Pew Research released a poll today which may validate the views of many that the Republican party is becoming more and more medieval in their thinking. The poll asked people a number of questions about evolution, the primary one asking if humans and other living things have existed exactly as they are today from the beginning of their existence or if they have changed over time…in other words, evolved.

The overall numbers were similar to what they were four years ago but the political breakdown is very enlightening…at least to those who believe in the science of polls.

60% of Americans believed that people and other living things had evolved while 33% believe evolution is for the birds…well, not even those dinosaur descendants.

Many religious people expressed a belief in evolution, seeing God’s hand in it. Science and religion can indeed coexist for some but unfortunately, not for the extremists. 64% of White Evangelist Protestants (and 50% of Black Evangelist Protestants) don’t believe in evolution.

The political breakdown…and breakdown may be the right word when one considers the deterioration in Republicans’ belief in science…is most interesting. In 2009, when Pew held a similar poll,  In 2009, 54% of Republicans and 64% of Democrats supported evolution. In this week’s poll, those numbers have changed to 43% of Republicans and 67% of Democrats.

So in just four years, there are almost 20% more Republicans disbelieving evolution, the 10% gap with Democrats in 2009 has ballooned more than double to a 24% gap (meanwhile, there was a gradual increase of 3% more Democrats believing in evolution).

Why is that and does it tell us something important about Republicans and their party? Perhaps so and perhaps not.

There is no question that with the rise of Tea Party, the average IQ of elected Republican officials has appeared to mirror the graph of a stock market crash. As extremists have seemed to multiply in the GOP and take more control, scientists could make an argument for that as evidence confirming the theory of  devolution. However, might one explanation for those numbers also be due to the current content of the GOP? Many moderates have been chased out of the party leaving a greater concentration of those more likely to deny evolution (and the legal citizenship of black men elected to office).

Percentages can be misleading. We don’t know that more people are joining the Know Nothings in a backwards march to the Dark Ages, we just know that a higher percentage of those in the GOP are claiming Fred Flintstone as one of their relatives on Ancestry.com.

One could argue though that there is a movement within the evangelist Protestants to see any advancement of knowledge and social progress as a threat, as they conflict with their long held concepts of laws supporting religious dogma and white superiority elevating them above minorities. Evolution has long been on the “enemies list” of some, it might just be that more Republicans are changing over time…or as they don’t believe in calling it, evolving to a position of  disputing the existence of evolution.

Consider how today’s America looks to the less-educated, very religious white evangelist Protestants. They used to take comfort in their country having laws that enforced “God’s Word”, making homosexuality a criminal act and gay marriage an abomination that would never be legally permitted. White people held a monopoly on the top symbol of power in America, the Presidency, and minorities were easily dismissed as inferior and deserving of unequal treatment. The American Dream they had been waiting to come to them their whole lives never came and instead, those who shouldn’t be entitled to better lives have taken what was meant for them.

And these same people who have been forcing “equality” down the throats of those extremists who have counted on inequality their whole lives to give them an advantage, want them to accept other realities that makes them feel even worse and even more unenlightened.

Well, to quote the old Tareyton Cigarettes catch phrase, sometimes the need to protect one’s ego and insecurities takes priority in human beings and some would rather fight than switch. There’s something gratifying to be in a “noble” battle one’s constructed and it can distract one from the things that aren’t so satisfying…like the things that made them so defensive in the first place that they chose to fight reality. Is the fight by many of these same people against global warming any different? They’ve been manipulated by the corporate polluters who own the GOP (see: The Koch Bros and Friends) into thinking that their religious beliefs are under attack by those who want to address Climate Change. Science is the enemy of polluters because it can quantify and identify the destruction they are doing so it’s a natural for them to whip up the religious extremists in the GOP to fight their battle for them.

The irony is that such people use the fruits of science daily, such as televisions, cell phones and the internet to wage their war against that evil practice of science. As mentioned above, many religious people don’t see religion and science as being in opposition to each other but for these others, it is a zero sum game. Either science is defeated or their religion will be.

Scientific explorations have actually led to discoveries that only add to the mysteries of existence and for some, greater belief in God. Whether it’s evolution, The Big Bang or quantum mechanics,  as some theories are figured out, greater mysteries are uncovered. Science could never present a definitive conclusive theory proving the non-existence of something that transcends existence, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to recognize that simple fact.

So having a little flexibility on what people said 2000 years ago, long before the practice of science even began, as to how things really are and work in this universe shouldn’t be seen as a threat to religion or people’s faith but for these folks, they are. For them, to believe in evolution, Climate Change, equality of all races, religions, sexes and sexual orientations is to turn against their church and the people in their religious community…not to mention, accept reality instead of remain in the more affirming and comforting bubble of denial they’re sealed inside.

It is not surprising that so many of these folks are hostile, they have backed themselves into a corner and they see it as a matter of self-preservation now that science must be denied at nearly every turn. What science has to say is beside the point, science is clearly not a true believer so it must be a deceiver…whatever it wants to express must be attacked and disqualified. As they are besieged by more and more truths that don’t conform to their religious extremism, they’ve become just absolutist parrots, squawking the same disputes no matter the issue.

While others are evolving and becoming more enlightened about the world and universe around them…and either building on their religious beliefs or their non-religious beliefs, these people are devolving. They put on narrower blinders to avoid seeing what’s really going on around them, express beliefs that would be more fitting in years gone by and they yearn for times to reverse themselves back to an era when all of their insecurities would be erased.

What they seem to want more than anything is a time machine. It is interesting how those who think that most of what science has to offer is fiction, are so vested in the desire for something that could only happen in science fiction.

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Assumed Name
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Assumed Name

Interesting piece, Ad Lib. The Christian far right, however, is in the minority…they’re just obnoxiously loud and brazen:

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2012/10/09/pew-20-of-americans-are-now-atheist-agnostic-or-unaffiliated-with-a-religion/

That said, they are gaining traction against women’s reproductive freedom…and I’m guessing that has to do with the minority/majority scare…but given the general archaic nature of far right theology, perhaps we’re witnessing the last bang before the whimper.

confuseddemocrat
Member

I guess the Prez’s comment about a certain group sticking to their guns and bibles was more correct than we really realized…………….

Assumed Name
Member
Assumed Name

…oh: and Happy New Year, ConfusedD!!

confuseddemocrat
Member

Happy new year Assumed Name and may you have prosperous returns……

Assumed Name
Member
Assumed Name

…I assumed any thinking person understood how close to literal that remark was! Still, they’re a numerical minority, and they know it. (Hence, the short-lived “bigger tent” rhetoric.)

kesmarn
Admin

Another home run, AdLib!

I’m sure that as the rest of us are celebrating the change from 2013 to 2014, the GOP/TP will be toasting 2013 morphing into 1858 — before women’s suffrage,that pesky Emancipation Proclamation and the publication of “The Origin of the Species.”

Happy New Year to you and the whole Lib family, and here’s to good things in 2014 — including lots of Dem electoral victories and a hefty raise in the minimum wage!

And many thanks for a 2013 that was full of many of your best articles ever.

jjgravitas
Member
jjgravitas

Adlib, great article. Yesterday while browsing Twitter I followed a link to Washington Post’s report on this issue. I left a comment wishing that the data had been broken down by state so I could get a sense of where the science deniers were gaining strength. Upon posting it I saw that the report was fresh and that a live debate was occurring in the comments section. I spent the next several hours in a very weird conversation with conservatives, moderates and liberals. Its a strange experience to see how conservatives justify their arguments. On evolution they argue that its not a valid concept because our information isn’t complete (IOW we don’t know everything ergo we know nothing and are free to fill that void with the most ridiculous claptrap imaginable). Its a little scary to see that ignorance play out in front of your eyes.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics/wp/2013/12/30/republicans-growing-more-skeptical-about-evolution/?tid=auto_complete

Nirek
Member

JJ, claptrap is just what it is. Deny science and you are showing ignorance. Education is more important now than ever. IMO.

VegasBabe
Member

We’re all the same. I remember when my beloved grandmother, bless her heart, would on occasion stick $2.00 in an envelope and mail it to Rev. Ike, a bible thumping shyster if there ever was one, despite our pleadings to her that it was for naught! Couldn’t change her belief and conviction for all the tea in China!

Anthropologist Didier Fassin distinguishes between denial, defined as “the empirical observation that reality and truth are being denied”, and denialism, which he defines as “an ideological position whereby one systematically reacts by refusing reality and truth”. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denialism

That which we fear, we deny. Who among us can ever claim different?

KillgoreTrout
Member

VB, my grandmother on my mother’s side was like that too. She was a devout Christian and used to send money to a certain TV evangelist. I don’t know if he was a charlatan, but he very well could have been. She felt it was part of her devotion to send money. I am always a bit suspicious of TV preachers who are always asking for money. Especially when they equate donating to winning god’s favor.

Denial can be an insidious thing and in many cases, people don’t realize they are in denial until someone may point it out to them. I think denialism occurs when such denial is pointed out to them, yet they continue to remain in denial. They don’t want to acknowledge the truth, as you have pointed out. I’m not sure what is meant by systematically reacting.

Fear is truly a double edged sword. In many instances, fear is what keeps us alive. For example, if we were suddenly confronted with a grizzly bear while walking in the woods, it is fear that would instinctively tell us to avoid that bear at all costs. It’s a survival mechanism.

Then there is fear of the future, or a sense of dread, which I think is pretty much the same. I have no doubt that there is fear of certain ideology, as so accurately demonstrated by a majority of GOPTPers.

I find it very possible to fear something without denying it. The old adage that we must face our fears in order to overcome them, rings very true with me. I do believe that this requires practice and a strong intent to accomplish. It’s the “fight or flight,” instinct within all of us, and there are different ways of fighting and fleeing. Physical and psychological.

Beatlex
Member
Beatlex

A great post I found on HP on climate change,sorry if it is a downer,but it is reality

December 31, 2013 at 1:03 pm

Saw this on HP,one of the smarter posters there on climate change,sorry if it is a downer to some

Antony C. (outlandish)

55

Political Pundit · 11,770 Fans · In something we trust

It doesn’t matter what any of us say here, those that can see the writing on the wall and the cataclysm looming will lay out a case for change and those that buy into all well funded conspiracy theories, like the $ 1 billion spent per year to fight cap and trade will toe the corporate paid for line, people who can’t even comprehend that we are leaving a toxic junk pile in our wake as we exploit our way through this age.

It’s a pity that disaster will unfold equally on the sane and rational as much as on the irrational and non thinkers but we might have to come to a point where much of the world is a desert including the US and over 1/3 of what was dry land sits under water as sea levels rise. Before sanity prevails

I’ve been fighting this battle on the streets, through the media and face to face for more than 40 years and every year the outlook has become grimmer while denials have become louder, less sane and full of rote learned catchphrases that have even eliminated individual thought on the denial side.

I’m OK, I’m in my sixties and won’t be around to witness much of the destruction but the same people who hyperventilate over an easily fixable debt problem are in full support of leaving an unviable ecosystem for the grandkids, and I’m sure they’d rather be left with some debt than planetary devastation.

It takes a special type of ignorance to see a fiscal problem as being far more severe than the end of life as we know it but people are people, some study and learn and through learning grow and change while others are told what to think, how to repeat what they were told, stagnate and then slip into ignorance induced entropy.

All I am thankful for is when the final tally is taken, I and many of us stood up for the planet and future while too many were bought by shiny, glitzy advertising paid for by big pollution.

It’s a crying shame that all will be punished by the willfully induced ignorance that has held back any progress in fixing an ever more severe problem.

Oh and Happy New Year and enjoy them while they last.
31 Dec 9:18 AM
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PocketWatch
Member

A couple of random thoughts…

I think that fundamentalism, in all its forms, becomes more prevalent in uncertain times. People seek comfort in the simple, the not-complex. It’s in our nature as humans, I believe. I saw it in my work as a Business Consultant every working day. To have some guy parachute in screams CHANGE!!!! and everybody in the workplace reverts instantly to drawing back, relying on routine, looking to managers to take the heat, all sorts of protective behavior. They had no idea what was going on, and scared. Perfect frame of mind to be able to make changes, if you know how to use it properly.

Our politics and the ‘disintegration’ (in the strict definition of the word) of our society in general causes fear. We all fear change, all of us. Politicians, from time immemorial, have known how to channel that fear in all sorts of ways, and, more importantly, how to create it.

Thirty years or so ago, the Republican Party made – literally – a Devil’s bargain, in my opinion. They always had the support of the religious fundamentalist leaders, and the tacit support of the TV Evangelist crowd. In return for the TV preachers to become more political, and use their powers of “persuasion” to get out the vote, especially in the South, the guys in the back rooms promised to get more of their agenda into the mainstream and into law where possible.

In addition, larger corporate interests (and some private ones)started doing the math. They realized that by tweaking the tax code here and there, loosening regulations, and paying politicians to do PR on things like the horrible EPA and OSHA, the ginning up of the hatred of all those hippie tree-huggers that laughed at them in high school, disdain for science and science research (can’t have actual scientists refuting your tame corporate ones that have been lying to the public and press for decades, now can we?), tame economists ‘proving’ that trickle down works, and on and on… those business guys can actually plan at that level, and they did. They even bought themselves a TV Network!

So, the conservative, 3-piece suit, tight-fisted, bankers and lawyers and car dealers and pharmacists and farmers and business guys all over the country, the guys that actually WERE good with money in that way, the WASPS we all know and love, those guys began to lose their political party.

Why? Because the 3-way had been consummated.

Religious fundamentalism, big… REALLY-can’t-turn-it-down, BIG… money, and the Republican Party. The UnHoly Trinity we are dealing with today, both in society and, therefore, in our politics.

Who better to politicize the fundamentalist portion of the populace than their very own preachers, who now had the power to set a real agenda from their point of view? And the interests of big business overlapped into this portion of the citizenry as well. Megabusiness hates government because governments cost them money, in many ways. Most people don’t like government. It costs them, too, money. They disagree with what’s being done, potholes, local idiot school boards, that damned governor, the President… People know what they hear, and even if they are not all that interested in politics, GOVERNMENT is always there, and at some point, at some level, has been a royal pain in the ass. We’ve all been there. Most of us shake it off and move on. Many do not. Many are poor, and they deal with GOVERNMENT more than anybody. And… they also tend to be more fundamentalist religiously than the more educated and wealthier among us.

And there you have it! Thirty years (one generation) of “government is bad (but please don’t notice that I want you to elect me INTO government!),”get rid of EPA and OSHA and… hell… ALL government! Thirty years of who’s-right-and-who’s-wrong debating on an entertainment network that was WELL funded by those big business guys, thirty years of corporate propaganda and politics to match. Thirty years of fundamentalism’s rejection of any kind of science, spurred on by corporate interests.

Thirty years of corporate-backed laws that loosened the financial system in ways those 3-piece suit banker Republicans would have a stroke over, They even want the Post Office, the ONLY administrative branch of the government mentioned in the Constitution.

Anyway, that’s the picture of it from my POV. We know the story from here, I think. The radicals are trying to live the dream… eliminate government. Megabusiness is backing them 100%. No mystery as to why.

The question is, who wins? My answer is, nobody. That would be a disaster of the highest proportions. Would I love to see 100 Bernie Sanders’ sitting in the Senate? Hell yeah! Ain’t never gonna happen. We are in a political pendulum, and, as far as I can tell, takes about 50-year swings.

The Republican Party wants to extend that swing and break it off. The Democrats and others want it to come back towards the true middle and more, as they should. The Libertarians just want to get laid and smoke weed, oh, and not pay taxes. If one side wins, the US is done as a country. They just don’t see it that way. If the other side gets its way, we might be dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st Century where good things await.

“May you live in interesting times!” – ancient Chinese curse

Nirek
Member

PW, we definitely live in interesting times.
I agree that we need more Bernie’s, too. I like to take credit for him since I have voted for him every time he has run!

You seem to grasp the situation well. You and Ad make a lot of sense to me.

Nirek
Member

Ad, great post as usual.
I find no problem with “religion” and science working together. Why?
Well, the people who wrote the Bible were not scientific so they had no idea about the rest of the universe. As the Bible said some of the people lived several hundred years, their years may have been a month in today time.
“God created the Earth in seven days” ? How long was one of their days?

The “Bible thumpers” are taking everything written by people and interpreted by people (all of whom are fallible) literally. That in my estimation is ignorance. Too many conflicts between science and the Bible. All of them should be accepted to be erroneous on the part of the Bible.

Aquarius 1027
Member
Aquarius 1027

Great article, AdLib! Especially liked that last sentence! – Religious extremism is a true enigma that has no place in politics. As so aptly demonstrated by the Senate election campaigns of Akin and Mourdock, We the People ultimately will not tolerate or vote for those who try to promote antiquated agendas.

Agendas that contradict the realities of science will also not be tolerated. It has been astounding to listen to the GOP/TP as they try to defend their anti-science proclamations in the media. Their absurd statements that a so-called majority of Americans agree with them is indeed, pure fantasy.

There will be a significant backlash against the GOP/TP at the voting polls in both 2014 and 2016. We the People have lived with not only their scientific and social devolution but with the results of their legislative devolution as well for over three years. – Nice to connect and wishing you a Happy New Year!

Nirek
Member

Aquarius, I hope you are correct about 2014 and 2016.

Aquarius 1027
Member
Aquarius 1027

Hi there, Nirek! – Nice to meet you! – Too many legislative actions at the state levels have directly affected too many people for far too long. And federal legislative actions that could have helped many people have been obstructed by the GOP/TP.

The GOP/TP has enacted legislation against: workers and women, the poor, the elderly, LGBT, students, the middle class, veterans and voters.

Will be keeping my fingers crossed at midterm election time that the backlash gets the GOP/TP out of office. – Nice to connect and Happy New Year! 🙂

pinkpantheroz
Member

I really hope that I’m not the only one looking at the GOP/TP as becoming as fundamentalist zealots as those who have bastardised the Q’oran. If we’re not careful, we’ll see, if we’re not already doing so, the imposition of a form of Sharia Law by the Evangelical loonies. The saddest fact is that the Tea Party factions have suborned the mainstream, center-right GOP. If this is the American Dream, I’m glad I now live in Australia, even with its own warts and all. I don’t know any solutions, but I don’t think that the GOP can be fixed by anyone outside the Party. The problem seems to be that the Loony right have terrified the lawmakers so much that they fear their re-election prospects. That makes cowards of them, so they kowtow and crawl towards reelection. Someone in the GOP needs to put a bit of iron in their spines and stand up to the McCarthy-like bullying and intimidation of these nongs. I won’t hold my breath, because I haven’t yet seen anyone there that could even take a first step. And we Democrats can’t rely on the dissatisfaction of the masses, because the gerrymandered districts and huge advertising revenue will still give the GOP/TP huge advantages. We need to get better candidates, better funding and better Get Out The Vote activity if we have any chance at all.

jjgravitas
Member
jjgravitas

PPO, I think the only way to “fix” the GOP is to vote them so far out of power that they no longer have a voice in national politics. I know that’s rather pie-in-the-sky considering their very large gerrymandered base. But the base will eventually change. This is why the GOP has fought tooth and nail against immigration reform. A large influx of newly legal Latino citizens will probably not result in that group voting for the GOP in its current form. I also wonder about the youth in the Midwest, how they will affect the demographic.

Dbos
Member
Dbos

Let us not forget that these people are subsidiaries of the monied class they are pawns of the oligarchical kochs and adelson ; in other words its all about the money and they are making stupidity popular and profitable.

KillgoreTrout
Member

Hey PPO! Fortunately, we have the wisest constitution of any other country I know. It is a constitution written by men who saw, firsthand the dangers and tyranny of theocratic countries. They were products of the Enlightenment and read their books well.

Our 1st amendment is very well protected. I don’t really see any chance of America actually becoming a theocracy. No doubt there are a few million Americans that would like nothing better, but it’s just not going to happen.

Of course we must always be vigilant against those who would try to undermine one of the most intelligent documents ever written. If America is truly exceptional in any way at all, it is because of our constitution and it’s amendments.

Beatlex
Member
Beatlex

I am in Canada Pink.We have conservatives,but they bear little resemblance to American Conservatives.The right has gone off the rails there.Truly an ugly spectacle

Beatlex
Member
Beatlex

My question about what is widely regarded as what happened at the beginning,the big bang, is where did it happen?It must have been somewhere,but we are told that there was nothing before the big bang

pinkpantheroz
Member

Well, Beatlex, my theory is that the Big Bang was a sneeze from God! A little more seriously, I think that the Universe is and always has been in constant states of expansion and contraction. At this point in time, it is expanding. Eventually, it may run out of oomph and start contracting, so in a few trillion years it will all come together in another Big Bang and start all over again. It may seem silly, but so do so many other theories, especially the one that this all started less than 10,000 years ago.

Beatlex
Member
Beatlex

If ignorance is bliss,American evangelicals must be truly orgasmic

Beatlex
Member
Beatlex

Very thought provoking AdLib.Any thoughts as to why this seems to be mostly a Right wing American thing?I admit I don’t really know about conservative movements elsewhere,other than Canada,where I am from.Our conservatives focus mainly on the fiscal and social issues,We have religious conservatives,but they are in a small minority.

KillgoreTrout
Member

Hey Ad, spot on. I think some of the RWers do believe in evolution, but they won’t admit it, for fear of being ostracized by their “peers.” And Climate Change, for heaven’s sake, they will never admit that humans are causing it to change at a much faster pace than nature has been doing for thousands of years. This denunciation of man made global warming hits them, hard, in two main areas, like you already mentioned, that god would never allow such a thing and the political side that favors the huge corporations and CEOs…etc.

You should check out my recent post..”In Defense of Intelligent Design (sort of).” Neil De Grasse Tyson gives an excellent presentation regarding the creation of the universe, and evolution as well. I think you’ll really enjoy Dr. Tyson’s presentation.