Home » Darwinism, Intelligent Design, Popular culture » Young people believe less in God, and more in Darwin and superstition. What does this mean?

Young people believe less in God, and more in Darwin and superstition. What does this mean?

It means that today’s young people are clearly not the vanguard of a scientific revolution!

Yes, a major shift is occurring, but not the one many people assume. Advancing naturalism (the belief that nature is all there is) produces both expected and unexpected effects. The Harris poll found that belief in Darwin’s theory of evolution increased to 47 percent, up from 42 percent in 2005

As a result, some will crow that “Science is winning over superstition!” But it isn’t. Between 2005 and 2013, belief increased in

– ghosts from 41% to 42%

– UFOs from 35% to 36%

– astrology stayed the same at 29%

– witches decreased significantly from 31% to 26%

– reincarnation increased from 21% to 24%

While the noted increases are small, we should expect declines nearly across the board instead, if the “science wins” thesis were correct. (The one exception is UFOs; as a “sciencey” belief, they correlate with naturalism despite lack of evidence.) Further, we would expect young people (18–36) to reject ghosts and reincarnation more strongly than older people (68+) do.

And they don’t. On the contrary, younger folk believe in ghosts at 44% to seniors’ 24%. In UFOs at 36% to 30%. In astrology at 33% to 23%. In witches at 27% to 18%. And in reincarnation at 27% to 13%.

In short, naturalism offers liberation, not from the bonds of superstition but from the burden of rationality. And we must address the fact that increasing numbers of young people are embracing that liberation. More.

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18 Responses to Young people believe less in God, and more in Darwin and superstition. What does this mean?

  1. You gotta believe in something. We were hardwired that way.

  2. I have some problems with this.
    UFO = Unidentified Flying Object. A UFO is just that – until it becomes and IFO. I assume the question actually meant “do you believe Earth is being visited by aliens?” or something like that.

    witches = members of neo-Pagan relgious belief systems, with females identifying themselves as witches. I’ve known a few witches in my lifetime (comes from living in Victoria, BC, where neo-Paganism is quite popular), including a family member. And yes, some of them do “magick” and spell casting. Even where I live now, there are numerous outlets that sell supplies (wands, crystals, cauldrons, spellbooks, etc) to meet the needs of the local Pagan population. So when they ask if people “believe in” witches, I’d really like to know what their definition is.

  3. In short, naturalism offers liberation, not from the bonds of superstition but from the burden of rationality.

    This explains a lot. We are taught that through evolution, anything and everything is possible. In old mythology, only the gods had super powers. In our current mythology (popular comic book movies) evolutionary mutations that one would rationally believe would kill or harm a person, instead create super powers – ie. a scientist zapped with gamma rays, a student bitten by a genetically engineered spider, and astronauts exposed to high levels of radiation.

  4. The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.

    Timothy 4:1

    Sadly, satanic influences abound in our culture.

  5. A dishonest presentation of the statistics because it tries to imply a correlation between evolution and other beliefs.

    The actual text compares the Evolution with Creationism in the paragraph i.e. “Creationism dropped overall from 39% to 36% in eight years and 37% to 33% over the generations”

    The thing is though that within Europe acceptance of Evolution is compatible with belief in a God. The stance of the Catholic and Anglican church that belief in God is compatible with the Theory of Evolution.

    So even that (Evolution verses Creationism) isn’t a reliable comparison. So what does evolution correlate with ? Education in sciences usually.

  6. How can evolution correlate with education in sciences when it is totally devoid of details? Not only that unguided evolution can’t even muster a testable hypothesis?

  7. LP:

    Pardon, but I must beg to differ.

    The basic connecting problem is that capability to think straight is being undermined on a broad base in education systems and popular culture alike, notoriously through post-/ultra- modernism, but also through lab-coated things like this, from Lewontin’s Notorious 1997 NYRB review:

    . . . the problem is to get [the general public] to reject irrational and supernatural explanations of the world, the demons that exist only in their imaginations, and to accept a social and intellectual apparatus, Science, as the only begetter of truth [[--> NB: this is a knowledge claim about knowledge and its possible sources, i.e. it is a claim in philosophy not science; it is thus self-refuting]. . . .

    It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes [[--> another major begging of the question . . . ] to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute [[--> i.e. here we see the fallacious, indoctrinated, ideological, closed mind . . . ], for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. [From: “Billions and Billions of Demons,” NYRB, January 9, 1997. If you think this is "quote-mined" kindly cf the fuller cite and notes here.]

    This sort of approach first actively promotes blind adherence to a self-refuting absurdity, evolutionary materialism; duly dressed up in a lab coat.

    Next, it further inculcates indoctrination, party-spirited ideological adherence and polarisation, dismissiveness, demoonisation of those who differ and general closed mindedness, relativism and subjectivism. For it undermines the free, responsible mind and will, and it undermines the basis for thinking reasonably and responsibly.

    Haldane’s quick summary shows one way:

    “It seems to me immensely unlikely that mind is a mere by-product of matter. For if my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true. They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically. And hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms. In order to escape from this necessity of sawing away the branch on which I am sitting, so to speak, I am compelled to believe that mind is not wholly conditioned by matter.” [["When I am dead," in Possible Worlds: And Other Essays [1927], Chatto and Windus: London, 1932, reprint, p.209.]

    Mind to irrational mush, in short.

    If we are jumped up apes from the savannahs of East Africa who happened to have too many neurons for their own good, shaped by genes and memes, etc, rather than responsible and free persons who have duties of care to the truth, the right, the fair, the just and conscience, why bother?

    Who cares?

    And, sez who?

    UD’s WJM is plainly right to underscore, by contrast:

    If you do not [acknowledge] the law of non-contradiction, you have nothing to argue about. If you do not [admit] the principles of sound reason, you have nothing to argue with. If you do not [recognise] libertarian free will, you have no one to argue against. If you do not [accept] morality to be an objective commodity, you have no reason to argue in the first place.

    Worse, the general evolutionary materialist worldview is part of a pattern that then undermines first principles of right reason (often in the false name of science, e.g. by abusing quantum physics) and tries to pretend that the authority of the lab coat is decisive in all things, as Lewontin so plainly says in effect, in almost those words.

    If you doubt me on such, go look up ever so many UD threads in which zealous advocates of evolutionary materialism can be found attacking and trying to undermine first principles of right reason . . . apparently not realising they are sawing off the branch on which they too must sit.

    This problem is so noticeable that it has made it into the UD weak argument correctives, as just linked.

    Youngsters immersed in such a toxic brew as amplified by a culture dominated by various media influences will very likely find themselves utterly confused, and will then resort to whatever seems impressive to them. So, it is no surprise to find their minds shaped by urban legends, cynical ideological spin tactics and agit prop, junk science, manipulative ad campaigns pushed by greed-besotted corporations [as in Marlboro Man cancer sticks and the like . . . ], inane pop music . . . often written by drug-mushed minds, evolutionary materialist indoctrination, images over substance, lyrics or clever headlines or sound-byte tweets or the like over reasoned thought, spin-driven seemingly plausible narratives, fringe notions presented with seemingly powerful “evidence” . . . often dressed up in a lab coat . . . and of course various neo-pagan influences.

    So, the above summary is a snapshot of a post-rational culture, emerging based on whatever manipulation is most impressive at the moment.

    The result is ugly, but in the end not surprising.

    Welcome to the real radically secularised post Christian West.

    In contrast, we need to give a basic education in straight thinking, and in worldview foundations and alternatives, in the nature and limits of science and its methods and theories, etc, etc. As a start. Learning sound historical principles and a fund of solid facts from sound sources will also help. So will a sound foundation in principles of rhetoric — appeals to emotions, authority and fact and reasoning, their strengths and limitations, and in say a top 40 fallacies or so. Or, for a start a top 10.

    My initial nominees:

    1 – 3 –> the trifecta: red herring distractors led away to strawman caricatures soaked in ad hominems and set alight to cloud, confuse, poison and polarise the atmosphere.

    4 –> Turnabout unjustified or unfair blame the victim accusations, added to the above in ways that compound the toxic situation.

    5 –> Self refuting arguments, that undercut themselves and prove absurd.

    6 –> Circular arguments and/or question-begging.

    7 –> Misleading half truths and other subtle forms of lying by misrepresentation.

    8 –> Hasty and other forms of faulty generalisation

    9 –> Confusing implication and equivalence

    10 –> Post hoc and similar errors of correlation confused for causal warrant. Also multiplied by confirmation bias that then thinks things like See every Libra is like XXXX.

    When people in increasing numbers begin to think straight, crooked thinking will begin to break down as not working. Then we can begin to clean up the mess.

    KF

  8. PPS: I think I would go for a baker’s dozen of leading fallacies, adding as no 11:

    11: Selective hyperskepticism and associated irresponsible skeptical dismissals that fail to address the point that the right to doubt then dismiss must be honestly earned, after doing due diligence to investigating pros and cons, accuracy, balance, fairness, truth [= that which says of what is that it is and of what is not that it is not], warrant and conscience.

    After this I leave two slots open for suggestions in light of observations of the state of today’s mind:

    12: ____________________________ (How about sawing off the branch on which we all must sit by trying to dismiss first principles of right reasoning and sound morality? CRAAACK!)

    13: ___________________________ (I leave this one fully open)

    The problem of course is to get a good cross section into a short list, IEP’s list here is nearly 200 and it is not exhaustive by any means. (I find too many lists of fallacies online are themselves biased and manipulative.)

  9. kairosfocus, that’s very good. Now all we need is O’Leary or whoever wrote the OP to read what you have written and apply that.

  10. LP:

    The news comment is fundamentally right, at the same time that evolutionary materialism is being pushed, the way it is being pushed and what it is, are undermining rationality at large, so the trends in association are valid, contrary to your objection above.

    Notice, from the OP:

    . . . we should expect declines nearly across the board instead, if the “science wins” thesis were correct. (The one exception is UFOs; as a “sciencey” belief, they correlate with naturalism despite lack of evidence.) Further, we would expect young people (18–36) to reject ghosts and reincarnation more strongly than older people (68+) do.

    And they don’t. On the contrary, younger folk believe in ghosts at 44% to seniors’ 24%. In UFOs at 36% to 30%. In astrology at 33% to 23%. In witches at 27% to 18%. And in reincarnation at 27% to 13%.

    It is the young who have been ever more indoctrinated in evolutionary materialism and radical secularism in school and out.

    The effects are not as the secularists advertise.

    But they are what we would expect form moving to a frame in which rationality is progressively undermined, including while wearing the lab coat.

    Which is what I pointed out and suggest steps to begin to counter.

    KF

  11. Hi kairos today were going to learn about population genetics and evolution in biology. What are your thoughts and do you have any references on what I could read about.

  12. Oh yes, this is the perfect place to come for suggestions on learning evolution…you really thought that one through.

  13. KF,

    you are simply assuming that “the young who have been ever more indoctrinated in evolutionary materialism and radical secularism in school and out” without evidence.

    Secularism is a religious term. A highly secular society can still have high religiosity vis a vis Turkey and arguably the US compared to Europe.

    You claim about “evolutionary materialism” is equally unsubstantiated as it assumes that such a curriculum is delivered. We know with Europe, “evolution” is compatible with religion and there is very little of the problems that the US has. Statistics show that the teaching of evolutionary biology in the US is a highly politicised topic.

    Overall the US is not a global leader for science and maths learning for young adults. Given the money that is spent it performs very poorly. You go on about “indoctrinated in evolutionary materialism” but all that tells us is that it’s you that is indoctrinated with your conflating philosophical naturalism with science, which only assumes naturalism, and your lack of supporting evidence.

  14. AVS: This is not a site to be teaching detailed expositions of evolutionary theory, indeed. But — for good reason — it is a site to learn and ask about what it is you are not being told in typical classes, or in museums or in push sites on the web etc. All that stuff about strengths, limitations and weaknesses, assumptions and gaps; not to mention the underlying philosophical agenda that too often surfaces. The stuff that those who want to pretend that all of this is fact Fact FACT more certain than gravitation don’t want people to think about or ask questions to which they have no answers. KF

  15. Yes, learn about all the conspiracies of science from the crackpot theorists here at UD. Excellent.

  16. LP:

    I guess I just hatched yesterday, so I have not seen the increasing secularisation of the civilisation and its key institutions and especially its media and educaiton culture.

    I guess I was not around to have seen when science had not been radically redefined for education in evolutionary materialist terms and people’s children held hostage if you did not swallow the radical and historically, philosophically unwarranted redefinition. I guess I did not buy those inconvenient Websters and Oxford dictionaries, nor did my mom, that expose the lie.

    I guess I did not see the increasingly rabid and shrill cry of the so called new atheists treated as stars and darlings, regardless of sophomoric half baked notions. I guess I did not see ever more bizarre manifestations of that radical secularisation.

    I guess I did not know a time 20 – 25 years ago when CNN, History Channel, Discovery Channel etc were much less than what they have become to the point where for cause I find them outright nauseating.

    And don’t tell me about National Geographic and Scientific American, which I regret I once recommended to the local public library.

    And I guess I did not know a time when saying that something was “religious” was not meant as a scarlet brand to dismiss without even bothering to pay attention.

    No, I did not know a day when Christmas was not a dirty word in the minds of the radically secularised.

    No, I was hatched just yesterday.

    No, I am merely assuming that here is a trend, no I was not here to see it.

    NOT.

    You, sir, are so sadly mistaken it is not funny, or rather it is.

    Let me get real old on you now, here is Plato in The Laws Bk X, 2350 years ago, warning of the consequences of radical secularist evolutionary materialist sophistry in a civilisation . . . with the ghost of Alcibiades looking over his shoulder:

    Ath. . . . [[The avant garde philosophers and poets, c. 360 BC] say that fire and water, and earth and air [[i.e the classical "material" elements of the cosmos], all exist by nature and chance, and none of them by art, and that as to the bodies which come next in order-earth, and sun, and moon, and stars-they have been created by means of these absolutely inanimate existences. The elements are severally moved by chance and some inherent force according to certain affinities among them-of hot with cold, or of dry with moist, or of soft with hard, and according to all the other accidental admixtures of opposites which have been formed by necessity. After this fashion and in this manner the whole heaven has been created, and all that is in the heaven, as well as animals and all plants, and all the seasons come from these elements, not by the action of mind, as they say, or of any God, or from art, but as I was saying, by nature and chance only. [[In short, evolutionary materialism premised on chance plus necessity acting without intelligent guidance on primordial matter is hardly a new or a primarily "scientific" view! Notice also, the trichotomy of causal factors: (a) chance/accident, (b) mechanical necessity of nature, (c) art or intelligent design and direction.] . . . .

    [[Thus, they hold that t]he Gods exist not by nature, but by art, and by the laws of states, which are different in different places, according to the agreement of those who make them; and that the honourable is one thing by nature and another thing by law, and that the principles of justice have no existence at all in nature, but that mankind are always disputing about them and altering them; and that the alterations which are made by art and by law have no basis in nature, but are of authority for the moment and at the time at which they are made.- [[Relativism, too, is not new; complete with its radical amorality rooted in a worldview that has no foundational IS that can ground OUGHT. ] These, my friends, are the sayings of wise men, poets and prose writers, which find a way into the minds of youth. They are told by them that the highest right is might [[ Evolutionary materialism leads to the promotion of amorality], and in this way the young fall into impieties, under the idea that the Gods are not such as the law bids them imagine; and hence arise factions [[Evolutionary materialism-motivated amorality "naturally" leads to continual contentions and power struggles; cf. dramatisation here], these philosophers inviting them to lead a true life according to nature, that is, to live in real dominion over others [[such amoral factions, if they gain power, "naturally" tend towards ruthless tyranny], and not in legal subjection to them.

    KF

  17. AVS:

    you are resorting to name-calling bigotry and stereotyping. That speaks volumes.

    Let me take what you just said as an informal offer to present a sound answer to the longstanding Pro-Darwin essay challenge here at UD.

    When can we expect submission of a serious entry?

    KF

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