How do we reconcile the fact that only 15% of Americans believe that humans are the product of evolution, with no divine guidance, with the supposed drop in religiosity?http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/frontal-cortex/2012/06/brain-...
Whoa, whoa, whoa. 15%? That's far lower than any number I've heard quoted before. Where did that come from? The second paragraph of the article you posted suggests that number is actually closer to about 56% (which, I admit, is still embarrassing).
This is a very straightforward question, by Gallup, and reported in the New Yorker.
The second paragraph only suggests that about 40% of Americans are strictly creationist.
Sounds horrifying to me.
15% believe in evolution with no divine guidance. 32% believe in evolution with divine guidance. The remaining 46% are full-blown Creationists.
Although our immediate reaction is to equate the middle group with IDiots, I think it probably encompasses a huge range of belief--basically people who believe in some sort of divine entity and still believe in evolution.
Ah, thank you.
SO, to get to the question you actually posed...
Part of the problem, as the article points out, is in how our brains actually deal with data that contradicts our intuitions. You have to learn to overcome those impulses. Educators should be made aware of this fact and incorporate it into their instructional philosophy. As we learn more about how and where these intuitions are at work, the better we will be at devising tasks that interrupt that process and increase blood flow to that dorsolateral prefrontal cortex!
Another part of the problem is, as you rightly called it Phil, the supposed drop in religiosity. Fewer people going to church in no way means that people have abandoned dogmatic, fear-based superstitious thinking. They swear the ghost of their dead grandmother visited them the night they died and will get passionately angry if you question that. Cripes, just suggest to someone they stop using Facebook on a daily basis (where people go to have all their domatic, fear-based superstitious thinking reinforced by people who think the same way--and they "unfriend" people who don't), and watch the insanity unfold. Traditional religious institutions may be in decline and disrepute, but they have been replaced by a more free form, feel good, all natural "spiritualism" that is much harder to dislodge because it seems so harmless. I think that's what a lot of that 32% who believe in evolution with divine guidance would see in themselves--"I'm not religious, I'm spiritual".
Part of the problem, as the article points out, is in how our brains actually deal with data that contradicts our intuitions. You have to learn to overcome those impulses. Educators should be made aware of this fact and incorporate it into their instructional philosophy. Sarah
Certainly we'd like to make educators aware and have them change their methods in the public and Christian schools of Dothan Alabama and Muskogee, Oklahoma. There's as much political will to develop secular and science-based education as there is to deal with over-population, corporate abuse and environmental destruction.
Oh I agree that that term spiritual is soooo odious!
There's as much political will to develop secular and science-based education as there is to deal with over-population, corporate abuse and environmental destruction.
And there's another aspect of the problem.
Another part of the problem is, as you rightly called it Phil, the supposed drop in religiosity. Fewer people going to church in no way means that people have abandoned dogmatic, fear-based superstitious thinking. Sarah
This might be the explanation. The old mainline and authoritarian structures might be giving way to custom built idiocies. A question might be, will this trend undermine faith-based idiocy or give it more flexibility and appeal?
I predict spiritual belief will be more flexible and appealing because it won't be called "faith based". It will either be dressed up in pseudo-scientific trappings like homeopathy or ghost hunting, or be seen as the antithesis of science that is destroying our world/county/humanity/etc. like creationism or neo-luddism.
I think the rise in "spiritualism" is a reaction to the rise in secularism and scientific thinking, but I don't think it's any better than being religious. The potential for harm is just as great, but this time it's dressed up in free thought--so what if your mom is spending all of her money visiting psychics, it's her choice and her money! And it's not like she's going to a church or something. Meanwhile, mom is being financially abused by the psychic and the people in her life are too stupidly "tolerant" to point out the obvious.
And there is no reason that a whole society, or even one person would go from being religious, to spiritual to atheistic in a straight line. That is to say, secularism is not a predefined end point of social progress. Besides, there's no real change in thinking between the spiritual and religious person; they are equally prone to specious reasoning and dogmatic thinking. A person who is spiritual is not simply on their way to being secular--they have adopted an extremely personalized magical view of the world that may be more damaging than religion because it is often based in personal experiences rather than on group cohesion.
And if that weren't bad enough, there is an entire industry out there taking advantage of these people. One of the most sickening examples I can think of is the virtual army of publishers that sprang up to feed the Wicca fad. They don't advocate going to churches or bowing to central authorities, but they are charging $20-35 per book for some of the worst poetry you've ever read, and at worst, books that encourage you to lie to friends and family.