What predicts Creationism?

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Public Acceptance of Evolution

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  1. Count me unsurprised that religious belief had the strongest correlation in the United States. Interesting how it doesn’t matter as much in Europe, especially if you look at the strongest evolution accepting nation, Iceland. 82% of the population belongs to the National Church and only some 2.6% do not consider themselves part of any religious group, yet disbelief in evolution is completely marginal. 
     
    I’m guessing that the state-churches of Europe do a good job at keeping the uneducated twits out of the priesthood, while within the United States secular legal tradition any idiot could start a church and wouldn’t be forced to compete with a state-funded institution.

  2. The Lutheran churches are not really state funded. They have (or have had) some special privileges that make it easier for them to raise money, but they’re also expected to use that money in certain societal roles (eg. maintaining burial grounds). There isn’t any great subsidy going to them, so simple economic competition doesn’t explain it. 
     
    Also, the churches are not as tight as Americans tend to assume. They’re often really just umbrella organizations full of various revival movements. The churches rarely actually kick them out unless it starts getting into weird sexual stuff. (I know some people who’ve gone into a particularily nutty one from near my old home town: a charismatic vicar started personally hearing God telling him to attempt resurrections and stuff like that. Attempting to resurrect dead children wasn’t enough to get him kicked out, so you can imagine how little preaching against evolution actually means. He did recently leave himself, though, and now they’re talking about saving the whole world…)

  3. Statistics on church membership in the European context are largely meaningless. They are a result of people having been added to the rolls by default at birth. Here in Sweden, the state church has been abolished since 2000, but it still retains most of its members, as it takes an active request in order to leave the church.  
     
    The government still collects funds for the church via silent, but largely (there is a small fee even for non-church members) voluntary taxation.  
     
    A better metric would probably be church attendance.

  4. The other graph is also interesting: only Eastern European countries (mostly Orthodox) approach US levels of credulity but even these are significatively more rationalist. Only Turkey (the only polled Muslim, and largely underdeveloped, country) is more credulous than the USA.  
     
    As (Western) European, I am always flippant of the very existence of the “creationist debate” in the 21st century USA. It looks like something of very old times: a 19th century debate, with aftertaste to witch-hunt. Would they be discussing the law of gravity I would be equally flippant, really.  
     
    Anyhow, it does seem that the main factor on both sides of the Atlantic is religious beliefs. If it’s less important in Europe, it’s surely because even religious people has since long accepted evolution and make of teleology (ID) just a “private” explanation for it. Another related reason is the lack of emphasis in literalism, even among Protestants. If the Bible, specially the Book of Genesis, can be metaphorical, there’s no real problem between faith and evolution (and other scientific facts, like heliocentrism). This brand of illustrated (and somewhat relativistic) Christians, dominant in Europe among those that still fit into organized religion (a decreasing minority, in any case), still enjoy scientific discoveries like genetic “Adam” and “Eve” but it’s mostly a private self-satisfying meditation, not an educational or political issue. 
     
    Possibly the problem in the USA is that, unlike in Europe, you never really had to resort to guillotine and the likes, because you never really suffered feudalism and theocracy like in the old world. Also the USA is maybe founded on religious minorities, often dogmatic. In Europe you don’t find a bible in each hotel room (crazy idea) nor read anything like “In God We Trust” on banknotes (probably even religious Europeans could consider that blasphemous: “to Caesar what is of Caesar…”). Even if official churches are still subsidied in some states that’s something rather controversial and overall society is very laicist. You don’t see politicians talking normally of their religious beliefs (it could alienate potential voters and it’s not a major political issue anyhow) and being atheist or agnostic is something absolutely normal.

  5. I’m not sure that creationism is a “problem” in the US, since it doesn’t at all interfere with practical science education in high schools, let alone at universities, or with the pursuit of science at universities, the government, or industry. 
     
    In fact, the sole impact of “religious” views on the practice of science in the US is the limited ban on federal government financing of embryonic stem cell research. In Germany, a militantly secular country, there is an actual BAN on such research. Until this week, I believe, German scientists faced criminal penalties for engaging in such research anywhere in the world. It is still limited within Germany. By contrast, the research itself is not at all banned in the US; in fact, state laws have guaranteed funding at a much higher level than can possibly be used in the forseeable future. 
     
    These foolish anti-science measures were imposed by Christians in the US and by the Greens in Germany, in the latter case as the price of their continuation in the government coalition. Greens across Europe have also taken militant anti-scientific stands against nuclear energy and against any kind of assaults against Mother Nature such as genetic modification of plants, animal testing, cloning of all kinds, and even genetic medicine. Their record on DDT use is also not encouraging, and some of them are anti-vaccination as well. They have been far more successful in imposing their agenda than have evangelical Christians in the US. 
     
    Europe has lost interest in Christianity, but has not become secular. Much of the elite is in the grip of a new pantheistic Earth religion, which, as I’ve pointed out above, is far more influential in Europe than evangelical Christianity is in the US.  
     
    Even the limited US funding ban on new human embryonic cell lines is not likely to continue, as it is opposed by all three of the presidential candidates. But nuclear plants continue to be shut down in Europe as we speak. 
     
    If you resist the use of the word “religion” to describe the Greens, the practical implication is nil. Where still talking about a moralistic movement that has succeeded in limiting science and technology to a shocking and harmful degree.

  6. @ Barry: 
     
    Some clearly tendentious inaccuracies in your statements: 
     
    In Germany, a militantly secular country… 
     
    Since when? The Federal Republic of Germany (BRD) has been ruled through most of its post-war history (that it’s all its history actually) by a party called Christian Democratic Union (and their Bavarian allies the Christian Social Union, often accused of being too close to the extreme right). Germany, like most European states, is not “militantly secular”, only France and Turkey approach that since the fall of the socialist bloc. What may be is reluctant to give free ride to presumpt destructive brainwashing cults like Scientology, what is a very different thing.  
     
    Greens across Europe have also taken militant anti-scientific stands against nuclear energy and against any kind of assaults against Mother Nature such as genetic modification of plants, animal testing, cloning of all kinds, and even genetic medicine. 
     
    This is a very wide blanket statement. And it’s quite dubious that questioing the safety of nuclear energy is “anti-scientific” in any case. Nuclear energy is certainly very problematic, ignoring that fact is not being scientific, but having blind faith in technological progress, what is religion rather than science. 
     
    Much of the elite is in the grip of a new pantheistic Earth religion… 
     
    That’s absolutely nonsensical propaganda of the (Christian) religious far right, fearful not only of their evident loss of power but also, more secularly, of the danger to their petty economical interests that somewhat increased ecological awareness may pose. All very hysterical and would be laughable if it would not remind of the infamous “Protocols”.  
     
    But nuclear plants continue to be shut down in Europe as we speak. 
     
    I wish you were right. Totally obsolete nuclear plants, that have radioactive escapes now and then are not just being kept active for much longer than scheduled and paid largely by the taxpayer but the current trend, on light of increasd fuel prices, is that they will be allowed to operate indefinitely. The next Chernobyl is just a matter of time with such policies, of course. I just can hope it’s not too close to my home.  
     
    Where still talking about a moralistic movement that has succeeded in limiting science and technology to a shocking and harmful degree. 
     
    Are you telling me that Germany or the Netherlands, the kind of countries where green parties can be somewhat influential, always as minor force, have reduced science and technology investment in the last decades? That is laughable to say the least. Are you telling me that southern European countries, where green influence is non-existent (ol’ good commies occupy that political sector mostly instead) are more advanced? That the UK, that is all the time cutting down its science investment and has a very low investment in scientific European projects like ESA, is doing that because of the non-existent “british green party”? Absolutely ignorant nonsense. 
     
    Anyhow, science is not just about playing Dr. Frankestein or, worse, Dr. Mengele. Surely there is that possibility but it has obvious social and ethical problems that our societies are adressing in general with quite an open mind (what is not the same as a blank cheque). Wether it is worth to “play God” with our embryos to briefly expand the life (hypothetically) of some ailing people that naturally will have to face death anyhow, is a major ethical problem with no easy answers. But still the most vocal sectors against such research are, of course, the remnant religious right, more mobilized by such issues than by the distant and quite trivial “creationism debate”.

  7.  
    I wish you were right. Totally obsolete nuclear plants, that have radioactive escapes now and then are not just being kept active for much longer than scheduled and paid largely by the taxpayer but the current trend, on light of increasd fuel prices, is that they will be allowed to operate indefinitely. The next Chernobyl is just a matter of time with such policies, of course. I just can hope it’s not too close to my home.  
     
     
    Heh, so we can look forward to 50,000 or more deaths then, can we?

  8. Since when? The Federal Republic of Germany (BRD) has been ruled through most of its post-war history (that it’s all its history actually) by a party called Christian Democratic Union (and their Bavarian allies the Christian Social Union, often accused of being too close to the extreme right). Germany, like most European states, is not “militantly secular”, only France and Turkey approach that since the fall of the socialist bloc. What may be is reluctant to give free ride to presumpt destructive brainwashing cults like Scientology, what is a very different thing.  
     
    right. germany has a church tax. calling germany “militantly secular” is asking to be profiled as a tard.

  9. I’m not sure that creationism is a “problem” in the US, 
     
    It sure does seem to be a problem for politics. Any issue that makes people choose politicians or ideologies based on such irrelevant nonsense is a problem. Of course, as you say, it’s not like Europeans don’t vote based on irrational nonsense, it’s just not creationist nonsense… 
     
    One curious difference is there in the data: the lack of connection to political ideology in Europe. It’s not like we don’t have creationists, it’s just that for some reason it doesn’t appear as a political issue. Contrary to stereotypes, Americans seem to be much more eager to enforce the values of their religious (or anti-religious) group on others through state power. 
     
    I’m well familiar with the same kind of evangelicals (in fact often the same evangelicals) and they just aren’t very interested in bringing the issues to politics, even though their worldview on everything from abortion to Eurabia would fit perfectly well in the American nutty right. Politics is a sinful, corrupting game of heathens, you see, and they try to get rid of abortion and Muslims by trying to get us all to accept Jesus. Why the difference? My guess is this: 
     
    In Germany, a militantly secular country, 
     
    Germany isn’t a militantly secularist country, but the United States is. 
     
    To me it seems like American Christians are really reacting to state secularism. Schools are a good example. I had to study religion in the (public) school and we were taught creationism (and then evolution in biology classes). Once I got out of the church, I could get exemption from things like morning prayer and religion classes, but religion was the rule and I was the exception. Hardly anyone cares about any of this. Since Christians here do not feel threatened by the *state* but instead by cultural secularism, they’re focused on fighting a cultural instead of a political battle. 
     
    But nuclear plants continue to be shut down in Europe as we speak. 
     
    Only in Germany and some ex-communist countries, really. Europe also has countries like that are way more nuclear-positive than the United States. The US is a massive country and it hasn’t build a new plant since… when? Finland is building one right now. (And BTW militantly secularist France is the other really nuclear-positive country.)

  10. Razib, 
     
    The 200-year-old Church tax notwithstanding, Christianity has just about zero input in lawmaking in Germany, or in most other European countries, including even Italy and Spain these days. The elite culture, in the media and in the business and scientific establishments, is utterly post-Christian.  
     
    By contrast, the Greens, through effective propaganda, have had a powerful practical impact on research (anything to do with animals, for example) and, even more on the implementation of research in a host of fields (cloning, genetic engineering, nuclear energy).  
     
    Their power in Europe far exceeds that of creationists in the US. The one success of evangelical Christians in the US was the federal stem cell ban, which has so far had no practical impact– in fact, it has stimulated billions in replacement funding at the state and private levels. In any case, all three presidential candidates oppose it, so even this trivial triumph is evaporating.  
     
    I wish I could be so sanguine about the Greens’ impact. Just in the field of nuclear energy, they have had a huge negative impact on CO2 emissions, let alone taken a huge toll in coal miner deaths over the decades. This insanity continues year by year, as old plants are decommissioned and no new ones are built.  
     
    Friends of science should direct their attention accordingly.

  11. Jaakkeli, 
     
    Not just Germany. Nuclear energy has also been under attack for a long time in the UK. There, and in the US, the environmentalists are entirely responsible for this nonsense. The hated Bush has actually been on the right side on this, but he hasn’t gotten very far in Congress. But only in Germany, with its large Green Party, is government policy actually aimed at the complete elimination of nuclear power. 
     
    France is indeed the great exception– 80% nuclear electricity, the highest in the world, and they never faltered, God bless them. It’s a puzzle indeed– how did they avoid the anti-nuclear propaganda? Is their environmental movement weaker? Or is it just a greater deference to bureaucrats? 
     
    By the way, almost nobody in the US really votes based on creationism, and no national candidate has ever even talked about it. It’s mostly an issue in local school board elections– which the creationists have usually lost, even in conservative and rural states, since the media and the educational establishment is against them. 
     
    As far as “imposing their own religious views–” please try to see my point. When the Greens killed stem cell research in Germany, they were also imposing their religious views.  
     
    Just because they are not officially called a “religion” doesn’t make their views any less non-rational or less moralistic. Their opposition to animal research, to cloning, to genetic engineering, is ALL based on what have to be called religious values, a kind of pantheism or nature religion. I could easily see Christians also opposing genetic engineering or animal research, but in fact they have ignored it.  
     
    The Greens have a right to try to impose their values, just like everyone else but I have a right to point out what is going on and to resist them.  
     
    The US religious militants focus most of their energy on symbolic issues, like evolution in the elementary school classroom; even when they “win” they have almost no practical impact. I wish that were true of the Greens, whether in Europe or the US. Maybe because they don’t call themselves a religion they can get away with it.

  12.  
    The 200-year-old Church tax notwithstanding, Christianity has just about zero input in lawmaking in Germany, or in most other European countries, including even Italy and Spain these days. The elite culture, in the media and in the business and scientific establishments, is utterly post-Christian.
     
     
    look, i’m sympathetic to your point about greens. but i’m not sympathetic about making shit up and looking like a tard. germay’s abortion laws are not “zero impact” for example. i don’t even want to get into it with you, you are making such an extreme assertion as to look foolish. just back down and argue the case without pushing it so far as to make it unlikely people will consider the rest of your points. european elites are often post-christian; but the church is not, and the church has a lot of power to act as a break upon changes (successful, or not). 
     
    p.s. these sorts of debates hinge upon credibility (since you aren’t exactly offering quantitative data). to some extent i agree with your points about the greens, but from an objective perspective your credibility is pretty much negative with this germany-is-militantly-secular-laicist-state. i don’t have a phd on the EU, but i wasn’t born yesterday. 
     
    p.p.s. and i agree creationism is marginal really in the USA because the elites make sure to veto its mass introduction in any way into the educational system. that doesn’t mean that i think germany, which last i checked allowed religious instruction in public schools, is a laicist state. from the data i’ve seen [i last checked in '97], it is arguable that the population of protestant germany is post-christian; but far less so in the catholic areas, especially bavaria. but hey, what do i know?

  13. ok, i’m going to sleep. warning that i’ll close this thread tomorrow if it gets too political overnight without any data or facts. i don’t like the smell of gas.

  14. But only in Germany, with its large Green Party, is government policy actually aimed at the complete elimination of nuclear power. 
     
    No, many countries have this policy, it’s just that most of them have decided to not build any more. The only countries that are happy to build nuclear are either ex-communist or they’re Finland or France. 
     
    Finland, BTW, has a Green party just as large as Germany’s (actually slightly larger in recent elections), but we’re still building more nuclear. We’ve just decided to ignore the Green party. You’re overestimating their general cultural influence. In Germany, the electoral system and the fact that they otherwise divide into two major parties and blocs around them lets a lone small party play the kingmaker and gives them disproportionate influence. We don’t have that situation, so the major parties can decide to just ignore the Greens if they want to. 
     
    The United States doesn’t have a significant Green party because of the first-past-the-post system. If it had proportional representation, it would certainly also have a strong Green party. 
     
    France is indeed the great exception– 80% nuclear electricity, the highest in the world, 
     
    Most countries will never get there because they have easier sources. Finland, for example, already gets about that 20 % from hydroelectric; in the extreme, Norway can get all its electricity from hydro and still export some. 
     
    It’s a puzzle indeed– how did they avoid the anti-nuclear propaganda? Is their environmental movement weaker? 
     
    Lots of differences. Finland and France are countries where national self-sufficiency is exceptionally valued; in Germany ideas like that smell of “nationalism” which smells of Naziism. France went heavily nuclear before the environmental movement got popular and it became a peculiar issue of national pride. 
     
    Just because they are not officially called a “religion” doesn’t make their views any less non-rational or less moralistic. 
     
    This is just stupid semantics. You could call anything a “religion” with those standards. You could call immigration debates imposing “religious” views on others, since borders and nations are not really something rational, they’re just values made up by humans on “irrational” grounds. You could call the Swedish Pirate Party religious (or anti-religious?), since copyrights are not “rational”, they’re just moral codes made up by humans. You could… 
     
    Yeah, Greens have all sorts of irrational ideas. That doesn’t make it a religion. 
     
    Their opposition to animal research, to cloning, to genetic engineering, is ALL based on what have to be called religious values, 
     
    Not really. There’s also eg. the fact that they smell like “eugenics” and thus to many people they feel like something the Nazis would’ve supported. That’s a really big thing in Germany (and the least important in places like Finland where Naziism was never even an issue).

  15. Christianity has just about zero input in lawmaking in Germany, or in most other European countries 
     
    In the UK, Christianity can be a major factor in the discussion on new laws. For example: civil unions, the Gender Recognition Act, and the Human Fertilization and Embryology Bill. 
     
    Most of the time, the Christians lose. 
    But there are some strange compromises in the legislation. 
     
    My favorite bit from the current draft of the Human Fertilization and Embryology Bill is this: 
     
    “For the purposes of this section an ?animal? is an animal other than man.”

  16. By the way, almost nobody in the US really votes based on creationism, and no national candidate has ever even talked about it. 
     
    -John McCain has voiced support for teaching Intelligent Design in school.  
    -Hillary Clinton has made it clear that she supports the ToE
    -Barack Obama supports evolution as well.

  17. “For the purposes of this section an ?animal? is an animal other than man.” 
     
    Hmmm… that spells doom for women, I’d say. Sure that some can argue that “man” is generical for human, but sure that others can argue the opposite at convenience, as often happens with theologians and religious jurists, be them Christian, Judaist, Muslim or whatever.

  18. i’ll just close this thread since it isn’t going anywhere….

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