Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Putting the Polls together…

There have been three fairly recent polls regarding UK beliefs in origins.

1. Ipsos MORI for the BBC's Horizon series (see here).
22% chose creationism
A further 17% favoured intelligent design.
(39% combined)
48% chose evolution.
Uncommitted 13%

2. The UK section of the Science magazine article by J.Miller et.al. (See here and here and here)
67-68% Accept Evolution as true using it seems a combination measure of several questions about evolution.
15% unsure
17% rejecting.

3. The recent Opinion panel Research poll reported in the guardian. (See here)
(This is focused on students.)
In this poll 12% of students chose creationsism.
A further 19% favoured intelligent design.
(31% combined)
56% chose evolution.
Uncommitted 13%

What these results show it seems to me (as always) is that a great deal depends on the precise questions that are asked and perhaps the context of the questions. The Ipsos and the Opinion Panel results are comparable. If they are broadly correct then it appears that the Science survey seems to include some intelligent design supporters as those who believe evolution is true.

9 Comments:

Blogger Richard H said...

Bearing in mind that Intelligent Design is only partly compatible with Creationism, and is not direct evidence for it, I do not see a direct correlation being required between ID and Creationism.

Although it is unlikely, it is possible that we (life forms on earth) have been designed by an advanced civilisation that is millions of years ahead of us in the evolutionary process. It may well be that we have infact been designed to evolve, with some logic built into our DNA that we have not yet found, let alone understood, that fills in the gaps in our evolutionary knowledge.

Although what I have proposed is likely to be rubbish - ID is compatible with this, as much as it is with Creationism as a theory for the origin of life on earth.

In fact, I could argue that ID is more compatible with this than Creationism, as my proposed situation above focuses only on life being designed, whereas Creationism assumes that the universe has been designed to support our lives as the key purpose for the existence of that universe - which is something that is outside the scope of the theory of ID.

8:08 pm  
Anonymous Hrafn said...

"Bearing in mind that Intelligent Design is only partly compatible with Creationism..."

Richard: perhaps you could elucidate on what parts of ID are incompatable with all forms of pre-existing Creationism (e.g. Young Earth, Old Earth, Progressive, Creation Science).

What places ID in the Creationism camp is the fact that it implicitly assumes that its "Designer" is supernatural (as a natural designer can be shown to be logically inconsistent with ID's postulates).

2:17 am  
Blogger Richard H said...

"Richard: perhaps you could elucidate on what parts of ID are incompatable with all forms of pre-existing Creationism (e.g. Young Earth, Old Earth, Progressive, Creation Science)."

hrafn, when I say partly compatible, I am refering to the fact that ID (from a scientific claims perspective in terms of irreducible complexity and probabilities) is only focusing on life forms on planet earth, as opposed to evidence for the design of rocks, and therefore does not (as a scientific theory) claim to provide evidence to identify the designer or evidence that the universe itself is designed.

ID as a scientific theory is purely the inference of design....which to me means that "it looks like it could have been designed, subject to more evidence coming to light to the contrary" or those who are making the inference understanding the evidence that already exists that is to the contrary.

Hope that helps to explain where I was coming from.

A question in return - why is a natural designer logically inconsistent with ID? No trick question - just wanting to understand the thinking behind this, as irreducible complexity and probabilities, in my mind, does not preclude the possibility of a natural designer - ie. ID does not preclude other life forms evolving in the universe that could have designed us, as it is only looking at the 'design' of us.

1:40 pm  
Anonymous Hrafn said...

richard h:

You make a number of factual errors, specifically that ID "does not ... claim to provide ... evidence that the universe itself is designed" (it does, e.g. with the claims of Guillermo Gonzalez) and that ID is a "scientific theory" (it isn't, under any reasonable definition of "scientific theory"). Regardless, you have provided no evidence that it is incompatible with Creationism. In fact you made no attempt to even discuss Creationism at all.

"A question in return - why is a natural designer logically inconsistent with ID?"

1) Intelligent Design states, as its central hypothesis, that life is too complex to have evolved spontaneously, and so must have had a designer.

2) This designer can conceivably have been either natural (aliens, etc), or supernatural (God).

3) But, under Intelligent Design's own argument, any natural designer, sufficiently complex to be capable of designing living organisms, is likewise too complex to have evolved spontaneously (and even assuming that some other natural designer designed our first one still leaves us with an unexplainable designer).

4) We are thus left with only the supernatural designer, God.

6:40 pm  
Blogger Richard H said...

hrafn,

Thanks for your reply.

I assume you are refering to The Privileged Planet, for 'evidence' supporting the ID proposal that the universe has been designed. My focus was on Behe, who has had by far the most discussion on this blog site, who states that irreducible complexity does not apply to rocks, so does not, in itself support the creation of the universe. My view of The Privileged Planet is that it is equivalent to dropping a marble down a mountain side, and then analysing all the imperfections and angles of the rocks that it fell down, and concluding that the marble should not be where it has landed as the chances of all those angles and imperfections being in place to allow the marble to arrive where it is is improbable without them being designed.

As an Athiest, I do not support anything that ID has so far put forward, but find it interesting to challenge ID on it's claims, accepting those claims in a loose form - ie. that ID, at some level, is a theory based on scientific evidence - ie. irreducible complexity and probabilities.

I assume you, at some level, are doing the same, as if you believe as you do that there is no scientific basis for ID (which I trust that is the case for you) then why would you bother to give supporters of ID the time of day on blogs such as this one?

12:42 pm  
Blogger allygally said...

richard h said "I do not support anything that ID has so far put forward, but find it interesting to challenge ID on it's claims, accepting those claims in a loose form - ie. that ID, at some level, is a theory based on scientific evidence - ie. irreducible complexity and probabilities."

I could claim that I'm a 6'3" muscle bound Jamaican love machine, but one glance in my direction would confirm that I am a a 5'2", 15 stone, butterball and that my beliefs are delusional. To engage with me on the basis of my delusion might be entertaining, but it would not give me any of those attributes, nor woud it be a profitable exercise for you or for me.

ID is not science. To even hint that it may be is to encourage it's delusional accolytes, and to indulge in a meaningless dialogue.

"I assume you, at some level, are doing the same, as if you believe as you do that there is no scientific basis for ID (which I trust that is the case for you) then why would you bother to give supporters of ID the time of day on blogs such as this one?"

Because others may be surfing these sites, and if the beliefs encompassed by ID are not opposed and refuted energetically, they may be believed and spread. Which would be dangerous for science and modern life generally. So for every looney religion-disguised-as-science pronouncement from the creationist/ID lobby, there must be a rational POV showing the foolishness of the ID position. It's not really a game. There are serious issues of scientific and democratic importance at stake. The argument must not go by default.

9:07 pm  
Anonymous Hrafn said...

Richard H:

The claims of ID are subject to such obfuscation and equivocation, that I seldom find it worth while to preemptively challenge them except in the broadest terms.

As to why I am here, it is a combination of a love of argument (and the mental stimulation I gain from that) and a desire to (like Allygally) ensure that when IDers make specific claims, they do not go unchallenged.

2:28 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Regarding the original comment on putting the polls together.
The Ipsos and the Opinion Panel wording talks about just the evolution of man and explicitly excludes God. Thus Theistic Evolutionists will not choose thos option. So the overall results underestimate support for the Theory of Evolution and overestimate support for Intelligent Design.

4:43 pm  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

You may well be right Anonymous.
The wording and context is crucial.

4:53 pm  

Post a Comment

<< Home