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51% of British Public Doubts Darwin

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on February 2, 2009

So boasts the Evolution News and Views website in the post titled “51% Percent of British Public Doubts Darwin; 10-20 % Attend Church“. I would add to it that 51% of the British Public is ignorant about science. Ok, now besides the obvious correction (that 51% does not need to be followed up by the word “percent”) let’s look at what that survey means to the ID crowd.

The article they quote comes from The Telegraph and is titled “Poll reveals public doubts over Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. The article reports the following:

In the survey, 51 per cent of those questioned agreed with the statement that “evolution alone is not enough to explain the complex structures of some living things, so the intervention of a designer is needed at key stages”

A further 40 per cent disagreed, while the rest said they did not know.

Asked whether it was true that “God created the world sometime in the last 10,000 years”, 32 per cent agreed, 60 per cent disagreed and eight per cent did not know.

The IDers are using this survey’s result with a claim that only 10-20% of British population attends church (which I’ll accept, its not so extraordinary a claim so for this claim their word really is enough for me. Surprised right?) to assert the following:

The meaning of this disparity between support for intelligent design and church attendance is obvious: support for intelligent design extends far beyond the segment of the population that is traditionally religious. Weekly church attendance is a minimal criterion to be labeled “fundamentalist” or devout. The inference to design in biology is held by the majority of both the American and British public, and for more than half of people who support design, the reasons are not devout acquiescence to religious dogma. For most supporters of intelligent design in biology, design is inferred empirically.

Wow, now that is science in action! Ok, so 10-20% who attend church are “traditionally Religious”. Wait a minute, did the same survey not establish that 32% believe that God created the Earth less than 10,000 years ago? So what do we do with the 22-12% from this group that don’t go to church? They believe God created the earth less than 10,000 years ago but they are not “traditionally religious”? Hmmm, that’s a bit of a head scratcher.

Furthermore it takes a special kind of logical gymnastics to go from “people don’t attend church” to “design is thus inferred empirically”. How? This is the logical fallacy of the false dichotomy. What they are saying is that either people go to church, thus their belief in God colors their worldview, or people don’t go to church therefore all their beliefs are based on empirical evidence. I call bullshit! That would be stupid to even contemplate, let alone champion.

Are the IDers really saying that a person who believes in God, who believes God created the Earth in less than 10,000 years, can only reach the ID conclusion based on these religious beliefs, IF and only IF he goes to church? That if he does not go to church he then must, by default follow the empirical evidence? Then how do they explain the discrepancy between the people that go to church (10-20% according to them) and the ones that believe the earth was created by God recently (32%)? Isn’t that a contradiction? Shouldn’t the number of people that believe this, which is a religious belief not what the empirical evidence say, not exceed the number of people that go to church? Otherwise, they ought to go with empirical conclusions which would take them to way over 10,000 years no?

Furthermore, did Michael Egnor ever take a Logic 101 class, that he so willingly goes into all sorts of logical fallacies in order to reach his predetermined conclusions?  I already mentioned his pathetic false dichotomy above. Furthermore, how does it matter if 51% of the public does not believe in evolution (except in the sense that it shows a complete lack of basic scientific knowledge and a stone age mentality)? How does this falsify evolution or lend credibility to the IDers? Has Egnor never heard of the argument from popularity that he so happily tries to employ here? This is lame, and not the sort of logic you’d expect from a trained neuroscientist. What if 51% of the population believed that we only use 10% of our brain (which certainly seems to be the case with IDers)? What would Egnor the neuroscientist say then?

And by the way, the IDiots are quick to cry conspiracy and censorship by the evil “Darwinists”. Fine, at least we allow comments on our blogs, why don’t they? This is called hypocrisy folks, which goes to show you that they’re not “open-minded” they’re not open to discussion. They just want to make their unscientific, religious, creationist claims and not hear, see or feel anything else. Their loss I say! They could actually learn a thing or two if they were willing to hear other people’s points of view.

3 Responses

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  1. Ken said, on February 3, 2009 at 2:45 AM

    When we add up (definitely and most probably) the theistic and atheistic evolution figures for the poll they show 78% support evolution (data here). Quite different to the spin that the Telegraph and IDers are putting on this.

  2. ozatheist said, on February 4, 2009 at 3:02 AM

    Very questionable questions in the study.

    Q3. Atheistic evolution is the idea that evolution makes belief in God unnecessary and absurd.

    For a start what is the difference between atheistic and theistic evolution? Secondly I think it’s a very loaded question in that its using the term ‘absurd’.

  3. Skepdude said, on February 4, 2009 at 3:05 PM

    I wasn’t even looking that deep. I was only concerned with the retarded logic the ID crowd uses, but yes you’re right. That is a ridiculous question to ask and seems to have been set up to make people lean a certain way with their answers, by creating a very antagonistic straw man of what evolution theory is and isn’t.

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