shows a majority of Americans believe creationism has a place in public schools along with Darwin’s theory of evolution — at least that’s how The New York Times, the Associated Press and other national media interpreted the data.
PFAW, on the other hand, ignored the findings of its own commissioned poll, opting to contend in a news release that, among other things, the public doesn’t see a contradiction between God and Darwin.
PFAW, on its Internet site, describes itself as “a watchdog of the Religious Right.”
The nationwide poll of 1,500 people was conducted for PFAW by DYG Inc., a Connecticut-based polling and research firm.
The poll showed that 79 percent of Americans believe creationism has a place in public school curriculum, while 83 percent generally support the teaching of evolution in public schools.
Almost half of those polled agreed that the theory of evolution “is far from being proven scientifically,” while 68 percent said it was possible to believe in evolution while also believing that God created humans and guided their development.
“You can read the poll as half-empty or half-full,” Daniel Yankelovich, chairman of DYG, told The New York Times. He said the poll results indicate that there is a place for both theories in a “pluralistic society and public.”
However, PFAW used the same polling data to claim that most people believe evolution to be divinely inspired. “To put it simply, this poll shows that most Americans believe that God created evolution,” argued Ralph G. Neas, president of PFAW.
“The poll should also be a warning to public officials and schools,” Neas said. “If they cave in to pressure to eliminate evolution or to force creationism into the science classroom, they will be acting against the views and wishes of most Americans.”
Not so, said one leading Southern Baptist creationist. “Three cheers to The New York Times for interpreting the results of the survey in basically an unbiased fashion,” said Hal N. Ostrander, associate dean and associate professor of Christian theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary’s James P. Boyce College of the Bible.
“Hats off as well to the 1,500 people making up the representative sample of Americans polled,” Ostrander continued. “What Joe and Jane Citizen know to be true intuitively, the media cultural elite attempts to suppress — that there are at least two sides to every issue and both sides have the right to be heard.
“For The New York Times to interpret this surprising survey data in a way that shows how dissatisfied everyday people are with the evolutionary propaganda constantly thrown at them is a sizeable victory for the creationist worldview,” Ostrander said.
“It’s as if the people themselves have finally gotten their say as opposed to the usual propagation of the status quo, a situation wherein advocates of the Darwinist worldview believe they have the right and privilege to control the scientific content of educational systems per se.”
While the poll indicated a large number of people hold to a theistic evolutionary stance on matters of human origins, Ostrander observed that, “Such a stance contributes nothing to the actual truth of things. Why? Because if the empirical evidence doesn’t fit with atheistic evolutionary theory, then it doesn’t fit just because God is invoked as the guiding principle lying back of evolution.
“It’s the hard-core data that determines factuality, and if the data lends substantial weight to the fact that evolution didn’t take place, then laying claim to divine assistance somehow making it happen is equally contrary to the facts,” Ostrander said.
“Hence, theistic evolution is every bit as illogical as atheistic evolution with respect to the interpretation of accumulated data,” he said.
“At the public education level, both evolutionary theory and creation views need to be taught side by side,” Ostrander said. “Because — logically as opposed to legally — students in the classroom will be able to grasp and appreciate how much better the creationist worldview fits the facts of nature when compared and contrasted to evolutionary theory’s many empirical weaknesses.
“Unfortunately, students may have to discern these weaknesses for themselves or learn about them elsewhere if biology teachers and others fail or refuse to discuss these matters openly,” Ostrander said, adding, “… if those biology teachers adhering to creationist viewpoints should suppress the teaching of evolutionary theory for fear of influencing students toward Darwinism rather than away from it, they become just as guilty of hidden agendas as the evolutionary oligarchy now so firmly in place at various educational levels.”
Ostrander noted that he believes “creationist educators are much more willing to ‘teach the controversy’ than evolutionists are, for reasons having to do, at bottom, with creationists ultimately having greater confidence in the truth of their position.”