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Rethinking the Origins Debate

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February 18, 2014 Tags: Creation & Origins, Evolution & Christian Faith project, Science & Worldviews

Today's entry was written by Emily Ruppel. You can read more about what we believe here.

Rethinking the Origins Debate

ECF grantee Jonathan Hill, whose project explores American attitudes about origins through a new survey designed to profile how faith commitments and social context influence beliefs, recently wrote about his studies in an online article for Christianity Today.

Jonathan’s commentary provides challenges to the widely held notion that national surveys show a deeply polarized American public regarding evolution and creation. Rather, “the way in which these questions about human origins are written restricts complex or conflicted responses. Surveys like the Gallup poll tend to represent the various views we might label Atheistic Evolution, Theistic Evolution, Intelligent Design, or Young Earth Creationism with position statements that force respondents to select the one that comes closest to their beliefs. The trouble is that these various views contain multiple beliefs about common descent, natural selection, divine involvement, and historical timeframe. The survey questions conflate these underlying beliefs in particular ways and force individuals to select from prepackaged sets of ideas.”

By contrast, Jonathan has fielded a new nationally representative survey aimed at asking more detailed, nuanced questions—including addressing respondents’ personal level of investment in their beliefs and whether they are or aren’t deeply confident that their own opinions about evolution and creation are the correct ones.

Read the full article here:



Emily Ruppel is a doctoral student in rhetoric of science at the University of Pittsburgh. Prior to her PhD work, she studied poetry at Bellarmine University in Louisville and science writing at MIT. She has also served as blog editor for The BioLogos Foundation and as Associate Director of Communications for the American Scientific Affiliation.

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dcscccc . - #84553

February 18th 2014

i think the best evidence for god is the “self replicat watch” argument. nature is more complex then any man-made watch. even a self replicat one with dna. so if such a watch need a designer the nature also.

Roger A. Sawtelle - #84554

February 18th 2014

Very interesting.

It appears to me that the divide still exists and maybe it is more apparent in politics today than in science.

The divide is not scientific, but theological.  Is the foundation of our faith “the Bible” understood in a particular legalistic way, or Jesus the Messiah?

Is Christianity based on the Biblos or the Logos?  

Larry Gilman - #84620

February 27th 2014

I am afraid that the ECF’s money may not have been completely well spent on this project, for the following reasons:

I immediately went to Hill’s Christianity Today piece. A page or so into its series of perfectly good points about the coarse resolution of the Gallup questions and the need for a more nuanced map of the beliefscape, I hit this:

“Let’s look at the creationist position. It contains, at a minimum, the following beliefs: . . . God was involved in the creation of humans. Humans were created within the last 10,000 years.”

The first proposition, with its maximally vague verb “involved,” is no improvement over Gallup’s ham-handed wording. “Involvement” could denote anything from mystical immanence to Deist watch-winding before the Big Bang to a literalist Adam and Eve popping out of vacuum. Or anything else you might think of, short of mere atheism. Useless.

Then I read that second item. If I wore a toupee, it would have popped vertically off my head as in a cartoon. To flat-out equate _young-earth_ Creationism with Creationism per se is so hopelessly, flat-out, freshman, haven’t-you-read-anything-by-anybody-on-this-subject-at-all wrong, I don’t know what more to say. Except that an accurate, high-resolution picture of popular creation beliefs is clearly not yet in the pipe.

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