U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston, a Republican congressman from Savannah, deserves credit for venturing into “unfriendly territory” on Bill Maher’s HBO show. In the show taped live Friday night, Kingston and the host got into a debate about evolution. Kingston denied the existence of evolution
“I don’t believe that a creature crawled out of the sea and became a human being one day,” Kingston says. Of course, nobody else does either — the process was a little more complicated than that. At one point, Kingston turns to fellow conservative Will Cain, of National Review, asking for a little support. Cain declines, explaining that he accepts evolution.
Last month, Gallup released its latest numbers on the debate, showing how little things have “evolved” on that front over the last three decades. There’s movement in the data, but not a lot of movement.
Gallup also breaks down the numbers by political affiliation, religious conviction and level. Personally, I was surprised to see that 22 percent of those with postgraduate degrees dismiss evolution and instead believe that God created human beings within the past 10,000 years. That’s about the same percentage of postgrads (25%) who accept evolution and say God played no role in the process.
The debate about evolution popped up on the Maher show as part of a larger discussion about global warming, and the topics do share similarities. As with global warming, public opinion about evolution has hardened and become largely immune to scientific evidence and argument. It is now a cultural marker, another way to distinguish “us” from “them.”
– Jay Bookman