Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Rejecting evolution

Newsweek's latest appalling poll results indicate that "nearly half (48 percent) of the public rejects the scientific theory of evolution." http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17879317/site/newsweek/ --

Nine in 10 (91 percent) of American adults say they believe in God and almost as many (87 percent) say they identify with a specific religion. Christians far outnumber members of any other faith in the country, with 82 percent of the poll’s respondents identifying themselves as such. Another 5 percent say they follow a non-Christian faith, such as Judaism or Islam. Nearly half (48 percent) of the public rejects the scientific theory of evolution; one-third (34 percent) of college graduates say they accept the Biblical account of creation as fact. Seventy-three percent of Evangelical Protestants say they believe that God created humans in their present form within the last 10,000 years; 39 percent of non-Evangelical Protestants and 41 percent of Catholics agree with that view.

Although one in ten (10 percent) of Americans identify themselves as having "no religion," only six percent said they don’t believe in a God at all. Just 3 percent of the public self-identifies as atheist, suggesting that the term may carry some stigma. Still, the poll suggests that the public’s tolerance of this small minority has increased in recent years.

Here's the good news, such as it is:

Nearly half (47 percent) of the respondents felt the country is more accepting of atheists today that it used to be and slightly more (49 percent) reported personally knowing an atheist. Those numbers are higher among respondents under 30 years old, 62 percent of whom report knowing an atheist (compared to just 43 percent of those 50 and older). Sixty-one percent of the under-30 cohort view society as more accepting of atheists (compared to 40 percent of the Americans 50 and older).

So younger respondents are marginally more "accepting." Too bad so few of them encountered even a little philosophy in the earliest stages of their religious indoctrination, so that they might go beyond acceptance and actually gain a little understanding. We must get serious about philosophizing with our children, about teaching them to think critically and fearlessly, if we're to hope for anything remotely resembling a thoughtful democratic citizenry in our future... if we're to hope for a future worth owning at all. More on this soon.

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