Sunday, November 21, 2004

Americans reject modernity and reason
45% of your fellow Americans believe that "God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so." Never mind that there are libraries full of research documenting the evolution of ancient man to modern "Homo Sapiens Sapiens," and that mankind in its present form has existed for about 200,000 years. To such people this evidence is either fraudulent or God's attempt to test their faith.

Only slightly better in one in three Americans believe that evolution is supported by the evidence. About the same percentage of Americans believe that the Bible should be taken literally word-for-word. Are these folks for real? I hope they're not responsible for constructing buildings in California, because "Masonry bonded with wooden beams is not loosened by an earthquake. " (Sirach 22:16 NAB). Word-for-word, you say? As you wish.

How does one reason with such people? It's no wonder that we have to re-enact Inherit the Wind every month in some provincial backwater (or some state school board). The only reasonable conclusion is that a significant number of Americans have medieval notions of science and reason, untouched by the enlightenment. People like that are beyond the scope of reasoned discourse about politics and science. They are entitled to believe whatever they like, even if their beliefs are completely out of line with the rest of the civilized world. But we should call them what they are -- fundamentalists -- and they should be regarded as such in the public sphere. Rather than embarking on a quixotic quest to convince them to vote Democratic, we should be waging a war to ensure that their Dark Age ideas about history and science are relegated to the lunatic fringe where they belong.

UPDATE: Via Chris Bowers at MyDD, you can see some comparative data here. Only in Poland and, to a lesser extent, Russia, can you find advanced Western countries with minority support for evolution. What I find almost as disturbing is that nearly 50 percent of Americans believe in Hell, a figure matched only in the extremely troubled and violent land of Northern Ireland. In no other advanced Christian-majority country does even 30% of the population believe in Hell.


At 11:29 PM, Blogger deadzone said...

It is discouraging to have this many americans believe in creationism or the pseudo science of "intelligent design". Try Dawkins the "Blind Watchmaker" for the skinny. By the way W is a creationist. Sometimes it really appears that canada is more of what I thought the the united states was about than seems so today!


At 9:33 AM, Blogger jeff said...

well, some of them fundamentalists have to know something about that there science, since they're all glued to "csi" several times a week. there's an article in today's the new york times that says there is almost no correlation between what people watch and how people voted in the recent election. viewers in red states watch just as much "desparate housewives" and other sinful shows as us blue-state heathens. haven't read the whole thing yet, but it's sorta relevant.


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