A survey asking about people’s knowledge of religion has some not-so-surprising results. Protestants and Catholics are less knowledgeable about their own religion’s doctrines than atheists, Jews, and Mormons.
Forty-five percent of Roman Catholics who participated in the study didn’t know that, according to church teaching, the bread and wine used in Holy Communion is not just a symbol, but becomes the body and blood of Christ. [Yahoo News]
In addition, Americans don’t grasp the secular laws that protect both government and religion, the separation of church and state.
The study also found that many Americans don’t understand constitutional restrictions on religion in public schools. While a majority know that public school teachers cannot lead classes in prayer, less than a quarter know that the U.S. Supreme Court has clearly stated that teachers can read from the Bible as an example of literature.
“Many Americans think the constitutional restrictions on religion in public schools are tighter than they really are,” Pew researchers wrote. [Yahoo News]
Questions concerning Charles Darwin and evolution were included in the survey.
Respondents were also asked, “And which of these court trials focused on whether evolution could be taught in public schools?” and offered the choice of the Scopes trial, the Salem witch trials, and Brown vs. Board of Education. Only 31% of respondents selected the correct answer of the Scopes trial, 36% selected Brown vs. Board of Education, 3% selected the Salem witch trials, and 30% said that they didn’t know. [Nation center For Science Education]
Nothing particularly surprising in the results. The Pew Research Center’s report is here (PDF).
The Guardian –a British liberal newspaper– is following the UK trend and kissing religion’s ass. To appeal to the politically-correct masses the paper has given a theologian —Dr. Justin Thacker— column space to voice his brand of apologetics. His Holy Triteness has just written a piece titled Did Darwin Kill God? which is his scanty coverage of a debate that was just held at Westminster Abbey –Darwin’s grave site.
I would have to agree with Thacker and say no –Darwin didn’t kill God. Darwin wasn’t the type of man to fight invisible monsters. But Darwin did make the idea of God’s creation completely unnecessary. The reality Thacker avoids is that his idea of Christianity getting along with evolution is a minority view. Polling data indicates most Americans see evolution as incompatible with their Christian faith. The UK polling strongly agrees.
In the debate Thacker describes, the apologists –Lord Winston and Professor Alexander– responded to the opposition
by pointing out that the Genesis account has always been considered allegorical, and certainly long before Darwin came on the scene.
What tiny island have these jokers been stranded on? I suggest Thacker, Lord Winston, and Professor Alexander vacation somewhere other than Fantasyland. Perhaps, a few weeks in Kansas or Texas might set them straight. The UK is just not representing.
It’s unsupported claim time. Roy Davies, an author, has written a book, The Darwin Conspiracy: Origins Of A Scientific Crime, claiming that Charles Darwin stole the work of naturalist Alfred Russell Wallace and presented it as his own. The “theft” supposedly occured when Wallace wrote to Darwin. Conspiracy by snail mail. A UK article explains:
[Davies] crucial evidence, he claims, is in pinpointing the exact dates that letters from Wallace to Darwin explaining his theories arrived at Darwin’s home, proving that the Welsh scientist developed them first.
When Darwin received “the” letter from Wallace, Darwin had already been researching his theories for 20 years. Darwin’s famous sketch from 1937 clearly shows that he understood that evolution was a branching tree and not a straight line. Wallace had extensive experience in the field, but his published work at the time was practically nill. Science requires evidence.
Both men presented their theories to the scientific Linnean Society of London, but Darwin’s manuscript was published the following year, and he has since been universally credited with the theory, while Wallace’s name has largely been forgotten.
Both their papers were presented for them at the Linnean Society. Wallace was in Malaysia at the time and Darwin was cloistered at home. The papers fell flat and no one gave them much notice. The reason was that big claims require even bigger evidence. The papers simply weren’t enough. So, Darwin spent the next year writing his book, On The Origin Of Species. If anything, Wallace’s letter spurred him on to compile his book. Both men independently discovered how evolution works. However, Darwin was the first to explain it properly with mounds and mounds of evidence.
To say that Darwin stole Wallace’s material is pure speculation and contrary to the overall facts. Writers love to create controversy where none exists, because it sells. And dead men can’t defend themselves. No doubt creationists will misuse this new book by Roy Davies for their own sleazy agenda.
February 12th is Charles Darwin’s birthday (Feb 12, 1809 – April 19, 1888). And people world wide are celebrating his life and remembering his achievements. Unfortunately the average person seems to know very little about Darwin and his work. Creationists systematically slander the man without actually having read any of his books. And public school teachers are forced to expose their students to dry factoids and poorly written textbooks. But there is much more to the fascinating history of evolutionary biology and its founder. Countless resources are available online for those who have an interest in learning more about Charles Darwin the man, the explorer, the naturalist, and, of course, the scientist. Here are just a few:
The Darwin Day Page
About Darwin: Dedicated To The Life And Times Of Charles Darwin
London Natural History Museum: Charles Darwin, the Young Explorer
University Of California Museum Of Paleontology
The Complete Works of Charles Darwin Online
Talk Origins: Exploring the Creation Evolution Controversy
Darwin Day: Stony Brook University 2008
Darwin Day at Cal UCMP
University Of Wisconsin-Whitewater: Darwin Day Lecture
Check the web and see if a university near you is hosting an event.
HAPPY DARWIN DAY TO YOU ALL!