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?

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The ‘negative space’ argument: another reason why the U.S. should back Palestinian statehood (and why Hamas opposes it)

"Negative Space" left behind by proposed "1967 borders" of the 2011 UN Palestinian Statehood proposal would mandate an acknowledgment of a state of Israel.

"Negative Space" left behind by proposed "1967 borders" of the 2011 UN Palestinian Statehood proposal would mandate an acknowledgment of a state of Israel.

A University of Iowa colleague of mine, Dr. Ahmed Souaiaia, Associate Professor of Islamic Studies, and I were discussing the planned Palestinian proposal for statehood to the United Nations this week. Dr. Souaiaia mentioned that Hamas, the militant Palestinian faction that controls the Gaza Strip and actually engaged in a Palestinian civil war with the larger Palestinian political party, Fatah, was one of the only Arab organizations actually opposed the proposed Palestinian bid for statehood (a little-reported fact I later confirmed in a number of articles that U.S. media outlets apparently don’t want you to see).

In fact, despite the fact that the 22 nation-members of the Arab League have endorsed the Palestinian bid for statehood, Hamas does not. This is because the negative space left behind by the proposed pre-1967 borders of the Palestinian state to be proposed at the United Nations would, by default, define a state of Israel. That is, the area that is not claimed within the borders proposed by Palestine (encompassing the West Bank and the Gaza Strip), and, that is not claimed by adjacent nations must belong to someone, and that someone is Israel.

This is precisely why Hamas does not support the bid: it has less to do with political representation of Palestine by Fatah (which Hamas opposes), and more to do with a simple acknowledgment of the reality of the state of Israel.

Hamas would rather not have a Palestinian state than acknowledge an Israeli one.

And that is precisely why Hamas should be ignored, and why Fatah should move forward with the bid on behalf of Palestine. It is why the 22-member Arab League has endorsed the bid, why Israel should concede (if they cannot politically support the plan), and why the United States should not veto the bid.

Palestinian statehood through recognition at the United Nations is the two-state solution. Israel and Palestine should set aside old arguments over olive trees (hat tip: Thomas Friedman) and allow the bid for Palestinian statehood to move forward. It’s the win-win for Israel and Palestine that everyone has been seeking for decades. It allows for something that has never existed: an internationally recognized Palestinian state! It allows Israel to save face by allowing them to oppose a unilateral Palestinian bid for statehood, and yet concede that the United Nations is the same organization that set the foundation for an Israeli state in 1947. It allows the United States to support its own policy of a two-state solution. (President Obama just needs to articulate the fact that a vote in favor of the Palestinian statehood bid forces Arab League states to recognize Israel.) And, it thumbs an international nose at Hamas, the terrorist organization that has stood in the way of peace (or at least has been the Israeli excuse for avoiding it) for decades.

And if Hamas so much as fires a single shot in an attempt to sabotage the process, the newly formed coalition of neighbors – Palestine, Israel, the Arab League, the US, the UN, and anyone else who wants to join in – should once and for all end Hamas’ reign of terror and oppression of its own Palestinian people. We can remind those in Gaza that Hamas would rather forfeit a Palestinian state than make peace with Israel (and Fatah). We can remind them what life has been like under Hamas leadership. And, we can point out the imminent reality of their centuries-long dream of an internationally recognized Palestinian state is near.

All that needs to happen is for President Obama and the United States not to veto the Palestinian bid for statehood. Until this, we wait, and we hope that 2012 electoral college math doesn’t influence Mr. Obama’s judgment on the matter at hand.

Robert R. Cargill

social justice in action: egyptian muslims form human shields for egyptian coptic christians

Muslims form a human shield around various Coptic churches during Coptic Christmas eve mass services around the country and at candle light vigils held outside, offering their bodies and their lives as protection while Coptic Christians worship inside.

Muslims form a human shield around various Coptic churches during Coptic Christmas eve mass services throughout Egypt and at candle light vigils held outside, offering their bodies and their lives as protection while Coptic Christians worshiped inside.

Rarely in modern times do we witness acts of solidarity and social justice that are truly life threatening. I am honored to say that I am proud of the Egyptian Muslims who protested the terrible militant attacks against Coptic Christians at the Saints Church in Alexandria, Egypt on New Years day. But it was the way in which they protested that was both impressive and self-sacrificial.

A mass of Egyptian Muslims formed human shields around various Coptic churches during Coptic Christmas eve mass services throughout Egypt and at candle light vigils held outside. They offered their bodies and risked their lives as protection against militant Muslim terrorists while Coptic Christians worshiped inside. It was an act of solidarity with their Christian Egyptian neighbors that spanned their different religions and got to the heart of both faiths: love of neighbor as social justice towards all.

Among those shields were movie stars Adel Imam and Yousra, popular preacher Amr Khaled, the two sons of President Hosni Mubarak, and thousands of citizens who have said they consider the attack one on Egypt as a whole.

“This is not about us and them,” said Dalia Mustafa, a student who attended mass at Virgin Mary Church on Maraashly. “We are one. This was an attack on Egypt as a whole, and I am standing with the Copts because the only way things will change in this country is if we come together.”

Egyptian Muslims literally offered their lives for their Coptic Christians brothers and sisters. They spoke with their bodies, uniting as one in Egypt against terrorism and religious intolerance.

Very, very well done. There is indeed hope for humanity if we can only see the inner light in every human being, as these advocates did today.

HT: JW

the double standard

The sign of a modern, intellectual society is not its tolerance for free expressions of speech, but the consistency by which it tolerates various forms of free speech. Likewise, the sign of a sound faith in a credible system of beliefs is the manner in which it responds to criticism. Those that respond violently to questions and criticisms about their religious beliefs betray the uncertainty of their own convictions. However, those who entertain rational discourse and admit the inherent problems within all systems of beliefs demonstrate a confidence that unsettles many who insist upon their certitude.

ht: jim west

a request to terrorists

i’d like to make a small request of islamic terrorists who keep trying to bomb americans. it’s written in arabic so you can read it. it’s just a thought:

Stop Blowing Sh!t Up T-Shirt

dear islamic terrorists, you’re doing nothing to help your cause. by now, most americans know that islam is not evil, rather, people who kill innocent people in the name of islam are evil, just like those who kill innocents in the name of judaism or christianity (or name your religion) are evil. you’re only hurting your cause and giving the world a reason to hate you, which gives governments a reason to come after you.

so, if you wouldn’t mind, stop trying to blow stuff up. thanx.

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