Evolution

The Gallup poll recently published a very interesting analysis of Americans' views on evolution.  (It did happen by the way.  The Earth is really not 10,000 years old.  And yes, you can be a Christian and believe in evolution– just not a close-minded one).  Anyway, the highlights:

The majority of Republicans in the United States do not believe the
theory of evolution is true and do not believe that humans evolved over
millions of years from less advanced forms of life…

Independents and Democrats are more likely than Republicans to believe
in the theory of evolution. But even among non-Republicans there
appears to be a significant minority who doubt that evolution
adequately explains where humans came from.

I find the most disconcerting part to be the number of Americans who have been misled by conservative Christian religious leaders into thinking that science and faith are incompatible.  To wit:

It is fascinating to note that some Americans simply justified their
objection to evolution by statements of general faith and belief.
Although the New Testament does not include many explicit references to
the origin of humans in the words of Jesus, 19% of Americans state that
they do not believe in evolution because they believe in Jesus Christ.
Other religious justifications focus on statements of belief in God,
general faith concerns, references to the Bible, and the statement that
“I'm a Christian.”

Here's my favorite part:

The data indicate some seeming confusion on the part of Americans on
this issue. About a quarter of Americans say they believe both in
evolution's explanation that humans evolved over millions of years and
in the creationist explanation that humans were created as is about
10,000 years ago.

Just in case it is not clear, those two concepts are not exactly compatible.  It is hard to underestimate the ignorance of the American public. 

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

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