GETTING OFF ON THE CLUB FOOT: SPIEGEL Interview with Evolution Philosopher Daniel Dennett
SPIEGEL: Professor Dennett, more than 120 million Americans believe that God created Adam our of mud some 10,000 years ago and made Eve from his rib. Do you personally know any of these 120 million?Really? Let's see, there are currently 300 million Americans. The Spiegel's blunt assertion to which Dennet utterly agrees would mean that one in three American men, women, and children hold to the literal story of Creation -- mud, 10,000 years, case closed. One would assume that everyone would know someone at that ratio. But the number itself seems more opportunistic than true.
I suppose that if you looked mostly at children who were still of the age when the Tooth Fairy is their own personal cash machine, and added them to hard-core evangelicals you might be able to bump the real number up, but I still don't think you get even a sizable portion of 120 million. At any rate, I'd hope the discussion would only cite the beliefs of adults, but maybe the Darwins are so threatened they have to pour in some kids to get to scary numberland.
The bald assertion certainly gets the interview off to a big bang, but I for one find it hard to credit it as the cold, hard statistical fact these two want to pound on in their paranoia.
Indeed, if there is any basis for this number at all it would seem to be derived by lumping together young Earth creationism, old-Earth creationism, day-age creationism, theistic evolution, neo-creationism, Jewish creationism, and a few others. Creationism, it would seem, is a house of many mansions, and I suppose the could all add up in the mind of a Darwin to a big, bad threat.
While I accept that a few Christian denominations require their members to swear to the Biblical Creation story on, well, a stack of Bibles, the last time I checked there were any number of churches that had no such requirement, Catholic and Protestant. It is my impression that for most Christian faiths you need to believe in one God and Jesus Christ as His only son to belong. The Unitarians are a bit sketchy on those two things, but hey what's a heaven without some Unitarians in the mix to spend eternity telling everyone else they're still not quite sure?
Of late, I've been attending a wide variety of Christian Services around the greater Seattle area, and there doesn't (so far) seem to be a great deal of rancor within the various denominations. Neither have I stumbled across one that insists on believing in Biblical creation stories or getting out, but I suppose that could come up on any Sunday. I'm sure there are a goodly number of Christians that do believe in the literal truth of the Bible and who handle doubters and snakes with equal aplomb. But 120 million?
I think that says much more about the rigid belief set of Dennett and the Spiegel than American Christians. Of course, I could be wrong. But then again so could Dennett. For while Christians firmly believe they have been touched by the Spirit of God in Christ, Dennett just as clearly believes he has been "touched by some noodly appendage."
UPDATE: AN email alerts me to this Dennett sighting --Darwin. Destroyer of God , which reminded me he'd made a previous appearance on this site in 2003 with The "Brights:" Smug, Self-satisfied and Stupid.