38 Percent

Some say God used evolution
As His “how it’s done” solution,
As a way that they can reconcile the two opposing views
But that reconciliation
Lives in pure imagination
It’s a compromise that’s simply not available to choose
Middle ground, which they’re demanding
Shows a lack of understanding
Intervention means the process wasn’t natural at all
Darwin’s process of selection
Doesn’t need a god’s inspection
Saying “both” is just redundant; clearly, one of them must fall.

I saw a link to this story (about Rep. candidates’ creationist views). In it, the Gallup poll I showed my ignorance of yesterday is brought up:

In its most recent polling on the topic, Gallup found that 40 percent of Americans believe God created humans just as they are today. Another 38 percent said they believe God guided the evolution process. And 16 percent believe human evolution involved pure science

I have somehow lost the link I saw, but it implied that the 38% who believe in a god-guided evolution are as scientific as the 16% who believe in an unguided evolution, with the differences between them philosophical and not scientific. I’m not certain if that is possible in theory, but in practice it is dead wrong. In practice (and by “practice” here, I am simply looking at the comments to the Fox News story linked above), the people (in this admittedly biased sample of convenience) who claim that god guided evolution are just plain wrong about natural selection. It is not that they understand natural selection and thing god guides it, rather it is that they think god took a long time rather than a short time to create things supernaturally.

If god played a role, it was not natural selection. If it was natural selection, god’s role has shrunk to nothingness. Philosophically, it may be true that evolution does not require the absence of a god. It does not eliminate god, it simply renders god superfluous for this particular purpose. Practically, though, I suspect that taking the “god guided it” position may simply identify the people who believe in evolution but do not understand it.

Frankly, it is good that they believe in it. It would be far better, though, if they understood it.


  1. LexAequitas says

    In fairness, God could have controlled the natural environment, thereby guiding evolution. Hence, there is natural selection, just a supernatural control of the conditions.

    I don’t buy any of that, but it does seem consistent with answering the survey in the manner they do.

  2. says

    The difference between believing and understanding is profound I think but you’re right, better that they believe in something that resembles the truth than not.

    It’d be nice if they understood it. The problem is that it’s such a simple concept… if they don’t understand it, is it because nobody has ever bothered to explain it? Should the idea be packaged differently?

    I always seem to get back to this:

    “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!” or indeed he believes his ‘immortal soul’ is on the line I suppose.

  3. Cuttlefish says

    Lex Aequitas, if god is controlling the environment, then your adjective “natural” no longer applies.

  4. TomZ, a miasma of incandescent plasma says

    Apart from Lex’s point, I’ve heard some apologists simply assert that god IS nature – that whole “ground of being” concept – which is, you know, dumb.
    “So god’s the water the animals swim in!” they’ll say.
    “Yeah, god’s also the shark and the seal. You’ve just taken all supernatural power away from your god and made it irrelevant, not to mention completely cruel to itself and every living thing for no reason.” I respond
    “la la la can’t hear you!” then babble about god being the rock in the “can god make a rock so heavy” question…
    So yeah, they got nothin’.

  5. Cuttlefish says

    Yes, TomZ, there is enough room for an absolutely impotent god, a god indistinguishable from no god at all, a god whose sole characteristic is existence.

    Know any gods that fit that description?

  6. Pierce R. Butler says

    … taking the “god guided it” position may simply identify the people who believe in evolution but do not understand it.

    While, personally, I have no disagreement with this, one or the other of us will have to come up with a reply to the inevitable “whuddabout Ken Miller?!?” rejoinder….

  7. Pierce R. Butler says

    Miller’s attempt to wedge his god into natural selection by invoking quantum woo doesn’t play very well at FtB & related aristophrenic fora – particularly since he doesn’t seem to grasp QM above the Deepak Chopra level – but otherwise he seems to know the subject as well as anyone could ask.

    One of them there conundra…

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