Tuesday, April 5, 2011

According to biased research, people who refuse evolution do so because they suffer death anxiety

An article describing research by the University of British Columbia and Union College of New York starts out with saying "research examined the psychological motives underlying widespread support for intelligent design theory (IDT), a purportedly scientific theory that lacks any scientific evidence; and antagonism toward evolutionary theory (ET), a theory supported by a large body of scientific evidence."

Actually, though, there are many respected scientists who would not accept the above sentence as written. Intelligent design basically and scientifically refutes the theory of evolution with overwhelming negative evidence. With facts and scientific knowledge, common sense and logic do support Intelligent Design.

The aforementioned article is one against teaching IDT in schools; and even though there was a recent ruling in PA against teaching IDT alongside evolution, the "handwriting on the wall" (Louisiana and Texas) shows the debate is far from over. A major branch of Canada's federal research funding agency refused to fund research examining "negative effects of IDT's notoriety, on the grounds that there was not 'adequate justification for the assumption …that the theory of Evolution, and not Intelligent Design, was correct.'”

Do we believe in God because we're afraid not to? The approach of the study is to examine inner feelings of people in regard to death: those who accept evolulution as truth versus those who do not. In short, it wants to find what is wrong psychologically with those people who insist Creation explains our beginnings. What are their "psychological motives, beyond logic and reasoning."

The theory they are trying to establish is based on supposing that those with the belief in creation comes as a "terror management" strategy stemming from a heightened awareness of their own mortality. Now that is interesting: do people most aware of their mortality tend to be the same people most likely to believe in God?

In regard to politics: "A comprehensive meta-analysis found that political conservatism is at least partly rooted in the basic need to manage feelings of threat and uncertainty." They liken a conservative's need for psychological security to that of a young child or an adult with Alzheimer's.

Then they go on to say that educated people usually are evolutionists; and if someone wants to believe in Creation but doesn't want to forsake the "feeling of belongingness in the broader culture of Western science-educated individuals," they (Creationists) have to cling to the hope that there might be scientific evidence to support their childish belief.

Since ET "on its face" offers a random, negative approach to life, giving no more meaning to a human's life than to that of a cockroach, they theory that Creation-believing people cannot bear such anxiety and prefer to think there is order and meaning in life. (Sentence from the article: "ET does not confer any sense of greater meaning or purpose, instead asserting that human life is the result of the same natural forces that produce viruses and cockroaches.")

What their research concluded

With 1,674 U.S. and Canadian participants of different ages and educational, socioeconomic, and religious backgrounds, one group was separated to imagine and write about their own death. A control group was set up to imagine and write about pain from dental work.

Then they were to read two selected excerpts from the writings of Michael Behe (Creation Scientist) and Richard Dawkins (Evolutionary Biologist). Both excerpts were written from a scientific standpoint with no religion involved.

Those who imagined their own death reported greater support for intelligent design and liking for Behe compared to those who imagined dental pain.

In another part of the study, participants read an excerpt from science writer Carl Sagan which argued natural forces in the world could also provide a sense of meaning. Those participants who read the excerpts showed reduced belief in intelligent design compared to those who had not read the excerpt. Jessica L. Tracy, who helped conduct the study, concluded:

"These findings suggest that individuals can come to see evolution as a meaningful solution to existential concerns, but may need to be explicitly taught that taking a naturalistic approach to understanding life can be highly meaningful."

"Natural science students have been taught to view evolutionary theory as compatible with the desire to find a greater sense of meaning in life. Presumably, they already attain a sense of existential meaning from evolution."

So the study suggests that, for some of us, if we believe life has existential meaning without God, then we'll have no need for God. We would then be more inclined to accept evolution and ignore with faith all its scientific flaws. This is a switch: instead of believing evolution to rid God from our consciousness, we now rid God from our consciousness in order to believe evolution.

For original article, references, and brief discussion, click here.

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