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The Critic's Resource on AntiEvolution

NCSE Evolution Education Update for 2010/05/28

(by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch)

Dear Friends of NCSE,

The results of a new survey appear, with questions on evolution,
religion, and scientific consensus. The polymathic Martin Gardner is
dead. And NCSE is pleased to offer a sample chapter of Daniel Radosh's
Rapture Ready.


Included in the Virginia Commonwealth University Life Sciences Survey
for 2010 were a number of questions about evolution, religion, and
scientific consensus -- and as usual there were few surprises in the

Asked "[w]hich of these statements comes closest to your views on the
origin of biological life," 43% of respondents selected "God directly
created biological life in its present form at one point in time," 24%
selected "biological life developed over time from simple substances,
but God guided this process," and 18% selected "biological life
developed over time from simple substances but God did not guide this
process." (The remaining 16% of respondents selected none of these
choices, said that they did not know, or refused to answer the
question.) Note that the wording of these choices is similar, but not
identical to, the standard Gallup choices.

Respondents were also asked "How much have you heard or read about the
theory of evolution"; 44% of respondents selected "a lot"; 32%
selected "some"; 23% selected "not too much" or "nothing." Asked
"would you say the theory of evolution conflicts with your own
religious beliefs, or is mostly compatible with your own religious
beliefs," respondents were almost evenly split, with 42% reporting
conflict and 43% reporting compatibility. Unsurprisingly, "[t]hose who
say the Bible is the actual Word of God are more likely than others to
adopt a creation perspective about the origins of life and report that
the theory of evolution conflicts with their religious beliefs."

Asked "do you think the evidence on evolution is widely accepted
within the scientific community, or do many scientists have serious
doubts about it," 53% of respondents indicated that they thought that
it was widely accepted and 31% indicated that they thought that many
scientists have serious doubts about it. The report noted that
"[t]hose who report being more informed about scientific and medical
discoveries are more likely than those who report being less informed
to view the theory of evolution as widely accepted in the scientific
community," and emphasized that evolution is indeed widely accepted in
the scientific community.

The results are broadly consistent with results from a previous VCU
Life Sciences survey from 2005, in which 42% of respondents preferred
"God directly created biological life in its present form at one point
in time," 26% selected "biological life developed over time from
simple substances, but God guided this process," and 17% selected
"biological life developed over time from simple substances but God
did not guide this process." In that survey, the second ("God guided
this process") option was misdescribed as "intelligent design"; the
2010 report describes the option as "compatible with an 'intelligent
design' or a 'theistic evolution' view."

The survey, conducted for VCU Life Sciences by the VCU Center for
Public Policy, was conducted by landline and cell telephone with 1001
adults nationwide, from May 12 to May 18, 2010. The margin of error
for the poll is plus or minus 3.7 percentage points.

For the report (PDF), visit: 

For the report of the 2005 survey (PDF), visit: 

And for NCSE's collection of materials on polls and surveys, visit: 


The polymathic Martin Gardner died on May 22, 2010, at the age of 95,
according to the obituary in The New York Times (May 23, 2010). Born
in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on October 21, 1914, Gardner studied philosophy at
the University of Chicago, graduating in 1936. After working as a
reporter and in public relations, he served in the U.S. Naval Reserve
from 1942 to 1946, and then launched a freelance writing career. In
1957, he began writing his "Mathematical Games" column for Scientific
American, which ran until 1981. A prolific writer, he wrote books not
only on recreational mathematics but also on science and philosophy,
literary topics (including his celebrated The Annotated Alice), and
pseudoscience. In 1976, he was one of the founders of the Committee
for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (now the
Committee for Skeptical Inquiry).

In a 1998 interview with Skeptical Inquirer's Kendrick Frazier,
Gardner said that as a high school student, "I actually doubted the
theory of evolution, having been influenced by George McCready Price,
a Seventh-day Adventist creationist. A course in geology convinced me
that Price was a crackpot. However, his flood theory of fossils is
ingenious enough so that one has to know some elementary geology in
order to see where it is wrong. Perhaps this aroused my interest in
debunking pseudoscience." Gardner's first book In the Name of Science
(1952; reissued as Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science, 1957)
devoted a chapter to "Geology versus Genesis"; and he returned
frequently to the topic, with his collection Did Adam and Eve Have
Navels? (2001) even taking its title from a classic challenge to

For the obituary in The New York Times, visit: 

For the interview of Gardner, visit: 


NCSE is pleased to offer a free preview of Daniel Radosh's Rapture
Ready! Adventures in the Parallel Universe of Christian Pop Culture
(Scribner 2008; Soft Skull 2010) -- featuring Radosh's account of his
visit to Answers in Genesis's Creation Museum. "It took a few hours
after leaving the Creation Museum for my head to clear enough to
understand how utterly bizarre it was," Radosh writes. "Even if there
were other creationists out there who were nuttier than Ken Ham --
Kent Hovind with his tax-evading dinosaurs, Carl Baugh with his pink
sky and giant humans -- the ingenuity and sophistication with which
Answers in Genesis pursued its agenda pretty much had me persuaded
that my quest for the strangest and most hostile manifestation of
Christian pop culture had come to an end."

For the preview (PDF), visit: 

For information about the book, visit:!/Daniel-Radosh/9780743297707 

Thanks for reading! And don't forget to visit NCSE's website -- -- where you can always find the latest news on 
evolution education and threats to it.


Glenn Branch
Deputy Director
National Center for Science Education, Inc.
420 40th Street, Suite 2
Oakland, CA 94609-2509
510-601-7203 x310
fax: 510-601-7204

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