Time for some social science discussion! Disclaimer. The article I am linking is about political tribes in the US. This is not an invitation to argue about politics, which we all know is not allowed. The point is to talk about tribalism and understand some of the dynamics that go into the tribalism that surrounds evolution acceptance and evolution denial. That wasn’t at all what the research was about, but I think many of the insights from this study can be applied in interesting ways to understanding some of the dynamics that make evolution a contentious issue, and it seems to me, more contentious for people who identify more strongly with conservative political tribes. Some people associate BioLogos with liberal politics even though there is a concerted effort to be apolitical. Why is that? Is there a reason why it sometimes seems that the Christians who are drawn to the ideas here maybe skew more progressive on some political issues than their anti-evolution friends and family.
A friend and I were just discussing this “Hidden Tribes” study tonight: https://hiddentribes.us/?fbclid=IwAR0uNjJjjhssze2hseCgikpFYm-Tq4J2mhiMGPZ0eK-kklv2VhmAjszVOq4#polarization
It has some pretty interesting things in it. We both want to be moderate progressive activists, which is to say, we place ourselves in two different tribes. I wonder how many BioLogos types feel torn this way? Or how many legitimately actually participate in two different tribes, depending on the context. I think I do. I ask myself a lot if I am being hypocritical or flexible, wishy-washy or balanced. And in both contexts there are times when I feel totally at home and times when I throw up my hands and ask, “how can these people be my people?”
The section called “The Hidden Architecture of Political Behavior” is really interesting. I wonder how those value pillars correlate with science acceptance/anti-evolution attitudes.
Here’s a few quotes, because I don’t expect you all to wade through the whole thing just because I think it’s interesting.
" Core Belief 1: Group Identity and Tribalism in America. Perhaps the most important aspect of the hidden architecture underlying political behavior is people’s group identities . Social scientists have long recognized that people see their own groups as a strong source of self-esteem and a sense of belonging. Consequently, these tribal identities have an almost magical influence over people’s views, for example, captured recently in a T-shirt (circulated on social media) proclaiming “I’d rather be Russian than Democrat.”
That sounds exactly like what I was trying to say over on the denial of evolution thread. Magical influence is about right. Evolution proponents tend to see Creationists as brainwashed by their group. Creationists see evolution proponents as unable to come to any other conclusions because of the peer pressure of “atheist scientists.”
“Core Belief 2: Perceived Threat. People diverge in the amount of danger they perceive in the world. Some people see the world as a largely safe place with isolated pockets of violence. Others see the world as threatening, with isolated pockets of tranquility. To test people’s degree of perceived threat, the survey asked them how much they agree with the statement, “The world is becoming a more and more dangerous place.” This basic sense of threat versus security is strongly correlated with people’s views on a wide variety of other issues, including immigration and terrorism.”
I think BioLogos types feel less threatened in general than anti-evolution types, so that might explain some of the overlap between people here and resonance with aspects of progressive politics.
" Core Belief 3: Parenting Style and Authoritarianism. Recent research has found that people’s tendency towards authoritarianism ―that is, their support for strong leaders and strict social hierarchy―is linked to their views on parenting style . For example, people who deem it more important for a child to be “well-behaved” than “creative” are more likely to endorse an authoritarian ethic. The Hidden Tribes report confirms those findings. How Americans view parenting closely tracks their views on many political issues."
This one is a little harder to relate to the science/anti-evolution context, but I think it is interesting that many anti-evolution proponents frame the debate in terms of the authority of Scripture or what God expects of them and how they don’t want to stand before him and be held accountable for not trusting his word. Maybe people’s fundamental view of how God parents affects their openness to science. If you see God as a parent who encourages creativity and exploration in his children, then of course he wants you to be curious about his world and figure out its mysteries. He would take proud delight in you doing that. But if you see God as an authoritarian parent, he gave you his word so you would obey it. He is going to test your faith to see if you measure up to his standards of devoted obedience. You better not step outside the boundaries.
" Core Belief 4: Moral Foundations. Morality is about more than just equal treatment. The 2012 book The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt, which provides important insights into the ways in which morality underlies political behavior, explains how morality is comprised of at least five pillars. These pillars, also called moral foundations , are:
Fairness/Cheating : Relating to proportionality, equality, reciprocity, and rendering justice according to shared rules.
Care/Harm : Protecting the vulnerable and helping those in need.
Authority/Subversion : Submitting to tradition and legitimate authority.
Purity/Disgust : Abhorrence for things that evoke disgust.
Loyalty/Betrayal : Standing with one’s group, family or nation."
The study found that people on the progressive “wing” valued the first two, fairness and care, much more than the other pillars, but people in the middle and on the conservative “wing” tended to value all the pillars more equally. I think that is interesting to consider when thinking about how to communicate concern over climate change or the shared rules that go into establishing scientific consensus. If they are framed just in terms of the values of care or fairness, they will not resonate as well with other tribes as if they could be framed more equally in terms of some of the other values. It seems to me that maybe we don’t empathize enough with how more conservative Christians value purity, authority, and loyalty. Sometimes asking them to accept scientific consensus is going to be processed as asking them to betray one of these core values, whether it is about disgust at the idea of humans sharing ancestry with animals, not being perceived as showing enough respect for the authority of Scripture and traditional doctrine, or not being seen as loyal to the Christian social group that has in many ways defined themselves by their opposition to “secular” thinking.
Anyway, this is probably really long for an OP, but I thought some of the connections were kind of fascinating and I am interested in everyone’s thoughts.