Darwin’s ‘Popular Notion’

Charles Darwin, by John CollierAfter a two-month hiatus the ICR’s short video series, That’s a Fact, has returned – better late than never, as they say. The new video is called Intelligent Surveys, about the results of all those polls that keep revealing the number of people who still believe in creationism in the US.

It has been so long since the last video that some of you may not even know what this series is all about. In brief, the ICR makes short videos of around two minutes in length on various topics. The videos are generally content-free (or as near to as makes little difference), and the few factual claims made tend to range from incorrect to not even wrong. The series began in October of 2011, a few months after this blog. While the videos always appear during the weekend, the posting schedule is otherwise erratic: while they have at times been weekly, fortnightly is more common, and a video that was supposed to appear two weeks ago never did. Originally there was a commenting system tied to the videos, upon which many flame-wars developed, but this is long gone now. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the supporters of the ICR actually like the series, which is bizarre.

This video is #25, and will likely be considered the first video of ‘season three’ if the previous unannounced hiatus is anything to go by. You can find easy links to all my posts on this series by hovering your cursor above the ‘archives’ tab at the top of this page, and then over the ‘That’s a Fact’ item in the drop-down that appears. Like always, below is my own transcript of the video interspersed with commentary:

You would think after 200 years the theory of evolution would have convinced more people. But the fact is that still only about forty percent of Americans believe in Darwin’s popular notion.

This second sentence is an example of the ICR wishing to have it both ways. Their invocation of poll results, slyly suggesting that perhaps evolution isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be, is an argumentum ad populum (argument from popularity, or here the lack thereof). Of course the ol’ a-ad-p is a logical fallacy, for the popularity of an idea has nothing to do with whether or not it’s true, so they’re not going to make that claim directly. Oddly, however, they then go on to make the reverse of the argument from popularity: they dismiss evolution as just “Darwin’s popular notion.” Which is it – unpopular, or undeservedly popular?

The United states is an anomaly in the western world, in that so few people accept evolution. Rather than take this to mean that evolution must therefore be false, the rest of the world generally adds the ‘intelligent surveys’ to which the ICR refers to the pile of evidence supporting the stereotype that Americans are idiots (or at least a good portion of them are).

That’s what leading pollsters like gallup tell us time after time. The majority of Americans still believe that God created life pretty much like we see it today, with awesome displays of diversity and definite lines of biological distinctions between man and animals.

The description of what the “majority of Americans still believe” is meant to refer to young Earth creationism, but in fact that’s not true. Even though only ~40% of Americans would pick an evolutionary option in such a poll, only a similar number would say they were a young Earth creationist – certainly less than half. The discrepancy comes from the small numbers of surviving Old Earth creationists, who are neither theistic evolutionists nor believers in a ridiculously young Earth. As such, much of what has been said (up, at least, to the last comma there) could be turned on its head unmodified as a condemnation of young Earth creationist beliefs. Indeed, the strategic placement of the word ‘still’ in each of the quotes above mean that they would work better in that role.

There are some other problems with what the ICR says there. Due to the complete destruction of everything in the flood and subsequent biological diversification imagined by YECs, they should actually not believe that “God created life pretty much like we see it today.” I do wonder how many of the rationalisations concocted by creationists to explain the world around them actually penetrate into their core beliefs.

God engineered form, function and fitness in every creature on Earth, that allowed life to multiply and fill the Earth. After the terrible destruction of life in the great flood, the animals that Noah rescued on the ark once again began to multiply and fill the Earth. And mankind, unique in the entire world, continues to excel in creativity, inventiveness, and intelligence.

This video is, in total, only 1 minute and 13 seconds long. An appreciable portion of that is made up by the above section, which appears to be irrelevant filler.

Despite Darwin’s devoted followers, Americans are still intelligent enough to recognise that ancient biological slime did not create all the wonders of creation in our world today.

Regardless of whether or not you think they’re right in this belief, you cannot honestly think that most creationist Americans hold their belief because of intelligence and rational inquiry. As Darwin himself said: “ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.” There are other factors at play here.


If the That’s a Fact site is reliable on this matter – and it hasn’t been lately – the next of these videos can be expected on February 9. While we’re talking dates it will be Darwin Day on the 12th, and I hear that’s also “Question Evolution Day” as well. There seems to be a cottage industry of ‘QE’ blogs around these days – does anyone have a list? It should be interesting to see what they get up to to celebrate.

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