*by Wes Moore
A researcher out of the University of North Carolina says conservatives have lost faith in science over the last forty years.[i] The study, authored by Gordon Gaulet, tracked trust in science by political affiliation based on a survey called the General Social Survey. This study was originally taken in 1974 and then every other year from 1994 through 2010.
Per the report on Yahoo! News, in general, Americans are not very trusting of science. “Trust in science is not especially high—fewer than half of Americans surveyed over the time frame reported a ‘great deal’ of trust in the scientific community.”[ii] Here’s the breakout:
· 47% of liberals reported a ‘great deal’ of trust on average through the study period
· 42% of moderates
· 43% of conservatives
The most significant point of the survey is the loss of trust over time by conservatives. From 1974 to 2010, conservatives expressing a ‘great deal’ of trust in science fell from 48% (the highest of anyone) to 35%.
Reasons for the Slide
Here’s where the study gets really interesting. According to Gaulet, the reason conservatives have changed their views of science are because most scientific research now falls under politically motivated government agencies like the EPA, instead of more politically neutral departments like NASA and the U. S. military.
Stephanie Pappas, the author of the Yahoo! News report writes, “Research used to be done under the auspices of NASA and the Department of Defense, Gaulet said. Both of these agencies seemed far-removed from daily life. However, over the decades, science has become more intertwined with everyday policy. The Environmental Protection Agency is a ‘poster child’ for science informing real-world regulation that some conservatives oppose.”
With an odd nod to the intelligence of conservatives, Gaulet concluded that the drop in trust was not due to ignorance. “The decline in trust,” Pappas writes, “was most obvious among conservatives with a bachelor’s degree or higher.”
Gaulet’s answer: Yell louder! “Gaulet doesn’t favor pulling science out of the public sphere, in fact preferring that scientists be even more outspoken about their research.”
Still Missing the Point
Gaulet’s worldview simply will not allow him see the true reasons behind this drop in trust in science. Claiming most Americans have lost trust because the research responsibility moved from NASA to the EPA (which may not even be true!) is like saying America’s fear of radical Islam had fallen because the control of Al Qaeda had gone from Bin Laden to Ahmadinejad.
Wherever secular science rules, the worldview of evolution, atheism, and pantheism goes with it.
What are the Real Reasons?
In my mind, there are at least two reasons faith in science has fallen in the last forty years.
First, science is constantly making errors and changing its views. They claim infallibility but regularly alter their views based on the “lastest” discoveries or “new” information. In the 80’s, it was global cooling, now it’s global warming. They were certain a giant meteorite killed the dinosaurs, not they think it might be something else. Scientific literature is loaded with “fuzzy words,” as Mike Riddle of the Creation Training Initiative, calls them, like “we think,” “should have,” “must have,” and “we believe.”
Secondly, the success of the creation movement in America. People, conservatives especially, are much better educated now than they were decades ago because of the rise and power of the biblical creation movement in America. Ministries like Creation Ministries International and Answers in Genesis have changed the rules of the game.
Creationists don’t just go around and yell louder than the other guy. Creationists make great arguments, share little known scientific facts, and reveal the accuracy and power of the Creator’s Word.
In short, the Creationists are taking it to them in a big way, and the numbers show it.
Not Over Yet
We all know there’s a long way to go. We’re way behind the curve in so many ways. But surveys like this, though the very scientists who conduct them can’t properly interpret them, show us how God is favoring our work. Let’s just keep doing what we’re doing!
*Wes Moore is a conservative Christian author and speaker, and the founder of Evidence America, an apologetics and evangelism training ministry. Wes is the author of Forcefully Advancing, a book designed to equip the average Christian to engage the lost; The Maker, a futuristic apologetics novel; and The Spiritual Top 50, a non-fiction apologetics book designed to help Christians answer the questions their lost friends are asking. You can learn more about him at www.wesmoorenow.com.
 I’m not saying it has necessarily. Just trying to make a point.
[i] “Conservatives Losing Trust in Science, Study Finds,” Stephanie Pappas, LiveScience.com; accessed March 30, 2012; available at http://news.yahoo.com/conservatives-losing-trust-science-study-finds-114401347.html.
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