October 11, 2002
Survey of Scientists Supports Evolution, Rejects "Intelligent Design"
Many claims have been made in recent months as to what Ohio scientists think about intelligent design "theory." However, until now, no data existed on this issue. My colleagues and I set about to collect the data so that the public may gain an accurate impression of what Ohio's scientists think. The results are gratifying and unequivocal.
Nine out of ten Ohio scientists from Ohio public, private (including both secular and religious) universities say that intelligent design is primarily a religious view and is simply not part of science.
We designed and conducted this survey with the Internet Public Opinion Laboratory at the University of Cincinnati. We sent out email messages around the state to faculty in departments of astronomy, biology, chemistry, geology, physics and other natural sciences, inviting them to answer a set of questions and to give their thoughts about the evolution-intelligent design debate. The survey ran between September 26 and October 9.
Prior to polling the scientists, the Institute for Policy Research at the University of Cincinnati included questions on the September Ohio Poll (conducted September 4 through 15, 2002) asking the general public to respond to two questions about intelligent design. Like the scientists, a clear majority of Ohio residents found intelligent design to be religious, and not a scientific view.
Next Monday and Tuesday the Ohio Board of Education will vote on whether to include intelligent design or other forms of anti-evolutionism in the new K-12 science standards. Intelligent design advocates claim life is too complex to have developed without the intervention of a supernatural being or force, and they claim their view is scientific. Clearly Ohio's citizens are not convinced that this argument should be taught as science.
I want to make clear that I am a religious person myself. As a Roman Catholic, I do believe in God and in concurrence with teachings of the Catholic Church, I have never found these beliefs in conflict with Evolutionary Theory. Science addresses the nature of the physical universe, not the supernatural or the eternal. Like me, 84% of my colleagues also report that they find evolutionary theory compatible with belief in God.
I wish this would lay to rest the destructive notion that science and religion are at war in America. There is no such inherent conflict. Science and religion can promote and enhance each other without having to pretend we know less than we actually do about how the world is constructed and how it functions.
Most all of Ohio's science professors (92%) thought "Ohio high school students should be tested on their understanding of the basic principles of the theory of evolution in order to graduate." When asked if such students should also be tested on their knowledge of the concept of "Intelligent Design" in order to graduate, 90% said "no." Only 2% said that intelligent design was strongly supported by scientific evidence.
The survey also explored scientists' views on antievolutionism beyond the intelligent design movement. Some critics of evolution claim evidence against the theory of evolution has caused it to fall out of favor among scientists. This is clearly not the case in Ohio where the vast majority (93%) of science professors said they were not aware of "any scientifically valid evidence or an alternate scientific theory that challenges the fundamental principles of the theory of evolution."
We are extremely pleased with the response. Nearly 500 scientists responded, a rate of 31%. The survey had an error of plus or minus 4.5 percent. Equally pleasing was the outpouring of gratitude for providing the opportunity to express their concern with the erosion of scientific literacy in the developing K-12 standards for Ohio.
Go here for the complete poll results.