Do Republicans have a problem with science?
That is apparently the implication from a recently released study by the Pew Research Center, which indicates that fewer Republicans accept one of the basic precepts of biological science – that living things, including humans, have evolved from other forms over time.
That’s right. I’m talking about that radical idea known as evolution, which was first proposed more than 150 years ago by Charles Darwin and his less-famous colleague, Alfred Russel Wallace.
Since that time, the ideas of these two men have been examined, developed and enhanced by thousands of other scientists in fields ranging from geology to genetics. It has become one of the basic foundations for how scientists study and understand the natural world.
Among the general population, however, it has been slow to take hold. According to the Pew study, about 60 percent of Americans accept the idea that living things have evolved. That hasn’t really changed since the last time they did a study in 2009.
What has changed since 2009, however, is that fewer Republicans are in that group. According to the study, among people who described themselves as Republicans, only 43 percent accept the ideas of evolution – down from 54 percent in 2009. Democrats crept up slightly from 64 percent in 2009 to 67 percent, and Independents fell a couple of points to 65 percent. But both of those variations fall within the study’s 3 percent margin of error, so there seems to be no real difference in those groups.
I know many reject the idea that humans and other creatures have evolved and changed over time, based on their religious beliefs. Just last year, U.S. Rep Paul Broun was quoted calling the ideas behind evolution “lies straight from the pit of Hell.”
I will not criticize another man’s religion, but I will say that I don’t understand this sort of thinking.
I don’t consult the Bible when seeking scientific information, nor do I crack a biology book when I want to learn more about my relationship with God. That would be like picking up a phone book when I need a dictionary.
So, why are Republicans abandoning this basic scientific concept?
I doubt that many individual people are changing their minds about evolution, so perhaps the party itself is changing. Perhaps people who accept the tenets of evolutionary theory are less likely to support the Republican party.
Another Pew study released in October indicated that Republicans also were more likely to reject scientific evidence for global climate change.
Is it education?
Is it ideology?
Are certain areas of scientific pursuit becoming a political test of sorts?
Is this a symptom of a more deep-seated problem?
Whatever the reasons, it is a disturbing trend that needs to be addressed and not ignored. We need to ask: Which direction is the Republican party going? Where is it bound?