Acceptance of Evolution & belief in God
The question as to the relationship on a socio-cultural scale about the relationship of acceptance of evolution and belief in God is often mooted. In The Blind Watchmaker Richard Dawkins famously contended that the theory of Darwinian evolution allowed one to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist. I am mildly skeptical of universalizing this as a general truth; that is, just because Richard Dawkins’ atheism was solidified by his exposure to Darwin’s theory of evolution, does not entail that this is so for most humans. The fact is that most humans do not understand the theory evolution, let alone are able to generate inferences and entailments from said theory. An acceptance of the theory of evolution in the modern world is much more likely simply a signal or indicator that one is well educated and accepts the contemporary consensus of scholarship. This general lack of internalization of evolutionary theory into the cognitive toolkit of the typical “educated” and “well read” person makes me skeptical of evolution’s socio-cultural impact, no matter what Creationists and Evolutionists might contend.
In any case, what does the cross-cultural data tell us? As it is, we have a great deal of survey on belief in God (or lack of) in modern nations, as well as attitudes toward evolution theory. So it is only a matter of effort to generate a few scatterplots….
The first three charts are self-evident, though I would add that the one which shows those who don’t believe in a personal God simply aggregated those who accept a Spirit/Life Force with those who reject God. A R2 of 0.33 implies that you can predict 33% of the variation of Y by the variation in X, where X here is acceptance of evolution and Y are the various responses to beliefs about God. This is a decent number, but perhaps somewhat less overwhelming than some might have expected.
As for the last chart, I’ve colored coded the first chart so that you see see which nations are historically Protestant, Roman Catholic and Orthodox, as well as which ones were under Communist rule. If you need a legend for this, I advise you to close the browser and read a book, seriously. In any case, I think the two observations I would make is that Roman Catholicism’s acceptance of evolution shows, as those nations tend to be above the trendline. And, Communism really, really, messes a nation up. I doubt that the rejection of evolution has as much to do with Lysenkoism as it does with overall underdevelopment (it could also be that in nations such as Estonia and the Czech Republic religious beliefs are still artificially suppressed).
Note: The R2 of Life Force vs. Acceptance of Evolution is 0.25. Also, log transformation didn’t make much of a difference.