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Americans believe that dinosaurs lived with humans

Shocking news once again–a new Gallup poll claims that the rate of acceptance of evolution in the United States is “essentially unchanged” over the past few years. The recent poll from Gallup asked “which of the following statements comes closest to your views on the origin an development of human beings:”

  • 32% of the respondents accepted “Human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God guided this process,” 
  • 15% accepted “Human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God had no part in this process,” and 
  • 46% accepted “God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so.”

Only 15% of Americans accept the absolutely scientific principle of evolution, a number that is unbelievably tiny. Most of this country accepts either theistic evolution, that is evolution happened pretty much as describe by science, but that some supernatural being is involved in the process, or accepts that the creation of the earth is described by the biblical myth of Genesis, a brand of belief called Young Earth Creationism, although it includes the pseudoscientific intelligent design. If any of you don’t understand why state legislatures can get away with pushing religion and creationism into public schools, it’s probably because most Americans support these efforts.

Demographic differences in acceptance of the science of evolution varies between and within groups.

Political Party

  • Republicans: 58% think the earth is only 10,000 years old, while only 5% accept the scientific fact of evolution
  • Democrats: 41% creationist, while 19% accept science (still low)
Educational level
  • High school education or lower: 52% accept creationism, while 11% accept scientific fact of evolution
  • College education: 46% accept creationism, 14% accept evolution
  • Post-graduate: 25% accept creationism, and 29% accept evolution.
  • In other words, higher education means more skepticism towards religious beliefs superseding real science.
Church attendance
This science denialism in the USA is just profoundly destructive. Since nearly all of science, especially biology and medicine, is dependent upon a thorough knowledge of evolution, we will (if we haven’t already) lose our leadership in many areas of technology. That the universe is over 14 billion years old, or that the earth is over 4.5 billion years old, or that life is around 3.5 billion years old are all the foundations of modern science, which is critical for everything from understanding how vaccines work to discovering sources of petroleum (which, of course, arises from organisms that lived a few hundred million years ago). 
Unfortunately, these numbers have been flat for over 30 years. It’s hard to imagine a seminal event that would convince avowed creationists to accept the validity of science, but maybe things will change.
Michael Simpson

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