Atheism, acceptance of evolution, and atrocity: When it was in the theaters, I wasn't interested enough in Ben Stein's Expelled to go see it, but I saw that it was available online at Netflix.com. It was more stimulating than I expected, and it made me wonder if there was something to the idea that atheism and belief in Darwin were associated with various forms of barbarism. My sense of the historical record would lead me to say no--I mean, haven't elites in all developed countries accepted the science--but you folks know I like data.
The General Social Survey asked the following questions: 1) confidence in the existence of God, 2) likelihood that humans evolved from animals, 3) political orientation, and 4) favoring abortion for any reason. I chose the last one because it is an attitude in favor of a barbarism. To approve of abortion at any time for any reason would include killing a baby right before birth because at the last minute Mom decided she couldn't afford an iPhone if she had to buy diapers.
I doubted that mere adoption of atheism or acceptance of evolution would lead one to accept any kind of abortion; I suspected that a liberal worldview might explain any correlation. To assess this, I estimated a logistic regression model with abortion attitude as the dependent variable and the other measures as predictors:
Logistic Regression Coefficients, DV = Favoring abortion for any reason
Skepticism about God .294**
Acceptance of evolution .383**
**p < .01, two-tailed test
Atheism and belief in evolution both significantly predict favoring abortion on demand, independent of the influence of a liberal worldview. I don't like to admit it, but some of the people who seem to be most devoted to Darwinism and atheism are neo-Nazis, and many of them have adopted barbaric attitudes. When, in an online debate forum, I was told that an autistic family member of mine should be euthanized, I wanted to reach through the Internet with a switchblade and slit the guy's throat. Some readers, I'm sure, will suggest that I examine the correlates of a real atrocity like denying racial preferences to less qualified minorities--the American equivalent of gassing Jews.