More and more Americans are accepting Charles Darwin’s “dangerous idea” of evolution, as national surveys over thirty years show.
Researchers have found that in the last decade alone, after twenty years of relative stagnation, public acceptance of biological Evolution has increased significantly.
Between 1985 and 2010, around 40 percent of the adults surveyed in the USA agreed that “humans as we know them today emerged from earlier animal species”. Given the low attendance levels, this suggests that much of the nation was evenly divided in theory.
As it turns out, education has played a critical role in this change. When researchers began analyzing survey respondents’ demographics over the past thirty years, they found that completing one or more science degrees was the strongest predictor of acceptance of evolution.
“2018 has almost twice as many Americans graduated like they did in 1988, “says Mark Ackerman, who studies Collective Intelligence at the University of Michigan.
” It’s hard to get a college degree without getting at least a little respect for the success of science . “
In the current analysis, the proportion of American adults with a science education rose from 11 percent in 1988 to 31 percent in 2019.
This increase in knowledge can easily be transferred to others. For example, research suggests that fewer students are exposed to creationism in science classes, in part because new teachers are replacing a generation of educators less suited to teaching evolution.
Yet even a healthy dose of education can only do so go far. For example, some researchers believe that religious beliefs are a stronger predictor of acceptance of evolution than educational attainments. But this is an area of research that is still hotly debated. For example, it could be that education only works for some people who do not interpret the Bible literally.
Evolution has become a heavily politicized issue in the United States, especially among supporters of the Republican Party, which tends to base its policies on evangelical Christian values.
The result is that the US has some of the lowest today Have adoption rates in the developed world, with only Turkey performing lower.
Even now that the majority of Americans do not oppose evolution, the adoption rate is still low compared to other nations and much lower than the scientific consensus.
In recent years, religion has started to decline in the US, but the political evolutionary gap is still wide.
In 2019, researchers found that 83 percent of Liberal Democrats accepted evolution, while only 34 percent of Conservative Republicans thought the same.
The driving force behind this huge difference is likely not ideological ideological partisanship, experts say, but rather religious beliefs that Republicans are more likely to cling to.
For example, about 30 percent of American adults have basic religious beliefs that directly contradict evolution, which is almost the same percentage of conservative Republicans. who were against evolution in the current analysis.
The authors of the current study do not rule out religion as an influencing factor. Their analysis still shows that basic religious beliefs can alter the acceptance of evolution among American adults. But at least according to their analysis, educational attainment seems to be the more influential factor.
According to their analysis, the recent surge in acceptance has mainly come from American adults who were previously unsure of the theory. Few who totally opposed evolution have changed their minds over time.
“Although science education has increased and science continues to have a far-reaching influence on American society,” the authors write, “remains there is a tension between religious fundamentalism and evolution. ”
While religion clearly remains an obstacle to further public acceptance of evolution, this is gradually beginning to change. In 1988, the current analysis found that only 8 percent of religious fundamentalists accepted the theory of evolution. In 2019, however, almost a third.
Coupled with an increasing presence in science courses, a decline in core religious beliefs will undoubtedly lead to a further shrinking minority of Americans who oppose evolution.
In the past Year, Pew carried out a more global survey, which showed a slightly higher acceptance of evolution in the USA with around 64 percent.
It is a number that is still far behind nations like Canada (77 percent), Germany (81 percent) and Japan (88 percent) is lagging behind, which shows that the US still has some catching up to do.
A UPT researcher is taking part as a jury for the “National Science Award 2021”
Tickets for the Museum of Life and Science’s Pumpkin Patch Express are on sale …