NEW EVOLUTION SURVEY SHOWS THAT WHILST THE MAJORITY OF PEOPLE IN UK AND CANADA ACCEPT EVOLUTIONARY SCIENCE, NON-RELIGIOUS AND ATHEIST INDIVIDUALS SHOW SIMILAR DOUBTS ABOUT THE ORIGINS OF HUMANS AND HUMAN CONSCIOUSNESS AS RELIGIOUS AND SPIRITUAL INDIVIDUALS.
Brighton, 5th September 2017 A Newman University/YouGov survey examining public perceptions and attitudes towards evolution has found that while there is a broad consensus of acceptance towards evolutionary science in both countries, surprisingly, non-religious and specifically atheist publics show similar trends to religious and spiritual publics when it comes to expressing doubts about evolutionary science based explanations for human origins and the development of human consciousness. Continue reading PRESS RELEASE: results of major new survey on evolution
Science and evolution in Muslim societies is a complicated topic. Among members of the public, what does evolution mean? Is there one ‘Muslim view’ on evolution, or are there a great variety of views on evolution in Muslim majority contexts?
In partnership with the British Science Association and their regional branches, we recently ran a series of public events about our research and the relationship between science and religion in general. Do not fear if you were unable to attend one of our events in person, below you can listen to the panel on evolution from our London panel discussion.
For the last 10 years, I have been studying interactions between Christians and atheists on YouTube and social media, focusing particularly on how they structure arguments and categories to fit very specific social contexts. One recurring issue in my work, and one that seems particularly prescient as we collectively practice saying the words ‘President Tump’, is how arguments about theology and science are often used to reinforce beliefs which a user’s audience might already hold. They need not be logical or fact-based, but they must appear to be delivered by an ally and broadly comport with a viewer’s own belief system.
One social media user, Joshua Feuerstein, provides a particularly good case study of how this operates. He has over 2 million likes on Facebook and holds a set of intersectional beliefs that are not uncommon—the redemptive power of Jesus Christ, the right to bear arms, a small government, and Donald Trump. His videos are portrait—shot on his phone—and feature two minutes of focused and simple sermons meant to be shared for the encouragement of all.
Hutchinson was also a clergyman. Admittedly, due to illness, for most of his adult life he was an unbeneficed clergyman and worked as a writer. But, as his Geological Society obituarist observed, the ‘expository power which his ill health lost to the Church was a gain to science’. Amongst the most famous—and, according to some reviews, infamous—of Hutchinson’s popular science books were the lushly-illustrated, dinosaur-filled Extinct Monsters (1892) and controversial Prehistoric Man and Beast (1896).
A note from the editor: In a previous article on this site, historian of science Bernard Lightman offered a reflection on the new work of Peter Harrison. Harrison’s book, The Territories of Science and Religion, seeks to outline how conceptions of science and religion have changed throughout history, and details the inadequacy of projecting our present categories onto the past. In his reflection, Lightman raised four points about Harrison’s work: concerning the influence of Darwin’s evolution, the role of ‘professionalization’, the impact of evolution on natural theology, and how Harrison’s Territories relates to the ‘complexity thesis’, the current dominant idea in the historiography of science and religion. Below is Harrison’s response to Lightman’s post:
I would like to think that I’m a rational person; an individual who logically considers my actions and attitudes. For instance, it’s my hope that when faced with an advertising campaign I would thoroughly study every claim an advert might make, rather than being affected by flashy images or persuasive rhetoric. My guess is that I’m not alone in thinking this about myself.
Many of us perceive ourselves to be sensible people who are not easily swayed by the guiles of persuasive techniques, such as those found in advertising pitches or political speeches. The problem, however, is that decades of persuasion research has revealed we usually don’t have the ability or the motivation to diligently evaluate the many persuasive messages we are bombarded with on a daily basis. Continue reading Persuasion in the Evolution Wars