Belief in evolution graphed against per capita income.

One of these things is not like the others. One of these things is not the same. 

Published by Waldo Jaquith

Waldo Jaquith (JAKE-with) is an open government technologist who lives near Char­lottes­­ville, VA, USA. more »

27 replies on “Belief in evolution graphed against per capita income.”

  1. So the U.S. is proof that prosperity is not linked to an atheistic, naturalistic worldview? :-)

    I wonder what would happen to those numbers if it was weighted by total GDP.

    (Furthermore, look at the ABSURD cherry picking of countries. Try China or Russia on for size, two of the biggest atheist countries in the world. Why not include them? Oh. Because that would show that there actually is a reverse correlation. Especially when taken as weighted by total GDP.)

  2. Furthermore, look at the ABSURD cherry picking of countries. Try China or Russia on for size, two of the biggest atheist countries in the world. Why not include them? Oh. Because that would show that there actually is a reverse correlation. Especially when taken as weighted by total GDP.

    No, they’re not included because those nations weren’t surveyed in the cited 2006 study of belief in evolution by country. The linked blogger cannot include data that he does not possess.

    Another survey found that “[a]lthough the majority of adults surveyed in India (77%), China (72%), Mexico (65%), the United Kingdom (62%), Spain (61%), and Argentina (57%) accepted the theory of evolution as scientifically founded, only 48% did so in Russia, 42% in South Africa, 41% in the United States, and 25% in Egypt.” In the linked summary, the author went on to write that “[t]he country that showed greatest support for the idea that evolution without a God guided the development of all life was China (67%), followed by Mexico (42%), the United Kingdom and Spain (38%), Argentina (37%), and Russia (32%).”

  3. So “[t]he country that showed greatest support for the idea that evolution without a God guided the development of all life was China (67%)” has a GDP/capita of $8,394 vs the US’ $48,147, which I guess shows that a belief in Creation/Intelligent Design is a big driver of prosperity. The US and China lead the world in GDP with 32.4% of the world’s total GDP and 23.7% of the world’s total population.

  4. I think, instead, that demonstrates the huge differences between the east and the west. You’ll note that the linked blog entry includes western countries—Europe and the U.S.—no doubt in part because they share a common cultural heritage that makes a comparison more meaningful. (Turkey, of course, is the odd man out, but they’ve been pushing hard to join the E.U. for over 20 years, and intelligent minds may disagree on the extent to which they are European versus middle eastern.)

  5. The truth is, despite this silly comic’s twisting of the stats (and my comic, tongue-in-cheek re-twisting of the stats to fit my worldview), there actually is little correlation between belief in evolution and prosperity.

    It’s interesting to notice that the world is split into four corners of the prosperity/religion graph, in a surprisingly balanced way:

    EU – atheist, prosperous, pop 550m, GDP $16.2 trillion
    US – theist, prosperous, pop 313m, GDP $14.5 trillion
    India – theist, third world, pop 1210m, GDP $1.6 trillion
    China – atheist, third world, pop 1347m, GDP $5.8 trillion

    The above four examples comprise nearly half of the world’s population. (Brazil has 2.9% of GDP and is Catholic with middle of the road GDP/capita. Japan has 8.7% of GDP and are practical atheists and have EU-range (i.e. about $10k below US) GDP/capita.) The big hole in the above four representatives of the worldviews is the Muslim world, which has both ends of the pole from Qatar with $102k GDP/capita (highest in the world) to Afghanistan with $965 (12th from the bottom).

  6. The four examples I listed above, along with the Muslim world, I see as the primary, powerful philosophies vying for control of the world.

    EU – atheist socialist democracy
    US – classical Christian (tolerant monotheism), free-market
    India – polytheist (relatively intolerant), free-market
    China – atheist (intolerant), moving from communism to socialism
    Muslim – intolerant monotheism, lack of freedom (range of economic systems)

    All have met with varying degrees of success, none entirely owing their success or failure to their ruling philosophies (see: Middle East oil or tech edge acquired during an earlier (Christian) era).

    Tis comic is nothing but a bit of propaganda, twisting stats to push a certain worldview.

  7. China – atheist, third world, pop 1347m, GDP $5.8 trillion

    I’m not sure that it’s accurate to claim that Chinese are atheistic. The government has suppressed religion in China for sixty-odd years, but many scholars are dubious that people have actually become atheistic, but think it’s more likely that religion has just gone underground or is kept private and personal. A 2007 effort to get a count found that the numbers were far higher than the official state tally (unsurprisingly), and of course it seems reasonable to assume that Chinese citizens are not eager to admit religiosity to a stranger bearing a clipboard. To be clear, I’m not asserting that Chinese are necessary religious, either, just that there’s insufficient data to draw either conclusion at this point in China’s history.

    To the larger point, there is a global pattern of liberalization that follows economic prosperity. This seems like just another straightforward example of that trend.

  8. You’ll note that the linked blog entry includes western countries—Europe and the U.S.—no doubt in part because they share a common cultural heritage that makes a comparison more meaningful.

    Ok, then we should list each State of the U.S. separately since each of those roughly correlates to the size of EU countries.

    What this graph does is lists three groups:
    EU (+ Japan)

    The graph tries to draw the conclusion: The many, many prosperous countries of the EU believe in evolution. Turkey is not nearly as prosperous and they don’t believe in evolution. Thus, the norm (established by the high number of countries separated out individually that comprise the EU) is that the more you believe in evolution, the more prosperous you are. However, the US is this stupid, backwards country that is luckily prosperous but still believes in evolution. It really needs to catch up with other prosperous countries.

    The parlor trick that this comic employs is portraying the EU as a strong majority by listing all the little countries separately, which taken together roughly equal the US’ GDP.

    This is absurd. The US and EU are on roughly equal footing on a number of factors:

    EU – $16.2t GDP
    US – $14.5t GDP

    EU – 502m
    US – 313m

    GDP/capita PPP
    EU – $31,548
    US – $48,147

    Ok, so the US and EU have rough parity in GDP, the EU has about 66% more people than the US, but the EU only has 66% of the GDP/capita PPP of the US! So if we’re doing a comparison of those countries with a “common cultural heritage that makes a comparison more meaningful”, we see that there’s a clear correlation between not believing in evolution and a 34% increase in prosperity.

    That’s the exact opposite message that that little scam-o-gram you linked was trying to communicate.

  9. Hans, could you please source your assertion that Europe is atheistic? Everything I’m finding indicates the clear majority of every EU country is theistic.

  10. Belief in evolution = practical atheism, a point Richard Dawkins has made well. I understand that many people in Europe still call themselves Christians or are Catholics, but think about it only every Easter or so. Europe certainly acts out of an atheist mindset or that of cynical post-modern universalist “religion”, which are very similar.

  11. So the Catholic church is practically atheist? Screw that. You’re not pawning them off on us.

  12. The Catholic church is not. A large proportion of those that call themselves Catholic act out of a practical atheism. To quote my ex-Catholic taxi driver in Lima, Peru who said this to me last week, “The only time most Catholics think about God is for one week per year: Holy Week.”

  13. Ben, you being an atheist, I understand your pain. The people that call themselves religious, but live out of a practical atheism are hypocrites and not at all the kinds of people you want on your side. But I submit that atheists have brought this upon themselves by encouraging people that they can have their cake and eat it too: they can nominally keep religion, but live out of a practical atheism, believing that their religious beliefs aren’t relevant to reality, they’re just a nice cultural fairy tale. Sorry, my dear atheists friends: you trained them, they’re yours.

  14. No, Hans… I think that what Ben C. is saying is that because the Catholic Church officially recognizes the evidence behind the theory of evolution, that the Catholic Church is “practically atheist.” I for one don’t agree. I disagree with Dawkins that a belief in evolution makes you a “practical atheist”, but I’ll admit that I do not know the context of his argument.

  15. Michael hit the nail on the head and I have to agree with not being swayed by Dawkins’ argument.

    However, Hans, you insist “you trained them.” Please point out what in my writings makes you believe this. Where have I said that religious people can put aside their religion because it’s “just a nice cultural fairy tale?” Because I would like to recant whatever I’ve said that makes you think that, as it’s quite opposite to my particular beliefs.

    But no, even if you’re just using guilt by association, this argument stinks. Putting aside the teachings of your professed faith when it’s convenient is a behavior of religious people (which is not to say all religious people). To try to point the finger at me or any other atheist is just silly. It’s a tradition as old as religion itself.

  16. I should say also that I think it’s kinda silly to select evolution as the natural process which, if you accept it as real, means you don’t really believe in God, but that’s not really a point I’m interested in contesting right now.

  17. Asserting that people don’t believe what they think they believe is itself quite cynical. While I disagree with your argument that belief in evolution is exclusive of theism, I think it more important to ask that you produce evidence that backs up your implication that “practical atheism” is something more prevalent in Europe than in the US.

  18. What is there to “believe” about evolution? It’s just there, like the sun, the moon, and the stars, life and death. If you believe in an omnipotent God, then denial of God’s evolutionary creation is blasphemy against your God.

    And quit affiliating “Christians” with Old Testament mythology. The Savior showed up precisely because that kind of ritualized ignorance was preventing the ascension of man.

  19. I don’t know what their particular viewpoint was on the origin of the species, and I’d be surprised if the question ever came up for them. I do know that my ancestors emigrated to the New World because they were sick and tired of having a bunch of other people tell them that they couldn’t claim to worship God unless they submitted to every single one of the Catholic church’s theological tenants, however.

    The notion that a third party can somehow qualify an individual’s personal relationship with Christ or the deity of his choosing consequently seems somewhat un-American to me.

  20. Statistics must be cherry picked either by members of a group (representative sampling) or by number if variables. They can never fully explain any hypothesis. They are merely interesting numerical correlations. They invite debate and alternative information gathering to confirm or deny their implied conclusions. You should not attack the statistical analysis itself, unless there was false data used, but rather use it with or against other factual information to draw a more complete conclusion for yourself or your audience. Bravo to those posts that cite other competing data to expand the picture. Boo to those who attack the factual conclusions drawn by any credible analysis by applying their own inflexible value system to evaluate and credit or discredit factual information.

    On a lighter note, my state’s most famous author Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) once wrote, “There are lies, damned lies, and statistics.”

  21. A man is accepted into a church for what he believes and he is turned out for what he knows. – Samuel Clemens

  22. How sad that Bubby ridicules the Old Testament, when Christ himself proclaimed it.

    Anybody paying attention knows that Europe has been essentially atheistic for many years. The only people who would doubt this are those who haven’t set foot in a church in a very long time.

  23. Hey Mr. High and Mighty, those are American Republican politicians and Teaparty cultists who have been quoting famous atheist intellectual Ayn Rand for years as their inspiration for America’s future.

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