|Feature Article - November 2005|
|by Do-While Jones|
We are not a political organization. We don’t campaign for or against candidates or issues. But, once the elections are over, we do comment on what the voters decided.
There are two kinds of polls—public opinion polls, and the polls where elections are conducted. In a perfect world, the results from both kinds of polls would be identical. We apparently don’t live in a perfect world.
Gallup polls taken from 1982 through 2004 showed no significant change in opinion about creation and evolution, with 44% to 47% of Americans believing in creation, 9% to 13% believing in atheistic evolution, and 35% to 40% believing in theistic evolution. The numbers fluctuated slightly from year to year, but there was no definite trend one way or another.
In the September 2005 Gallup poll, 53% endorsed the creationist position, 31% believed in theistic evolution, and only 12% selected the atheistic evolution option. This could be the beginning of a trend, but it might just be a one-time anomaly. If the change is real, it appears that people are moving from the theistic evolution position to the creationist position. Our guess is that some people who used to believe in theistic evolution formerly thought that there was scientific evidence for evolution, and now realize that there isn’t. Therefore, they no longer feel the need to add evolution to their Christian beliefs.
Intelligent Design is a new idea that allows rejection of evolution without acceptance of the Judeo-Christian god. In the September, 2005, Gallup poll, 31% think Intelligent Design is true, 32% think it is false, and 37% don’t know what to think.
Evolutionists claim (in court) that Intelligent Design is merely disguised creationism. If that were true, then the 53% of the people who believe in creation would say that Intelligent Design is true. Since only 31% of the people polled accept Intelligent Design, there must be a difference, at least to about 20% of the people.
When it comes to what should be taught in public schools, the latest Gallup poll shows only about 21% support censorship of any theory of origin.
|What Should Be Taught|
Even though 53% of Americans believe in creation, 61% think that evolution should be taught in public schools. We, too, think that evolution should be taught in public schools. Our complaint is that not enough is taught about evolution. The many scientific difficulaties of evolution should be taught and not censored from the science curriculum. Ironically, it is the scientific elite, who have historically been the champions of academic freedom, who are the ones who want to suppress pertinent research about evolution.
Given that only 21% of the people (nationally) are firmly against the teaching of Intelligent Design in public schools, the Pennsylvania school board election results are surprising.
… voters in Dover, Pa., delivered their judgment this week by sweeping out eight of nine school board members who decided that ninth-grade science students must be told the concept [Intelligent Design] is an alternative to evolution. 1
Does that mean that Pennsylvanians favor censorship much more than other Americans? We doubt that. Apparently the militant evolutionists were more successful in getting out the vote—this time. It will be interesting to see if the same thing happens in Pennsylvania that happened in Kansas.
The Kansas Board of Education approved new science standards for teachers in public schools Tuesday that question Charles Darwin's teachings on evolution and hand a victory to advocates of "intelligent design." That vote came two years after most references to the theory were removed from state standards, making Kansas the butt of jokes by scientists and late-night comedians. 2
After the Kansas school board removed evolution from the science curriculum, evolutionists managed to get on the school board briefly and put it back in. But after the majority realized that the school board wasn’t safe from attack by evolutionists, the majority cared enough to go out and vote creationists back on the school board. So, Darwin has been kicked out of Kansas again.
All this is interesting, but let’s not lose sight of the fact that scientific truth is not determined by public opinion polls, court decisions, or school board elections. The attempts to get “under God” out of the pledge of allegiance, “in God we trust” off of our money, possibly bitter battles over Supreme Court nominations, the economy, and the situation in Iraq will affect voter turnout in November 2006. The kind of people most motivated to turn out for the election will greatly affect school board election results one way or the other. The results have nothing to do with the truth or falsehood of the theory of evolution. So, one should not be elated or discouraged by court decisions and school board elections.
We need to view these events (victories or defeats) as opportunities to discuss the theory of evolution from a scientific point of view, and encourage people to weigh the evidence. As long as we have freedom of speech, and the truth on our side, we don’t need to worry.
There were other elections that you probably weren’t aware of. The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is the organization that publishes the journal Science. One must join the AAAS and pay $100 per year in dues to receive Science every week. Since I am a member of the AAAS, I got a ballot in the mail, with an opportunity to vote for the AAAS president and board of directors earlier this month.
This is an election that probably doesn’t matter at all. The journal Science will be published no matter who gets elected. The only position that really matters is editor, and even so, the editor can only publish the material submitted. Unless the editor has the unusual courage and integrity of someone like Richard Sternberg (see this month’s Evolution in the News), not even the editor position matters much.
But, AAAS claims to represent American scientists, so the president of the AAAS is the presumed spokesman for American scientists. We don’t know how well the AAAS represents American scientists, but we did run across this interesting statistic for the National Academy of Sciences (which is a similar organization).
About 40 percent of scientists, and only 7 percent of members of the National Academy of Sciences, said they believed in God. Among the general public, polls show, more than 90 percent believe in God. 3
If 40% of scientists believe in God, but only 7% of the members of the NAS believe in God, then the NAS is not representative of scientists. Is the AAAS any more representative? We doubt it. But still, American scientists are given the opportunity to elect a president to represent them.
Stalin reportedly said, “He who casts the votes decides nothing. He who counts the votes decides everything.” All the candidates for president supported evolution, so it doesn’t matter which one we vote for. Whoever selected the candidates decided everything. We just got to decide which evolutionist will represent us.
So what, you might ask, did the candidates tell us members to encourage us to vote for them? OK. So, you didn’t ask. But that’s not going to stop us from telling you. Here’s what one candidate said.
Raising children who do not know that life and our planet evolved over 4.5 billion years of change and development hamstrings them from participating in modern life. 4
The only reason it could possibly hamstring them is if the scientific elite discriminate against them when they apply for a job. The solution is to end discrimination. The solution is to permit free and open discussion of scientific issues. Real academic freedom would prevent bright, young, skeptical scientists from being hamstrung by a discriminatory scientific establishment.
Another candidate said,
Science and engineering are “at risk” in the United States due to decreasing funding, challenges to the scientific enterprise (e.g., the evolution vs. “intelligent-design” debate), and international competition. 5
You have no doubt noticed that we are skeptical. We question everything and demand good answers. The first two questions one must ask are, “Is scientific funding really decreasing?” and, if so, “Why is scientific funding decreasing?” We don’t know whether scientific funding is decreasing or not, but let us assume that it is decreasing significantly, just so that we can address the second question.
What are possible reasons for decreasing funding? Maybe hurricane Katrina relief efforts made less funding available for other things (including scientific research). Maybe politicians are being pressured by powerful lobbyists to spend money on things other than science. Maybe alumni aren’t contributing as much to their alma mater because their football team had a losing season. The Intelligent Design debate might have absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with decreasing funding. But let us suppose that it really affects funding, just so we can ask the next logical question.
How could the Intelligent Design debate cause scientific funding to decrease? The only way it could cause funding to decrease is if there is a public backlash against the scientific establishment. So, what is the best way to avoid a public backlash? It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure it out. The scientific elite should stop angering the public by opposing legitimate, honest discussion of the theory of evolution.
If (as the previous poll said) 93% of the members of the NAS are atheists, and if they actively promote atheistic positions, they are going to anger 40% of all scientists, and 90% of the general public. That’s not a good way to get money from the public. If the AAAS and NAS really wanted to increase scientific funding, then they would drop evolution like a hot potato, and promote interest in medical research, space exploration, clean and efficient energy sources, synthetic chemicals, etc.
The theory of evolution is just a tiny, insignificant part of science. But evolutionists keep trying to equate science and evolution. Anyone who is anti-evolution is anti-science, in their eyes.
If the scientific leadership is smart, and if they really want to promote science, they will not follow the course they are following. The two logical explanations for following their present course are (1) they aren’t smart, or (2) they have a different agenda than advancing science through increased public support. Since we have no doubt they are smart, we can only conclude that they have a different agenda.
Their real agenda is a religious one. The theory of evolution is the creation myth of secular humanism, and they insist on keeping the theory of evolution in the science curriculum in order to use the public school system to advance their religion. That’s why they can never separate a discussion of evolution from religion. One AAAS candidate, in his attempt to get elected to the board of directors, said:
Trends in the contemporary affairs of science and society … [including] the insistence that religious doctrines, such as “intelligent design,” be treated in science education … point to the need for the reaffirmation and bolstering of these commitments … to defend the civil rights of scientists, protect freedom of scientific inquiry from governmental interference, bring reliable information to bear on public issues, and protect the dissemination of scientific knowledge throughout the country, including in its system of education. 6
But one doesn’t protect the civil rights of scientists by retaliating against editors who publish intelligent design articles. One doesn’t protect freedom of scientific inquiry from governmental interference by getting the courts to decide what can and can’t be taught in public school science classes. One doesn’t bring reliable information to bear on public issues by censoring them from the science curriculum. One doesn’t protect the dissemination of scientific knowledge by prohibiting scientific debate, and keeping it out of the public school system.
Censorship has never been popular in America. Refusing to allow scientific debate is not a winning strategy, but it is the only hope of evolutionists. Evolutionists know that “It is better to keep your mouth shut and let people think you are a fool than to open your mouth and remove all their doubts.” As long as evolutionists refuse to participate in debate, there is a chance that people might believe the theory of evolution is credible. They tried that strategy in Kansas, but it failed.
Evolutionist groups, like the National Center for Science Education, say that anyone who is anti-evolution is anti-science. By tying “science” to “evolution”, they have effectively transferred the substantial public reaction against evolution to all other aspects of science.
Scientists need to step back and see the big picture. Scientists are becoming their own worst enemies. Scientists are becoming, in the eyes of the tax-paying alumni-dues-contributing public, godless censors who are trying to keep our young people from being “confused” by scientific truth, and brainwashing them with evolution. They are cutting their own financial throats.
Furthermore, evolutionists are pursuing a strategy that may win some battles, but will lose the war. Their main argument is, “You can’t teach intelligent design because you can’t prove it.” The logical response is, “Then you can’t teach evolution because you can’t prove that, either.” The final result might be that evolution is eliminated entirely from the science curriculum.
If the theory of evolution were indeed “a fact”, as evolutionists love to claim, then the winning strategy would be simply to present all the evidence in favor of the theory of evolution, allow opponents to present evidence against the theory of evolution, and refute the opposition. But evolutionists always have to resort to government coercion because they don’t have the truth on their side. Science is against evolution.
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2 http://www.usatoday.com/news/education/2005-11-08-kansas-science-standards_x.htm (Ev)
3 Paul Nussbaum, The Philadelphia Inquirer, October 2, 2005, “Evolution trial reveals America’s cultural chasm” (Ev)
4 David Baltimore, American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) “Election 2005 - Statements by Candidates of President-Elect” (Ev+)
5 Denice D. Denton, American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), Election 2005 - Statements by Candidates of Board of Directors (Ev+)
6 Daniel J. Kevies, American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), Election 2005 - Statements by Candidates of Board of Directors (Ev+)