Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

Do many Americans take offence at evolutionary theory?

Do many Americans take offence at evolutionary theory?

Old Sep 19th, 2013, 04:13 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,664
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Do many Americans take offence at evolutionary theory?

I was in Edinburgh recently and did a guided tour of the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood, which I found very interesting not just for its extraordinary architecture, but also politically in view of the independence referendum in one year's time. Several participants on our tour were Americans, one of whom was an older man who waited until the very end of the tour before asking the guide in front of the group, how it could possibly be that "<i>a Christian, actually Presbyterian, country like Scotland could allow the public exhibition of Darwin's theory of evolution in THAT museum</i> [pointing at the nearby "Our Dynamic Earth" science centre visible through the windows]..."

To put it mildly, I was taken aback at the crass ignorance of this guy, who clearly had failed to learn <i>anything</i> about Scotland's culture and society during his visit. It made me reflect on my own (largely Scottish) education, and how I was taught the importance of reasoning, science, free-thinking and tolerance - all valuable legacies of the Scottish Enlightenment. I personally was rather proud to see groups of Scottish schoolchildren being taken through the Our Dynamic Earth museum later the next day. I can't help wondering though if this American was just a one-off creationist zealot, or whether his views are widely held by his countrymen. Anyone care to hazard an opinion?
Gordon_R is offline  
Old Sep 19th, 2013, 04:18 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 2,541
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
From Wikipedia:

"Since 1982, between 40% and 50% of adults in the United States say they hold the creationist view that "God created humans in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years" when Gallup asked for their views on the origin and development of human beings.[8] As of 2012, the percentage of believers decreases as the level of education increases. Only 25% of respondents with postgraduate degrees believed compared with 52% of those with a high school education or less.[9] A 2011 Gallup survey reports that 30% of U.S. adults say they interpret the Bible literally."
ParisAmsterdam is offline  
Old Sep 19th, 2013, 04:26 AM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,657
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Terrifying. How did the guide respond?

In England we have Darwin on our bank notes. But then we are utterly godless.
Kate is offline  
Old Sep 19th, 2013, 04:32 AM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Posts: 42,709
Likes: 0
Received 3 Likes on 3 Posts
and it all comes down to one's definition of the term "day" be they a literalist/fundamentalist or otherwise.

To the OP: just as in YOUR country, there are a variety of viewpoints and the one you have cited does not represent a majority.
Dukey1 is offline  
Old Sep 19th, 2013, 04:34 AM
  #5  
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 19,881
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Charles Darwin was an undergraduate at the Edinburgh University in the late 1820s.

Clearly the person objecting to "evil-lution" knows nothing about Edinburgh's place in the Enlightenment.

It is said that James Hutton (father of geology), David Hume (philosopher) and Adam Smith (yes that Adam Smith) would go for walks together to discuss philosophical (which at the time included science) ideas.
alanRow is offline  
Old Sep 19th, 2013, 04:34 AM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 2,585
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I think on this forum , an American was amazed that Shrewsbury has a Darwin Shopping Centre. Of course, Darwin was a local lad
MissPrism is offline  
Old Sep 19th, 2013, 04:41 AM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 16,876
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
To the OP, yes, it is head shaking--and we do it here in the US also.
How can "they" think that?
It isn't really that he didn't know Scotland's educational system and culture. He has his own view of the world and it will not encompass a rational view of the scientific world--which can easily encompass a religious view also, if the person wants to do so.
The Gallup Poll is revelatory--with the caveat of "education level" thrown in.
Gretchen is offline  
Old Sep 19th, 2013, 04:46 AM
  #8  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,664
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
<i>Terrifying. How did the guide respond?</i>

He was also taken aback and said that nobody else had ever asked that question and that it wouldn't be an issue to many people in Scotland. He went on to say that Scotland was known as one of the most liberal societies in Europe - possibly his use of the "L" word would have enraged the our American visitor even more.
Gordon_R is offline  
Old Sep 19th, 2013, 05:00 AM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 696
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
hehehe... maybe the use of the "L" word was supposed to enrage the old curmudgeon.

And to answer the question, from my experience - No
sueciv is offline  
Old Sep 19th, 2013, 05:10 AM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 57,091
Received 5 Likes on 3 Posts
so much for the idea that "travel broadens the mind".

Presumably he went home and told all his fellow creationists what a godless place Scotland is.
annhig is offline  
Old Sep 19th, 2013, 05:12 AM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 17,268
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
"But then we are utterly godless"

That's not the point.

I was taught evolution, without so much as a hint of reservation, at my Jesuit school. My brothers were taught it at their Catholic priests' seminary, back in the days when aspirant priests went off to priest school at 11.

I've never met a Christian in Britain (and where I live, I'm surrounded by regular churchgoers) express any more doubt or concern about evolution than about gravity or germs.
flanneruk is offline  
Old Sep 19th, 2013, 05:13 AM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 20,942
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
>how it could possibly be that "a Christian, actually Presbyterian, country like Scotland could allow the public exhibition of Darwin's theory of evolution in THAT museum ........who clearly had failed to learn anything about Scotland's culture and society during his visit<<

Didn't appear to know much about his own country's culture, society and constitution, either.
PatrickLondon is offline  
Old Sep 19th, 2013, 05:15 AM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 26,390
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
In answer to the question, no. We do believe in freedom of thought. People believe what they wish. Sometimes they travel.
LSky is offline  
Old Sep 19th, 2013, 05:22 AM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 17,268
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
ON a less controversial point...

Interesting, isn't it, that the Scots had to wait until the Act of Union with England to start their Enlightenment?

And worth remembering that the politically acceptable term in Scotland for who "Bonnie" Price Charles fought against is still "the government" and not "the English". The Enlightenment was virtually 100% for that government, and 100% against the priest-ridden, absolutist monarchy the Pretender wanted to inflict on Scotland.
flanneruk is offline  
Old Sep 19th, 2013, 05:28 AM
  #15  
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 6,159
Likes: 0
Received 1 Like on 1 Post
It is something I have always found strange about the US, and moreso since I visited. I am always amazed that the nation that produces such a huge amount of scientific research can have such a large population of believers in the brand of religion that believes in a Universe less than 10K years old.

I spent a wonderful (in true sense of word) day in the American Museum of Natural History in New York. One of many highlights was the Human Evolution exhibit which beautifully explained the subject in terms that started simply but reached levels of discussed of such depth that it challanged my understanding (I have post graduate qualifications in microbiology, so have studied genetics and similar at fairly high levels).

It was superb but rather spoilt for me by the simplistic end piece which was a presentation discussion/debate on evolution and religion. I thought it had no place in a scientific exhibit, but the organisers obvious felt it was something that needed to be done because of the hostility shown by some visitors.
willit is offline  
Old Sep 19th, 2013, 05:30 AM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 11,212
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I'm very surprised that someone would take offense to Darwin's theory. It's something that was taught in schools in America, particularly if the gentleman was older. I can't speak for any other American except myself since I've never discussed this topic nor would I ever consider discussing it. As an opinion, I'm absolutely sure there are many people like this man roaming around America and it's certainly scary. I'm always amazed at what people say and do in the name of religion.
adrienne is offline  
Old Sep 19th, 2013, 05:33 AM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 541
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
In the UK, if you say you don't believe in God, nobody will turn a hair. If you say you don't believe in evolution they will give you a funny look and edge away, especially in Scotland which has a great history of rational thought.

The rude man was not asking a question, he was just ranting against someone who was being paid to be polite. Perhaps he suspected that nobody else was going to put up with it.

Once on a flight to the US I had just sat down when the American woman in the next seat turned to me and said "Have you spoken to Jesus today?" She had just spent a month on a bible study course in Scotland. A course in social skills would have been more useful. After a brief exchange there was no more conversation for the rest of the flight.

Asking people
zippo is offline  
Old Sep 19th, 2013, 05:37 AM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Posts: 42,709
Likes: 0
Received 3 Likes on 3 Posts
"that it wouldn't be an issue to <B>many</B> people in Scotland." [emphasis mine]

I am happy to see that you realize there may very well be some people in Scotland who would agree with the American cited.

The implication that nobody in Scotland would have any objections whatsoever was a bit concerning given the talk about rational thought, etc.

There are religious fundamentalists in a lot of countries, not just the USA.
Dukey1 is offline  
Old Sep 19th, 2013, 05:48 AM
  #19  
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 17,268
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
"there may very well be some people in Scotland who would agree with the American"

There may, but I've never met anyone who's met one of them, and I think you'll find non-one else on this board has either.

On the other hand, I've never met anyone in America witness a Catholic being killed by a drunken Protestant for the offence of being a Catholic. I have met such people in Scotland.

Religious absurdity works differently in different parts of the world. All this cant about Scottish rationalism and liberality isn't my experience of parts of Glasgow on July 12 (or March 17). Or of those Scottish workplaces where "what school did you go to?" (meaning "Pape or Prod?") was the crucial question asked at job interviews, certainly at least till the mid-1980s.
flanneruk is offline  
Old Sep 19th, 2013, 06:03 AM
  #20  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,657
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
When I was attending an archeology course at university (this was in the UK, mumble mumble years ago), the lecturer was discussing evolution when someone in the theatre said he didn't believe in it. I remember being aghast - it had never even occurred to me that anyone would ever believe it wasn't true. It was like he's said he didn't believe the earth was round. Everyone turned and looked at him like he was an alien.

Almost as odd as when a girl (on the same course), who was from Belfast, asked me if I was protestant or catholic. I thought 'why would anyone want to know that??"

University certainly does broaden life's experiences.
Kate is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Manage Preferences Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Your Privacy Choices -