Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Re: evolution

The dodo: evolutionary roadkill or God's mistake?

A recent CBS News poll suggests most Americans don't believe in evolution. My first reaction was, "Hmmm...I wonder how they picked up the phone to answer the poll--could it be OPPOSABLE THUMBS?!"

Then I looked at the numbers. Given the choice of saying that God created Man as is, that Man evolved with God's guidance, or that God was not involved in evolution, the actual breakdown was as follows:
51% of Americans said God created humans in their present form
30% said that while humans evolved, God guided the process
15% said humans evolved, and that God was not involved.

While those figures are very disturbing, I think they're a little misleading. 45% do believe in evolution in some form, so while 51% (with some margin of error) is technically a majority, I wouldnt call it MOST. Especially when the options are so limited.

As for those who think God guided evolution, so long as someone accepts the basic reality of evolution, I have no problem with them believing in a divine architect. I'm an atheist, but sometimes I think the greatest proof of God's existence are the awesome intracacies of nature. Think of the perfection of the common fruit fly, which is born, grows, mates and dies in a single day.

What's more, when someone is put on the spot and asked if they believe in the Bible (or the biblical interpretation of history), they're going to say yes, because they dont want to sound like a heathen. In their hearts, though, many believe in a more complex truth.

My mother, for example, is a religious Jew and would tell a telephone pollster she believes that the bible is fact. But if I asked her at the dinner table if God put fossils in the ground to test our faith, she would say no, that they were the remains of ancient creatures who walked the Earth millions of years ago. Contradictory? Yes--but to paraphrase Walt Whitman, we contain multitudes.

I won't even go into the innate failings of telephone polls, which rely on people who are both at home and willing to sit and listen to a longwinded spiel.


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