For decades now, the Gallup Poll has surveyed Americans about their belief in evolution and creation. Year in and year out, the numbers seem to remain constant: about 40-45% of Americans appear to be Young-Earth creationists (YEC). ...
... Gallup wrote these questions decades ago before there was much understanding of how the framing of a question can bias the answer, and for decades, they have kept the question the same so comparisons remain consistent. But social scientists know that polls can be very misleading, especially in the way the question is framed to force certain responses. For example, the Gallup poll only gives us three possibilities, and load two of the answers with “God”, which is an obvious bias right from the start. In addition, there is good evidence to suggest that human evolution is the real sticking point, and that most people don’t care one way or another if non-human creatures evolve or not. ...
... Most people don’t regard continental drift as controversial (YECs must deny its existence), don’t have any problem with the evolution of non-human animals and plants, or an earth more than 10,000 years old. On average, this suggests that the true YECs are only about 10% of the American population (31 million people), another 25% prefer creationism but not necessarily a young earth. That’s about 35% creationists total, not 45% as Gallup suggests. About 10% of Americans (another 31 million people) are non-theistic evolutionists, another 33% or so lean toward evolution, giving us about 35% evolutionists, not 12% suggested by Gallup. ...
Yet another set of polls seem to confirm that the number of YECs is much smaller than Gallup suggests, and is also declining. A combined CBS/YouGov poll showed that between 2004 and 2013, the number of people accepting the statement “Human beings evolved from less advanced life forms over millions of years, and God did not directly guide this process” jumped from 13% to 21%. Meanwhile, the percentage of people agreeing with the statement ”God created human beings in their present form within the last ten thousand years” dropped from 55% to 37% over the same interval (2004-2013). ...
In short, not only are the polls skewed by the way questions are written, but the trends are positive. YECs are nowhere near as numerous as Gallup suggested, their numbers are declining rapidly, and the YECs are older and dying off. In nearly other developed nation in the world—Canada, northern Europe, Japan, etc.— creationism has no influence on public policy. This is striking contrast to the U.S., where (despite the fact that YECs are a small minority according to these polls), creationists form the majority of the House science committees, and are the majority of GOP presidential candidates in the past two elections. I don’t expect to see the end of the YEC threat in the U.S. in my lifetime, but the times, they are a changin’.
And it is past time to retire the undoer GOP house. Maybe with Tea Poopers losing in the primaries there is some hope for more mainstream republicans (ones who care more about fiscal and social responsibility than fanatic religious beliefs.
On average, this suggests that the true YECs are only about 10% of the American population (31 million people),
I find that hard to believe. That is, I bet most of the people who qualified as a YEC because of the poll they took, would not say they believed it if they were pressed with the ramifications of the belief.
Its easy to check a box in a poll. But to tell someone to their face that you believe something as incredibly stupid and unrealistic as YEC, especially in light of all the ridiculous beliefs that you'd have to bring along with it, is something that a very very small number of people would be willing to do.
My guess is that while about 30-40% of the people might suggest that the Bible is essentially correct at least about where people came from, the overwhelming majority of that population just like the overwhelming majority of the remaining 60% or so, don't have a well-formed opinion about astronomy, biology, etc. There is a large group of creationists are people who believe there was an Adam and Eve and a Noah, and have no idea about Ussher's chronology or any desire to know how old the stars are.
That does not mean that those creationists are not superstitious, but I think it is true that most people give the stuff we routinely discuss here the least bit of thought or consideration.
Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also in prison. Thoreau: Civil Disobedience (1846)
I have never met a man so ignorant that I couldn't learn something from him. Galileo Galilei
If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightning. Frederick Douglass
Most people who self-identfy as YECs don't have a clue what all the implications are. Even the most prolific creationists, like Faith, have to conveniently ignore most of the implications.
That's part of why I cannot accept that they actually believe it. Sure, you can easily check a box in a poll and say you believe something, but that's a lot different that actually committing to it and accepting it as an thought-out truth (and bringing along with it the necessary implications).
It doesn't take much introspection to realize that an actual belief in YEC is ridiculous and unacceptable. But that's more than people are doing when they take a poll and go: "Hey, I like my beliefs on God, I'll check this box".
That's why I can't accept the results of a poll like this as actually representing anything that people have thought through and come to a belief in. It tells us more about the kind of knee-jerk reactions people will have when proposed an alternative to something they are uncomfortable with (or that they'll just choose the God option regardless of the ramifications).
People will say anything, but that doesn't mean they actually believe it.
That's part of why I cannot accept that they actually believe it.
As Bart Simpson once said (and I paraphrase), "If you have absolutely no follow-up questions, my answer is 'yes'."
There are those who "believe" off the cuff but take it no farther and there are those who will argue for a while and then run away when they can't make any sense of it themselves. And then there are those like Faith who will swear blind that black is white and anybody who can't see it is an idiot.
People will say anything, but that doesn't mean they actually believe it.
I think the main reason that happens, is at least in West Texas, people don't even know why they believe in anything other than being told to by some authority figure, regardless of integrity. If one can't read a subtitled movie, how does one read Kant, Spinoza, Plato, or for that matter even the US Constitution, the Bill of Rights, or -- heaven forbid -- the Bible. You have to admit, the individuals posting here are outliers relative to the general population.
I know most people in the USA are too busy preserving their at-risk jobs, trying to juggle career and family, trying to pay for medical issues, to even be bothered by polls. They are apt to say anything to get these annoyances out of their face. Through lack of time and therefore information, they are manipulated into voting for the source of their misery.
For a bit of irony, my sister, a group leader at LANL, is utterly astounded anyone questions the basics of physical science or evolution, deep history, or climate change, even though she is at the Lutheran Church every Sunday morning -- ask anyone in Los Alamos, including the bartenders, custodians, and cab drivers -- they will be equally astounded -- different world.
Edited by anglagard, : Clarity and grammar
Edited by anglagard, : spellin' as usual
Read not to contradict and confute, not to believe and take for granted, not to find talk and discourse, but to weigh and consider. - Francis Bacon