Faith in evolution? Gallup, not so much

February 14, 2009

I worry about pollsters.  Gallup will tell you they carefully design their questions, as all the good pollsters do.  Sometimes, though, you gotta wonder.

Here’s the Gallup press release headline for February 12:  “On Darwin’s Birthday, Only 4 in 10 Believe in Evolution.”

Excuse me?  I’m a Christian.  When someone asks me if I believe in evolution, I reply that, as a Christian, I believe in God, and I believe in Jesus as my savior.  But I understand how evolution works, and I find it to be good science.  I usually add, “I find it to be true science.”  Then I point out their question assumes a faith response in science, while a faith response would be anti-science itself.

Gallup hasn’t figured that out yet?

The results are good — “belief” in evolution is rising slowly, over the years, comparing Gallup polls.  Most polls show just under 90% of Americans call themselves Christian — were the fundamentalists to have nearly so much sway as they wish, 40% rejection of their messages on evolution would not be possible.  After more than 100 years of preaching that Darwin is evil, only 6 in 10 Americans accept that message.  That’s not bad.

But what would the response be were Gallup to ask these questions:

  • “Faced with a diagnosis of cancer, would you rely solely on prayer, or would you take advantage of evolution-based medical treatments?”
  • “Because DNA demonstrates family relationships so accurately, we use it to establish paternity in court proceedings.  Do you think we should stop using evolution-based science like DNA analysis to establish paternity?”
  • “DNA evidence is based on evolution theory.  Do you think we should stop using DNA evidence in court, in rape and murder cases, or do you support such uses of evolution theory?”

What do you think the polls would show?


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