Shannon’s earlier observations, “The Left & Evolution”, come to mind reading discussions at Volokh & Left2Right. Arguing about evolution seems a bit, well 19th century, but it is pretty easy to see that a certain pugnacious, literal, and irritating fundamentalism is matched by minds equally pugnacious and literal. The level of conversation at Volokh is pleasant. This also echoes Himmelfarb’s criticism of the French Enlightenment, where Reason replaces God, while the Brits & Americans see reason as a path to civic duty and liberty. While we should revere the “scientific method” and “scientific inquiry,” we may well suspect sentences that begin “Science says” and then judge the complexities of human motivation. Volokh quotes (none of the links work as far as I can see):
In March of 2001 the Gallup News Service reported the results of their survey that found 45 percent of Americans agree with the statement “God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so,” while 37 percent preferred a blended belief that “Human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God guided this process,” and a paltry 12 percent accepted the standard scientific theory that “Human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God had no part in this process.”
Well, I’m willing to agree that 45% is a pretty ridiculous (sad) percentage and does not bode well for America’s future in a world where broad science ability is important in terms of economics & defense. However, any one in that 12% who considers himself a beleaguered and martyred proponent of the truth must have an oversupply of chutzpah.
As long as polemicists insist that acceptance of science & evolution is bound up with acceptance of such a certainty, that 45% is not likely to become educated.