Evolution in the News - February 1998

What Do Science Teachers Believe?

Overman (1997) surveyed science teachers listed in the U.S. Registry of Science Teachers using a Likert scale instrument. Part of the survey presented statements for measuring teachers' origins beliefs. The survey contained four evolution-oriented statements and four creation-oriented statements. 1,026 individuals were sent the survey. Three hundred and ninety-one surveys were returned. Of these, 313 were complete and could be analyzed. The table on the previous page [not reproduced here] presents the percentage of teachers' responses to the origins belief statements. 1

The results of the entire survey quoted above are given on the web page referenced in the footnote. Generally, the results showed what might be described as roughly uniform with roughly equal numbers of the evolution and creation sides. For example, consider the responses to Overman's question 4.

4. Life evolved from a simple cell to more complex organisms.

So, 40% believe in evolution and 41% don't. There isn't a lot of difference between the high score and the low score. A uniform distribution would have 20% in each of the five categories. None of the categories is more than 7% away from 20%.

Of course we have to be careful when trying to determine what survey results mean. There are many reasons why the results might not be accurate. In a voluntary survey like this one, the teachers who had strong feelings about evolution might have been more apt to respond than those who didn't. It seems a little bit strange that one fifth of the surveys returned were not complete or could not be analyzed. One would think that more than 80% of science teachers could fill out an eight question survey without messing it up.

What we do know for sure is that 85 science teachers strongly disagree with the statement that complex organisms evolved from a simple cell. Forty-four more science teachers merely disagreed with that statement. How many science teachers did you think one would have to poll in order to find 129 who don't believe in evolution? Overman only asked 1,026, and he found 129. Nobody knows what the 635 who didn't answer the questionnaire think. But suppose you assume that all of 635 who didn't answer, plus the 78 who couldn't fill out the form properly, all believe in evolution. Even if you make those terribly pessimistic assumptions, it would still mean that 12.5% of science teachers don't believe in evolution.

More realistically, suppose the poll's margin of error is 10%. Then one-third to one-half of all science teachers don't believe in evolution. Does that surprise you? It shouldn't.

Scientific discoveries in the past 20 years have made it much more difficult for people with a scientific background to take evolution seriously. There has been a dramatic increase in books with an anti-evolution theme published by scientists with excellent credentials in the past few years.2 The trend is so obvious there was even an article in Newsweek 3 about the surprising (to them) number of scientists who no longer believe in evolution.

Evolutionists would like you to believe that just a few unsophisticated, irrational, religious fanatics refuse to believe in evolution. The truth is that many reputable scientists are questioning or discarding the theory of evolution. Because the theory of evolution won't stand scientific inspection, some secular humanist groups 4 are taking legal action to prevent any discussion of the problems of evolution in science classrooms. If the theory of evolution were true, evolutionists wouldn't need to resort to legal action to suppress scientific information.

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Footnotes:

1 http://www.icr.org/pubs/imp/imp-292.htm (Cr+)
2 For example, Michael Denton, 1985, Evolution: a Theory in Crisis; A.E. Wilder-Smith, 1987, The Scientific Alternative to Neo-Darwinian Evolutionary Theory; Michael Behe, 1996, Darwin's Black Box; Richard Milton, 1997, Shattering the Myths of Darwinism
3 "Heretics in the Laboratory", Newsweek, September 16, 1996, page 82 (Ev+)
4 One is the "National Center for Science Education, Inc. --NCSE -- a nonprofit, tax-exempt membership organization working to defend the teaching of evolution against sectarian religious attack. We are a nationally-recognized clearinghouse for information and advice to keep evolution in the science classroom and 'scientific creationism' out." At least, that's what they say on their web site at http://natcenscied.org/ (Ev+)