In the United States, mainly, there is a holiday called Halloween which involves dressing up in costumes. The holiday has a bit of a morbid side to it, often focussing on things related to monsters and death. Today, the school had the kids wear the costumes to class, which is not necessarily the best use of time in academic terms.Yeah, so can I. But I can think of something even scarier: the superstition and credulity of the American population. The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life informs us that a solid majority believes in apparitions and evil supernatural powers:
However, and I never heard of this happening before--my 10-year-old son Daniel reports from the front--that certain costumes are forbidden, that is those deemed too scary for the younger children to see. For example, a student wearing a skeleton costume was asked to take it off, while others were forbidden from wearing masks thought to be too frightening.
I can think of a lot of political figures whose visage is far more scary than any imaginery goblins and ghouls. But I digress.
According to a 2007 Pew Research survey, two-thirds of Americans (68%) completely or mostly agree that angels and demons are active in the world (and not just on Halloween). Just 14% completely disagree with this idea. Among religious groups, Mormons (88%), evangelical Christian (87%) and members of historically black churches (87%) are the most likely to agree that angels and demons are active in the world. Jewish Americans are by far the most likely to disagree that these spirits stalk the planet (73% disagree with 52% completely disagreeing). Buddhists (56% disagree), Hindus (55%) and the religiously unaffiliated (54%) are other faith groups disagreeing that angels and demons exist in our world. Happy Halloween!
Pew Research's formulation provides a significantly more positive description of the scientific position by characterizing natural selection as "a natural process" rather than something "God had no part in." This implicitly allows people who believe that God or a supreme being set the evolutionary process in motion, or even shaped it in some way, to still opt for "natural selection" as the main engine of evolution.