On evolution and creation: Problem solved? The polish example

Zygon 44 (4):859-878 (2009)
Abstract
We present the results of research carried out as a part of the project “Current Controversies about Human Origins: Between Anthropology and the Bible”, which focused on the supposed conflict between natural sciences and some branches of the humanities, notably philosophy and theology, with regard to human origins. One way to tackle the issue was to distribute a questionnaire among students and teachers of the relevant disciplines. Teachers of religion and the natural sciences (biology, chemistry, and physics) and students of theology, philosophy, and the natural sciences (specializing in biology and/or anthropology) were asked to answer eleven questions concerning the perception of the conflict between evolutionism and creationism, the definitions of creation and evolution, the existence of a human spiritual element, and the ways of interpreting the Bible, especially the first chapters of the book of Genesis. In the paper we present and analyze selected results of this questionnaire. Among interesting findings there are the following: 1) the opinion concerning the relationship between evolutionism and creationism largely depends on the respondent’s general attitude toward religion, and not on their field of study or teaching expertise, which runs contrary to the received view attributing the opinion of the conflict between science and religion to people’s educational or professional background; 2) The conflict is far more pronounced in the group of nonbelievers. This distinguishes Poland from other countries, notably the United States, where the majority of people with strong religious beliefs seem to maintain that there is a conflict between the natural sciences and religion; 3) literal understanding of the Bible was rejected by vast majority of the respondents, including those who insist on the ‘conflict view’, which seems to make the situation in Poland again quite different from that in some other countries; 4) Unsophisticated understanding of creation positively correlates with the ‘conflicting view’ on the one hand, while, on the other, erroneous understanding of the basics of the theory of evolution appears to have its bearing on too optimistic vision of certain coherence between religion and science. We suggest some hypotheses to explain these and other results of the questionnaire.
Keywords human origins  science & religion  creation  evolution
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