Saturday, July 22, 2017

Mysterious Stuff

Materialism is the belief that everything in the universe - including our bodies, our brains, our thoughts, our sensations - all of it is reducible in principle to material "stuff". There's no mental substance, no mind, just brains and the functions the brain performs. But if that's so, then what is the material stuff everything is made of? What, exactly, is matter?

Physicists, many of whom are materialists, tell us that matter is made up of particles which are themselves simply a "wave function", but then what's a wave function? What's it made of? No one seems to have an answer.

This video takes the viewer down to the smallest bits of matter, but when we ask what these smallest bits are comprised of the only reply from physicists is a shrug of the shoulders. At some point matter just seems to dissolve into energy, forces, and fields which are themselves inscrutable. They can be measured, but if we ask what it is, precisely, that we're measuring we just get another shrug for an answer. The fundamental nature of matter is a riddle:
Neuroscientist Michael Egnor helps us understand the provenience of the idea that everything is made of matter. He writes:
The materialist conception of matter derives in part from Democritus and Lucretius (two ancient materialist philosophers), but I believe that the most cogent view of matter as held by modern materialists is that of Descartes.

Descartes defined matter as res extensa — literally, substance extended in space. Matter, in the Cartesian view, is characterized by extension — length, width, and depth, and by associated properties such as mass that accompany extension in space. In the Cartesian view, all subjective mental properties, such as qualia and intentionality, were defined away — excluded — from matter itself. How, then, could the mind exist if subjective properties had no basis in matter?

In order to explain subjective experience and the mind, Descartes posited the existence of a second substance, res cogitans, which entailed subjective mental experience and which was [not] composed [of] matter in human beings. This was Cartesian substance dualism. The body and the mind were separable substances, each existing in its own right. Furthermore, Descartes believed that only humans had minds. Animals were automatons, essentially mindless machines made of meat.

Modern materialists have discarded Descartes’ mental substance, and have tried to explain nature and consciousness via matter alone. Modern materialists are Descartes’ descendants: although they have discarded Cartesian dualism, they retain Cartesian materialism. To the modern materialist, what really exists is matter extended in space, tangible stuff, and all intangible stuff (like the mind) needs to be explained in terms of tangible matter. Hence the bizarre cornucopia of materialist theories of mind, such as philosophical behaviorism, identity theory, computer functionalism, and eliminative materialism.
Of course, none of this explains what matter actually is. If it's "extended substance" then what kind of substance? And how can such a nebulous entity explain human cognition, human values, or any of the products of human consciousness? Egnor puts the question this way:
How, from a materialist perspective, can we explain the laws of physics? How can we explain abstract things, like universals and mathematics, if all that exists is matter extended in space? How can the mind arise from matter — how can meat think? How can we square the materialist understanding of nature with quantum mechanics, which reveals very non-materialist properties of matter at its most fundamental level?
Matter is a mystery and the belief that everything is made up of, and/or arises from, this mysterious substance is really nothing more than a prejudice that derives from a naturalistic worldview. There's no reason, in fact, not to believe that the fundamental stuff of the universe isn't material at all but rather mental. Indeed, this is the direction that modern physics has been moving in since the early years of the twentieth century. Perhaps, so far from mind arising from matter, the sensation of matter actually is a product of mind.

Just as Copernicus sparked a revolution in science by getting us to look at the solar system from a different perspective - a heliocentric rather than a geocentric perspective - looking at the world from the perspective of mental substance rather than material substance could spark an analogous revolution not only in science but also in metaphysics.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Punish the Wicked

Since the Supreme Court decided in Obergefell to overrule two thousand years of marriage tradition and force states to recognize gay marriages those who object to such unions on religious grounds have found themselves being legally and economically punished by the intolerant left.

Now Tim Gill, a tech millionaire and LGBTQ activist is promising in an interview at Rolling Stone to further target Christians, and presumably Muslims, who hesitate to fully embrace the progressive orthodoxy on same-sex marriage.

In the RS interview Mr. Gill promises to "punish the wicked".

Bre Payton gives us some details at The Federalist. Here are a few excerpts:
For more than two decades, the software programmer [Gill] has poured an estimated $422 million into various gay rights causes. After the Supreme Court ruled gay marriage legal in all 50 states in 2015, Gill turned his attention and resources to targeting Christians.
Payton quotes from the Rolling Stone interview before elaborating:
The election of Donald Trump, who claims to support gay rights but stocked his administration with anti-LGBTQ extremists, has only emboldened those looking to erase the gains of the past decade. Gill refuses to go on the defense. ‘We’re going into the hardest states in the country,’ he says. ‘We’re going to punish the wicked.’
Allow me to add some context. After the Obergefell ruling in 2015, which forced all 50 states to perform same-sex marriages, several state legislatures passed protections to ensure that those who object to participating in a same-sex wedding for religious reasons have recourse when hauled into courts or extralegal commissions for this belief. It’s these state laws that Gill and his various nonprofit entities have decided to go after — and persecute Christians along the way.

[R]eligious Americans still serve gay customers in myriad capacities, just as they do every other customer. Their objections are to being forced to use their artistic talents to proclaim particular speech they find fundamentally false or to be required to participate in a religious ceremony that conflicts with their consciences.

[T]hese laws simply ask that judges use a simple balancing test when ruling on cases involving a person’s religious freedom.

Nevertheless, asking a judge to think twice before demanding that a baker craft a wedding cake for a lesbian couple and stomping all over his freedom of expression is apparently a wicked deed that Gill intends to punish.
The common sense solution to this problem is for the nuptial couple to be referred to other businesspersons who are willing to perform the service requested and refrain from state coercion as long as reasonable alternatives exist, but this would manifest tolerance, and some people, like Mr. Gill, aren't interested in tolerance for those with whom they disagree. They want to punish.

Does Mr. Gill think it's a "wicked deed" for a doctor opposed to abortion to refuse to perform them? Is it a "wicked deed" for a surgeon opposed to sex-change surgery to refuse to perform it? Is it a "wicked deed" for a surgeon who believes that those who wish to be made disabled are suffering from a mental illness to refuse to perform it? If so, why is it wicked, and if not, how are bakers and florists any different than those medical providers?

Along the way, Christian business owners have been maligned and demonized for not wanting to participate in a same-sex wedding. In Colorado, a cake baker was forced to change his company’s policies and provide training to staff after he objected to baking a cake for a gay couple. A Christian couple was slapped with a $13,000 fine for refusing to host a same-sex wedding on their property. People threatened to burn a pizza shop to the ground after its owners answered that they would happily serve gay customers, they just wouldn’t want to cater a gay wedding should they be asked to do so.
I wonder what's going to happen the first time a Muslim baker or florist refuses to participate in a homosexual union. I'm pretty sure the left's courageous crusaders for LGBTQ rights, including Mr. Gill, will suddenly find something else to occupy their attention. There are always Christians out there for ideological bullies to attack, and Christians make for much safer victims.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Evidence-Free Physics

In order to escape the overwhelming evidence that cosmic fine-tuning offers to those who believe the universe to be intelligently designed, many skeptics have staked their money, or at least their professional reputations, on the concept of a multiverse, for which there's scarcely any evidence at all. The multiverse, however, seems to be a suggested by string theory, for which there's also scarcely any evidence, but it remains a popular hypothesis in some circles nonetheless.

One might be forgiven for thinking that this popularity is due to the fact that without it the multiverse would be seen as sheer fantasy, and without the multiverse there's no escaping the conclusion that our universe appears to have been intentionally designed for life by a mathematical supergenius.

Cosmologist Bernard Carr once said that “If there is only one universe you might have to have a fine-tuner. If you don’t want God, you’d better have a multiverse.” Of course, there could be both, but if there is a multiverse it obviates one of the best arguments for the existence of God, i.e. the argument based on cosmic fine-tuning.*(see below)

Denyse O'Leary brings us a nice summary of some of what's being said about string theory in an article at Evolution News and Views. She begins with the relationship of string theory to multiverse theory:
[S]tring theory... undergirds the concept of a multiverse: There are more universes than particles in our known universe.

How so? To work at all, string theory requires at least nine spatial dimensions (six of which are curled up out of our sight) plus time. But if our universe (three spatial dimensions plus time) arose randomly among the ten dimensions of possibilities (the “string landscape“), theorists reckon that there should be about 10^500 universes (or more). [If there are that many different worlds then] literally anything can happen, has happened, and will happen over and over again.

The sheer number suffocates the evidence for fine-tuning. Our universe happens to look fine-tuned? But the theoretical others don’t. New Scientist spells it out: “This concept of a ‘multiverse’ could explain a puzzling mystery — why dark energy, the furtive force that is accelerating the expansion of space, appears improbably fine-tuned for life. With a large number of universes, there is bound to be one that has a dark energy value like ours.”
O'Leary goes on to discuss the theory of Supersymmetry, for which there's scarcely any evidence either, and notes the opinion of Peter Higgs, the physicist who predicted the existence of the Higgs Boson:
Curiously, Peter Higgs...is not a believer in either supersymmetry or the multiverse: “It’s hard enough to have a theory for one universe,” he says. As the Economist pointed out in 2016, “Supersymmetry is a beautiful idea. But no evidence supports it.”
The lack of evidence and the inability to test these theories is starting to embarrass some science writers and critics:
Critics, perhaps less imaginative than the theorists, decry string theory’s lack of testability. Science writer Philip Ball complains, “Proposing something as dramatic as seven extra dimensions, without offering the slightest prospect of testing to see if they are there, is a step too far for some physicists.” ....Physicist Ethan Siegel tells us bluntly at Forbes that string theory is not science: It cannot be tested.

Physicist Frank Close is blunt: “[M]any physicists have developed theories of great mathematical elegance, but which are beyond the reach of empirical falsification, even in principle. The uncomfortable question that arises is whether they can still be regarded as science.”

Science writer John Horgan, even blunter, scoffs [at the proliferation of untestable hypotheses in physics] “At its best, physics is the most potent and precise of all scientific fields, and yet it surpasses even psychology in its capacity for bull****.”

Evidence or no, string theory remains popular. Skeptical Columbia mathematician Peter Woit wonders why: “The result of tens of thousands of papers and more than 30 years of work is that all the evidence is that if you can get something this way that looks at all like the Standard Model, you can get anything. Normally when that happens you simply acknowledge the problem and give up, but for some reason that hasn’t happened.”

If science-based reasoning doesn’t explain string theory, cultural history might: A culture might wish a multiverse into existence despite the facts, to satisfy emotional needs such as making naturalism appear to work. As Philip Ball says, “[N]ailing your flag to the mast of string theory has come to be seen as an expression of faith rather than reason, and physics has become polarised into believers and sceptics.”
The string theory/multiverse complex resists being thrown into the dustbin of discarded scientific ideas because for metaphysical naturalists it's really the only game in town. If there's only one universe then, as Bernard Carr said over a decade ago, you pretty much have to accept that it was intelligently designed. The improbability of so many conditions, force values, parameters, etc. being calibrated within tolerances so fine that deviations in some cases of just one part in 10^120 would have prevented the universe from existing at all is so astronomical as to make the notion that our universe is just an accident literally incredible.

* Here are just a few examples of cosmic traits which must be set to the precise values they have or life as we know it would be impossible:
  • Stars like the sun produce energy by fusing two hydrogen atoms into a single helium atom. During that reaction, 0.007 percent of the mass of the hydrogen atoms is converted into energy, via Einstein’s famous e = mc2 equation. But if that percentage were, say, 0.006 or 0.008, the universe would be far more hostile to life. The lower number would result in a universe filled only with hydrogen; the higher number would leave a universe with no hydrogen (and therefore no water) and no stars like the sun.
  • The early universe was delicately poised between runaway expansion and terminal collapse. Had the universe contained much more matter, additional gravity would have made it implode. If it contained less, the universe would have expanded too quickly for galaxies to form.
  • Had matter in the universe been more evenly distributed, it would not have clumped together to form galaxies. Had matter been clumpier, it would have condensed into black holes.
  • Atomic nuclei are bound together by the so-called strong force. If that force were slightly more powerful, all the protons in the early universe would have paired off and there would be no hydrogen, which fuels long-lived stars. Water would not exist, nor would any known form of life.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Mis-critiquing Intelligent Design

J. B. Stump, who works for the BioLogos Foundation and teaches philosophy at Bethel College in Indiana, wrote a review a while back for Christian Century of a book by Benjamin Jantzen titled An Introduction to Design Arguments. Neither the reviewer nor Jantzen is terribly sympathetic to this family of arguments for the existence of God and so we read passages like this one critical of Michael Behe's notion of irreducible complexity:
Of course, there are many things we don’t yet understand about evolutionary history. So if Behe were to produce an example of an irreducibly complex structure for which scientists had no compelling evolutionary account, would that be enough to generate the conclusion that it must have been designed? No, says Jantzen; there is another problem with the argument. When Behe claims that irreducible complexity is best explained by a designer, Jantzen reminds us that "best" is a comparative term and can only mean “best among the known explanations.” If history is any guide here, we should expect that we don’t yet know all the possible explanations, so Behe’s claim is considerably weakened.
This is a very odd criticism. Practitioners in every field always embrace the best theory available at the time, if only tentatively. Rarely do we find scientists holding back from working with a hypothesis because, though it's the best extant, they hope there may be better ones down the road. It's the best theories that make it into the textbooks and that popularizers of science advance in their books and articles. It's true that theories are often held with a light hand, but it's simply weird to think that we should refrain from concluding, for the time being at least, that something is designed even though that's the best explanation for what we see, because there may be a better explanation in the future.

Stump also says this which seems quite wide of the mark:
The ID camp does a disservice to the predominantly conservative Christian community to which it appeals by conditioning that community to mistrust science. Its arguments depend on accepted, settled science getting things wrong. So now an alarming number of Christians also reject the conclusions of scientific experts on climate change and vaccines. Of course experts make mistakes. The trick is to realize that they can be trustworthy as well as fallible.
This is just false. I'd challenge Stump to explain how it is that Intelligent Design theorists condition people to mistrust science. ID is not anti-science. Many of the ID people are themselves scientists or philosophers of science. Behe is a biochemist. They embrace and practice science. What they oppose are the metaphysical assumptions that naturalistic scientists smuggle into their interpretations of the empirical data. The conflict is not between ID and science, it's between ID and naturalism. It's a metaphysical, or perhaps methodological disagreement, but both IDers and non-IDers use the same scientific data and neither holds science in any higher esteem than the other.

Stump exacerbates the error by claiming that because of ID people are skeptical of climate change and vaccines, but this is ridiculous. People are skeptical of the claims of some climatologists that the globe is warming at dangerous rates because they find that a) some of the people making these claims have a personal or political stake in the issue, b) some of them have fudged data and forfeited their credibility, and c) there are other climatologists who have come to different conclusions. None of this has anything to do with ID. Likewise with those who are leery of vaccinating children. They agree with Stump's last sentence above, that experts can be both trustworthy and fallible. They just don't want the experts making their mistakes on their children.

Stump does take Jantzen to task for a very serious omission. According to Stump, Jantzen completely elides mention of Stephen Meyer's books:
It is a curious omission that there is no treatment at all of intelligent design’s currently most prominent figure, Stephen Meyer. His books Signature in the Cell (2009) and Darwin’s Doubt (2013) have become the leading edge of the movement. I suspect that Meyer’s work came along too late in the development of Jantzen’s book, which is clearly the fruit of many years of engagement with the material. It is regrettable, though, that what aims to be a comprehensive treatment of design arguments does not include the most important contemporary exemplar.
Stump's attempt to provide Jantzen with an excuse here is hard to credit. Meyer's first book came out in 2009, the second in 2013. Jantzen's book was released in February of 2014. He certainly had time to treat the first one, even if he had no time to add an appendix to offer some thoughts on the second. The fact that he ignored Meyer's work is indeed very unfortunate.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Europe's Refugee Crime Crisis

A lengthy column by Dr. Cheryl Bernard in The National Interest describes Austria's experience with Afghan refugees and demonstrates precisely why so many people support President Trump's call for "extreme vetting".
This is not an article that has been fun for me to write. I have worked on issues related to refugees for much of my professional life, from the Pakistani camps during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan to Yemen, Sudan, Thailand, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Lebanon, Bosnia, Nicaragua and Iraq, and have deep sympathy for their plight.

But nowhere had I encountered a phenomenon like this one. I had seen refugees trapped in circumstances that made them vulnerable to rape, by camp guards or soldiers. But for refugees to become perpetrators of this crime in the place that had given them asylum? That was something new.

A few weeks ago, the Austrian city of Tulln declared a full stop to any further refugee admissions. As the mayor made clear, that decision was aimed at Afghans, but for legal and administrative reasons it could only be promulgated in a global way. That had not been the city’s intention—to the contrary, it had just completed the construction of an expensive, brand-new facility for incoming asylum seekers, which would now, the mayor declared, be given over to another purpose.

His exact words: “We’ve had it.” The tipping point, after a series of disturbing incidents all emanating from Afghans, was the brutal gang rape of a fifteen-year-old girl, snatched from the street on her way home, dragged away and serially abused by Afghan refugees.
Her description of the rape and the subsequent fate of the victim is horrific, and, as she adds, it's just a solitary example of what is an epidemic of outrageous attacks by refugees on women all across Europe (See here, for example)

It took a while for the Austrian media, cowering before the intimidating visage of political correctness, to start identifying the perpetrators as refugees, but the situation is now so bad they can no longer ignore it. It's not only assaults on women that these ungrateful wretches are subjecting the Austrian people to, there's also widespread abuse of their welfare system as well.

When young men have been taught all their lives that women are essentially property, when they've been taught to hate the West and everything about it, the only surprise in what Dr. Bernard describes is that anyone would be surprised:
This brings us to a third, more compelling and quite disturbing theory [for why these crimes are happening] — the one that my Afghan friend, the court translator, puts forward. On the basis of his hundreds of interactions with these young men in his professional capacity over the past several years, he believes to have discovered that they are motivated by a deep and abiding contempt for Western civilization.

To them, Europeans are the enemy, and their women are legitimate spoils, as are all the other things one can take from them: housing, money, passports.

Their laws don’t matter, their culture is uninteresting and, ultimately, their civilization is going to fall anyway to the horde of which one is the spearhead. No need to assimilate, or work hard, or try to build a decent life here for yourself — these Europeans are too soft to seriously punish you for a transgression, and their days are numbered.

And it’s not just the sex crimes, my friend notes. Those may agitate public sentiment the most, but the deliberate, insidious abuse of the welfare system is just as consequential. Afghan refugees, he says, have a particular proclivity to play the system: to lie about their age, to lie about their circumstances, to pretend to be younger, to be handicapped, to belong to an ethnic minority when even the tired eye of an Austrian judge can distinguish the delicate features of a Hazara from those of a Pashtun.
Dr. Bernard concludes with this thought:
Finally, the Left has to do a bit of hard thinking. It’s fine to be warm, fuzzy and sentimental about strangers arriving on your shores, but let’s also spare some warm, fuzzy and sentimental thoughts for our own values, freedoms and lifestyle. Girls and women should continue to feel safe in public spaces, be able to attend festivals, wear clothing appropriate to the weather and their own liking, travel on trains, go to the park, walk their dogs and live their lives.

This is a wonderful Western achievement, and one that is worth defending.
We have a moral obligation, I believe, to help those who suffer, but let's be sure that those we're helping are genuinely in need of our assistance, and let's help them where they are. No one has a duty to succor the homeless by bringing them into their homes, neither must we bring millions of moral illiterates into our communities, putting our wives and daughters at risk, in order to rescue them from tyranny in their homelands.

If there are those who think it too strong to call the perpetrators of the crimes described in Dr. Bernard's essay "moral illiterates" then her article is, for them, "must reading".

Monday, July 17, 2017

Why Aren't Men Working?

In a piece at First Things (subscription required) Irish writer John Waters cites some depressing statistics about male employment in the U.S. The good news is that there are plenty of jobs for people who want to work. The bad news is that evidently fewer men than ever want to work:
In a recent book, Men Without Work, Nicholas Eberstadt shows that, although unemployment in the U.S. has been falling in what he calls this “second Gilded Age,” there is simultaneously a “flight from work” by men in their prime.

Even while manufacturers are finding it difficult to fill vacancies, the percentage of working men between the ages of twenty-five and fifty-four is now lower than it was at the end of the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Approximately one in eight men in their prime has left the workforce altogether, and about one in six is without paid work, a trend that has been visible since the mid-1960s. The graph of this male exodus from the workplace is an almost straight upward line, regardless of booms or recessions, indicating that weakening market demand is not the critical factor.

Nearly seven million American men in their prime have left behind—it seems of their own volition—the idea of trading their skills and talents in the marketplace, and many have turned their backs on all forms of commitment and responsibility. Some are ex-cons, but the greater part is composed of single men without parental responsibilities and with limited formal education, a significant quotient of these being African Americans.

Marriage trumps race as an indicator of employment, as does being a recent immigrant. For every man in his prime deemed unemployed, there are three others who are neither working nor looking for work. Almost three in five of these men are receiving at least one disability benefit, a factor that Eberstadt concedes may not be driving the phenomenon but is certainly financing it.
Men who marry or who have taken the trouble to immigrate are much less likely to be unemployed than those who eschew marriage. This isn't surprising, but it is distressing. How are these millions of single men surviving? Who's paying their room board and medical expenses? The answer, of course, is those who do work. It's very kind of those struggling to eke out a living for their own families to turn over a chunk of their paycheck to subsidize those whom Waters describes thus:
We observe, then, the depths of an existential rather than an economic or purely social crisis, with most of these men wasting away for an average of 2,100 hours a year in front of screens, binging on TV, pornography, sugar, and painkillers, no longer feeling that America has a place for their humanity. They don’t do civic society, religion, or volunteerism.
Actually, I'm not sure if that last clause in the first sentence is accurate. I doubt these men feel anything of the sort. I suspect rather that they simply don't care. Men who aren't willing to commit to family, church, or community aren't likely to care about much else beyond themselves and certainly don't care whether "America has a place for their humanity".

Waters concludes his treatment of Eberstadt's book with this:
If 1965 work rates pertained in the U.S. today there would be approximately 10 million more men with paid work than there are now. ­He professes to find this baffling, given that national wealth has doubled since the turn of the millennium. He expresses ­similar incomprehension about the fact that, ­globalization and deindustrialization notwithstanding, this precise syndrome has not afflicted other Western ­societies to anything like the same extent. He calls it the “quiet catastrophe,” ignored by politicians and commentators.
Little wonder the catastrophe is ignored by politicians and commentators. If a conservative politician were to call attention to some of these facts he'd doubtless be excoriated as a bigot, or an elitist, or a racist and remanded to the re-education camps we euphemistically call sensitivity training.

Nor are progressives likely to speak out too loudly about the calamity that's been visited upon us since for fifty years or so many of these folks have been working like Stakhanovites to undo the American family. They've largely succeeded, at least with the lower socio-economic classes, and as Charles Murray points out in his book Coming Apart, the results are indeed devastating.

Usually, people responsible for a catastrophe don't have too much to say about the damage they've inflicted.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

What Do People Really Think?

A column in USA Today by Tom Krattenmaker discusses a recent Gallup poll which shows a decline in the number of people who support "Creationism" and an uptick in the number of people embracing naturalistic evolution. By "Creationism" Krattenmaker means "young-earth creationism":
New polling data show that for the first time in a long time there’s a notable decline in the percentage of Americans — including Christians — who hold to the “Young Earth” creationist view that humankind was created in its present form in the past 10,000 years, evolution playing no part.

According to a Gallup poll conducted in May, the portion of the American public taking this position now stands at 38%, a new low in Gallup’s periodic surveys. Fifty-seven percent accept the validity of the scientific consensus that human beings evolved from less advanced forms of life over millions of years.
Does this mean that those 57% are embracing naturalistic evolution? Not necessarily, according to Gallup:
As the poll reveals, the biggest factor in the shift is a jump in the number of Christians who are reconciling faith and evolution. They are coming to see evolution as their God’s way of creating life on Earth and continuing to shape it today.
Gallup has been asking the same questions on this poll since the 1980s so it's not obvious to the casual observer why Christians are finding it easier to reconcile "faith and evolution". The reason is, perhaps, that many Christians are finding very intellectually satisfying another explanation that wasn't so well-known back in the 80s and thus didn't show up on Gallup surveys.

That alternative, Intelligent Design, is proving to be a very attractive option both philosophically and theologically because it takes no formal position on who designed the universe, how long ago the designer designed the universe, and how the designer managed to accomplish the feat. It simply asserts that the universe and living things both exhibit the signs of having been intelligently engineered and that impersonal, mechanistic processes are inadequate as explanations for the massive evidence of design that scientists discover almost daily.

In other words, whether the designer employed evolutionary processes or some other creative means, cosmic fine-tuning, the origin of life, and the high information content of living things are inexplicable apart from intentional, intelligent agency.

The question then for many is not a simple Evolution vs. Creation binary. The question (at least as it pertains to life) is between the efficacy of random mutation, genetic drift, and natural selection vs. the efficacy of intelligent agency in accounting for the origin and subsequent biological information. Gallup would give us a clearer picture of where people stood on this issue if they formulated their questions to reflect that dichotomy.