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U.S. Lags World in Grasp of Genetics and Acceptance of Evolution
Live Science ^ | 08/10/06 | Ker Than

Posted on 08/11/2006 11:54:04 AM PDT by presidio9

A comparison of peoples' views in 34 countries finds that the United States ranks near the bottom when it comes to public acceptance of evolution. Only Turkey ranked lower.

Among the factors contributing to America's low score are poor understanding of biology, especially genetics, the politicization of science and the literal interpretation of the Bible by a small but vocal group of American Christians, the researchers say.

“American Protestantism is more fundamentalist than anybody except perhaps the Islamic fundamentalist, which is why Turkey and we are so close,” said study co-author Jon Miller of Michigan State University.

The researchers combined data from public surveys on evolution collected from 32 European countries, the United States and Japan between 1985 and 2005. Adults in each country were asked whether they thought the statement “Human beings, as we know them, developed from earlier species of animals,” was true, false, or if they were unsure.

The study found that over the past 20 years:

The percentage of U.S. adults who accept evolution declined from 45 to 40 percent. The percentage overtly rejecting evolution declined from 48 to 39 percent, however. And the percentage of adults who were unsure increased, from 7 to 21 percent.

Of the other countries surveyed, only Turkey ranked lower, with about 25 percent of the population accepting evolution and 75 percent rejecting it. In Iceland, Denmark, Sweden and France, 80 percent or more of adults accepted evolution; in Japan, 78 percent of adults did.

The findings are detailed in the Aug. 11 issue of the journal Science.

Religion belief and evolution

The researchers also compared 10 independent variables—including religious belief, political ideology and understanding of concepts from genetics, or “genetic literacy”—between adults in America and nine European countries to determine whether these factors could predict attitudes toward evolution.

The analysis found that Americans with fundamentalist religious beliefs—defined as belief in substantial divine control and frequent prayer—were more likely to reject evolution than Europeans with similar beliefs. The researchers attribute the discrepancy to differences in how American Christian fundamentalist and other forms of Christianity interpret the Bible.

While American fundamentalists tend to interpret the Bible literally and to view Genesis as a true and accurate account of creation, mainstream Protestants in both the United States and Europe instead treat Genesis as metaphorical, the researchers say.

“Whether it’s the Bible or the Koran, there are some people who think it’s everything you need to know,” Miller said. “Other people say these are very interesting metaphorical stories in that they give us guidance, but they’re not science books.”

This latter view is also shared by the Catholic Church.

Politics and the Flat Earth

Politics is also contributing to America's widespread confusion about evolution, the researchers say. Major political parties in the United States are more willing to make opposition to evolution a prominent part of their campaigns to garner conservative votes—something that does not happen in Europe or Japan.

Miller says that it makes about as much sense for politicians to oppose evolution in their campaigns as it is for them to advocate that the Earth is flat and promise to pass legislation saying so if elected to office.

"You can pass any law you want but it won't change the shape of the Earth," Miller told LiveScience.

Paul Meyers, a biologist at the University of Minnesota who was not involved in the study, says that what politicians should be doing is saying, 'We ought to defer these questions to qualified authorities and we should have committees of scientists and engineers who we will approach for the right answers."

The researchers also single out the poor grasp of biological concepts, especially genetics, by American adults as an important contributor to the country's low confidence in evolution.

“The more you understand about genetics, the more you understand about the unity of life and the relationship humans have to other forms of life,” Miller said.

The current study also analyzed the results from a 10-country survey in which adults were tested with 10 true or false statements about basic concepts from genetics. One of the statements was "All plants and animals have DNA." Americans had a median score of 4. (The correct answer is "yes.")

Science alone is not enough

But the problem is more than one of education—it goes deeper, and is a function of our country's culture and history, said study co-author Eugenie Scott, director of the National Center for Science Education in California.

“The rejection of evolution is not something that will be solved by throwing science at it,” Scott said in a telephone interview.

Myers expressed a similar sentiment. About the recent trial in Dover, Pennsylvania which ruled against intelligent design, Myers said "it was a great victory for our side and it’s done a lot to help ensure that we keep religion out of the classroom for a while longer, but it doesn’t address the root causes. The creationists are still creationists—they're not going to change because of a court decision."

Scott says one thing that will help is to have Catholics and mainstream Protestants speak up about their theologies' acceptance of evolution.

"There needs to be more addressing of creationism from these more moderate theological perspectives," Scott said. “The professional clergy and theologians whom I know tend to be very reluctant to engage in that type of ‘my theology versus your theology’ discussion, but it matters because it’s having a negative effect on American scientific literacy."

The latest packaging of creationism is intelligent design, or ID, a conjecture which claims that certain features of the natural world are so complex that they could only be the work of a Supreme Being. ID proponents say they do not deny that evolution is true, only that scientists should not rule out the possibility of supernatural intervention.

But scientists do not share doubts over evolution. They argue it is one of the most well tested theories around, supported by countless tests done in many different scientific fields. Scott says promoting uncertainty about evolution is just as bad as denying it outright and that ID and traditional creationism both spread the same message.

“Both are saying that evolution is bad science, that evolution is weak and inadequate science, and that it can’t do the job so therefore God did it,” she said.

Another view

Bruce Chapman, the president of the Discovery Institute, the primary backer of ID, has a different view of the study.

"A better explanation for the high percentage of doubters of Darwinism in America may be that this country's citizens are famously independent and are not given to being rolled by an ideological elite in any field," Chapman said. "In particular, the growing doubts about Darwinism undoubtedly reflect growing doubts among scientists about Darwinian theory. Over 640 have now signed a public dissent and the number keeps growing."

Nick Matzke of the National Center for Science Education in California points out, however, that most of the scientists Chapman refers to do not do research in the field of evolution.

"If you look at the list, you can't find anybody who's really a significant contributor to the field or anyone who's done recognizable work on evolution," Matzke said.

Scott says the news is not all bad. The number of American adults unsure about the validity of evolution has increased in recent years, from 7 to 21 percent, but growth in this demographic comes at the expense of the other two groups. The percentage of Americans accepting evolution has declined, but so has the percentage of those who overtly reject it.

"I was very surprised to see that. To me that means the glass is half full,” Scott said. “That 21 percent we can educate."


TOPICS: Heated Discussion
KEYWORDS: anothercrevothread; christianbashing; christianmythology; christians; creationism; crevolist; culturewar; darwin; darwinism; deadhorse; dumbingdownwithid; enoughalready; evolution; evorage; flatearthsociety; genetics; goddooditamen; hatefulevos; idfairytales; idjunkscience; indoctrination; jerklist; junkscience; ludditesonparade; mythology; pavlovian; religion; religiousright; science; superstiouskooks; superstition; theory; theoryofevolution; whocares; wwfsmdo
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1 posted on 08/11/2006 11:54:06 AM PDT by presidio9
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To: presidio9

Good. Just one more way we're more sensible than any other culture or society on the planet.


2 posted on 08/11/2006 11:55:04 AM PDT by BelegStrongbow (www.stjosephssanford.org)
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To: presidio9

They report this like it's a bad thing that most Americans don't believe the Darwinism lies.


3 posted on 08/11/2006 11:58:42 AM PDT by Catholic Canadian (Formerly Ashamed Canadian - thank you Stephen Harper!)
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To: presidio9

Since the 34 countries are being led down a wrong-path like sheep to slaughter, US doesn't want to follow.


4 posted on 08/11/2006 11:58:52 AM PDT by lilylangtree
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To: BelegStrongbow

If evolution is a theory why is disagreement with it wrong? Why does it have to be fixed? We don't have surveys on "who believes in the big bang (vs. the steady state or collapsing bang) and take ourselves to task. To me the 21% doubting are just being careful thinkers. What's bad about that.


5 posted on 08/11/2006 11:58:53 AM PDT by Jack Black
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To: presidio9
This is the kind of thing that's going to cause us to lose market dominance. We ignore science (especially biology related fields) at our peril.
6 posted on 08/11/2006 11:58:54 AM PDT by Lt_funk
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To: BelegStrongbow

Anyone who still beleives in evolution should read Coulter's 'Godless'.


7 posted on 08/11/2006 11:58:54 AM PDT by kawaii
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To: BelegStrongbow

Well, it's obvious. The reason America lags behind so much in education is because we don't fully accept evolution - right?

Maybe these people should start paying some attention to the real reasons why people don't understand math, science, and reading - and believe me, it has nothing to do with evolution.


8 posted on 08/11/2006 11:59:06 AM PDT by I still care ("Remember... for it is the doom of men that they forget" - Merlin, from Excalibur)
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To: kawaii

Yeah - that was a watershed book that presented a lot of original research that finally put an end to the evolution 'debate'.


9 posted on 08/11/2006 12:00:00 PM PDT by Lt_funk
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To: Jack Black

Jack, I see I must have miswritten or something. I shall be clear:

In my very humble opinion, evolution is an extrapolation from some facts and a lot of supposition. It is possible but I cannot accept it without external guidance (you can read: God).

I disagree with evolution, find it ludicrous, and simply turn my back when insulted for my opinions on the subject.

That said, I think we agree and if I were to try to restate what I first said, I would say,

...Good. Being at the 'bottom' for having the lowest agreement rate with evolution just shows that the US remains the most sensible culture/society on earth.

Are we okay now?

Thanks.


10 posted on 08/11/2006 12:02:20 PM PDT by BelegStrongbow (www.stjosephssanford.org)
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To: presidio9

Allegation anecdotally proven.


11 posted on 08/11/2006 12:02:33 PM PDT by elkfersupper
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To: kawaii

I don't (believe in evolution), and just haven't gotten to her latest yet (I'm still enjoying 'Treason' too much). I'm such a late adopter, y'know?


12 posted on 08/11/2006 12:03:24 PM PDT by BelegStrongbow (www.stjosephssanford.org)
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To: presidio9

The disciples of the evolution faith wish to shove it down our throats by force if necessary.


13 posted on 08/11/2006 12:04:28 PM PDT by stinkerpot65
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To: Lt_funk
We ignore science our Creator (especially biology related fields) at our peril.
14 posted on 08/11/2006 12:05:40 PM PDT by Southflanknorthpawsis
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To: Catholic Canadian

And what lies would those be?


15 posted on 08/11/2006 12:06:51 PM PDT by RFC_Gal (It's not just a boulder; It's a rock! A ro-o-ock. The pioneers used to ride these babies for miles!)
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To: presidio9

What a bunch of BS. The leftist professors just can't resist spending their time doing "studies" that supposedly show that the US is more backward than the rest of the world.


I wonder how many Turkish goat herders they polled and whether they really understood genetics and biology.


Maybe these professors should pack their bags and go teach in Uzbekistan, where they apparently have better appreciation for this than they do in the US.


16 posted on 08/11/2006 12:07:00 PM PDT by Brilliant
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To: BelegStrongbow
"Being at the 'bottom' for having the lowest agreement rate with evolution just shows that the US remains the most sensible culture/society on earth."

Second from the bottom; Turkey has us ....beat.

17 posted on 08/11/2006 12:08:18 PM PDT by Mr. Mojo
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To: presidio9
The current pinnacle of evolution is the acquisition of a belief in God. This is a very defensible argument since it is that belief in God(s) that has been at the foundation of, and the prime motivating force behind the flourishing of civilization, science and technology.

Evolution gave us God.

Atheism is a statistical abberance and is evolutionarily retrograde since it is essentially on par with the rest of the inferior animal kingdom.

It is not coincidence that the rgeatest expansion of science, wealth and technology has occured in Christian dominated nations.

It is no coincidence that the greatest, most free, most prosperous, most powerful nation evolution has ever created was founded upon Christian values, and is still dominated by over 70% Christians.

No coincidence at all.

18 posted on 08/11/2006 12:08:28 PM PDT by Mark Felton ("Your faith should not be in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.")
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To: Lt_funk

Most importantly however, was the fact that it pissed off a lot of lefties.


19 posted on 08/11/2006 12:09:08 PM PDT by Sam's Army (RIP Little Lion 10-16-90 / 08-07-06)
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To: BelegStrongbow
"Good. Just one more way we're more sensible than any other culture or society on the planet."

Except of course the Muslims in Turkey who must be more sensible than us by your logic.
20 posted on 08/11/2006 12:09:36 PM PDT by ndt
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To: Mark Felton
"No coincidence at all." None whatsoever.... :)
21 posted on 08/11/2006 12:12:23 PM PDT by jjm2111 (http://www.purveryors-of-truth.blogspot.com)
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To: kawaii

"Anyone who still beleives in evolution should read Coulter's 'Godless'."

Ann is not a scientist, is she? If not, why would I read anything she had to say about evolution. As it happens, I did read "Godless." She does nothing but repeat the same non-scientific stuff we read here every time the subject comes up.


22 posted on 08/11/2006 12:12:33 PM PDT by MineralMan (non-evangelical atheist)
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To: presidio9

That Americans reject evolution is not a concern.

That Americans don't know that all plants and animals have DNA is a bigger concern, but I seriously doubt that claim. It's possible Americans tuned out all discussion of genetics when the obvious fraud of evolution was so adamently pushed on them. But their other statistics appear biased, I bet this one is too.

This article is an obvious hit piece. It dredges up the myth that Christians believed in a flat earth. It falsely claims that scientists don't doubt evolution. It claims major political parties are making anti-evolution part of their platform, which is false. And it tries to minimize evolution doubters as "a small but vocal group of Christians", yet the article admits only 40% of Americans accept evolution.

But even these numbers are high according to recent polls. 77% of Republicans reject evolution of humans from another species. And so do a majority of democrats.


23 posted on 08/11/2006 12:12:47 PM PDT by DannyTN
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To: Mark Felton
"This is a very defensible argument since it is that belief in God(s) that has been at the foundation of, and the prime motivating force behind the flourishing of civilization, science and technology."

I always chalked it up to the development of agriculture and food surpluses. Thanks for setting me straight.
24 posted on 08/11/2006 12:14:27 PM PDT by ndt
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To: ndt
And Turkey just happens to be the only Muslim country included in the 34-nation survey.
25 posted on 08/11/2006 12:15:57 PM PDT by Mr. Mojo
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To: Lt_funk

Are you saying because of a poll bioscience companies wont invest in America? I would wager that in the 1970's and early 1980's that America was just as or even more against or questionable of Evolution as now, even though some of the greatest biology discoveries were found here at that time, and many of the greatest discoveries are still taken place here in the USA, darn are whacky views.


26 posted on 08/11/2006 12:16:44 PM PDT by aft_lizard (born conservative...I chose to be a republican)
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Comment #27 Removed by Moderator

To: presidio9

This article seems to imply that opinions about evolution held by average Americans somehow impact research. They don't.

Kids who develop an interest in science will square it with their religious beliefs one way or another. I doubt that there are a number of potential Nobel prize winners digging ditches today instead of doing gene mapping because of religious issues.

We still seem to have all the scientists we need to remain on the bleeding edge of research.


28 posted on 08/11/2006 12:18:35 PM PDT by Gingersnap
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To: MineralMan

As opposed to the pro-evolution non-science that comes up.

Evolutionists worship the events of the scopes trial the way liberals worship the events of the 'mccarthy' era.

Regardless of whether evolution is true or false, the fact of the matter is a lot of folks seem to enjoy fabricating evidence in favor of it.


29 posted on 08/11/2006 12:19:16 PM PDT by kawaii
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To: ndt

You are right, that is a large part of it, but WHY is it that primarily Christian nations have developed the agriculture technology and processes to create such surpluses.

In times past as we were developing our agricultural abilites we would build churches as the one of the first most important buildings (before government buildings) in farm areas.

The church was at the center of those societies which flourished well ahead of non-Christian socieites.

Most non-Christian nations still can't figure out how to get the agriculture right because they do not have the cultural values necessary, in part. The other is that we are blessed by God.


30 posted on 08/11/2006 12:19:56 PM PDT by Mark Felton ("Your faith should not be in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.")
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To: Mr. Mojo
"And Turkey just happens to be the only Muslim country included"

With Turkey being relatively moderate in that category, I suspect you would find a lot of "sensible" people in the remaining counties.
31 posted on 08/11/2006 12:20:05 PM PDT by ndt
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To: ndt

No doubt.


32 posted on 08/11/2006 12:21:06 PM PDT by Mr. Mojo
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To: presidio9
Last time I checked Science was suppose to accept proof and fact, not secular religious dogma based on faith and assumption. The correct answer is "We don't know". Not believe our dogma or we will excommunicate you from our Church of Science
33 posted on 08/11/2006 12:21:27 PM PDT by MNJohnnie (A proportionate response would be the indiscriminate slaughter of Western journalists)
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To: presidio9
Scott says one thing that will help is to have Catholics and mainstream Protestants speak up about their theologies' acceptance of evolution.

Somehow I find it more pressing to have the 900million "peaceful" muslims denounce the 100million militant terrorist muslism.

34 posted on 08/11/2006 12:21:29 PM PDT by weegee (Remember "Remember the Maine"? Well in the current war "Remember the Baby Milk Factory")
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To: Brilliant
"The researchers combined data from public surveys on evolution collected from 32 European countries, the United States and Japan between 1985 and 2005."

...combined data from multiple studies over 20 years???? I once tried doing something like that in a stat course and my professor came close to spanking me with a keyboard.

I also can't beleve the average French peasant knows DNA from Beaujolais.

Maybe the "researchers" could explain why such a backward nation as the United States leads the world in science, including biotechnology??? Yet "advanced" nations like Turkey can't even figure out how to feed themselves. This study reeks of a waste of the perfectly good and harmless trees used to publish it.

35 posted on 08/11/2006 12:22:24 PM PDT by Sooth2222
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To: Lt_funk
This is the kind of thing that's going to cause us to lose market dominance. We ignore science (especially biology related fields) at our peril

Absurd nonsense. We dominate the Life Sciences. All these countries are Socialists to one extent or the other. Does that mean we should become Socialists? Just because a dogma is widely accepted does NOT make it a good idea.

36 posted on 08/11/2006 12:23:29 PM PDT by MNJohnnie (A proportionate response would be the indiscriminate slaughter of Western journalists)
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To: kawaii
Anyone who still beleives in evolution should read Coulter's 'Godless'.

Is Ann Coulter a subject expert in the field of biology?

37 posted on 08/11/2006 12:24:49 PM PDT by Fiji Hill
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To: stinkerpot65
That is political correctness. Brand the heretics who do not submit.

Selfish, superstitious, racist, sexist, bigoted, fascist, homophobe...
38 posted on 08/11/2006 12:25:19 PM PDT by weegee (Remember "Remember the Maine"? Well in the current war "Remember the Baby Milk Factory")
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To: presidio9

This is silly. It is a bit like decrying that so few people speak Latin. Genetics is a specialized field and evolution contributes only marginally to the science. Where it might matter is that a research might suffer professionally if he didn't hold to the conventional wisdom of those in the department. He might not advance for the same reasons that a conservative in sociology might not advance: he can't get anone to publish because his reputation makes him suspect.


39 posted on 08/11/2006 12:25:47 PM PDT by RobbyS ( CHIRHO)
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To: aft_lizard
"Are you saying because of a poll bioscience companies wont invest in America? "

Evolution doesn't materially affect any practical science, but Evo's would have you believe that the sky is falling if we don't all accept evolution. Patrick Henry once posted an article that compared Christians to the Taliban and the article claimed that Christians would turn back the clock on science to the dark ages.

Yet it's evolution that has sent science down wrong turns. It's evolution that had doctors thinking it was ok to remove tonsils and tailbones and thinking that appendices had no function. It's evolution that claimed major portions of DNA were "junk DNA", had no function and were not worth researching.

40 posted on 08/11/2006 12:25:57 PM PDT by DannyTN
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Comment #41 Removed by Moderator

To: Lt_funk

Nope. That is a book that you happen to agree with. It is making assumptions and statements that are declarations of faith not of fact. The correct Scientific answer is "We don't know". It is interesting that the proponents of the Church of Science are so dogmatic in pronouncing anathema on anyone who does not blindly worship at their shrine. Seems once again the Dogmatic Leftist are projecting their own emotional and intellectual shortcoming onto their ideological foes.


42 posted on 08/11/2006 12:26:35 PM PDT by MNJohnnie (A proportionate response would be the indiscriminate slaughter of Western journalists)
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To: Sooth2222

43 posted on 08/11/2006 12:26:41 PM PDT by Sooth2222
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To: DannyTN
Darwin led many scientists to leap to conclusions, even Darwin himself. That is why his book "The Descent of Man" is scientific crap.
44 posted on 08/11/2006 12:28:31 PM PDT by RobbyS ( CHIRHO)
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To: Mark Felton
"WHY is it that primarily Christian nations have developed the agriculture technology and processes to create such surpluses. "

Agriculture and an agrarian lifestyle predates Christianity by thousand of years making the rest of your argument nonsensical.
45 posted on 08/11/2006 12:28:44 PM PDT by ndt
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To: Sooth2222

"This study reeks of a waste of the perfectly good and harmless trees used to publish it."


It's actually worse than that, when you think about it. It's really just a political hit piece. Professors doing studies at taxpayer expense to justify their partisanship and back up the political positions of the parties to which they owe their allegience.


46 posted on 08/11/2006 12:29:31 PM PDT by Brilliant
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To: presidio9

Oh noooooooooooooooo, we're all going to die!


47 posted on 08/11/2006 12:29:40 PM PDT by OldFriend (I Pledge Allegiance to the Flag.....and My Heart to the Soldier Who Protects It.)
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To: DNA-RNA-AA

OK so you say that either you believe in God and no evolution or you believe in Evolution and no God? Thats ridiculous, you can believe as a matter of faith that God created evolution, evolution only deals with the physical world and explanations, God is however an answer to those of us with faith to those questions that cannot be answered.


48 posted on 08/11/2006 12:30:04 PM PDT by aft_lizard (born conservative...I chose to be a republican)
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To: DNA-RNA-AA

The problem is conservatives either buy evolution or don't but liberals NEED evolution to be true. This is the real reason none of the lingering questions about evolution can be taught in public schools. If it were merely science then there could be disent. But it's faith, and disent against faith is heresy.


49 posted on 08/11/2006 12:30:21 PM PDT by kawaii
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To: MNJohnnie

"The correct answer is "We don't know"."

The only answer I am willing to give on the subject: "I have no idea."


50 posted on 08/11/2006 12:31:42 PM PDT by L98Fiero (I'm worth a million in prizes.)
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