Forget terrorism. Forget the economic crisis. Forget the Chinese and the Russians who still want to bury us. Forget Dick Cheney and George Bush. The Gallup people have uncovered the greatest threat to America's future in a new poll, the results of which have just been released: Less than 40% of Americans say they believe in "the theory of evolution."
For those who think that belief in evolution is the linchpin to achieving secular nirvana this must come as dispiriting news, and on the 200th birthday of Charles Darwin, no less.
Twenty five percent of respondents do not believe in the theory and 36% had no opinion. To be sure, the more education the respondent had the more likely they were to accept evolution, but, in fact, the results of the survey strike me as meaningless unless the pollsters actually defined the word evolution. If they didn't, how could the question be answered meaningfully?
Evolution could mean the descent of all life from a single simple primitive cell. Or it could refer to mere variation around a genetic mean. Or it could mean nothing more than that things change. Without explaining what is to be understood by the word "evolution" pretty much any results must be taken with a healthy dose of skepticism.
Even so, the fact that only four in ten Americans accept the theory, however it is defined, suggests that we're likely to hear a lot more invective along the lines of Richard Dawkins' infamous imprecation that anyone who doesn't believe in Darwinian evolution is either "ignorant, stupid or insane."RLC