Monday, January 15, 2007
Correlations between Fundie-ism, Education and acceptance of Evolution...
No surprises here. The acceptance of the reality of Evolution in the US increases with increasing level of education, and decreases with religiosity/right wingism (for lack of a better term) for the same education level.
Larry Moran has written an excellent blog on whether rejection of evolution results from a lack of understanding of it. There's more to it, I think, than what he wrote. His view is that indeed disbelief is born of a lack of understanding. I think this is especially true for the lowest education levels. It's much easier to envision a designer than understand the principles of Evolutionary Theory. Evolution is an advanced concept, to be sure. Creationism/ID is a much easier concept to grasp, and so it's easy to see that people that have not been exposed to the principles Evolutionary Theory and some, like Dumbski, couldn't understand them even if they were exposed. However, Creationism/ID glosses over so much that once you get over how good it sounds and start digging you realize how empty it is. For instance, Concept: the universe and its contents are so complex that it MUST have had a designer; Fatal flaw: If the universe is too complex to not have had a designer and the designer itself must be more complex, ergo the designer must have had its own even more complex designer, etc., reductio ad absurdum.
More interesting (to me) is the attenuation that religiosity/political viewpoint puts on the acceptance of Evolution. Religion has first crack at childrens' minds. This kind of indoctrination is child abuse, a form of mental rape. A child does not have the tools to make a choice in belief systems till much later in life. While watching the trailer for 'Jesus Camp' I got the same feeling as when watching documentaries on Nazi Germany and the Hitler Youth. The parallels are immediately apparent and just as vile. What this indoctrination does is cause students in Biology to build a barrier that serves to block understanding Evolutionary Theory. Thus, they are predisposed to reject it even before learning about it. Even when presented with the mountains of cladistic, molecular genetic and fossil evidences this belief that Evolution does not happen cannot be easily supplanted (I said they were intelligent, not smart). Religion really is a mind virus, a very virulent meme. The more intelligent people that disregard Evolutionary Theory usually do so from the point of view of the false dichotomy. They attack Evolution (with seriously flawed arguments) in order to discredit it, and therefore (in their minds) ID/Creationism must be correct. I see this incredibly foolish conclusion constantly on the net. The blithering IDiots at the Disco Institute are prime examples.
Speaking of them, Dembski writes: "But why should disbelieving evolution reflect a lack of understanding of it? Alternatively, does understanding evolution automatically force one to believe it? I remember speaking at the University of Toronto in 2002 when a biologist challenged me about how holding to ID renders one a nonscientist. I asked him if that disqualified Isaac Newton from being a scientist. His instant response was, “but he didn’t know about evolution.”" As usual, Dumbski (even when pointed in the right direction) gets lost. His antagonist's response was correct. Creationism was an early attempt at explaining our existence. Taken that way, it has shown itself to be a complete failure and the Scientific Method then demands that it be discarded. I'm with Larry on this: Dumbski is no Scientist. Unlike Newton, he has been shown the evidence and used religion like blinders to ignore it. None of his criticisms has ever been coherent, let alone valid. THAT removes his right to declare himself a Scientist.
Understanding evolution does NOT, as Dumbski puts it, force anyone to believe it any more than the lack of visibility of the lower part of a ship on the horizon forced the ancient Greeks to conclude that the Earth is round. Entering into explaining a phenomenon must be done with a clear mind devoid of prejudices and without caring where the evidence takes you. Darwin did exactly that. Newton most definitely would have understood Evolution and knew it for what it was: Truth.