Aw, c’mon, pollsters. This is stupid. A recent Associated Press (AP)-GfK poll came up with the following two responses (among others):
“The universe began 13.8 billion years ago with a big bang.” 51% of the respondents answered with: “Not too/Not at All Confident” that this statement is true.
“The universe is so complex, there must be a supreme being guiding its creation.” 54% of the respondents answered that they were Extremely/Very Confident that this statement is true.
According to many in the commenting class these responses say a lot about Americans. But they don’t really say what. I am not so timid.
The Big Bang Theory is a relatively young theory and if an adult were not a fan of popular science programming on TV, just where would they acquire any information about what that theory was and whether it were true? The vast majority of Americans are not in a position to access or evaluate the data supporting this theory. So, for Americans to believe that “the universe began 13.8 billion years ago with a big bang” would require an act of faith, faith that many scientists believe it to be so, which must make it so.
On the other hand, many, many Americans are brought up in schools, in churches, and summer camps, and colleges wherein the message is repeated over and over that “in the beginning, God created, etc.” I can’t tell you how many times I have heard that phrase, but it is a very large number. You can also see this reinforced on TV programs, even on “science” channels.
So, what would you expect ordinary people to believe?
Is there any serious discussion of the contrast between these two “messages?” Does anyone ever ask why the phrase “in the beginning” is used when clearly God is already there? Does anyone ever ask why God addresses no one in particular and uses the word “us” when he creates Adam and Eve? There is no public discourse on the contrast between these two opposing memes, so is it any surprise that the message hammered home over and over and over is the one people favor?
It is somewhat dismaying, though, to hear the trite comments fostered by creationist apologists coming from educated people. For example, in the AP story they say:
Jorge Delarosa, a 39-year-old architect from Bridgewater, N.J., pointed to a warm 2012 without a winter and said, “I feel the change. There must be a reason.” But when it came to Earth’s beginnings 4.5 billion years ago, he has doubts simply because “I wasn’t there.”
Did anyone ask the gentlemen about his belief in “in the beginning, God created, etc?” I do believe he could also state that he wasn’t there either.
Until there is some rational discourse in this country, those with the best marketing will dominate public opinion. It seems to be true in our politics and it is certainly true in our religions.