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Polling America on Evolution

By Dr. Jeff Mirus (bio - articles - email) | Mar 08, 2006

A recent news report reveals that the Discovery Institute commissioned a poll by Zogby International to determine the views of Americans on the teaching of evolution in public schools. Given the relentless efforts by both the educational and scientific establishments over the past two generations to make American school children accept evolutionary theory almost as an act of faith, the results of the Zogby poll are striking.

I'm not sure why this is just making news now, considering Zogby released its results in 2001, but the data remains highly relevant. Here is a brief summary:

71% of those polled stated that biology teachers should teach not only Darwin's theory of evolution and evidence which supports it but also the evidence against it. Only 15% thought the opposing evidence should be ignored. Interestingly, the younger the respondent, the greater the likelihood of wanting to hear both sides. Switching contexts from the public schools to public broadcasting, 81% wanted to hear both sides.

78% thought that scientific evidence for intelligent design should also be taught. Intelligent design, of course, is not necessarily incompatible with evolution, but it is often presented in this light, and the presupposition behind the questions would seem to be that evolutionary theory itself does not provide evidence of intelligent design. In any case, as with the preceding issue, older people were somewhat more likely to oppose intelligent design. This is also true of those who live in the East and those whose household income is either very high or very low.

The money question is probably the last, which asked the degree to which respondents agreed or disagreed with this statement: “The universe and life are the product of purely natural processes that are in no way influenced by God or any intelligent design.” 12% strongly agreed, 12% somewhat agreed, 13% somewhat disagreed, and 56% strongly disagreed. In other words, 69% disagreed and 7% were not sure.

This teaches us not only about American attitudes toward God and evolution. I think it also teaches us something about the extent to which the public mind can be controlled through mass media and mass education. On that score alone, the Zogby poll results are refreshing indeed. Complete information is available online in the Zogby America Report.

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