2010/07/17

Selective creationists: I count 32 states where children are completely deprived of learning where they came from

This flashy graph has already been posted on Pharyngula, but I thought I’d echo P. Z.’s sentiments.  This graph comes from a survey of high school biology teachers published in PLoS Biology in 2008 (download is free).  The teachers were asked about their personal beliefs about human origins (click to enlarge):

Only a tad more than one in four teachers really accepts evolution as scientists conceive of it: a naturalistic process undirected by divine beings.  Nearly one in two teachers thinks that humans evolved but that God guided the process.

Can we count those 48% of “guided-by-Godders” 0n our side?  I agree with P. Z.: the answer is NO.  Yes, they do accept that our species changed genetically over time, but they see God as having pulled the strings.  That’s not the way evolution works.   The graph labels these 48% as believers in intelligent design, and that’s exactly what they are, for they see God as nudging human evolution toward some preconceived goal.  We’re designed.  These people are creationists: selective creationists.

To count them as allies means we make company with those who accept evolution in a superficial sense but reject it in the deepest sense.  After all, the big revolution in thought wrought by Darwin was the recognition that the appearance of design—thought for centuries to be proof of God—could stem from purely natural processes.   When we cede human evolution to God, then, we abandon that revolution.  That’s why I see selective creationists like Kenneth Miller, Karl Giberson and Francis Collins as parting company with modern biological thought.

The PLoS paper also compared the teachers’ beliefs with those of Americans in general, taken from a Newsweek poll in 2007 (the question asked was identical):

You might find these results cheering, but recognize that the 48% of theistic-evolutionist teachers are joined by 16% who are straight creationists. That’s one in six biology teachers.

To see how all these beliefs translate into education, here’s a graphic representation of which American states have high school standards mandating teaching about human evolution:

I count 32 states where children are completely deprived of learning where they came from.

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