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CWRU faculty report findings on evolution, intelligent design poll of Ohio's scientists

For immediate release: October 4, 2002
For more information, contact Susan Griffith, 216-368-1004 or sbg4@po.cwru.edu

CLEVELAND—Nine out of 10 Ohio scientists from secular and religious colleges and universities responding to a survey say that intelligent design is primarily a religious view and not part of science. Case Western Reserve University faculty reported on the findings of the Internet poll during a news conference October 10.

"This is the first time we have hard data on what Ohio's scientists think about the issue of intelligent design versus evolution," says Joseph Koonce, CWRU chair and professor of biology.

Koonce designed the Internet survey with the Internet Public Opinion Laboratory at the University of Cincinnati. He sent out e-mail messages around the state to faculty in departments of astronomy, biology, chemistry, geology, physics and other natural sciences, urging them to answer a set of questions and to give their thoughts about the evolution-intelligent design debate. The survey was conducted 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 4-15) about intelligent design, asking the general public to respond to a similar Internet poll on their views of intelligent design and evolution. Like the scientists, a clear majority of Ohio residents found intelligent design to be religious and not a scientific view.

Findings from the polls, come days before the State Board of Education faces the issue at its meeting on next Monday 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.

Most all of Ohio's science professors (92 percent) thought "Ohio high school students should be tested on their understanding of the basic principles of the theory of evolution in order to graduate." Scientist responded negatively (90percent) to the testing about the knowledge of "intelligent design" as a requirement to graduate.

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 percent) of science professors said they were not award of "any scientifically valid evidence or an alternative scientific theory that challenges the fundamental principles of the theory of evolution."

Finally, the survey investigated the popular theme of a war between science and religion in America and found no such conflict. The great majority of Ohio science professors (84 percent) thought that accepting the theory of evolution was "consistent with believing in God." Only nine percent thought it was not; and the rest (7 percent) were not sure. Most critics of teaching evolution in Ohio's schools commonly assume it is inconsistent with believing in God. Evidently, most of Ohio's science professors-those who understand the theory of evolution best-do not share that view.

Among the survey's findings were:

  • Nine out of 10 scientists (91 percent) felt the concept of intelligent design was unscientific and the same number responded that it was a religious view
  • A vast majority (93 percent) of the scientists were not aware of "any scientifically valid evidence or an alternate scientific theory that challenges the fundamental principles of the theory of evolution"
  • Almost all scientists (97 percent) said they did not use the intelligent design concept in their research
  • Ninety percent of the responding scientists stated that they felt no scientific evidence supports intelligent design, while 2 percent were unsure
  • Approximately 7 percent felt that intelligent design had some support from scientific evidence
  • Some 84 percent felt acceptance of the evolution theory was "consistent with believing in God"

A total of 460 professors responded or a rate of 31 percent. The survey had an error of plus or minus 4.5 percent.

"We are extremely pleased with the response," said Koonce

For further information, call Koonce at 216-368-3561.

–CWRU–

 

 

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