What's the Latest Development?
Psychologists have found a number of explanations for why, according to a recent Gallup poll, nearly half of all Americans favor a creationist view of history over an evolutionary one. One is uncomfortable equivalence evolution gives to man and animal: "Associating animal characteristics with humans has been used to justify inhumane treatment; it strips people of human uniqueness and certain aspects of agency and moral consideration. An evolutionary history shared with other animals—and even plants and bacteria—might threaten the separation between human and non-human that maintaining our 'specialness' seems to require."
What's the Big Idea?
Science, however, along with evolutionary theory, may soothe the human soul in ways similar to religion by promoting a vision of the universe that is not random and chaotic but rather orderly and deterministic. "A 2010 study that examined the psychological role of belief in scientific and technological progress found that participants who felt powerless were more likely to value funding for scientific research and to anticipate long-term technological progress. This suggests that belief in science and scientific progress helped to mitigate the negative effects of feeling powerless in an unpredictable world."
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