Views on Evolution by Members of Different Religious Groups in the US

In 2008, the Pew Research Forum published the findings of a survey they did examining the percentage of the US population who agree that human evolution is the best explanation for the origins of human life on earth by members of various religious groups.

Percentage of the US population who agree that evolution is the best explanation for the origins of human life on earth.

Percentage of the US population who agree that evolution is the best explanation for the origins of human life on earth.

The results are fascinating.

But first, here’s a fun exercise: find your religious faith tradition on the bottom of the chart, and look at the traditions to the left and right of you. This allows you to put into perspective your view on the scientific fact of human evolution.

The chart is powerful because it allows US citizens to see where they are on the relative scale of beliefs.

You will note that there are three natural statistical clusters:

To the left, there are the Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, and ‘unaffiliated’ (which could mean anything from atheist to agnostic to “spiritual” to “aliens did it”).

Then in the center, there are Catholics, Orthodox, Mainline Protestants (right at the 50% mark), Muslims, and Black Protestants.

Finally, at the far right, there are the Evangelicals, Mormons, and Jehovah’s Witnesses.

The far right category doesn’t surprise me: these three religious groups have led the way in denying science outright for some time now.

Interestingly, the Muslim category was farther left than I expected, probably due to the fact that the media usually portrays Muslims as more fundamentalist than the national average. (Again, Muslims in the US are less likely to be fundamentalist, and therefore less likely to be seen on TV. Rational folks don’t usually end up on TV; just watch any news program or reality show.)

Other than that, there are few surprises. Historically, the most densely populated Catholic parts of the country are in the northeast, where the average demographic is more liberal/progressive and better educated than the national average. Black Protestants and Evangelicals demographically appear in the south, where things lean more conservative and people are less educated than the national average. (Even FoxBusiness says so.) This sociological reality may partially explain the results.

Again, the chart is powerful because it allows US citizens of particular faith traditions to see where they are (and to whom they are intellectually closest on the issue of evolution) on the relative scale of beliefs.

So where are you?

Dr. Morten Schlütter to speak at UCLA on “The Turbulent Life of the Platform Sūtra”

My Department of Religious Studies colleague, Dr. Morten Schlütter, Associate Professor of Chinese Religions and Director of the Center for Asian and Pacific Studies at the University of Iowa, will give a lecture at the UCLA Center for Buddhist Studies entitled, “The Turbulent Life of the Platform Sūtra (Liuzu tanjing 六祖壇經)” on Friday, March 1, 2013 from 3:30-5:00 PM at 243 Royce Hall on the UCLA campus, as part of the Numata Colloquium Series.

If you are in the Westwood/UCLA area, please consider attending this FREE lecture.

Dr. Morten Schlütter, Assoc. Professor of Chinese Religions, The University of Iowa

Dr. Morten Schlütter, Assoc. Professor of Chinese Religions in the Department of Religious Studies, The University of Iowa

Title: “The Turbulent Life of the Platform Sūtra
(Liuzu tanjing 六祖壇經)

By: Prof. Morten Schlütter
Date: Friday, March 01, 2013
Time: 3:30 PM – 5:00 PM
Place: Royce 243, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA 90095
Cost: Free and Open to the Public

Download Flyer: Schlutter-Flyer-1r-xfm.pdf

About the Lecture: The Platform Sūtra is perhaps the best known of all texts produced by Chinese Buddhism, but it is also unique because it exists in a number of different versions, spanning six centuries. This talk will explore how we can establish the relationship and chronology of the various editions of the text, and how we can trace crucial developments in Chan through a study of them.

About the Lecturer: Professor Morten Schlütter teaches at the University of Iowa, and is the director of its Center for Asian and Pacific Studies. His research centers broadly on Chinese Buddhism, especially Chan (Jpn.: Zen). He is the author of How Zen Became Zen: The Dispute over Enlightenment and the Formation of Chan Buddhism in Song-dynasty China (University of Hawai’i Press, 2008) and co-editor of Readings of the Platform Sūtra (Columbia University Press, 2012).

For More Information:

Jennifer Jung-Kim
Tel: 310-825-2089
jungkim@international.ucla.edu
www.international.ucla.edu/buddhist

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