Much of Brazil Also Still In the Bronze Age

In case the educated Americans among my readers were feeling bad, it might help to know that 89% of Brazil is as pig-ignorant about evolution as the majority of Americans. Oh well, at least 54% believe in a god-influenced form of teleogical evolution, de Chardin-style, which I can live with, I suppose.

UPDATE: I have to admit, though, that Chad Orzel has a good point about this, if you look at the statistics in America over time. And this open letter makes some good sense about how the responses of those surveyed may tell us more about a great schism dividing American culture than anything else.

UPDATE II: Comments by Alistair point out I’m being a little unfair. It’s not that Brazilians are “pig ignorant about evolution” but that they are, according to the study I linked to, pig-ignorant about how evolution education ought to be happening, like a majority of Americans are.

6 thoughts on “Much of Brazil Also Still In the Bronze Age

  1. Sorry to disagree Gord, they may not agree with it but they do know about it ( seeing as its part of the national curriculum). Perhaps its to do with the fact that Brazil has the largest Catholic population in the world, what is the American excuse?

  2. Much of the population now also knows about it in America, including the pathetic misguided twits who “don’t believe in it”. The American excuse would be that freedom of religion has been stretched to include imposition of religion onto everyone, and imposition of religious dogma onto education regarding reality. Since there’s no end to human folly, it’s going to be a long, long battle in any nation.

    In addition, despite what Rome says, there’s nothing in Catholic scripture that would suggest evolution is not real, except to the most simpleminded literalist cretin. The Church is now pushing a telelogical version of evolution, of course—though at one time a really weird version of the same almost was enough to get the theologist-paleontologist Tielhard de Chardin excommunicated.

    There’s no excuse for either stupidity in any country, and it is exactly as disturbing, as one blogger pionted out, as hearing modern people claim the heliocentric theory is wrong, though nobody seems to report it that way.

  3. As an evolutionist and a practising Christian I really dont see the problem. I see the problem in the USA. As it said in the actual report a significant number of Brazilians know and accept evolutionary theory, a certain percentage dont…also this is a developing country ( I live here, Ive seen it and I know) where the church is often a persons only support in the community, for what little health and educational needs that the community has …and its free! Whereas the charismatic churches ( such as the Universal Church of God…which incidentely comes from North America!!!) exploits those poor and desperate people and takes what little money they have from them. If the Catholics want to believe in Adam and Eve, thats their choice, I for one am not going to judge them for that. Doctrine and dogma are in every walk of life, whether its a church or an EFL methodology. But its up to the individual to decide what they want. If people want to believe the world is flat and the moon is made of cream cheese, thats there perogative. I am not going to shove my beliefs down their throat.

    This sounds a little reactionary, but it isnt meant to be. I just think that picking on the Brazilians ( as always happens, normally by people who dont know them and how diverse a people they are)is a little unjust. I know Americans, I try not to tar them with the same brush. I know Canadians but dont try to tar them with the same brush, I know French and definitely dont try to tar them with the same brush. I also dont kick the Indonesians on the way down nor on the way up.

  4. Alistair,

    I suppose the phrase “pig-ignorant” was a bit harsh, considering the stance of that 54% included in the 89%. I think it’s pretty poor science, but it’s not all that objectionable, as long as they’re not spouting crap about Earth being 10,000 years old or something. As long as people acknowledge that evolution is the process of speciation, then I can’t fault them for adding an unnecessary (and undemonstrable) teleology so that they can retain their religious beliefs.

    I don’t agree people have the right to believe the moon is made of green cheese, however. Or at least, I don’t think they have the right to insist this is taught in school, I don’t think they have the right to lobby their cockmamie ideas so that it affects education and government policy. I do believe that when it comes to the common good, we don’t have the right to force reality down the throats of crackpots, but we do have the right to tell them to shut the hell up, and we have the right to ignore whatever they choose to say. Not only that, we have the duty to do so, insofar as they affect the public good.

    However, I want to note that I’m not “picking on” Brazil. I was just trying to note that it’s not as if the USA is the only place with a loud minority of hard-creationists and a majority of soft-creationists.

    And I do think “soft creationism” is a pretty unobjectionable position, as long as one doesn’t require that it be taught to all as if it were scientific fact.

  5. And I have never seen creationism taught in schools here ( other than seminaries perhaps, or strict Catholic schools). I actually found the study to be pretty objectionable, as most studies are only a statistical theory based on a very small sample of the population, I dislike opinion polls in general as they are ‘make-work’ exercises at best and fallible at worst. I did a quick straw poll amongst my students here (in Brazil…in the Northeast of Brazil, one of the purported under-developed regions in this developing country). Most of my students, aged between 18 and 45, believed in evolutionist theory and didnt find it incompatible with their own beliefs ( 60% Catholic, 40% other religions or non-believers), though a bit rough in scientific control, a fairly representative cross-section of lower middle to upper middle class people.

    Also I never mentioned about teaching the theories of the moon being made of green cheese etc. Just the right for people to believe in them.

    Maybe you didnt set out to ‘Bash Brazil’ but it certainly came across that way, and quite frankly comparing Brazil and the United States is pretty much the same as comparing…Britain…say and France. They may be both in Europe, but they aint the same. Millions of culural-social differences exist to keep them apart as communities.

  6. Alistair,

    The study didn’t say creationism was being taught in schools, it said a vast majority of people wanted it taught in schools in some form or other. Soft-form creationism was hinted at in my Canadian school, which was a regular old Catholic school—which was in many ways comparable to a public school, except that science in public schools was taught free from dogma.

    I do have a question about the representativeness of your own straw poll. In my experience teaching English in a very small city in Korea (Iksan, in what’s generally agreed to be the least developed of the three major sociopolitical areas of South Korea), I would often imagine my students representative of the average person, but later discovered that they were actually mostly fairly well-to-do or upper class. Is it possible that your students are better-educated than many of their countrymen, due to socioeconomic class differences? Even in supposedly poor areas, there are elites who have more money and often a better education, be it from school or books in the home, or even just from their own luxury to read as they like.

    I know you never mentioned about *teaching* that the moon is made of green cheese, Alistair. I wasn’t putting words into your mouth; I was saying that the most important point of the article for me was what Brazilians, in a common poll, were saying about how education should handle the teaching of human origins.

    And I’m sorry but I am not bashing Brazil. If the statistic had come out about Canada, I would have said Canada was still in the Bronze Age. If it had come out of Uzbekistan, too. Brazil and America are different, of course, and despite their differences, science education seems to be popularly thought to need some theologizing, either in the soft-creationist or the hard-creationist form.

    It’s not wrong or untenable to compare countries that have significant differences. Comparing England and France, for example, isn’t interesting despite their “millions of culural-social differences”… it’s interesting specifically because of those differences.

    Were I interested in going into more depth, I’d probably look at the differences in which Catholic and Protestant theology have shaped Brazilian and American popular understandings of evolution. I have to predict I’d probably come down in favour of the Church’s method, which at least doesn’t outright deny evolution, unlike a number of American Protestant groups. But perhaps I shall leave that to you to write about, Alistair.

    I want you to understand, however, I did not set out to specifically bash Brazil. I perhaps was critical of what I saw in the article, yes, and I stand by the criticism that a majority of people thinking evolution ought to be taught in schools in a way that involves God is a bad thing in my books. It’s the imposition of religion on education, and it’s unfair to people who aren’t members of the religion.

    But mainly, I just came across a poll in which it was found that in some country (it happened to be Brazil) a majority of people wanted some form of creationism taught, and it reminded me that America isn’t the only backward country in the world on this subject. That’s all.

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