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Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Majority support intelligent design? Some thoughts

From Discovery Institute:

Doubts about Darwin Continue to Mount

Seattle – Just a few months before the 150th anniversary of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, a newly released Zogby poll shows that the American public overwhelmingly rejects Darwinian theory in favor of intelligent design. When asked if life developed “through an unguided process of random mutations and natural selection,” a standard definition of Darwinism, only 33 percent of respondents said they agreed with the statement. But 52 percent agreed that “the development of life was guided by intelligent design.”

[The majority of the human race has always believed that. Given the predominance of materialst atheism at universities, if they haven't convinced a majority of the public, their cause is a failure.]

“In the Year of Darwin, these figures must represent a terrible disappointment to Darwinian advocates,” commented Stephen C. Meyer, Ph.D., director of the Center for Science and Culture at the Discovery Institute, which commissioned the poll. “Darwin’s greatest accomplishment was supposed to be the refutation of intelligent design, yet more than a century later the public has grown increasingly disenchanted with Darwin’s claims.”

[Maybe. In my view, far from considering it a terrible disappointment, the Darwinists - assuming they noticed - will do is run to the government for more, more, more funding to front their views, and ramp up the persecution of any who doubt. Maybe they can get Obama to make a statement.]

Dr. Meyer is the author of a new book from HarperOne, Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design. He suggested the polling data may reflect a growing awareness of recent scientific developments, documented in his book. As word seeps out from the scientific community, confidence in Darwinism has begun to perceptibly erode:

[Darwin's mechanism - natural selection acting on random mutation produces intricate machinery - was never demonstrated. Most "proofs" are paltry indeed, when you look at the evidence. Belief in Darwin's mechanism was enforced.]

“It’s only in the past decade that the information age has finally come to biology. We now know that biology at its root is digital code. Having advanced to this level of digital technology ourselves, in computer science, we can at last begin to appreciate what is going on inside the cell: the nested coding, digital processing, distributive retrieval and storage systems, the whole operating system in the genome. The cell is doing the same thing a computer’s operating system does, but with far, far greater efficiency.” More here.

[Think of it: You shed millions of cells every day, and every one of them is a more remarkable work of art than your computer. And biodegradeable too.]

Find out why there is an intelligent design controversy:

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Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Polls: In Darwin's birthday year, people want to hear alternatives

The evil Discos sent me this:

Zogby Poll Shows Dramatic Jump in Number of Americans Who Favor Teaching
Both Sides of Evolution

Surprisingly Strong Support Seen Among Democrats and Liberals

A new Zogby poll on the eve of Charles Darwin’s 200th birthday shows a dramatic rise in the number of Americans who agree that when biology teachers teach the scientific evidence for Darwin’s theory of evolution, they also should teach the scientific evidence against it.

Surprisingly, the poll also shows overwhelming support among self-identified Democrats and liberals for academic freedom to discuss the "strengths and weaknesses" evolution.

Over 78% of likely voters agree with teaching both the evidence for and against Darwin’s theory, according to the new national poll.

"This represents a dramatic 9-point jump from 2006, when only 69% of respondents in a similar poll favored teaching both sides," said Discovery Institue’s Dr. John West. "At the same time, the number of likely voters who support teaching only the evidence that favors evolution dropped 7 points from 21% in 2006 to 14.4% in 2009.
I am hardly surprised, and I mainly credit the New Atheist movement.

There is absolutely nothing like telling people they are not allowed to know something - to make sure that they want to know it.

Here's a test: Just tell people they are not allowed to know what really happened to the dinosaurs.

Suddenly, tons of people who never gave a bucket of dino doo-doo about dinosaurs are on the case big time, right? Like, what did happen?

Other polls relevant to the intelligent design controversy A summary of recent polls of US public opinion on the ID controversy

Find out why there is an intelligent design controversy:

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Friday, February 13, 2009

Don't believe in God? Doubt Darwin anyway? No problem ... thank Richard Dawkins!

Discovery Institute (yes, yes, the evil Discos) writes to say,
Zogby Poll Shows Dramatic Jump in Number of Americans Who Favor Teaching Both Sides of Evolution

Surprisingly Strong Support Seen Among Democrats and Liberals

A new Zogby poll on the eve of Charles Darwin’s 200th birthday shows a dramatic rise in the number of Americans who agree that when biology teachers teach the scientific evidence for Darwin’s theory of evolution, they also should teach the scientific evidence against it. Surprisingly, the poll also shows overwhelming support among self-identified Democrats and liberals for academic freedom to discuss the “strengths and weaknesses” evolution.

Over 78% of likely voters agree with teaching both the evidence for and against Darwin’s theory, according to the new national poll.

“This represents a dramatic 9-point jump from 2006, when only 69% of respondents in a similar poll favored teaching both sides,” said Discovery Institute’s Dr. John West. “At the same time, the number of likely voters who support teaching only the evidence that favors evolution dropped 7 points from 21% in 2006 to 14.4% in 2009. More here.
Here's the whole gruesome poll.

I personally believe that the change in the numbers who say, "Aw, just teach it all," is due to the strident celebration of Darwin by materialist atheists. They need his theory to be true, despite evidence, and they are simply out of step with what most people think.

Oh yes, and dim Bible School profs who think we all need protection from the Darwinists. "No conflict between science and religion," says the prof.

Yeah sure, but what does the prof think science is, and what does he think religion is? Darwin thought that black people were closer to gorillas than white people are. Is that really science?

Also, the universe shows overwhelming evidence of intelligent design. Is that really religion?

I am tempted to get down on my knees and thank the "new atheist" movement, and especially, Richard Dawkins, for these results. Everyone now wants the window to be opened, to dissipate the foul air.

Find out why there is an intelligent design controversy:

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Polls: Slight majority of Britons are okay with intelligent design

According to the Daily Telegraph (06 February 2009), "Poll reveals public doubts over Charles Darwin's theory of evolution: Belief in creationism is widespread in Britain, according to a new survey."

(Note: If you are looking for Mark Steyn's testimony on the Ontario Human Rights Commission, go here.)
A curious tic of legacy mainstream media is the need to present as breathlessly new findings stuff that anyone could have told them years ago.

In By Design or by Chance? (2004) , I noted this very thing (in the Notes),
See, for example, Mary Wakefield, “The mystery of the missing links” in the Spectator (October 25, 2003). Wakefield was dismayed by the fact that a well-educated friend questioned Darwinism, but when she went home to discuss the subject with her three flatmates, she discovered that they all questioned it, too. Wakefield believes that the Discovery Institute (see pp. 221–25) is to blame for this situation, but that is implausible. One little institute could not do that much damage to a major worldview all by itself. This book has attempted to provide a detailed roadmap to the changes in public perception that have resulted in her flatmates’ surprising views. (p. 322)
and nothing has changed.

Jonathan Wynne-Jones, Religious Affairs Correspondent, writes,
More than half of the public believe that the theory of evolution cannot explain the full complexity of life on Earth, and a "designer" must have lent a hand, the findings suggest.

[ ... ]

In the survey, 51 per cent of those questioned agreed with the statement that "evolution alone is not enough to explain the complex structures of some living things, so the intervention of a designer is needed at key stages"

[ ... ]

The suggestion that a designer's input is needed reflects the "intelligent design" theory, promoted by American creationists as an alternative to Darwinian evolution.
Of course, the question is badly written, and the latter statement is false.

Design is not intervention; it is a pattern created by intelligence. Whether, when, and how an intelligence must intervene is a separate question.

Meanwhile, Richard Dawkins announces that the reason for the high "design" figure is that "much of the population is 'pig-ignorant' about science." You wouldn't think so, to judge from British science achievements. My guess is that Dawkins is one of the reasons so many Britons doubt Darwin.

The research was sponsored by Theos, a group promoting Darwinian evolution as compatible with Christian teachings. (Of course it isn't - Darwinism is actually one of the few types of evolution that is not consistent with Christian teachings. The whole point of it is that there is no evident design or purpose in the universe - natural selection is supposed to be a mechanism that turns chemicals into molecules and mud into mind, or even births universes. On that point, Dawkins is right and Theos is wrong.)

Neurosurgeon Mike Egnor comments,
51% of the British population is a substantially higher portion of the population than the portion who are seriously religious. If my memory serves me, only 10-20 % of Brits attend church each week. This means that Darwinism is doubted by may people who aren't even seriously religious, in the traditional sense.

You don't need to be devout to see the obvious evidence for design in nature.
No, but you do have to observe carefully and think clearly, something many "faith and science" bores don't bother with.

See also: A summary of recent polls of US public opinion on the ID controversy

Find out why there is an intelligent design controversy

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Friday, September 14, 2007

Intelligent design controversy: Why things are different in Canada

In this podcast, I discuss the differences between Canadian and American culture, which impact rresponses to the intelligent design controversy. Here is a post in which I discuss the differences, in the light of a recent poll which asked similar questions in both nations and got dramatically different responses. Also here, here and here. Now THAT was a story with legs. Heree is a useful item on polls on ID-relevant issues in general.

(P.S.: That authorship statement in the podcast for The Spiritual Brain SHOULD say "Beauregard and O'Leary are co-authors." Because we are.)

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Friday, July 27, 2007

Recent polls relevant to the intelligent design controversy

The recent North American polls I've seen recently show several key trends:

1. Both evolution and creation are widely accepted, and the distribution of numbers is roughly stable over the years. No dramatic proof or disproof of Darwin's theory that would change many minds has occurred. That said, it is quite likely that many people believe contradictory things.

2. Americans are (or think they are) well aware of the arguments on either side, and generally do not want the issues politicized.

3. Canadian responses differ markedly from American ones in several ways, principally because the issues have not been politicized in Canada. The reasons why they have not are worth noting.

Newsweek Poll, March 31, 2007

In Newsweek's breathless prose:

Nearly half (48 percent) of the public rejects the scientific theory of evolution; one-third (34 percent) of college graduates say they accept the Biblical account of creation as fact. Seventy-three percent of Evangelical Protestants say they believe that God created humans in their present form within the last 10,000 years; 39 percent of non-Evangelical Protestants and 41 percent of Catholics agree with that view.

Now, as I noted in By Design or by Chance?, and elsewhere, most human history about which we have any significant information is compressed into the last 10,000 years or so. Support for the view that "God created humans in their present form within the last 10,000 years"should not necessarily be equated with support for young earth creationism (the universe/the earth is only 10,000 years old) - though it usually is. While comparing the responses to this question year by year is convenient for pollsters, it artificially inflates the apparent numbers of young earth creationists.

Here are the numbers.

One person who agrees with me is David A DeWitt, director of the Center for Creation Studies at Liberty University and author of Unraveling the Origins Controversy. He writes to say,


Actually, one of the problems with surveys of this type is that people are extremely confused on the subject of origins. Many of them actually believe mutually exclusive things. We have been doing creation worldview assessments at LU for several years and have published several studies on it. One of the surprising findings is the fact that there are a number of students who would agree with all of the following statements:
Adam and Eve were real people
God made Adam directly from the "dust of the earth"
All living things share the same common ancestors
God made all living things in six 24 hour days
The dinosaurs died millions of years before man existed
Noah's Flood was global in extent and effect
The geologic column shows evidence of millions of years of history
The universe began with the "big bang" about 14 billion years ago
and so on.


People often don't realize that some of their beliefs are contradictory. A common belief is that evolution of all living things happened but God made Adam and Eve separately. This is because of the way worldview development occurs. It is not in the linear manner that worldview definitions and list would lead us to believe. It is through a hodge-podge interactive hypertext manner with a smorgasbord of different beliefs. Sometimes I ask people who say they believe that God made everything in 6 24-hr days if dinosaurs and people lived at the same time. They have to think about it because they reflexively say no, dinosaurs died millions of years before man, but this contradicts what they just said.

Steve Deckard and I developed an instrument to measure a young earth creationist view. It asks a number of questions and quantifies the strength and consistency of the young earth view. We give this as a pretest and post-test in our creation course at Liberty University.
If there really were 45% of Americans that believed God specially created man roughly 10,000 years ago and all that this implies, evolution would not be so dominant in our society. The problem is that they believe both.


That sounds familiar to me. Most people live in hypertext. Mind you, it's not clear which side the confusion helps more.

While we're here, asking questions about creation-evolution at the same time as asking a whack of questions on political topics encourages "culture wars" stereotypes. But for budget reasons, it probably can't be helped.

Gallup Poll USA, 2007 06 07

In the responses to
this recent poll of 1007 Americans, 44% said evolution is false and 31% said creationism is false. Eighty-two percent claimed to be familiar with evolution (and 17% not familiar), and 86% claimed to be familiar with creationism (and 13% not familiar). Over half of registered voters said that a presidential candidate's views would make no difference, and 70% did not consider the issue relevant.

These figures are quite interesting because they indicate, on the one hand, a high level of public interest (based on the small numbers who claim to be unfamiliar with the terms) and a broad consensus that it is not a political issue.

David DeWitt adds, concerning the Gallup poll,
One of the observations in the recent Gallup poll is that >60% said that the
creation statement was definitely or probably true and 53% said that the
evolution statement was definitely or probably true. It is funny because the
creation statement says 10,000 years and the evolution says millions of years.
That reinforces the point that people are confused about the subject even though
they don't realize it.

(Note: I would be interested to know Gallup's rationale for "evolution" vs. "creationism", as opposed to "evolution" vs. "creation". The two terms are obviously not balanced. If the intention is to advantage evolution and disadvantage creation, I wonder how that affected the poll results?)

Canadians pretty evenly split on human origins in 2007

Decima polled Canadians, reporting July 3, 2007:

Here are the Canadian responses to the 2007 question by percentage, along with the US figures to a similar series of questions in brackets:- Less than one in three Canadians (29%) believe that God had no part in thecreation or development of human beings. (US: 13%)- Fewer still (26%) believe "that God created human beings pretty much in theirpresent form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so". (US: 46%)- A plurality, but still only 34%, say that "human beings have developed over millionsof years from less advanced forms of life, but God guided this process". (US: 36%)

Not only are Canadians pretty evenly split, but the ones most likely to credit God are middle-of-the-road voters. This is not good news for anyone who wishes to politicize the controversy in Canada.

One factor that differentiates Canada from the United States, as I have pointed out elsewhere, is this: While Canada is a more secular country, it also allows tax-supported religious schools under certain conditions. As a result, the number of people who feel compelled to be in a fight over what students are taught is, inevitably, lower.

All this information will be added to the file of polls relevant to the intelligent design controversy.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Intelligent design in Canada?: Canadians pretty evenly split

Recently, Decima polled Canadians on the origin of humans - God dunit? God neverdunit? Dunno?

I infer that the responses to the questions below give us some idea of Canadians' thoughts on intelligent design. With some key qualifications, God's involvement in human origins can be used to predict public opinion on intelligent design. That is, people who don't think that God had anything to do with human origins don't usually think that crayfish show evidence of intelligent design either.

Here are the Canadian responses to the 2007 question by percentage, along with the US figures to a similar series of questions in brackets:

 Less than one in three Canadians (29%) believe that God had no part in the
creation or development of human beings. (US: 13%)
 Fewer still (26%) believe “that God created human beings pretty much in their
present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so”. (US: 46%)
 A plurality, but still only 34%, say that “human beings have developed over millions
of years from less advanced forms of life, but God guided this process”. (US: 36%)

None of this surprises me particularly. Canada is more secular than the United States, so far more people would say God had nothing to do with it and far fewer would be creationists in the sense of choice 2.

Choice 3, you will notice, is chosen by about the same numbers of Canadians as Americans. Notably, more Canadians than Americans seem not to have chosen any of the options (11% vs. 5%).

Indeed, all this confirms the view I took last year when Montreal-based Darwin lobbyist Brian Alters was turned down by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council for a grant to "study" the dangers that intelligent design theory represents to Canada (as a precursor, of course, to wringing further funds from the taxpayer to "combat" the menace he has discovered).

At the time, I identified key reasons why the ID controversy never flares up much in Canada. Among other reasons, we have neither a functional Christian Right nor groups that are the equivalent of American Civil Liberties Union. So, apart from Brian himself and his friends, there are not many people who can hope to get either private donations or government grants from sponsoring a big public fight on the subject. I concluded,
Look, Canada is the kind of place where gays can marry each other and Catholics can start each day with the Hail Mary in tax supported schools if they want to. That's just how things are here. Everyone here finds something to hate. Not everyone expects to be paid for it.


What did surprise me is that Decima, the polling firm, did not ask for the religious affiliation of the respondents. Here's why I think that was an oversight: In a trend that also departs very much from the American scene, the people who intend to vote Liberal were much more likely than those who intended to vote either Conservative or NDP (leftist) to choose a "theistic" option - God either created humans or guided the process. Only 22% of Liberals thought God had nothing to do with it, but 31% of Conservatives thought that, as did 31% of leftist voters.

This is quite different from the United States, where most Republicans "doubt evolution" but most Democrats do not. I believe that data on religious affiliation would shed some light on reasons for the cultural difference that this illustrates.

The social breakdowns they do provide are interesting, however. In Quebec, 40% think God played no role, significantly higher than anywhere else. Men are about 50% more likely to think that than women, and people with higher incomes are 50% more likely to think God played no role than people with lower incomes.

I am quoted here on the poll.

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Friday, September 08, 2006

Public opinion watch: How religious people perceived by US political parties' supporters

From the Gallup organization. September 7, 2006:

(Note from Denyse: Less than a third of Democrats and leaners perceive evangelical Christians positively. This gap in favourable opinion probably impacts how people interpret statements made re the ID controversy.

For example, some people will interpret "I believe that the universe shows detectible evidence of intelligent design" as "I want to start a theocracy and jail gays." Why? Because the hearer's opinion of the speaker is so negative that the hearer "hears" things that were not said, desired, or perhaps even imagined. - d. )

Partisan Differences

The table below displays the percent of Republicans (including independents who lean to the Republican party) and Democrats (including leaners) who have a positive opinion of each of the ten groups:

Positive Evaluations of Religions/Spiritual Groups by Party Affiliation Aug. 28-31, 2006

Republicans Including Leaners% Democrats Including Leaners% Republican Minus Democratic Gap


Jews 70 51 +19

Catholics 68 51 +17

Methodists 67 51 +16

Baptists 70 47 +23

LDS/Mormons 34 26 +8

Muslims 27 27 0

Evangelical Christians
63 31 +32

Fundamentalist Christians
50 24 +26

Atheists 9 20 -11

Scientologists 9 11 -2


From Gallup: "It is clear that for the most part, Republicans report more positive images of these religious groups than do Democrats. The differences are particularly large for Evangelical Christians, Fundamentalist Christians, and Baptists, but are also evident for such groups as Catholics and Jews.

Democrats and Republicans are essentially equally likely to have positive opinions of Muslims and Scientologists. Democrats are somewhat more likely than Republicans to have a positive opinion of atheists, although neither group rates atheists that positively.

Note: View a summary of recent polls of US public opinion on the ID controversy.


Read more here but you have to register.
If you like this blog, check out my book on the intelligent design controversy, By Design or by Chance?. You can read excerpts as well.

Are you looking for one of the following stories?

A summary of tech guru George Gilder's arguments for ID and against Darwinism

A critical look at why March of the Penguins was thought to be an ID film.

A summary of recent opinion columns on the ID controversy

A summary of recent polls of US public opinion on the ID controversy

A summary of the Catholic Church's entry into the controversy, essentially on the side of ID.

O'Leary's intro to non-Darwinian agnostic philosopher David Stove’s critique of Darwinism.

An ID Timeline: The ID folk seem always to win when they lose.

O’Leary’s comments on Francis Beckwith, a Dembski associate, being denied tenure at Baylor.

Why origin of life is such a difficult problem.
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