That’s not to say that questions worded like this don’t always put me on guard. I’m usually a bit bewildered because the very nature implies that there might be some reason not to “believe” in either body of science. In my mind, one might just as well ask me if I “believe in cells” or if I “believe in quantum mechanics.” Things well studied and understood, but not necessarily seen.
In other words, I brace myself because experience has taught me that a person asking a scientific question with “do you believe in” phrasing, is probably gearing up to spring the latest creationist mumbo jumbo or the latest global warming denial conspiracy theory.
The facts remain that both evolution and global warming are scientifically solid – and that’s about as solid as anything can ever get. Given that, we should be as confident discussing these topics in mixed company as we are discussing electromagnetism, heliocentrism, or gravity. So a bold, “of course” is the only responsible response.
To avoid confrontation in the company of scientific illiteracy, one might be tempted to deflect such a discussion in the first place. But that would be a mistake. Science-loving layman, such as yours truly, have to be vigilant when we talk about what I’ll call “politically/theologically controversial” scientific topics like evolution and global warming.
When it comes to promoting a scientifically literate population, we have to have some guts. If Gallup, Pew, and Harris polls on what the average person in America believes are to be trusted, then there is a very good chance that one day at dinner, or at work, or yes, even at church if that’s your thing, you will be presented with someone who bases their incredulity in something other than reality.
Don’t back down. Keep talking, keep teaching, and keep up the good work!