Outside school, Ross studied what he considered great breakthroughs in creation geology. The theory is the first attempt to describe the mechanism of the flood. A computer model refining the theory purports to show an earth wobbling crazily on its axis as land masses come together and then break apart, forming the continents we have today.
So which side did he choose? Everybody has moments of doubt. But I can have those moments without my brain exploding. The new creationists are not likely to make much of a dent among secular scientists, who often just roll their eyes at the mention of flood geology. But they have become a burden to many geologists at Christian colleges around the country.
Wheaton has a strong geology department. Its professors argue that the Bible makes no specific mention of the age of the earth. Other professors have issued long tracts comparing the various methods of radiometric dating and showing that they all agree: The earth is over four billion years old. Most members of the American Scientific Affiliation, a collection of Christians with degrees in the sciences, qualify as old-earthers, according to Moshier. Like many Christian colleges, Liberty is expanding rapidly to keep up with growing demand; the school adds students a year, and now has a total of 10, on campus and 18, more distance-learning students.
Each semester, Ross teaches a huge, mandatory survey course called History of Life. Most kids in the class are creationists, but Ross finds gaps in their world-view. His aim is to make their creationist logic more consistent, and his surveys show that he succeeds.
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At the beginning of the class, only 54 percent of students say the age of the earth is less than 10, years. The biggest shift? Did dinosaurs and man live at the same time? That one moves to 80 percent from These numbers make Moshier cringe. Given the difficulty of their intellectual enterprise, the creationist geologists often have a story about the time they nearly gave it up. For Wise the crisis hit when he was a sophomore in high school. When he was done, he tried to pick up what was left. But it left him in a strange, vulnerable place.
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Here I must stand. All he had to do was toss out the Bible. Or interpret it symbolically, or allegorically, as the theologians do. Instead, he did the fundamentalist thing and tossed out science, evidence and reason, along with all his dreams and hopes. If Wise still has doubts, or unhappiness, he has learned to put them aside. We use coherence as a criteria. It ought to fit together not as a set of random processes but something coherent orchestrated by God. And not just coherent but spine-tingling.
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God is behind this story. I can know it as a single story, and the story can be understood, and the story can be spine tingling. An article on Nov. Similarly, 59 percent of black Protestants who were asked about this topic in the two-question format say humans have always existed in their present form.
These findings are in keeping with arguments by sociologists of religion that highly religious Americans may feel conflicted about saying humans have evolved, unless they are able to clarify that they also believe God had a hand in the development of life. Indeed, the subset of people who respond differently to the two survey approaches consists mainly of those who believe that God or a higher power played a role in human evolution. For example, nearly all white evangelical Protestants who say humans have evolved—whether in a branched-choice or single-question format—also say God had a role in human evolution.
There are smaller differences among Catholics in response to the two different question formats, and white mainline Protestants express roughly the same views about evolution regardless of the approach used. Overwhelming majorities of the religiously unaffiliated those who describe their religion as atheist, agnostic or nothing in particular say humans have evolved over time on both the two-question 87 percent and the single-question format 88 percent. Prior to this recent experiment, the center tested various versions of a two-step approach to asking about evolution.
In one line of testing, we varied the survey context that is, the questions that immediately precede the evolution questions but found no differences in survey responses. Considered together, the experiments illustrate the importance of testing multiple ways of asking about evolution.
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For some people, views about the origins and development of human life are bound up with deeply held religious beliefs. Indeed, the data show that a sizable share of Americans believe both that life on Earth has evolved over time and that God played some role in the evolutionary process. The views expressed are those of the author s and are not necessarily those of Scientific American. Cary Funk is director of science and society research at Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan "fact tank" that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world.
It does not take policy positions. The center is a subsidiary of The Pew Charitable Trusts, its primary funder.
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Follow her on Twitter surveyfunk. A petition to remove references to evolution from high-school textbooks claimed victory last month after the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology MEST revealed that many of the publishers would produce revised editions that exclude examples of the evolution of the horse or of avian ancestor Archaeopteryx. The move has alarmed biologists, who say that they were not consulted. The society says that its members include professors of biology and high-school science teachers. To back its campaign, the group highlights recent discoveries that Archaeopteryx is one of many feathered dinosaurs, and not necessarily an ancestor of all birds 2.
According to the group, the exhibition attracted more than , visitors in three months, and the park is now in talks to create a year-long exhibition. The institute also has a thriving Research Association for Creation Science, run by professors and students, he adds.
However, a survey of trainee teachers in the country concluded that religious belief was not a strong determinant of their acceptance of evolution 3. Until now, says Dayk Jang, the scientific community has done little to combat the anti-evolution sentiment.