One thing you learn from looking at surveys of American acceptance of evolution: the statistics vary dramatically depending on which organization asks the question. And it also depends on how the question is asked. About a week ago, a Pew Survey tested this by assessing acceptance of human evolution in two ways. Read their summary—and the whole survey, if you wish—at the website below (click on the screenshot):
Pew used to ask the evolution question in a two-step process. First, they asked if people thought humans had evolved over time or had existed in their present form since the beginning of time. Then, if they answered that humans had evolved, they asked those people whether they thought humans had evolved through natural, unguided, un-divine processes, or through processes guided or allowed by God.
They now test a new way, in which all three alternatives are given to people at once. The results, shown below, differ pretty strikingly:
As you see, if you give people three alternatives at once, pure creationism falls from 31% to 18%, theistic (guided) evolution rises from 27% to 48%, and, surprisingly, unguided, natural evolution falls from 40% to 33%. Somehow Pew sees this as good news, though I don’t: if you lump those who see God directing evolution (a watered down form of creationism, like Behe’s) with de novo creationists, the total of non-“naturalists” under the new protocol is 66%, while it was 58% before. And there are 7% fewer people who accept naturalistic evolution under the new protocol.
But Pew, like many accommodationists, likes to see theistic evolutionists, for although they see God’s working in the process, at least they accept evolution. I’m not so charitable! Naturalism is naturalism, and what we see now are fewer naturalists than we thought. That’s not good news.
That said, giving all three alternatives at once does seem a better course, and Pew explains why this might affect the data:
The results of the new experiment indicate that there are some people who do believe that humans have evolved over time, but who, for whatever reason, did not say so in our traditional method of asking about the topic. Perhaps without the opportunity to immediately connect evolution to God, some religious respondents may be concerned that expressing belief in evolution places them uncomfortably on the secular side of a cultural divide.
That purports to explain the reduced proportion of pure de novo creationists, but does that really explain the increase in number of theistic evolutionists—those who think that evolution occurred but God had a hand in it? After all, are those people not still expressing faith in God?
In truth, I have no explanation for these results, and they should be repeated, but I’ll grant that how you ask questions, or who or how you do a survey, does affect the answer. Here, for example, are the Gallup poll data for the same issue: human evolution, divided into pure naturalists, creationists, and theistic evolutionists. Here they asked the three-part question that Pew favors, and have asked the question since 1982:
Yet the data from the most recent year (2017) differ strikingly from the Pew data, even with the identical three choices:
Pure de novo creationism: Pew 18%, Gallup 38%
Theistic evolution: Pew 48%, Gallup 38%
Naturalistic evolution: Pew 33%, Gallup 19%
I have no explanation for these discrepancies, since the questions are virtually identical.
There is other interesting stuff, too, but I have work to do and will probably post on it in the next few days. But I wanted to put up one more figure from the Pew survey, which shows that religion poisons everything and that atheists are, as expected, the most avid acceptors of pure, naturalistic evolution. We don’t even like Theistic evolution!
Also, women, as expected, are more keen on creationism, as women are more religious than men. And, as always, older people are less accepting of naturalistic evolution, as are the less educated. The age effect may be due largely to younger people being less religious.
If the data below show anything, it’s that religion impedes acceptance of evolution. But we’ve known that for a long time, though organizations like the National Center for Science Education don’t like to admit it. After all, it shows that religion poisons the mind.
Read and be enlightened: