Lefty bloggers all over are having fun with a recent Gallup survey purporting to show that a majority of Republicans do not believe in evolution. (The same poll shows that a significant minority of Democrats don't either.) Local political consultant Bill Christofferson crows about the "rejecting the caveman vote" - a phrase with a secondary meaning that left liberals just love. They are so persuaded that they are smarter and more enlightened. Jim Rowen even suggests that this reflects the "essential difference" between Democrats and Republicans. I guess that a good "progressive" just can't have enough mirrors.
My initial reaction is to wonder how many Democrats would flunk a quiz testing one's knowledge of basic economics or endorse some pre-scientific notion like the idea that price controls work or that increases in the minimum wage won't cause unemployment.
But that's another topic. I have no doubt that there are more "young earth creationists" who vote Republican than Democrat although, given that debunking the theory of evolution is not among the planks of the GOP platform or, however they might answer when asked about it, is not a priority of any Republican presidential candidates, I think we are talking correlation and not causation. These people like the GOP's support on other social issues as do many other people who do "believe in" evolution.
But there is, as Gallup notes and Xoff does not, a potential problem with the poll question. The results that he posts (taken from a May 21-24 poll) are apparently in response to the following question:
Now thinking about how human beings came to exist on Earth, do you, personally, believe in evolution, or not?
The problem with the question is that, having failed to define evolution, the preface implies that the concept includes a claim that evolutionary science does not and can never support, i.e., that the mechanism of evolution is the sole explanation for the existence of human life. Science can demonstrate change and modification through descent. It can adduce evidence of the common ancestry of species. It might even demonstrate - although I'm not sure that it has or ever could - that, given enough time, an entirely random process could have changed an amoeba into Mozart.
But it can't really demonstrate that the whole thing was an accident without a first cause. That is a question that the scientific method is not capable of answering.
While one could understand the question to make no such claim, the popular association of "evolution" with "Godlessness" (an association promoted by evangelists like Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett) suggests that many respondents will not. Gallup recognized that, noting:
It is important to note that this question included a specific reference to "thinking about how human beings came to exist on Earth . . ." that oriented the respondents toward an explicit consideration of the implication of evolution for man's origin. Results may have been different without this introductory phrase.
There were other questions with results not broken down by political affiliation with results suggesting that lots of Americans are confused about evolution (giving what seem to be inconsistent responses) and many reject the scientific consensus, but the money result is not as clear as our Democrat friends claim.