Islam and evolution in one single picture!

12 09 2010

This is great! True integration of seemingly two opposing issues.

All credits to Mous Lamrabat and Rachid Lamrabat. On Facebook, Stampmedia and Mo.

Scientific research and statistics on nine factors that determine your acceptance of evolution: ‘not true’ or ‘false’ so help me God…

14 12 2008

A group of researchers in the USA and Japan performed research on the attitude toward the concept of evolution in USA, Japan and 32 European countries.  Their results are published in 2006 in the scientific journal Science.  The article can be downloaded here (see bottom of this post).

 ‘Human beings, as we know them, developed from earlier species of animals’ was asked  to the people, and they rated this question as ‘true’, ‘not sure’ or ‘false’.  Of all the USA citizens 60%  said that that statement was not true or false.  Except for Turkey, where approximately 70% said that is was not true or false, all European countries scored better with respect to acceptance of evolution.  Iceland, Denmark, Sweden, France and Japan scored the highest acceptance of evolution.

Public acceptance of evolution in 34 countries, 2005

Public acceptance of evolution in 34 countries, 2005

 The authors see 3 main raisons why Americans have more reservations on the concept of evolution in the context of a broad acceptance in Europe and Japan.

1.       In the USA, fundamentalism in belief is historically different from that in Europe.  The biblical literalist focus of fundamentalism in the USA sees Genesis as a true and accurate account of the creation of human life that supersedes any scientific finding or interpretation.   In Europe, that has more mainstream Protestant faith, Genesis is seen more as metaphorical, leaving no much of contradiction between their faith and the work of Darwin and other scientists.

2.       Evolution has been politicized in the USA in a manner never seen in Europe.  The Republican Party is using the issue of evolution as part of a platform to consolidate their support in southern and Midwerstern States.  Teaching of ‘creation science’ has been explicitly asked by this party.  In Europe, there is no major party that overtly uses opposition to evolution to gain votes.

3.       The knowledge of genetics (knowledge of DNA and concept of heredity; the authors call it ‘genetic literacy’) is positively correlated with acceptance of evolution.  Lack of this knowledge correlates with reservations on the concept of evolution.  Genetic literacy in the USA is not so good as in Europe.



The authors also investigated nine factors that could have an influence on your attitude on the acceptance of evolution.  Were investigated in USA and nine European countries:

Age (young or old), Gender (female or not), Education (high or low level of college-level science courses), Genetic  literacy (high or low, people were ranked after answering 10 questions about how heredity and DNA works), Religious belief (high or low, people were ranked in 4 categories according to their current religious belief), Attitude toward life (ranking in three categories according to their ideas about beginning of life and the moral and legal status of embryos), Belief in promise of science and technology (high or low, after scaling five items about how science can improve people’s life), Reservation about science and technology (high or low, after scaling 10 questions on the impact of science on life), Political ideology (scaling by means of 10 questions into ‘very liberal’ vs ‘very conservative’). 



path model to predict your attitude toward evolution

path model to predict your attitude toward evolution

How to interprete this map?

All nine items are displayed.  If there is an arrow between two variables, then there’s a significant correlation between them.  This correlation can be negative or positive, it can be small or big.  This is done for the USA and for nine European countries.

For example: in the USA, the education level, defined by the scaling (see above) correlates with genetic  literacy. The correlation is positive, meaning if education is high, the genetic  literacy is high.  It is more correlated in Europe (0.43) than in USA (0.35).

The relationship between genetic literacy, defined by scaling (see above) is significantly correlated with religion, but only in the USA, not in Europe (because there is no arrow between the two items in the map of Europe).  The correlation is negative, meaning that the higher the genetic literacy is, the less religious people are.

Note that there is no significant correlation (arrow is absent) between political ideology and the attitude towards evolution in Europe, while there is one in USA. 

It is important to see that every item is itself related to (several) other items (with the exception of gender and age of course).  Your acceptance of evolution is therefore dependent on many parameters in your life.  For instance in the USA religion has a direct correlation with your attitude toward evolution, but the degree of your religious belief depends itself on your gender, age, education, genetic literacy (same as in Europe with the exception of genetic literacy).


The authors performed now a summary to see the TOTAL effect of the nine independent variables to predict your attitude toward evolution.  

Total effect of independent variables on attitude toward evolution

You can see that in the USA religion (-0,42), pro-life beliefs (-0,31) and political ideology (-0,15)  (three things that have in fact nothing to see with the established scientific method that reveals the existence of evolution – evolution is a fact, just like the fact that the world is not flat and the bible is not a book of science)  all negatively controls your attitude on the acceptance of evolution.  In the USA the acceptance of evolution is twice as much negatively determined by belief, compared with nine European countries.

In conclusion: many people have a look in their bible first, before they can answer you the question if ‘Human beings, as we know them, developed from earlier species of animals’.  Just like the authors conclude: science teachers, there’s a lot of work ahead!


This work was performed in a scientific way (please refer to Miller et al. Science. 2006 Aug 11;313(5788):765-6).  You can read the article and the methods in these pdf files:



For those with access to Science:

Creationism vs scientific method

10 03 2008

It is sometimes not easy to explain the scientific methodology to people that are not familiar with science.  It is even harder though to explain this method to creationists, for very obvious reasons of course.  This cartoon is a very good way to explain the difference between a theory and a doctrine.  Note the difference in material used by the two guys! Hilarious…


Johan Braeckman vs Taouil Nordine

4 02 2008

Het interview van Johan Braeckman met de islamspecialist Taouil Nordine in de Zevende dag j.l.  over de evolutietheorie is nog steeds te bekijken.  Het was op zijn zachtst gezegd de moeite waard.  Je kan het eerste en tweede deel van het interview via youtube herbekijken.   Absoluut doen !  De mp3-audio kan je bij mij via eenvoudige mail aanvragen.

Drie zaken zijn toch wel zeer markant.

1. De imam roept de mens op om dé waarheid te gaan zoeken, ‘én’ zo spreekt hij: ‘de waarheid  klopt altijd met het woord van god’.  Hierbij kon het debat dus eigenlijk al stoppen.  Boeken toe dus. (over de relatie: religieus denken- dé waarheid – wetenschap gaf ik kort mijn menig hier op deze blog).

2. Johan Braeckman haalt duidelijk aan dat vanzodra nieuwe, krachtige wetenschappelijke bewijzen zijn die de evolutietheorie omverwerpen, de wetenschap deze ansich absoluut moet (en zal) erkennen.

3. Op het einde, net zoals een goede thriller, komt de échte aap uit de mouw, en haalt de imam zélf de reden aan waarom gelovige mensen (senso stricto creationisten) zo een immens probleem hebben met de evolutietheorie: het maakt brandhout van de goddelijke status van de mens -“met waardevolle eigenschappen”- op aarde…(instinct, ethiek e.d.).

De Turkse creationist Harun Yahya – die beweert dat de holocaust niet heeft bestaan én die ‘wetenschappelijke bewijs’ heeft dat de evolutietheorie vals is,  krijgt meteen een ferme veeg uit de pan.

Verdere info en enkele reflecties over het debat vind je op de blog van Johan Braeckman zelf.

Geslaagd voor het examen?

6 10 2007

Dit werd mij afgelopen week doorgestuurd: antwoorden die leerlingen/studenten (durven) geven op examenvragen.  Eén voorbeeld uit de reeks vond ik persoonlijk toch wel de moeite: er wordt gevraagd waarom fosfortrichloride polair is (alhoewel niet volledig correct volstaat het hier om te zeggen: waarom deze stof oplosbaar is in water, nvdr).


We hebben met de collega’s ne keer goed gelachen met de verschillende ‘kemels’.  Enkele minuten later echter, verging mij het lachen snel en dacht: stel je voor dat iemand dat écht zou menen…shit gast !

Belief comes in two flavours

9 09 2007

I’ve become interested in the debate of science and religion and their relationship.  The ultimate goal of my quest is to find arguments why people believe.  For this, I’am looking for answers at two different levels.

The first level may be a rather ‘personalised’ level: people may start to believe in god because it intrinsically gives you a (well organised – i.e. through bible study and the structure of communities or churches) way to look for and find support and comfort in daily life. The fact that god/religion is solely used here to overcome difficult moments in life (like the issue of injustice and suffering) or is used as a guide to help you stick to accepted behaviour, suffices.  The believer is not necessarily seeking ‘the Truth’ as such.  People that also count on god to look for ‘the Truth’, attract attention of scientists, and these people must be encouraged, (must be willing) to go into debate with science.  This discipline (in normal conditions) shall not take the ‘because-I-believe-it’ answer as an argument that is obtained through scientific methodology.

I also want to look for my answers in the domain of evolution.  I have become fascinated in the problem of how and when and why the human kind invented/created/discovered (?) the factor ‘belief’. I was advised to start reading several philosophers that have published work on this issue. The first I’ am currently tackling is the book of Daniel Dennett: Darwins Dangerous Idea; Evolution and the Meanings of Life.  I have chosen this work as a first step towards other readings like: The God Delusion (by Dawkins) and Freedom evolves (also by Dennett). I will keep you informed on the first book.