So if someone asks, "Do you believe in evolution," they are framing it wrong. That's like asking, "Do you believe in blue?"I have found that most non-science majors I know — even those who are otherwise well-educated — can’t describe evolution in a concise enough way to convince me that they really understand it. When pressed, it becomes clear that what they really believe in is “science”, or “what my teachers taught me” or “what other college-educated people believe”.
Evolution is nothing more than a fairly simple way of understanding what is unquestionably happening. You don't believe in it — you either understand it or you don't. But pretending evolution is a matter of faith can be a clever way to hijack the conversation, and pit it in a false duality against religion.
The same is true of many other topics where it’s tempting to ridicule those who don’t believe like you do:
- Do you believe in the danger of GMO (or nuclear energy or the Keystone Pipeline)?
- Do you believe in global warming?
- Do you believe vaccines cause autism?
- Do you believe in God?
To me that explains facts like why those who identify with the Tea Party are more likely to visit science museums, or why climate science literacy has no correlation with political identity.
What about you? Do you understand climate change?