Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The GOP's Fear of Evolution

By Guest Blogger
Posted on June 12, 2007, Printed on June 12, 2007
Alternet.org
This post, written by Daniel DiRito, originally appeared on the All Spin Zone

Typically we view the passage of time to be commensurate with enlightenment and knowledge...and the advances we have seen in science, technology, medicine, and countless other areas over the centuries are a testament to man's capacity for growth.

Unfortunately, we can also track the efforts of religion to stymie many of these advancements...especially when they are perceived to conflict with established doctrine and dogma. To be fair, religion has acquiesced on a number of issues over the years...though it has taken far longer than would seem warranted.

A new Gallup poll offers insight into the latest point of contention...one that seems to indicate religious beliefs are moving in a direction opposite to that of science. Gallup News reports that a significant majority of Republicans do not believe in the concept of evolution.

PRINCETON, NJ -- The majority of Republicans in the United States do not believe the theory of evolution is true and do not believe that humans evolved over millions of years from less advanced forms of life. This suggests that when three Republican presidential candidates at a May debate stated they did not believe in evolution, they were generally in sync with the bulk of the rank-and-file Republicans whose nomination they are seeking to obtain.

Independents and Democrats are more likely than Republicans to believe in the theory of evolution. But even among non-Republicans there appears to be a significant minority who doubt that evolution adequately explains where humans came from.

The theory of evolution as an explanation for the origin and development of life has been controversial for centuries, and, in particular, since the 1859 publication of Charles Darwin's famous The Origin of Species. Although many scientists accept evolution as the best theoretical explanation for diversity in forms of life on Earth, the issue of its validity has risen again as an important issue in the current 2008 presidential campaign. Two recent Republican debates have included questions to the candidates about evolution. Three candidates -- Sam Brownback, Mike Huckabee, and Tom Tancredo -- indicated in response to a question during the May 3 debate that they did not believe in the theory of evolution, although they have attempted to clarify their positions in the weeks since.

From The Gallup Poll


(gallup poll)


I understand the need to explain our existence...and I accept that different people have differing views. What troubles me is the degree to which the need to believe in a god and the promise of an afterlife is allowed to skew one's acceptance of science. It seems that the more certainty that science uncovers, the more firmly religious beliefs are embraced by believers.

My own explanation of this phenomenon is that people who use religion to deal with their pending mortality are compelled to increase the degree to which they refute science each time science provides more evidence that is likely to create doubt. It becomes an internal battle within the psyche that requires believers to ratchet up the absolute nature of the doctrines they embrace in order to fend off their own fears and doubts.

In essence, science and religion...in the current dynamic that pits religion against secularism; faith against science...are locked in the throes of an inverse equation. Whether that construct can be disassembled remains to be seen. Clearly, the tenuous nature of the world and our involvement in wars and pending threats of terrorism hinder the likelihood of progress.

In keeping with my inverse equation theory, the following is my tongue-in-cheek depiction of the trend amongst GOP voters to reject evolution. If I didn't know better, I would conclude that the creature at the front of the line is none other than our Commander in Chief...but everyone knows he's not a monkey...he's a lame duck.

Daniel DiRito is the All Spin Zone’s most recent permanent contributor. He’s also the blogmaster at Thought Theater

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