Catholics scored so high.

  2. That’s right, Anne. I remember that discussion. It does seem to make sense. It certainly gives the Catholic church an air of intellectualism and sophistication that many may not have previously understood.

  3. I know that the rabbis have managed to bridge the gap and explain the two in harmony. I’m not sure exactly how the bridge work but it is there and that pleases me plenty ūüôā

  4. That is great to know, Gordon. I wonder if the bridge is taught using both religious and independent scientific texts or if the bridge is wholly religious and the science is filtered through the existing belief system?

  5. Some of the most brilliant people of the financial world handed all their assets to Bernie Madoff, who lost every penny for them. Others, basking in their glow of financial savvy, brought down the entire worldwide financial system. It wasn’t uneducated people who did this. It was highly educated ones.
    Educated people can be herded into the popular mindsets of the day just like uneducated people. In some ways, they are more vulnerable, since they are often obsessed with not about losing face among their peers. I believe you focus on the wrong factors. More significant than formal education is the boldness not to be bullied into thinking a certain way just because everyone else does.
    You imply that if only those with less education were exposed to more of it – then they’d see the foolishness of rejecting evolution. Hogwash. I sort of like the way John Lennon put it “Everything they told me as a kid has already been disproved by the same type of ‘experts’ who made them up in the first place.”
    That, from the Jehovah’s Witnesses point of view.

  6. Tom —
    I’m not sure what Madoff has to do with evolution. Evolution is a scientific process that has been evaluated and confirmed over the last 150. You don’t need to be educated to understand that history even if you choose not to accept its facts.
    Jehovah’s Witnesses believe Deaf people were made Deaf by the devil. There is no kindness or understanding or scientific process involved in that station of cruelty. There is only human blasphemy against the cognitive spirit — and for that sort of belief, we say, as you previously suggested: Hogwash.

  7. Jehovah’s Witnesses believe Deaf people were made Deaf by the devil.
    I/ve been a Witness for a long time. Had they believed such a thing, I would have known it. They don’t.

  8. My wife is Deaf, Tom, and we have had to put up with that sort of hatred from proselytizing Jehovah’s Witnesses for many years.
    Don’t tell the persecuted that their experiences are wrong. We’ve lived it firsthand. Many times.

  9. I hate to rain on anyone’s religious parade, especially the Catholic’s. But, we’ve got something called carbon dating that proves these bones we keep digging up are several million years old. Since the Bible states “God” created the Earth just a few thousand years ago, I would love to hear how the religious fanatics explain that. And don’t tell me Satan planted the bones, I’ve already been through that.

  10. Karl —
    I don’t mean to leap in here and answer for the believers since I am an atheist, but I’ve been through this before with them, too.
    The most clever explanation I’ve come upon is in the “calculation” of a day and a year. We use the human notion of 24-hours and 365 days, but until God was finished “creating” everything spelled out in Genesis… the time frame in which He is spinning could be hundreds, thousands or millions of years with live and bodies and beings and beasts moving around the earth. The Bible is full of human error, while God Himself, is not.
    Those notions are impossible to argue because they cannot be pinned down.

  11. David:
    You are misconstruing something – I don’t know how or why – or if I might do the same in your shoes – but I genuinely draw a blank at your charge. It is your blog, and a guy must be allowed to rule on his own blog, but I can’t imagine where that notion comes from. If you say it is from JWs – well, not from any JW I’ve ever known or heard of. You’re not getting your religions mixed up, are you? They’re not all the same, you know. There is a deaf woman in our congregation. In fact, there is an entire deaf congregation nearby – in which all communication takes place in American Sign. Nobody imagines they are afflicted by the devil – unless you mean in the general sense in which all of us are – the devil as the one who introduced sin into the world, and so forth. In that sense, all human frailty, even death itself, is from the devil. Nothing specifically regarding those deaf, however.

  12. Fantastic article David!
    I was seriously surprised facing the questions in the USA like “do you believe?”, “do you have faith?” and “do you pray?” etc. which were very uncommon in the environment I grew up in. But definitely was an eye opener for me to understand the importance of religion in a society per se.

  13. Hi Katha!
    Do you think the questions in the USA are because there are less faithful here than in India?
    Is there an expectation in India that you will be a believer — so why bother asking?

  14. Hi David,
    There are instances half of the family being non believer in India, no one really bothers.
    And for the school/ college crowd these questions are meaningless because “faith” doen’t play a great role forming their lives.

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