Partisan Gaps Over Evolution and Estimates on Atheism
A Gallup survey out this week reveals a wide partisan gap in perceptions of evolution. Specifically, 60% of Republicans say humans were created in their present form by God 10,000 years ago, a belief shared by only 40% of independents and 38% of Democrats.
These Gallup findings are the latest to underscore an emerging partisan divide on controversial areas of science. With many prominent Republicans continuing to dispute climate change, Democrats in recent elections making stem cell research part of their campaign strategy, GOP primary candidates openly doubting evolution, and Hillary Clinton promising to end Bush's "war on science," these issues have become part of America's partisan DNA.
In other words, it's very easy for citizens to convert climate change, stem cell research, or evolution into just one more wedge issue like abortion, taxes, or gun control that help define what it means to be a Republican or Democrat. The political packaging of science for electoral gain is the unfortunate outcome of a lot of different forces, with both Republican and Democratic leaders to blame.
Incidentally, the Gallup survey results also help indirectly shed light on how many non-religious, agnostic, or atheistic American adults might be out there. Consider the graph below, that shows that the proportion of Americans who believe that evolution has occurred with God playing no part has edged up slightly over the past 15 years to roughly 14%. This figure compares favorably to data from a recent Pew report that measures roughly 16% of Americans as saying that they are "religiously unaffiliated."
It's likely, however, that these figures over-estimate the number of truly non-believing Americans who might be out there. Pew reports that among the 16% saying they are unaffiliated, that a large portion (41%) say religion is at least somewhat important in their lives, seven-in-ten say they believe in God, and more than a quarter (27%) say they attend religious services at least a few times a year.
Among all adults, according to Pew, roughly seven-in-ten say they are absolutely certain of God's existence, with slightly more than one-in-five (22%) less certain in their belief.
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You can say 'no' to things, and you should. Do it like this.
- Give yourself permission to say "no" to things. Saying yes to everything is a fast way to burn out.
- Learn to say no in a way that keeps the door of opportunity open: No should never be a one-word answer. Say "No, but I could do this instead," or, "No, but let me connect you to someone who can help."
- If you really want to say yes but can't manage another commitment, try qualifiers like "yes, if," or "yes, after."
Three scientists publish a paper proving that Mercury, not Venus, is the closest planet to Earth.
- Earth is the third planet from the Sun, so our closest neighbor must be planet two or four, right?
- Wrong! Neither Venus nor Mars is the right answer.
- Three scientists ran the numbers. In this YouTube video, one of them explains why our nearest neighbor is... Mercury!
Neuroscience research suggests it might be time to rethink our ideas about when exactly a child becomes an adult.
- Research suggests that most human brains take about 25 years to develop, though these rates can vary among men and women, and among individuals.
- Although the human brain matures in size during adolescence, important developments within the prefrontal cortex and other regions still take pace well into one's 20s.
- The findings raise complex ethical questions about the way our criminal justice systems punishes criminals in their late teens and early 20s.
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