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Archive for Sunday, October 9, 2005

Responses appear linked to education level

October 9, 2005

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Kansans with college degrees are much more likely to support the teaching of evolution, oppose intelligent design and hold the position that people can simultaneously believe in God and evolution.

Those are the findings of a new Lawrence Journal-World and 6News poll.

"Education has an overwhelming impact," said John Marling, president of Pulse Research Inc., the company that conducted the poll.

Overall, the poll found two-thirds of Kansans support the teaching of evolution and say belief in God and evolution can coexist.

But among those with post-graduate degrees, 86 percent supported teaching evolution and 82 percent said it was possible to believe in God and evolution.

Mark Anderson, of the Science Museum of Minnesota in St. Paul, left, who was contracted to set up the "Explore Evolution" exhibit at the Natural History Museum, surveys the construction Sept. 21 with Kansas University students and exhibit assistants Derick Schweppe, Topeka, and Jessica Braker, St. Louis. In the center sits a DNA double helix, which will showcase some of the past and present research methods on evolution.

Mark Anderson, of the Science Museum of Minnesota in St. Paul, left, who was contracted to set up the "Explore Evolution" exhibit at the Natural History Museum, surveys the construction Sept. 21 with Kansas University students and exhibit assistants Derick Schweppe, Topeka, and Jessica Braker, St. Louis. In the center sits a DNA double helix, which will showcase some of the past and present research methods on evolution.

Conversely, of those with only a grade-school education, 39 percent supported both the teaching of evolution and the position that one can believe in God and evolution.

Only about half of Kansans said they knew what intelligent design was.

Of that group, 76 percent of those with some high school education supported teaching it, while 37 percent of those with post-graduate degrees were in support.

Allan Cigler, a political science professor at Kansas University, said the findings show that as people advance in education and learn what intelligent design is, they discard it as a scientific explanation for the origins of life.

Intelligent design posits that certain complexities of life show the existence of a creator; an intelligent designer.

"A lot of people think it's an alternative theory to evolution when really it is not a theory but a critique of evolution," he said.

But Chris Barker, 45, a Federal Express employee from Lawrence, said evolution doesn't hold up to his scrutiny nor fit his Christian beliefs.

Barker, who has an associate's degree, said, "Why don't we have the process happening where we can study it and see it?" he asked.

"I think my feeling is, if they're going to teach evolution, they should teach it as a theory, and not as a fact. Until you have all the gaps filled in, I don't think you can teach it as fact," he said.

Staff writer Joel Mathis contributed to this report.

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