CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER OHIO ISSUE POLL

JUNE 2002

*The poll results printed here are questions that deal specifically with the "evolution-design" issue in Ohio. The complete poll contains additional results that are not listed here.

1,507 Ohio adults were interviewed statewide May 28 through June 4, 2002, by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research of Washington, D.C. The margin for error is plus or minus 2.6%. The poll results were reported in the Plain Dealer on June 9, 2002.

KNOWLEDGE ABOUT EVOLUTION/INTELLIGENT DESIGN:

QUESTION: Which of the following five statements comes closest to your view about the development of life on Earth?

13% - All living things on Earth came from a common ancestor and over millions of years evolved into different species due to natural processes such as natural selection and random chance.

15% - Living things are too complex to have developed by chance. A purposeful force or being that may or may not be God is responsible for designing life as we know it. Evolution may be part of a such a design.

26% - God created the universe and all living things as claimed in the Bible. Creation took millions of years and evolution is the method God used to achieve this result.

13% - God created the universe in the manner the Bible describes, but over a long period of time, and the world is millions of years old. God made all living things, including humans, but has allowed some small-scale evolution to take place.

29% - God created the universe exactly as the Bible describes, in a period of six days, and the world is less than 10,000 years old. God made all living things, including humans, in the form they appear now, and there has been no evolution.

4% - None/Not Sure (NOT READ)

QUESTION: Would you say your beliefs about the manner in which life developed on Earth are very certain, somewhat certain, or uncertain?

Very Certain - 55%;

Somewhat Certain - 37%;

Not Certain - 8%

QUESTION: Which of the following is the principal source of your views on the development of life on Earth?

54% - Religious teachings;

15% - Science classes in school;

10% - The work of scientists;

1% - The positions of religious or political leaders;

5% - The news media;

15% - Other/Not Sure (NOT READ)

QUESTION: Would you say that you are very familiar, somewhat familiar, or not that familiar with the concept of evolution?

Very Familiar - 42%;

Somewhat Familiar - 43%;

Not Familiar - 15%

QUESTION: The theory of evolution is that human beings developed from less advanced forms of life. Which of the following best describes your view of evolution:

15% - A completely valid account of how humans were developed;

44%- A somewhat valid account;

36% - Not a valid account;

6% - Not Sure (NOT READ)

QUESTION: Would you say that you are very familiar, somewhat familiar, or not that familiar with the concept of "intelligent design?"

Very Familiar - 18%;

Somewhat Familiar - 37%;

Not Familiar - 45%

QUESTION: The concept of "intelligent design" is that life is too complex to have developed by chance, and a purposeful being or force is guiding the development of life. Which of the following best describes your view of intelligent design? Is it a:

23% - A completely valid account of how humans were developed;

48% - A somewhat valid account;

22% - Not a valid account;

2% - Not Sure (NOT READ)

QUESTION: With regard to intelligent design, which of the following best describes your position:

18% - I am strongly persuaded that intelligent design is correct;

51% - I prefer a traditionally religious point of view, but I can support intelligent design;

22% - I find intelligent design completely unpersuasive;

10% - No Opinion/Not Sure (NOT READ)

QUESTION: Regarding the concept of intelligent design, who do you think the designer is:

67% - God;

4% - A supernatural force;

0 - An alien being;

20% - Doesn't matter/Not Sure;

9% - None/Don't believe it is valid

THE INTELLIGENT DESIGN CONTROVERSY IN OHIO:

QUESTION: Currently, the Ohio Board of Education is debating new academic standards for public school science classes, including what to teach students about the development of life on Earth. Which position do you support:

8% - Teach only evolution;

8% - Teach only intelligent design;

59% - Teach both;

15% - Teach the evidence both for and against evolution, but not necessarily intelligent design;

9% - Teach nothing about human development;

1% - Not Sure (NOT READ)

QUESTION: Would you say that you are paying a great deal of attention to this debate, some attention to it or are you not paying much attention?

Great Deal - 20%;

Some - 48%;

None - 32%

QUESTION: Should the state Board of Education require that intelligent design be part of the science curriculum, or should this decision be left to local school boards and teachers?

State - 33%;

Local - 50%;

Not Sure - 16%

QUESTION: Do you believe ____ are competent to decide what is taught about human origins, or not? (Y = yes; N = no; DK = don't know)

Scientists and science teachers? Y 47% - N 36% - DK 17%

Parents? Y 53% - N 31% - DK 16%

School boards? Y 38% - N 46% - DK 16%

Religious leaders? Y 42% - N 44% - DK 14%

QUESTION: Which of the following is the best place to teach about beliefs regarding the development of life that differ from evolution?

23% - In a science class;

17% - In a class other than science;

51% - At home or in a religious setting;

9% - Not Sure/None (NOT READ)

QUESTION: Do you feel teaching about only evolution in public school undermines personal morality or religious beliefs, or not?

Yes - 43%;

No - 50%;

Not Sure - 7%

QUESTION: Do you feel teaching about intelligent design in public school promotes a religious view of creation, or not?

Yes - 40%;

No - 41%;

Not Sure - 19%

QUESTION: When it comes to teaching public school students in science class about the development of life, is it more important to: (ORDER ROTATED)

27% - Teach only theories for which there is scientific consensus;

60% - Teach all alternative concepts out of respect for individuals' beliefs;

13% - Not Sure (NOT READ)

QUESTION: Which of the following is the primary basis for your opinion about what should be taught in science class about human development:

44% - Your personal education;

29% - Your religious beliefs;

1% - What you've learned from the news media;

10% - What you've learned from my family;

7% - What you've learned from supporters of evolution or supporters of intelligent design;

10% - Other/Not Sure (NOT READ)

QUESTION: Have you contacted a school board member or other elected official about this issue, or not?

Yes - 5%;

No - 95%

QUESTION: Has anyone contacted you about this issue, or not?

Yes - 4%;

No - 96%

QUESTION: Some people say intelligent design is just a way to get religion into schools. Do you agree or disagree?

Agree - 28%;

Disagree - 56%;

Not Sure - 16%

QUESTION: Some people say teaching evolution is an attempt to remove God from our society. Do you agree or disagree?

Agree - 31%;

Disagree - 60%;

Not Sure - 9%

QUESTION: If Ohio public schools include intelligent design in their science curriculum, how do you think the following areas would be affected? Would it have a positive effect, a negative effect, or no real effect on:

Ohio's ability to attract new businesses?

Positive - 20%;

Negative - 19%;

No Effect - 58%;

Not Sure - 3%

Ohio students' chances at being accepted at out-of-state colleges?

Positive - 21%;

Negative - 15%;

No Effect - 62%;

Not Sure - 3%

Ohio's reputation with the rest of the country?

Positive - 28%;

Negative - 24%;

No Effect - 45%;

Not Sure - 3%

The quality of instruction in public schools?

Positive - 39%;

Negative - 22%;

No Effect - 36%;

Not Sure - 3%

The public's confidence in Ohio schools?

Positive - 37%;

Negative - 26%;

No Effect - 33%;

Not Sure

* * * * * *

The following comments on the Plain Dealer poll were made by Doug Rudy and Bob Lattimer of Science Excellence for All Ohioans:

The Plain Dealer is to be commended for commissioning a poll of Ohioans on the "evolution-design" issue. The results are quite gratifying to those of us who favor an objective "teach the controversy" approach to biological origins. Science Excellence for All Ohioans believes that schools should (a) teach the evidence for and against biological evolution, (b) permit, but not require, teachers to discuss alternative theories such as intelligent design, and (c) adopt a definition of science that allows for consideration of all logical explanations for phenomena in nature.

The Plain Dealer poll results seem quite supportive of this approach. 74% of Ohioans said that evidence for and against evolution should be taught, and a clear majority (59%) specifically favored the inclusion of intelligent design. On the other hand, only 8% supported the "evolution-only" approach. These results are consistent with a Zogby poll released in May, in which 78% of Ohioans agreed that "when Darwin's theory of evolution is taught in school, students should be able to learn about scientific evidence that points to an intelligent design of life."

Commenting on the survey results, Eugenie Scott of the National Center for Science Education (a pro-evolution group) said: "This tells me that science education has a long way to go." This is a rather curious statement in view of the fact that evolution-only curricula have dominated public-school biology curricula for many years - and yet most citizens aren't buying the evolution dogma.

Apparently a growing number of citizens are realizing that while some aspects of evolutionary theory are well-backed by data, other aspects are backed primarily by naturalistic assumptions. And they want Ohio's students to be taught all the facts, both pro and con, regarding evolution.

The Plain Dealer poll found that only 13% of Ohioans accept the naturalistic Darwinian explanation for the origin and development of life. Most of the rest (83%) favor some form of design by intelligence (either creationism, theistic evolution, or intervention by an unspecified designer).

What is taught in public schools should ultimately be decided by the public. The poll results indicate that the subject of biological origins is important to Ohio's citizens, and that policymakers in Columbus would do well to pay close attention to public opinion on this issue.

Charles Darwin was right on the mark when he said in his famous book: "A fair result can be obtained only by fully stating and balancing the facts and arguments on both sides of each question." Ohio residents have spoken on the subject of evolution, and their voices should be heeded.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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