Saturday, February 11, 2012

America's got a Darwin problem -- and it matters.

"According to a 2009 Gallup poll taken on the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin's birth, fewer than 40% of Americans are willing to say that they "believe in evolution." When another study asked if humans had developed from earlier species of animals, the American public split right down the middle. 40% said they had, while 39% rejected any suggestion that our species had emerged from the process of evolution. Even more worrisome is the fact that rejection of evolution correlates closely with political views, with a majority of the members of one of our major political parties casting themselves as Darwin rejectionists. In this election year, the strength of anti-evolution sentiment has been on full display in the presidential race, as one candidate after another declared their distrust of the scientific consensus around evolution. One member of the group, however, broke ranks with the others and boldly declared, "I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming." How'd that turn out for him? Jon Huntsman's early exit from the race confirmed something else he said at the time. "Call me crazy" for trusting science, he tweeted. And sadly, it looks like he was right.

. . .

"In American today, anti-evolutionism matters because it has become the vanguard of a genuine anti-science movement. To be sure, opposition to evolution isn't new. State laws against the teaching of evolution actually go back nearly a century, and the famous Scopes trial took place 87 years ago. However, if you thought such things were behind us, guess again. Laws designed to encourage the teaching of non-scientific "alternative" theories to evolution were introduced in 11 state legislatures last year. This year, Darwin's 203rd birthday, on February 12th, will see an anti-evolution bill, already passed by the Indiana State House of Representatives, awaiting action in the State Senate. Its fate there is uncertain, but there are plenty of reasons to be concerned."
Kenneth R. Miller The Huffington Post 2/10/2012

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