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Creationist/Intelligent Design vs. Evolutionist Heuristics Raymond A. Eve, Ph. D. Professor of Sociology The University of Texas at Arlington email@example.com Prepared for the Southwest and Rocky Mountain Division of the AAAS April, 2007 Clear Lake City, Texas Intelligent Design ≠ Creationism? It is commonly argued by its adherents and proponents that intelligent design is not just recycled creationism. I decided to try to test the assertion at least insofar as it obtained or not in a sample of university students in “a large public university in or near the state of Texas.” Among current college students I created a “Creationism Scale” = the sum of: • There is a good deal of scientific evidence against evolution and in favor of the Bible's account of creation. • God created humanity pretty much in its present form within the last 10,000 years or so. • Evidence of Noah's Ark has been found on Mt. Ararat in Turkey. • Adam and Eve, the first human beings, were created by God. • One can believe in the Bible and Creation, OR in atheistic evolution-- there is really no middle ground. So are they the same thing? The creationism scale correlated with “Humans are too complicated to have come to be through natural processes, their existence reflects the will of an intelligent designer.” Pearson’s r = .41 Creationism scale correlated with “Humanity was created over a short period of time by an intelligent designer. Pearson’s r = .49 *both relationships significant at the .00001 level. Etiological factors in support for creationism/ID Since there is a lot of face validity, and at least some empirical support, for the argument that intelligent design theory is the latest mutation of creationism, it seems likely we can consider it a pseudoscience too, and seek its etiology in the same manner as for other pseudoscientific beliefs. Possible Causes of Belief in Pseudoscience and Fantastic Science Claims Common errors in human reasoning Poor or sensationalistic coverage of science in the mass media Poor science education Sociocultural factors • Gender and race • Religious preference and denomination • Political “framing” of wedge issues • Different subcultural rules for testing truth claims “Poor Science Education?” Let’s have a look at a sample taken last year at “a major public university located in or near Texas.” Survey was given to about 400 primarily junior/senior level students Admittedly, a “convenience sample” that probably somewhat under- represents science and engineering majors NSF science literacy measure Every year NFS publishes a report entitled “Science and Engineering Indicators” There is always a chapter on public knowledge of science and attitudes towards science The following measures are used in the NSF annual assessment of civic scientific literacy Students Scores on the NSF Science Literacy Items The following items are taken from the annual NSF survey of public attitudes towards science and technology given to several nations. However, here the percent wrong answers are for the students in the 2006 sample in our study The Earth revolves around the Sun “false” = 12% Radioactive milk can be made safe by boiling it. “true” = 13.4% Human beings as we know them today developed from earlier species of animals. “false” = 54% The continents on which we live have been moving their location for millions of years and will continue to move in the future. “false” = 16% Antibiotics kill viruses as well as bacteria. “true” = 47% Electrons are smaller than atoms. “false” = 24% Laser work by focusing sound waves. “true” = 33% It is the father’s gene that decides whether the baby is a boy or a girl. “false” = 24% The Oxygen we breath comes from plants. “false” = 14% All radioactivity is manmade “true” = 25% The center of the Earth is very hot “false” = 10 ½% Teacher Qualifications Raymond A. Eve and Dana Dunn. 1990. "Psychic powers, astrology and Creationism in the classroom? Evidence of pseudoscientific beliefs among high school biology and life-science teachers. The American Biology Teacher (Journal of the American Biology Teachers Association) 52(Jan.): 10-21. Random survey of several hundred biology and life science high school teachers chosen from the rolls of the American Biology Teachers Association indicated that 40 percent of the science teachers polled believed that “there are sufficient problems with evolutionary theory to cast doubt on its validity.” “Were You Taught Evolution in High School?” Student samples from same university at 2 points in time 50 45 40 35 30 25 1983 20 2006 15 10 5 0 Yes w creation No Evolution Correctly Explains the Development of Life on Earth 45 40 35 30 25 1983 20 2006 15 10 5 0 Agree Unsure Disagree “The theory of evolution correctly explains the development of life on earth.” Dinosaurs and Man Were Contemporaries 45 40 35 30 25 1983 20 2006 15 10 5 0 Agree Unsure Disagree “Dinosaurs and humans lived at the same time, as is shown by finds of their footprints together.” Mankind Was Created about 10,000 Years Ago 45 40 35 30 25 1983 20 2006 15 10 5 0 Agree Unsure Disagree “God created humanity pretty much in its present form within the last 10,000 years or so” Note: Gallup poll of general U. S. Public in 2006 had 46% saying “agree” Previous Chart It is readily noted that the chart shows a very slight increase in the proportion of students supporting a very recent creation of mankind. This is all the more striking because the recent sample included fewer business majors, who are strikingly likely to support the proposition. (More than 50% agreement in the earlier sample). So the true prevalence of support for a recent creation may have increased somewhat more than the chart indicates. Sociocultural Factors We’ve examined science literacy above We’ve also examined teacher characteristics Let’s turn our attention now to the central thesis of this presentation: that most belief in creationism/ID is best explained by looking at sociocultural factors Creationism v. Evolution??? People don’t argue in parlors and bars about whether continents drift or whether atoms actually exist. So why the controversy over evolution? The emotional character of the topic is a dead give-away to a social scientist that there must be far more than just a discussion going on about what is good scientific method or evidence Sociology and ID The approach to be taken here is a sociological one. More specifically, for the most part we will adopt a model of social movement formation and movement career based on the concepts of a struggle for the means of cultural reproduction -- between movement and countermovement. We will also examine some questions of member recruitment, ideology, and movement tactics and their desired outcomes. Defining “Creationism” There are many types of “creationism” • “Young Earth” or “strict” creationists Literal and concrete reading of scripture. They follow Archbishop Usher’s chronology, believe the world created in 4004 B. C. Flood geology. We will use this definition. • “Old Earth” creationists – believe in an ancient Earth Gap Theory – An huge amount of time passed between verses 1 and 2 of Genesis. God destroys all that and the six 24 hours days of Genesis then occur Day-Age Theory – the six days of Genesis were not 24 hour days. Hebrew word “yom” Defining “Intelligent Design” Currently, the concept of intelligent design is best understood to refer to the question of whether or not the complex patterning seen in nature is the result of the will of a deity. - R. Eve, World Book Encylopedia, forthcoming. Behe would add words such as: "Design is evident when a number of separate, interacting components are ordered in such a way as to accomplish a function beyond the individual components” and when this systems demonstrates “irreducible complexity” – hence it must have been “designed” Antievolution Tactic 1 – Outlaw the Teaching of Evolution Epperson v. Arkansas, 1968 • Sought relief from an Arkansas law that held it to be unlawful for a teacher in any state-supported school or university to teach or to use a textbook that teaches "that mankind ascended or descended from a lower order of animals." Antievolution Tactic 2 – “Two Model” or “Equal Time” Approach Edwards v Aguillard – Louisiana, 1987 • The case struck down a requirement that required that if evolution is taught in public schools then creationism must also be taught. • The 7-2 decision ended any prospect of public schools in the United States being legally forced to teach ICR style creationism Crucial SMO- The Foundation for Thought and Ethics Founded in early 80s in Richardson, Texas Published the book Of Pandas and People in 1989 • First reference to an “intelligent design” • 2nd edition figures large in Dover, PA trial Also published The Mystery of Life’s Origins Newest crucial SMO – Discovery Institute The Discovery Institute is a conservative Christian “think-tank.” It’s structured as a non-profit educational foundation, founded in 1990 and based in Seattle, Washington • Currently the driving force behind ID Wedge Strategy of the Discovery Institute The wedge strategy is a political and social action plan created by the DI, an organization that works to promote a religious agenda centering around use of ID theory The purposes of the DI were originally brought to the public's attention by a leaked fund raising tool that is now known informally as the “Wedge Document” Wedge Document states goals of the Institute and ID are to: • defeat scientific materialism and its destructive moral, cultural, and political legacies • to replace materialistic explanations with the theistic understanding that nature and human beings are created by God. It details a massive public relations campaign meant to influence the public, the mass media and public policy makers ID adherents cf prior “Creationists” Some IDers are not Protestant fundamentalists Many are not young Earthers Some have better educational credentials than their predecessors in the creationist movement Many accept some type of evolution - albeit with occasional miracles and/or supernatural guidance included in their own definition of science Rejection of “Darwinism” - Two types of IDers I. “Vulgar” ID argues that “God did it” – “in person” and “all at once” – direct intervention to effect a sudden creation - “Darwinism” for them is the rejection of a literal reading of the Bible” II. “Rachet evolutionists” Also theistic evolutionists, but their primary concern is a rejection of strict naturalism (such as Richard Dawkins’ The Blind Watchmaker) - their rejection of “Darwinism” equates to a rejection of pure materialism Past scholarly explanations for adherence to creationism/ID • Ignorance – “backwoods bumpkins” • Authoritarian Personality or Subculture • Status inconsistency theories • Reaction against materialist philosophy HOWEVER, a more likely explanation is: Different Epistemological Rules It appears that much of the mainstream creationism vs. evolution debate arises because the two sides use different rules for evaluating truth claims. A Typology of Epistemologies Cultural traditionalists: A claim is considered true by reason of faith, authority, tradition, and/or revelation. “God said it, I believe it, end of argument!” Cultural modernists: Paradigmatic descents of the Enlightenment: Claims are true by reason of applying logical rules and using empirical data for hypothesis testing Cultural Postmodernists: There are no totalizing truths. Truth is subjective, time-bound, localized, and internal to each individual. (“God is within you”). Type 1: Cultural Traditionalists as ID Proponents Hypothesis: Type 1 adherents to creationism/ID primarily subscribe to such a belief as part of a constellation of socially and politically conservative beliefs. It seems likely that for a very large percentage of the public, attitudes towards the issue of creationism/ID v. evolution are more strongly related to adherents’ social and political views than to their respective levels of knowledge concerning the relevant scientific data and methods. This we will term here as “vulgar creationism/intelligent design” (after the fashion of “vulgar Latin) An empirical test with three samples Cultural Traditionalists: Approximately 300 persons from a “Creationism Fair” in Glen Rose, Texas Cultural Modernists: Approximately 300 university students from a variety of majors Cultural Postmodernists: 200+ Wiccans (neopagans) at a Magical Arts gathering near Austin, Texas Samples differ as expected vis-à- vis opinions on human origins Social Issues Civil Religion, or the tendency to treat certain secular topics as sacred Issues of Vitality Checking Epistemological Predictions Political Orientation Evolution, Materialism, and Secular Humanism Many supporters of creationism/ID believe that acceptance of “Darwinism” is the first step down what they believe to be a slippery slope to their favorite whipping boy “secular humanism.” Secular humanism is “setting man above God.” If the Bible is not the inerrant guide to moral behavior, then humans will have to decide such issues. Many public opinion surveys show conservatives to hold very pessimistic views of human nature in the absence of strong laws and other forms of social control. Therefore they believe that is secular humanists are allowed to decided upon moral values, they will do so very poorly. This will lead, they believe, to prostitution, pornography, homosexuality, abortion, euthanasia, etc. Cultural Reproduction The above situation results in a struggle for the means of cultural reproduction. This is easily seen because it takes place in precisely those places in which society sanctifies the value set that will be passed on to our children. I.e., • Schoolrooms • Courtrooms • State Legislatures More sophisticated camp of supporters of ID proponents: Natural Theology The Influence of William Paley In 1802, British theologian William Paley published Natural Theology. In which which Paley argued that divine truth could be revealed not only through Christian scripture, but also that the patterning in nature could reveal to humankind the activity and will of a creative deity. Paley illustrated his position by citing the example of a person finding a watch while walking in the countryside. From the functions that various parts of the watch performed, Paley argued that the only logical conclusion would be that the device had a maker who had designed it. Paley, teleologically and by analogy, argued that there was evidence of design in humans. Evolutionism More recently some IDers follow in the footsteps of Father Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (The Phenomenon of Man) Chardin influence by fellow Frenchman Henri Bergson – b. 1859 Bergson argued for “vitalism” – the idea that living things strive towards some higher, final ending So evolution had to produce humans and will eventually bring about some type of unification with God (i.e. selection leads to progress) Contemporary Natural Theologians Largely accept an ancient Earth, even an ancient humankind, but: • See humans as inevitable, no other courses of evolution could possibly have occurred • See evolution as leading to “progress.” I.e., some type of ratcheting up effect until some unification with deity occurs. Some conclusions so far: Clearly, for many people the debate over creationism vs. evolution is driven far more by values and world views than by the depth of their knowledge of scientific data and procedure. To a large extent, the controversy seems to arise because of different aggregates in society who adhere to different epistemological rules for evaluating truth claims who are locked in a struggle for cultural dominance Scholarly ID proponents For a small proportion of all ID adherents, the matter is less one of a conservative social and political per se. Instead, they follow in the tradition of natural philosophy. These tend to be the university scholars who debate on behalf of ID theory and enjoy the support of the Discovery Institute. Creation scientists, etc. The scholarly component of the ID movement serves much the same role that “creation scientists” did for the traditional ICR style creationist movement. I.e., the creation scientists were few in number, but very disproportionate in their influence because they represented a rallying point and source of apparent legitimacy for other adherents The Future The Discovery Institute is a conservative Christian “think-tank.” It’s structured as a non-profit educational foundation, founded in 1990 and based in Seattle, Washington • Currently the driving force behind ID “The Wedge Strategy” The wedge strategy is a political and social action plan created by the DI, an organization that works to promote a religious agenda centering around use of ID theory The purposes of the DI were originally brought to the public's attention by a leaked fund raising tool that is now known informally as the “Wedge Document” Wedge Document states goals of the Institute and ID are to: • defeat scientific materialism and its destructive moral, cultural, and political legacies • to replace materialistic explanations with the theistic understanding that nature and human beings are created by God. It details a massive public relations campaign meant to influence the public, the mass media and public policy makers Wedging Politics Clearly, numerous political strategists have realized many potential constituents belief evolution to be the “cause” of wide array of social problems (see above). Thus is becomes a symbol carrying far more baggage than the age and the origin of the Earth and humans. It becomes a lever for manipulation of the voters to favor voting for a word view, even to the exclusion of their own economic self interest? SMOs Social movements succeed or fail due to: (1) degree of internal cohesion among their component smo’s (2) maintain member commitment and enthusiasm (3) efficacy at mobilizing resources (4) degree to which they can recruit “bystander publics” (5) social control by outside Cooperation To date, the creationist/ID proponents have shown much more willingness to put aside their differences in order to advance the cause Resistance from the countermovement (anti-ID forces) has been rather weak: • Scientists don’t want to “dignify” the position of the opposition • Scientists are notoriously poor joiners of social movements for any reasons • Scientists tend to believe that the “truth” Resource Mobilization Discovery institute has received millions from California Savings and Loan heir Howard Fieldstead Ahmanson Evangelically oriented Maclellan Foundation of Chattanooga, Tenn., for example, awarded $350,000 Total Budget seems to be about $4 million per year (far more than for the counter SMO, the NCSE) Discovery Institute Disbursement Since its founding in 1996, the center has spent 39 percent of its $9.3 million on research, Dr. Meyer said, underwriting books or papers, or often just paying universities to release professors from some teaching responsibilities so that they can ponder intelligent design. Over those nine years, $792,585 financed laboratory or field research in biology, paleontology or biophysics, while $93,828 helped graduate students in paleontology, linguistics, history and philosophy. • - the New York Times Revitalization Movement Perhaps it’s best to see the ID movement as part of a general “revitalization movement.” A term that anthropologists use to describe social movements intended to restore to power a formerly dominant elite that has fallen from power. I.e., this is not exclusively backwoods Bible- thumpers v. scientists and educated people generally. Rather it’s a struggle for the means of cultural reproduction between an earlier cultural elite and a current one. Just because a country is modern or postmodern does not mean that cultural traditionalists have disappeared.
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