Skepticism about Evolution in the United States

A Localized Phenomenon?

“Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution” - Theodosius Dobzhansky

Evolution, as testable and proven as it has been for the past few centuries, is still not accepted by all. It's quite ignorant and even insulting to think that despite the benefits we all receive from sciences that are based on evolutionary aspects, like antibiotics, selective breeding and even algorithmic programming, some individuals still think that they're fabricated lies. To what end?

It's shocking to note that this observation is more predominant in the United States. A study that compared the results of past surveys done in the United States, Japan and 32 other European countries showed that in the United States, only 14 percent of adults think that evolution is definitely true. Other European countries like France, Denmark and Sweden have over 80% of adults surveyed accepting the concept of evolution. The study is also quick to note that less than half of Americans could provide a minimal definition of DNA. The only country that ranks lower in acceptance of evolution than the United States is Turkey.

What is more disturbing is that not much has changed in the last few decades. Since 1982 phone polls by Gallup have yielded consistent results. The creationist perspective has never drawn less than 44% in all cases. That means for the past 30 years, almost half of the American population thinks that Darwin was wrong, despite all the evidence and beneficial exploitations from this theory.

American Culture and Evolution

The study managed to find three key influences on Americans that don't occur as often in Europe.

First, fundamentalist belief on opinions of evolution is significantly higher in the United States than Europe. The Protestant fundamentalism notion, where Biblical accounts of human creation are considered accurate and are taken as literal meanings, is a historical tradition in the United States and something that isn't found in Europe.

It notes that most of the Protestant churches aren't part of any hierarchy - they're free to choose their own ministers, traditions and beliefs, without any influence. Just whatever they feel is the more correct interpretation of the Bible. This freedom allowed Protestant churches to create their own Bible colleges to train more ministers, resulting in more propagation of their teachings - something that hasn't occurred nearly as often in Europe.

Second, the team found that political views had an effect on an American's view on evolutionary theory. They noted that "individuals with anti-abortion, pro-life views associated with the conservative wing of the Republican Party were significantly more likely to reject evolution than people with pro-choice views", adding that these views or political stances in Europe had no correlation to whether or not a person accepts evolution.

Third, and this might be tongue-in-cheek, but it could simply be the effect of natural selection itself. A greater understanding in genetics will help in accepting evolution. However, central ideas about evolutionary biology from the past few centuries are seriously misunderstood by the American public. The team cites a 2005 study where 78% of adults claimed that plants and animals evolved from other organisms. However, 62% of adults also believed that humans were created by God without evolutionary development.

Other Factors

The opinions of the theory of evolution are also affected by more generic factors.

Education

Education is an expected one. Without a proper education it can be hard to understand scientific concepts. People generally tend to not believe in things they don't understand. But that's just at the surface - the core of education (or what it's supposed to be) is not to teach laws, ideas or concepts. It's to teach critical thinking: the ability to interpret these laws. It shouldn't teach you what to learn, but rather how to learn. If you do not know how to think critically you're at a significant disadvantage in understanding key scientific concepts.

A recent Gallup poll has garnered some interesting results regarding acceptance of evolutionary theory. The percentage of people who accept evolution with differing levels of education are as follows:

  • High school or less - 21%
  • Some college - 41%
  • College graduates - 53%
  • Postgraduates - 74%

In other words, with more education you can expect a better acceptance rate in evolution. The same trend is observed for disbelief in evolution, only in the opposite direction:

  • High school or less - 27%
  • Some college - 29%
  • College graduates - 22%
  • Postgraduates - 11%

With more education you can expect a weaker disbelief rate in evolution.

Religion

Having "blind faith" is also something that impedes your ability to accept evolution. Why? Some suggest that belief in religion limits critical thinking. Reason and logic are suppressed if not altogether abandoned in favour of religious beliefs.

The following numbers from the same Gallup poll seem to support this view. The percentage of people who accept evolution based on church attendance are as follows:

  • Weekly church attendance- 24%
  • Weekly-Monthly attendance - 30 %
  • Never - 55%

The more you go to church, the less likely you are to accept evolution. The inverse is true for disbelief in evolution:

  • Weekly church attendance- 41%
  • Weekly-Monthly attendance - 26 %
  • Never - 11%

The more you go to church, the more likely you are to not believe in evolution.

Age

Surprisingly age can also predict whether or not you believe in evolution. The percentage of people who accept evolution based on age are as follows:

  • 18 to 34 years old - 49%
  • 35 to 54 years old - 39 %
  • 55 or older - 31%

The opposite is also true for disbelief in evolution:

  • 18 to 34 years old - 18%
  • 35 to 54 years old - 24 %
  • 55 or older - 30%

Age is more difficult to explain. It could simply be that there is a greater number of youth that have been better exposed to evolutionary concepts and are more likely to accept it. It could also be that older generations have been more exposed to religious fundamentalism in the past and are less likely to accept the theory.

Note: this does not mean that as you age you are more likely to reject evolution as a theory!


Parting Thoughts

The United States is in a unique position of equating belief with political stance. And this isn't a good thing. It reminds me of this quote by E.B. White:

"Democracy is the recurrent suspicion that more than half of the people are right more than half the time."

What bothers me though is that suspicion will be skewed even further if people are willing to discard rational thinking with blind faith and base their political views with whatever matches up to their beliefs. The country will literally be the blind leading the blind.

And it's not a pretty sight.

The Parable of the Blind Leading the Blind by Pieter Bruegel the Elder.
The Parable of the Blind Leading the Blind by Pieter Bruegel the Elder.

More by this Author


Comments 53 comments

Rod Marsden profile image

Rod Marsden 5 years ago from Wollongong, NSW, Australia

It is hard to believe the percentage of people who believe in the theory of evolution is actually so low in the USA, mrpopo. It is also rather sad.


mrpopo profile image

mrpopo 5 years ago from Canada Author

It's kind of surprising and frightening to think that one of the world powers is affected so much by these beliefs. What got me the most is that these values haven't changed for more than 20 years!


Rod Marsden profile image

Rod Marsden 5 years ago from Wollongong, NSW, Australia

I don't really understand it, mrpopo. Americans have made such strides in science and scientific understanding of our planet yet it seems that there are so many Americans still living in the dark ages.


mrpopo profile image

mrpopo 5 years ago from Canada Author

I don't get it either Rod. There could be many reasons. One I think is quite interesting has to do with heuristics - I mentioned it somewhere in a comment I believe. It's just my own interpretation, really. I have no basis on whether or not it's true, aside from normal scientific evidence supporting heuristics. I'll make a Hub on it soon and explain my thoughts.


Jane Bovary profile image

Jane Bovary 5 years ago from The Fatal Shore

mrpopo, this is a great hub and should give Americans poise for thought.

Religion features more heavily in the US than in, say Australia and Europe. This has to be the explanation..? I'm wondering if children are perhaps taught evolution at school but Genesis at home and, in some cases, at church? This would not only plant the seeds for an emotional attachment to the Biblical view but also cause some confusion.

Anyway, I agree with you about the melding of political stance with belief. It poisons the well.

Cheers


mrpopo profile image

mrpopo 5 years ago from Canada Author

Jane, I think you're right about the confusion caused from teaching Biblical views along with scientific views. Some people seem to surpass this with time but I guess they're a rarity. Most of our beliefs are shaped early on and it's difficult changing our minds about it.

I cannot agree with you more about it poisoning the well.

Thanks for stopping by.


Joyus Crynoid profile image

Joyus Crynoid 5 years ago from Eden

Good hub mrpopo. The fact that so many here in the USA don't accept evolution is downright embarrassing! How is it in Canada?


mrpopo profile image

mrpopo 5 years ago from Canada Author

Thanks JC. I don't think it's a serious issue in Canada. Most people I know do accept evolution. The main thing is that they don't base their political stances on their beliefs though. I can't help but wonder what would happen if all of the beliefs I see from some fundamentalists were actually applied to the whole country! Not accepting evolution would be the least of our worries.


Joyus Crynoid profile image

Joyus Crynoid 5 years ago from Eden

Most folks I know accept evolution as well, but we're all on the blue side of the great divide--the well educated, non-churchgoing side.

The fundamentalist streak in this country is a scary thing. There's no doubt about its political influence--it's what got W "elected" (twice). And look where that got us...


Rod Marsden profile image

Rod Marsden 5 years ago from Wollongong, NSW, Australia

mrpopo many Australians are perplexed by how many Americans view religion and Darwin's theory. Andrew Denton, a top Australian interviewer, went to the bible belt with a camera crew and did some interviews. What he came away with was shown on Oz television a few years ago and it was weird. Through Andrew we found out about the Noah's Arc museum supporting the creationists. Did it look warped? You bet. I would love to visit the place though I am not certain I could keep a straight face while I was there. I might burst into tears keeping the laughter back and they might think I am a truly devout creationist.


mrpopo profile image

mrpopo 5 years ago from Canada Author

JC I never really could figure out how W got to be president twice, though I never paid attention to politics much. In light of this new information it makes a lot more sense.

Rod I doubt I could hold my laughter while there. It's just too much. On one hand it's absurd enough to be hilarious and on the other hand it's absurd enough to be pitiful.


Rod Marsden profile image

Rod Marsden 5 years ago from Wollongong, NSW, Australia

It is both laughable and pitiful mrpopo. It is also frightening because they had the money to build the thing and with the knowledge that it was money well spent. Money is power. Bush got elected to the presidency through strong bible belt support.


mrpopo profile image

mrpopo 5 years ago from Canada Author

I agree Rod. However we are the ones that give money such power, kind of like how we give profanities power. If we came to terms with that, they would not hold sway over us.

I like to picture money as a mechanism that enabled us to develop arts, technologies and general innovations that gave us some benefit. It gave us incentive for cooperation and unity, as well as the exact opposite. Nowadays money might be more lacking in function or even more detrimental than before, kind of like a vestigial feature. Maybe one day we won't even need money or have to put up with the hassles of the system we live in: get an education, get a job, get a promotion and so on. We end up missing the point with all of this by focusing not on the education you receive and not on the important tasks that we are capable of doing, but on the grades you earn and the job history you have and the money you can be making. Which really doesn't say much. As a college student it really bugs me that this is the sort of society we're propagating. It's kind of like how religious fundamentalists miss the point of their own beliefs by following the readings word by word. They ironically end up missing the very fundamentals of their religion. I enjoyed this short video's take on the issue: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ERbvKrH-GC4

I heard of some native tribes where adults can still play with children and they live their days in happiness, without the stresses of work. Each member of the tribe helps members that can't do things on their own, like the sick and elderly. Interesting to think about.


Baileybear 5 years ago

I didn't see Australia on the list - would probably be up with UK? America is so in the dark ages.


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 5 years ago from South Africa

This is a wonderfully enlightening Hub - but scary as all hell! How is it possible that the country touting itself as the "greatest on earth" can be so incredibly backward? There is something weirdly frightening that a country seen as the leading democracy in the world is so locked into obscurantism. What are the implications for the rest of the world where reason is generally seen as the guarantor of freedom?

I commented on one of James Watkins' Hubs that it is important for the rest of the world how the US deals with this kind of issue, simply because of the cultural and economic hegemony of the US. If the obscurantists win more power, as they almost did under the unspeakable W, and likely would again under the even more unspeakable Palin, freedom, especially intellectual freedom, could be under real threat in the rest of the world.

Thanks for sharing all this relevant research.

Love and peace

Tony


Rod Marsden profile image

Rod Marsden 5 years ago from Wollongong, NSW, Australia

mrpopo, we in the West are strongly involved in Capitalism and so is much of the rest of the world. If you were to look into what money is based on, what exactly is propping up our coins and notes, you might be in for a shock. I think Terry Pratchett summed it all up nicely in his disc world novel, Making Money.

Yes, nice little video. And yes I am on the same treadmill too.

Tony, I would hate to think Palin has much of a chance to become president. Last I heard she thought the North Koreans were America's old allies and that the South Koreans were those dastardly communists. I would hate to have her finger anywhere near that special button. She might have the land of OZ nuked by mistake!


Buffoon profile image

Buffoon 5 years ago

mrpopo, I commend you sir for this essay, fabulous research and exposition of facts.

The numbers ought to give one pause, if not outright scare the living daylights out of all of us... there's nothing quite like willful ignorance... as you deftly point out in your excellent parting thoughts.


mrpopo profile image

mrpopo 5 years ago from Canada Author

I would say so Bailey. At least I hope so! Only Turkey edged out America in not accepting evolution. Here in Canada I would like to think most of us accept evolution, at least most people I know do. How's it like there in Australia?

You echo my thoughts exactly, Tony. I cannot imagine a country being run on such backward premises. Eventually (if not already) this sort of thinking will create a fundamental setback not only for the US but for the rest of the world given the US's influence. And I thought W was the epitome of stupidity but Palin seems to be a very strong contender for that title. All the more frightening is that these are the people in power. We could probably afford backwards processes and willful ignorance in previous times simply because the consequences weren't nearly as grave as they are now. Nowadays it's a deadly combination: ancient thinking with modern technology. Thanks for stopping by.

Rod please enlighten me on what money is based on? I'm quite ignorant on the subject. The most I know is that the notes represent a share of gold which is held by the government - this share of gold doesn't exist anymore so it's just a paper representing that once existent share of gold. At least that's what I've been told, correct me if I'm wrong. It's a moot point for me though. Even if the gold still did exist, it's like how Terry Pratchett said in the novel you mentioned: potatoes are worth more than gold. I'll definitely check it out when I have the chance.

Thank you kindly, Mr. Buffoon. Unfortunately I know all too well about willful ignorance, being subjected to it constantly by family even to this day. Usually little things, but the little things can add up. It brings a thought to mind: even in small scale it has a large effect, what sort of effect can it have on a large scale scenario like a country?


Rod Marsden profile image

Rod Marsden 5 years ago from Wollongong, NSW, Australia

Well, mrpopo, one idea concerning money is that it stands for X amount of gold a government has in safekeeping. This is known as the gold standard. For many years now, however, there hasn't been enough gold in reserve to justify the amount of coinage and notes out there in most Western style countries including the US. I suppose the money in circulation is really propped up by goods and services and that can be a slippery slope. To an increasing extent services includes communication. It is to some extent an illusion and sometimes the conjurer or conjurers get it wrong and you have a great depression or such a severe downturn that people start to lose all they have worked hard to acquire. Terry Pratchett points out the absurdities better than I can. The thing is we are all connected to a process about as secure as being in a wet paper bag during a hail storm but its something that can gain the strength of steel so long as enough people share the delusion that its as solid as rock and as good as gold. The trick is to get enough people on side to keep it all jogging along nicely. This is my understanding. I am no economist.

You can eat potatoes so in that sense they are worth more than gold which you cannot eat. Gold is only really worth what the market says that its worth. Oh, and it has gone up somewhat in real value since it is used on mother boards in computers. In our day it actually has a practical function if communication is considered to be an absolute necessity.

tony, I would hate to think what would happen to the USA if Palin ever got the presidency of the USA. in one interview she was a bit confused as to who were America's allies. She was all for teaching those dastardly South Korean communists a lesson and helping those North Korean democratic types. Hmmm! Can't tell north from south and had to be corrected while being interviewed. Not good. I wouldn't want her near that special button. She might arrange for the nuking of the land of Oz (Australia) by mistake. Oh! I meant Afghanistan! Well, both countries DO begin with an A.


mrpopo profile image

mrpopo 5 years ago from Canada Author

I think you have a solid understanding Rod. Makes sense to me anyway. I can't point out all the absurdities but I can certainly see enough of them to know that we have a basic flaw in our foundation of this concept. Kind of like how I can see some of the absurdities in religion (it's not hard to) but I don't know of all of them. I can only imagine the foundations behind religion in general are faulty.

Oh you're right, I had forgotten about gold's play in computers. Actually I have a small gold piece maintaining teeth position from when I used braces, so gold isn't just a shiny piece of metal. I still value the potato more though.


copernico profile image

copernico 5 years ago from Canada

This is not surprising since polls have shown that at least half of Americans would reject any scientific explanation that contradicts a faith-based concept. It's a mix of religiosity and poor education.


Rod Marsden profile image

Rod Marsden 5 years ago from Wollongong, NSW, Australia

A country as powerful as the USA really does need to educate its citizens better. Poverty in and of itself also plays a role. If you have nothing but religion in your life you tend to hang onto it very tightly. Thus scientific explanations that might contradict religion aren't given much credibility.


mrpopo profile image

mrpopo 5 years ago from Canada Author

Sadly, that seems to be the reality copernico. It's hard to let go of beliefs that were hardwired from an early age, I get that. Education would certainly help.

Rod, our education definitely needs to be improved not only in its quality but in its premise. We go to school not for learning, but initially for a daycare and later as an evaluation by individuals considered to be "certified", which goes against the "staple of every major philosophical system that ever appeared on the planet".

I simply could not phrase it better so I took that last quote from this article, which I thought was a very intriguing read, and disturbing at the same time:

http://www.cantrip.org/gatto.html


Rod Marsden profile image

Rod Marsden 5 years ago from Wollongong, NSW, Australia

What I have discovered about education is that there is more than one kind. Some kids need to get out from behind a desk and learn with their hands. They are not scholars and possibly never will be. If they will become scholars it will be at a later date after they have leaned what they can do with their hands. Others can sit behind a desk, imagine and are happy to work on ideas. You have both lots in a classroom and you are asking for trouble.

Teachers in high school are a lot like gaolers or wardens. Often a young teacher turns up fresh at a school and most of all wants to teach, wants to inspire. That is swiftly knocked out of them when the realities of their position and situation sink in. For the most part they are lucky to be able to keep order and to make students understand enough to pass tests. To actually get students motivated to really learn is too often beyond the system. Teachers who appear 'soft' are quickly eaten up and their bones are used as filler for the concrete paths and play area of the school. This is my understanding.


emdi profile image

emdi 5 years ago

I think Americans are wise enough to understand that things will just evolve or come from nothing.


Rod Marsden profile image

Rod Marsden 5 years ago from Wollongong, NSW, Australia

Nothing comes from nothing or that is my understanding.


emdi profile image

emdi 5 years ago

Nobody has video recorded evolution. it is a theory, a hypothesis. Can evolution explains every aspect of life? I doubt. How can I believe in a theory that cannot explain everything?

The reasons why scientits still stick to it is, otherwise crazy churches will come up and start teaching their idiology. There is nowhere in the bible it says earth is flat, nor it is the main message of Christ. But still church made several people suffer because of this.

So, in my personal openion, it is good to have a counter theory, atleast it makes people to think and if they believe in God they understand why they do so.


Mentalist acer profile image

Mentalist acer 5 years ago from A Voice in your Mind!

Even the founders of intelligent design can only offer,not that intelligent design is a replacement for evolution but simply an argument that certain developmental aspects have no gradient which they have no specific example of.;)


mrpopo profile image

mrpopo 5 years ago from Canada Author

I think I've been in a unique position of at times preferring to work with my hands and at other times preferring to work with ideas. Though it's not very conductive of work in an environment that can easily stifle both methods. You're right Rod, not even teachers come out unscathed. Throughout my life in school I've seen those teachers that aim to inspire and those that had no such goal or just got it knocked out of them. The ones that aimed to inspire were often manipulated or abused by students just because they were willing to teach. The ones that didn't care just made it feel like a prison or at best a daycare. Throughout that entire time only one teacher managed to both inspire and control the class. He did this by being one of the students himself. He treated the students equally. He often allowed students to go a step beyond and teach themselves. And he was also a friend of the students. He managed to do all of this with a class that was in danger of being split apart because it was rowdy with every other teacher. It's a shame that this type of teaching is a rarity.

Emdi I don't think evolution claims to explain every aspect of life? I don't think theories in general do that! They just explain a given phenomenon; evolution being the case for gradual change over time which is explained by natural selection. We don't have a video for it, but we do have frames or snapshots in the form of fossils, and we can predict at what moment in the video these frames came into play using genetic, anatomical and geological comparisons so we can have a pretty good picture of how this happens. The reason scientists stick to it is because it makes sense and can readily explain many things in fields of biology, genetics and the like. Scientists don't pick it just to prevent churches to teaching their ideology, although I think there are plenty good reasons not to allow religion equal standing as education. You point out two major ones: the first that the church is willing to teach false information as truths, and the second is that they miss their own message by doing so. I'm not quite sure what you mean by a counter theory though.

Very good point Mentalist acer :)


Rod Marsden profile image

Rod Marsden 5 years ago from Wollongong, NSW, Australia

emdi, no theory, idea or notion explains everything. Possibly string theory comes closest to what you are looking for. The theory of evolution, meanwhile, is a lot more solid and there is plenty of supportive evidence to back it up from fossils to skulls to DNA. Something that moves as slowly as evolution cannot be video recorded. Common sense please.

Crazy churches have come up with their own pretend science to counter evolution anyway. It is called Creationism or intelligent design. It is not real science. It is nonsense. It is not really a counter theory at all. A counter theory would be based on real science. Intelligent design is nonsense.

mrpopo, I met the kind of teacher you are talking about just once and once only. A teacher who relinquishes any kind of control and treats students as equals has to have a certain amount of charisma in order to survive. Most people don't have that kind of charisma.

mrpopo, those looking to intelligent design or simply to debunk evolution don't want to understand about change being gradual. Yes, in some parts of the USA it appears the church and even the state is willing to teach false information as truths. Marx once wrote that religion is the opiate of the people. Maybe emdi just needs to lay back, get a few more drags from the good book and dream of the world as they would want it to be and not as it really is. Sort of like the caterpillar in one of the stories about Alice smoking his hookah.


china man 5 years ago

Nicely researched and put - I will draw attention to this hub in the ongoing creationist lies thread, it is a bit short of facts generally, but especially from the uneducated flat earth brigade.


mrpopo profile image

mrpopo 5 years ago from Canada Author

Rod that's a very good point that I didn't mention with the charisma. It's true, his charisma certainly helped him keep order.

I can certainly see how religion can be an addictive drug, something to hide behind for comfort. But we have to let go of the security blanket someday. Like drugs, having these false illusions hurts others around you as well as yourself.

Thanks china man. I noticed that thread has been very active. Hopefully this Hub can teach something new to some of them. After 700+ posts, it doesn't look like much progress was made. Perhaps a new strategy should be attempted.


Glassy profile image

Glassy 5 years ago from Aus

Very interesting Hub mrpopo. I have an idea as to why the US is so far behind on evolution, you can thank tv channels such as Fox for this. Some of the crap that comes out of this channel is truley amazing. The Fox channel is a Bible bashing, truth spinning, pro Republican channel of crap and the scary thing is, they have such a massive following.

And then there are those religious channels with the scary looking -lost preachers on them that brain wash the general public.


mrpopo profile image

mrpopo 5 years ago from Canada Author

Oh definitely. Mass media allows us to deliver information at a much faster rate, but that information can also be wrong. It's easy to see how we can be so easily manipulated by media and at the same time it's hard to understand the implications of such a controlling mechanism. I think those preachers do their job on their target audience; it's just difficult to think how we still have a target audience for such rubbish. Isn't it about time we got past this sort of rudimentary thinking? It's holding us back.

Thanks for stopping by Glassy.


Glassy profile image

Glassy 5 years ago from Aus

You are right mrpopo, i too am at a loss as to why there are so many people who want to believe in such crap, it is holding the whole world back for sure.

The internet doesn't help much either, you can find an answer on the net that suits what you are looking for, even if it's completely wrong. There is so much misinformation these days on the net and this isn't helping.


Rod Marsden profile image

Rod Marsden 5 years ago from Wollongong, NSW, Australia

I just saw a great BBC documentary on the first ice age. It was titled Catastrophe. It showed how close life on earth came to going completely extinct. Strangely enough this ice age when it broke due to volcanic activity on a massive scale resulted in a hell of a lot more oxygen being thrown up into our atmosphere resulting in the development of more complex creatures. If not for this ice age slime might have continued to rule the world. Naturally if you don't believe in the possibility of evolution then the discoveries made in Death Valley in the USA and the Kimberleys in Western Australia can mean nothing and this ice age never happened.


Glassy profile image

Glassy 5 years ago from Aus

Very interesting Rod, I wonder if all the Co2 that we have been pumping into the atmosphere at a rapid rate will eventually create sub standard creatures and slow down the evolution processes?

Then again, there are so many people out there who don't believe the Co2 will do anything and these people are usually the ones who believe in God and find comfort believing in what they do.


mrpopo profile image

mrpopo 5 years ago from Canada Author

I found that incredibly odd Glassy. There was a thread about anthropogenic global warming being a scam and again I ask "for what"? Why would credible scientists including Carl Sagan, Isaac Asimov and Stephen Hawking lie about it?

What I found shocking though was that most of those people did not base this particular skepticism on their religious beliefs but rather on their scientific views, some of which are flawed or not understood. Or worse, they question it because of economic concerns, which is absurd not only because most of the contributors to AGW have gained a ton of money, but also because it's choosing between some economic consequences vs a global event which could cause wreck to life as we know it.

You can check out the discussion here:

http://hubpages.com/forum/topic/63461#post1400964

That's interesting Rod. Some bacteria are capable of photosynthesis and would create more oxygen for the atmosphere, but it certainly would have taken a lot longer to bounce back without another oxygen contributor. When was this ice age anyway?


Rod Marsden profile image

Rod Marsden 5 years ago from Wollongong, NSW, Australia

Strangely enough, Glassy, high levels of Co2 in the atmosphere could overheat the planet resulting in acid rain becoming trapped in limestone resulting eventually in a lack of Co2 in the atmosphere resulting in a deep freeze. There is a balance that should be maintained. If this balance is no maintained bad things can happen.

There is plenty of proof for past global warming. An active volcano will give off plenty of carbon gas to warm the environment. Present day active volcanoes have been studied.

Guys like Sagan, Asimov and Hawking don't lie. They can be wrong but you have to be a real scientist to figure out when and how they are wrong.

The ice age occurred about three billion years after the earth first came to support life. It wasn't the only ice age. It was just the most complete and the most devastating.


Glassy profile image

Glassy 5 years ago from Aus

The thing that annoys me about the climate change skeptics is, these people wont even be around when it all starts to happen. 200 years of industrial pollution is not even a snippet of time when you compare it to how long the earth has been here for and it will take some time for the real damage to be done.

I have no doubt that there would be many people out there that are exaggerating climate change to create a scare so they can make more money out of the situation. Al Gore comes to mind here.


Rod Marsden profile image

Rod Marsden 5 years ago from Wollongong, NSW, Australia

Yes, Glassy it will take time for the real damage to surface. In the meantime Australia, in terms of climate, is experiencing a most unusual summer. Much of Queensland is flooded out. No exaggeration there.


Glassy profile image

Glassy 5 years ago from Aus

You are certainly right there Rod in saying that Australia is having an unusual summer. Ive never seen one like it in my life. Climate change is here for sure but im not too sure if there will be cities underwater due to the ocean rising in my life time, unless there are some rapid changes in the climate.


mrpopo profile image

mrpopo 5 years ago from Canada Author

Have you guys seen the thousands of animals that have been turning up dead all around the world? Fish, birds, turtles, crabs... I wonder if it has anything to do with climate change?


Rod Marsden profile image

Rod Marsden 5 years ago from Wollongong, NSW, Australia

it has happened near Wollongong. Birds have turned up dead for no apparent reason. This summer in Australia has been strange to say the least. There has been a lot of rain and there have been abnormally cold nights. Birds are seasonal. They are at certain places at certain times of the year. Eggs are often laid in spring but if spring is too much like winter the eggs may not hatch.

Yes, climate change would, could and should affect all creatures including humans.


Rod Marsden profile image

Rod Marsden 5 years ago from Wollongong, NSW, Australia

Right now it is flooding bad in Queensland and it looks like the floodwaters are going to also cause havoc in NSW. This summer is unusually damp.


Doc Snow profile image

Doc Snow 5 years ago from Atlanta metropolitan area, GA, USA

Thanks for a clear, well-written and well-observed Hub, mrp!

I may have missed it if anybody raised it earlier in the thread, but it's really not so much "church," per se, IMO at least--it's the literalist churches (mostly classed as "fundamentalist.") Mainstream Protestantism has no quarrel with evolution, and modern Catholicism has buried the hatchet in that regard as well. But if you are a literalist--well, it SAYS the sun stood still. It SAYS creation took seven days. And so forth. . .

And--to declare my own perspective--I'm a Unitarian Universalist; we actually have a sub-category in the hymnal dealing with "evolution." (You can get a flavor of this with the title of one of these hymns: "A Firemist And A Planet." UUs tend to see evolution as a source of spiritual wonder.) But I digress.

One of the dimensions of this whole evolution-denial/fundamentalist religion connection that should be borne in mind is that many fundamentalist churches are very active in proselytizing Latin America, Africa and Asia, and are meeting great success in those parts of the world. Their efforts often combine serious development work that really improves people's lives with a message of hope and comfort that is extremely attractive. All of this I can applaud, yet I fear that the denial of scientific truth is a dangerous thing--indirectly in terms of creationism/evolution, but more directly in the climate change controversy.

In that area, things are complicated. On the one hand, many conservative churches seem to be hotbeds of climate change denialism, as well as the evolutionary sort, and it is well-known that prominent "skeptical" scientists such as Roy Spencer and John Christy (both of the University of Alabama, Huntsville) hold creationist views. (I suppose I should say, "Intelligent Design.") On the other, there are considerable numbers, and some prominent leaders in the conservative church who advocate the ethic of "stewardship"--the idea that humans have a duty to safeguard God's creation.

(After all, Genesis does specifically state that God found His work "good"--and He made that evaluation each day of creation, which suggests that the "goodness" He found was not dependent upon the value of creation TO or FOR humans. Presumably, each phase of Creation was good in God's eyes, and on its own terms.)

The problem for me in all of this is that the continued well-being of human culture and civilization appears to be dependent upon us humans facing our situation in the world squarely and honestly. The most fundamental material aspect of that situation is our dependence upon a functioning natural environment, one which continues to provide the ecological services which we are biologically constrained by--and that is what is put at risk by climate change.

It didn't use to matter what we believed, in worldly terms. We might (allegedly) put our immortal souls at risk individually by wrong belief, but that wouldn't affect others (unless perhaps they miss us in the afterlife.) But now it matters vitally that humans collectively choose not to foul our own nest. That means that we must be wise enough to recognize pollution even when it is tasteless, odorless and present only in small amounts.

And that won't happen without science.


mrpopo profile image

mrpopo 5 years ago from Canada Author

Thanks Doc! I appreciate the in-depth reply!

In all honesty, I don't really like the idea of religion in general. I think there are certain aspects of religion that are commendable, but the entire nature of the ideal is flawed. Most religions are guidance and claim to be a universal truth, but I'm not quite so sure that a universal truth even exists. And likewise, they can sometimes guide people in the wrong way. The fact that you do certain actions only to appease your religious customs and not for the sole benefit of the action is somewhat contradictory and it makes you lose the inherent meaning of the action. If I were to donate to those less fortunate, it would be only to help them - I wouldn't be doing the action to appease a God so I can later get some reward. Creating dogmas can be very limiting. I much rather prefer a spiritualistic approach to things.

Like you I think denial of scientific truth can only be damaging in the long run. You're right, these religions can create feelings of hope and comfort - but at what cost? Are these feelings only a quick fix, the results of an illusion hindering attempts to deal with the real problem(s)? I like to picture it as being given a blue pill or a red pill like in The Matrix. Would it be better to live a life of happiness in ignorance, or to find the truth even if it is disturbing? I think you put it best in saying we need to address the situation honestly.

I was only aware of the relationship between denial of evolution and fundamentalist belief. I had no idea this stretched to climate change as well. That's even more of a concern than not acknowledging evolution because like you said, we are dependent on our environment. Ignorance regarding evolution is bad but a minor nuisance, while being ignorant regarding climate change could prove very costly.

Very well said. To collectively choose not to foul our own nest we must first identify and agree with the cause of harm. Some people are being more resistant than others in spite of all of the evidence which could be really damaging in the long run. For every reason that creates doubt on the theory there are a hundred more that assert its definitiveness. And so far I haven't seen enough evidence for alternative theories.

@ Rod: forgive me but I must have forgotten about your posts. Has the flooding subsided?

And yes, climate change will have an effect on most species for sure (maybe not extremophiles but they're the exception). The question is: are we humans responsible?


lone77star profile image

lone77star 5 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

Shocking statistics, mrpopo. Thanks for enlightening us.

I happen to disagree with those who feel that religion limits critical thinking. Those who espouse such an idea need to brush up on logic a bit more. Perhaps those with little intelligence flock to religion out of a need for solace. I've known some critical thinkers who find non-critical acceptance of religion an unacceptable approach in their own religious pursuits.

And intelligence is not a gauge, either. All three of my younger brothers have IQ's far higher than mine and we are each very spiritual (IQ's: 149, 169, 200+). My IQ doesn't count; it's only borderline genius by some accounts.

And the term "blind faith" is a bit of an oxymoron! Ouch. "Blind belief" is a much more acceptable term. "Faith" is a term used to describe the state needed to walk on water or to perform other miracles. There is nothing "blind" about this. "Faith" looks a little like "belief" because they both deal with some degree of confidence, but the miracle type of "faith" is transcendent, while "belief" is tainted with varying degrees of doubt and is thus imperfect. It is thus "blind" to one degree or another.

Evolution? Brilliant scientific work.

The blind leading the blind? That is indeed scary. If the fundamentalists (biblical literalists) get their way, the United States would become a "Christian" nation based on their beliefs. And then, this poor Christian might be burned at the stake for heretical beliefs, the evil performance of miracles, and a healthy respect for astrophysics, astronomy, planetary sciences, geology and archaeology. (Oh yes, a belief in evolution, too.)

My big question: How can we save America from blind belief?


mrpopo profile image

mrpopo 5 years ago from Canada Author

I was pretty shocked myself, lonestar. It gives you some perspective on the alarming religious-political situation in the States.

I'm not quite sure about religion limiting critical thinking. I believe for the most part it does, especially when dealing with fundamentalist notions. I'm sure there are exceptions though. Perhaps Buddhist methodologies can help increase different methods of thinking simply by their traditional meditations. Not that other religions can't do this, but it's much easier with a religion focused on meditative practices. Pure speculation on my part, though. Besides, Buddhism is often considered more spiritual than religious. Distinguishing between the two is very important.

Intelligence is not a gauge for religious activity mainly because it is difficult to define. IQ tests can be good guidelines for certain aspects of intelligence, but not all. I'm certain that there are some brilliant individuals in a given aspect(s) of intelligence that are religious and similarly brilliant individuals that are quite the opposite.

Blind faith may very well be an oxymoron depending on how you define it. I used it more in the context of the commonly said phrase, which may very well be incorrect (either by being a paradox or by being redundant) but that's how such phrases are created and perpetuated. As long as the general intent of the phrase is delivered, I don't really mind. That's the beauty of language - it can be flexible if you need it to be.

How can we save America from blind belief? A firm grasp on reality is the first step. When we discovered that slavery/racism was wrong, it was because we came to terms with the fact that colour, background etc. is not an indicator of a "true" human being or one of more or less worth. When we discovered (or I guess we are still discovering) that animal cruelty is wrong, we realized that they are a lot like us and do not deserve to be subject to harsh treatments simply for being different (very similar to the harsh treatment on blacks - we simply haven't made the inference yet). When we come to terms with reality we'll realize that blind belief can be harmful and limiting and thus stop with the practice.


Eaglekiwi profile image

Eaglekiwi 5 years ago from -Oceania

Interesting hub full of facts and figures ,though I truly think the numbers who believe in evolution seem much higher than those quoted.

Certainly if you check out higher education and the syllbus it doesnt tend to favor Christianity ,which is where I lean. Incidently I do believe we evolve,but from another species -no.

Thanks again.


mrpopo profile image

mrpopo 5 years ago from Canada Author

Thanks for stopping by Eaglewiki.

That might be the case, but I'm just quoting the data from the study conducted.

Assuming we don't come from another species, how can you explain things like our DNA being 98% identical to certain apes or how we sometimes retain certain characteristics like tails?


junkseller profile image

junkseller 5 years ago from Michigan

Nice work mrpopo.

The other day I heard someone say that only God can destroy the world, therefore global warming can't be true. I just shook my head. What can you even really say about that.

It is like you said. People live in a society almost entirely built by modern science and yet somehow manage to completely reject science. It is bizarre.


mrpopo profile image

mrpopo 5 years ago from Canada Author

Thanks junkseller, glad you stopped by.

There's not much you can say. I mean, where do you even begin? There might be hundreds of misconceptions the person could be clinging to and you might not get through to them.

Is this a setback? Absolutely. For instance, the banning of stem cell research with embryonic cells that were destined to die anyway is just plain ignorance. How much closer would we be to curing Parkinson's or spinal cord injuries?

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