[Paleopsych] NYT: Teaching of Creationism Is Endorsed in New Survey
checker at panix.com
Sun Sep 4 14:50:25 UTC 2005
Teaching of Creationism Is Endorsed in New Survey
[There is a similar mass-elite divide over immigration and a much larger on
over who shot JFK. Eighty percent of the public doubt the lone-nut hypothesis,
while 100% of the media supported at, at least as far as I could tell from
watching the coverage for the 40th anniversary of the assassination. My own
view is that Kennedy, knowing that he had not long to live and wanted to be
remembered, arranged for his own assassination and had lots of contradictory
evidence planted in order to keep public fascination with the case going and
going and going.]
By LAURIE GOODSTEIN
In a finding that is likely to intensify the debate over what to teach
students about the origins of life, a poll released yesterday found
that nearly two-thirds of Americans say that creationism should be
taught alongside evolution in public schools.
The poll found that 42 percent of respondents held strict creationist
views, agreeing that "living things have existed in their present form
since the beginning of time."
In contrast, 48 percent said they believed that humans had evolved
over time. But of those, 18 percent said that evolution was "guided by
a supreme being," and 26 percent said that evolution occurred through
natural selection. In all, 64 percent said they were open to the idea
of teaching creationism in addition to evolution, while 38 percent
favored replacing evolution with creationism.
The poll was conducted July 7-17 by the Pew Forum on Religion and
Public Life and the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press.
The questions about evolution were asked of 2,000 people. The margin
of error was 2.5 percentage points.
John C. Green, a senior fellow at the Pew Forum, said he was surprised
to see that teaching both evolution and creationism was favored not
only by conservative Christians, but also by majorities of secular
respondents, liberal Democrats and those who accept the theory of
natural selection. Mr. Green called it a reflection of "American
"It's like they're saying, 'Some people see it this way, some see it
that way, so just teach it all and let the kids figure it out.' It
seems like a nice compromise, but it infuriates both the creationists
and the scientists," said Mr. Green, who is also a professor at the
University of Akron in Ohio.
Eugenie C. Scott, the director of the National Center for Science
Education and a prominent defender of evolution, said the findings
were not surprising because "Americans react very positively to the
fairness or equal time kind of argument."
"In fact, it's the strongest thing that creationists have got going
for them because their science is dismal," Ms. Scott said. "But they
do have American culture on their side."
This year, the National Center for Science Education has tracked 70
new controversies over evolution in 26 states, some in school
districts, others in the state legislatures.
President Bush joined the debate on Aug. 2, telling reporters that
both evolution and the theory of intelligent design should be taught
in schools "so people can understand what the debate is about."
Senator Bill Frist of Tennessee, the Republican leader, took the
same position a few weeks later.
Intelligent design, a descendant of creationism, is the belief that
life is so intricate that only a supreme being could have designed it.
The poll showed 41 percent of respondents wanted parents to have the
primary say over how evolution is taught, compared with 28 percent who
said teachers and scientists should decide and 21 percent who said
school boards should. Asked whether they believed creationism should
be taught instead of evolution, 38 percent were in favor, and 49
percent were opposed.
More of those who believe in creationism said they were "very certain"
of their views (63 percent), compared with those who believe in
evolution (32 percent).
The poll also asked about religion and politics, government financing
of religious charities, and gay men and lesbians in the military. Most
of these questions were asked of a smaller pool of 1,000 respondents,
and the margin of error was 2.5 percentage points, Pew researchers
The public's impression of the Democratic Party has changed in the
last year, the survey found. Only 29 percent of respondents said they
viewed Democrats as being "friendly toward religion," down from 40
percent in August of 2004. Meanwhile, 55 percent said the Republican
Party was friendly toward religion.
Luis E. Lugo, the director of the Pew Forum on Religion and Public
Life, said: "I think this is a continuation of the Republican Party's
very successful use of the values issue in the 2004 election, and the
Democrats not being able up until now to answer that successfully.
Some of the more visible leaders, such as Howard Dean and others, have
reinforced that image of a secular party. Of course, if you look at
the Democratic Party, there's a large religious constituency there."
Survey respondents agreed in nearly equal numbers that nonreligious
liberals had "too much control" over the Democratic Party (44
percent), and that religious conservatives had too much control over
the Republican Party (45 percent).
On religion-based charities, two-thirds of respondents favored
allowing churches and houses of worship to apply for government
financing to provide social services. But support for such financing
declined from 75 percent in early 2001, when Mr. Bush rolled out his
On gay men and lesbians in the military, 58 percent of those polled
said they should be allowed to serve openly, a modest increase from
1994, when 52 percent agreed. Strong opposition has fallen in that
time, to 15 percent from 26 percent in 1994.
More information about the paleopsych