The big news about evolution in the final days of 2013 came from the social scientists, specifically the Pew Research Center’s report on the American public’s views of human evolution. They found that “the share of the general public that says that humans have evolved over time is about the same as it was in 2009.” When asked, “Which comes closer to your view? Humans and other living things have evolved over time, or Humans and other living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time”, 60% opted for evolution, 33% chose against evolution, and 7% were non-committal on the topic. Results came from a sample size of 4,006 phone interviews. Respondents who accepted evolution were also asked whether it was due to natural processes or guided by a supreme being: 53% said natural processes and 40% said a supreme being. Digging deeper into the demographics, acceptance of human evolution steadily decreases with age (from 68% among 18-29 year olds, down to 49% among those 65 and older). And acceptance of human evolution increases with level of education (from 51% among those with only high school or less, up to 72% among college graduates). White evangelical Protestants reported the lowest levels of acceptance of evolution among religious groups surveyed (27%), while white mainline Protestants registered the highest (78%). Acceptance of evolution among registered Republicans fell from 54% in 2009, to 43% in 2013. The summary of the Pew report can be found here, and the full report can be found here.
Some highlights from the world of science in 2013 include the oldest sample of human DNA yet discovered, lots of new species (like walking sharks and cocoa frogs), the confirmation of a new element, and major advancements in astronomical research thanks to the IceCube Neutrino Observatory in Antarctica. Summaries of the year’s major scientific accomplishments are available from NBC Science and CNN. The Huffington Post summarizes the year’s findings pertinent to human origins .
The new year promises to bring us more knowledge of the final frontier. NASA’s PlanetQuest continues, with 976 confirmed exoplanets. New discoveries by the Hubble Space Telescope indicate the presence of geysers on Jupiter’s moon Europa, leading scientists to wonder if organic matter may exist there. The search for signs of ancient life on Mars continues, spurred on by recent findings of earth-like geological features. It is worth reading Ruth Bancewicz’s summary of the scientific reasons for suspecting life could exist elsewhere in the universe on her blog Science and Belief.
Finally, some folks with BioLogos connections can be found around the internet: Pastor Dan Harrell wrote some science-tinged Christmas reflections for the Christian Century. Here is a radio interview with our fellow Ted Davis on his Robert Boyle articles. And fellow Dennis Venema was recently interviewed for a substantial article on the Forbes website about evolution and BioLogos.