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Context for Conclusions

What conclusions can we reach about the population of respondees? We can make inferences that certain correlations between answers to certain questions are significantly different from zero. We can try to elucidate the causal relationships underlying the correlations. We have at least five possible scenarios: A and B are independent; A causes B; B causes A, (A causes B) and (B causes A) which is a feedback scenario; or (C causes A) and (C causes B) where C is a possibly hidden variable. With each of these scenarios, we have a range of degrees of strength of causality.

Focusing on the causes of responses to the question of compatibility of evolutionary theory and Christian theology, we can take a look at the questions that have significant correlations (positive or negative).

  • 4: I expect that new scientific discoveries will require revisions to Christian theology. Never 1__2__3__4__5 Always.
  • 9: Current evolutionary theory provides a complete and satisfying explanation of human origins. Disagree 1__2__3__4__5 Agree.
  • 11a: Would this (the acceptance of Evolutionary theory) be good, bad or neutral for society overall? Bad 1__2__3__4__5 Good.
  • 11b: Would this (the acceptance of Evolutionary theory) imply that life has less meaning, or more meaning? Less 1__2__3__4__5 More.
  • 11l: It would be acceptable to describe 'God's activity in the world' in terms of natural processes such as gravity and evolution. Disagree 1__2__3__4__5 Agree.
  • 12a: I trust the following sources of information about what is ‘real.’- the scientific community.
  • 1: I expect that scientific investigation of the natural world will provide evidence that traditional Christian theology is true: Never 1__2__3__4__5 Always.
  • 3: How many of the purposes of ‘the church’ can be achieved with no regard whatsoever to science and technology? None 1__2__3__4__5 All.
  • 5: ‘Divine activity or design’ in the world necessarily includes potential 'intervention' in nature which is distinct from 'natural' processes. Disagree 1__2__3__4__5 Agree.
  • 6: I expect examples of divine intervention (or design) to be uncovered by scientific study: Disagree 1__2__3__4__5 Agree.
  • 7: If it were shown that all events in history may have natural explanations, this would be a problem for Christian theology. Disagree 1__2__3__4__5 Agree.
  • 10: The value and reliability of The Bible are dependent on it serving as (amongst other things) an accurate source of historical information, including the Creation account in Genesis 1: Disagree 1__2__3__4__5 Agree.
  • 11c: This (the acceptance of Evolutionary theory) would imply that humans have (only) the rights of animals. Disagree 1__2__3__4__5 Agree.
  • 11d: This would cause me to think again about the reliability of scripture. Disagree 1__2__3__4__5 Agree.
  • 11e: If the Bible's creation account is not historically accurate, we can no longer place as much trust in the Bible's teaching on ethics and morals. Disagree 1__2__3__4__5 Agree.
  • 11f: This would cause me to think again about the reality of God’s activity in the world today. Disagree 1__2__3__4__5 Agree.
  • 11g: The competition and adaptation to fitness described by evolutionary theory would be inconsistent with a Christian understanding of God: Disagree 1__2__3__4__5 Agree.
  • 11h: This lack of evidence of special divine activity in the past would mean there is less hope for the future: Disagree 1__2__3__4__5 Agree.
  • 11i: This would mean a central Christian doctrine is flawed: The resurrection of Jesus parallels 'the fall' of Adam which occurred in the Garden of Eden. If there was no historical Adam or Eden in which animals did not compete for food, this is a problem for Christian theology. Disagree 1__2__3__4__5 Agree.
  • 11k: It is more important for Christian theology to remain consistent with established traditional ideas than to change in reaction to new science data. Disagree 1__2__3__4__5 Agree.

One way to break down these questions even further is to define sets that are of interest and then consider the relationships between them. Sets: science, Christian theology, evolution, Bible, God, nature, goodness. We will assume that the set of evolutionary issues is a subset of the set of scientific issues. And given the context of this survey, we will consider issues concerning the Bible to be a subset of Christian theology. We will consider three types of relationships between the sets:  intersection (to what extent do the sets contain the same issues?); coherence (to what extent do the sets contain contradictory assertions on the same issues?); and dominance (given contradictory assertions from various sets, to what extent are the positions for each of the sets trusted).

While this setup simplifies things (it assumes coherence within sets, which is certainly not true), it is thought that such an analysis is useful in elucidating some of the underlying causes to the attitudes that some Christians take toward evolution.

A thorough mapping of the logical structures in the survey is beyond the scope of this section. For the sake of illustration, we will consider some of the questions most relevant  to elucidating some of the causes for attitudes toward evolution. This consideration will expose a couple of types of obstacles to understanding. Firstly, we do not know exactly how questions were interpreted by each respondee. Secondly, even when we have support for a hypothesis about the underlying causes of peoples attitudes toward Evolutionary theory and Christian theology, this study was not set up to conclusively demonstrate causal relationships.

See the limitations section.

Considering the question of compatibility between evolutionary theory and Christian theology, a positive answer may indicate at least two things - a belief that the two sets have little or no overlap or a belief that the two sets are coherent. A belief in the coherence of the two sets could be produced by several scenarios. First, one could view Christian theology as a subset of what might be called natural theology. That is, one learns about God from nature as well as from Christian documents. Any apparent conflicts between observations of nature and the Christian documents may be resolved in a number of ways. Such a belief could also arise due to a misunderstanding of the claims of contemporary evolutionary theory or of the implications of one's own understanding of Christian theology.

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