Monday 29 January 2018

New Poll - Creationism Declining in USA

In U.S., Belief in Creationist View of Humans at New Low

Slightly encouraging news a couple of days ago from a Gallop poll in the USA. I say slightly encouraging because the change is small on a small data set (just 1011 adults aged 18 or over) and the same poll is also disappointing in other ways.

The poll shows that belief in creationism as the best explanation for humans fell to 38%, the lowest since polling began in 1981 and below 40% for the first time.

However, a two percentage point fall is within the margin of statistical error on that size data set. None-the-less, it is encouraging - for the USA.

What is perhaps more encouraging is that the percentage of Americans who now accept that unguided evolution is the best explanation for humans has more than doubled from 9% to 19% over the same period. Given that other polls have tended to show that people rarely change their opinions on religious matters after the age of about 35, this clear trend represents a generational change with younger people much more likely now to accept scientific evolution than their parents did.

By comparison with opinion in other advanced economies though, it's still astonishing that more than one in three Americans believe in magic as the best explanation and that humans were created as they are today less than 10,000 years ago and have remained unchanged ever since, and that less than on in five accept scientific (i.e unguided) evolution. These figures are more in line with third world standards of education and superstition. The main centres of creationism in the world now appear to be the fundamentalist Islamic countries, West Africa and the American Bible Belt.

What is also disappointing is that 76% still believe a god (of course the Christian god) was involved in the process. The same poll makes it clear that, although education is a major factor, most Americans seem to be getting their 'science' from the pulpit rather than school. 50% of Protestants and other non-Catholics are still creationists whereas only 37% of Catholics are (this despite the official teaching of the Church that guided evolution is the best explanation). Creationism falls to 9% of those with no religious affiliation and is as high as 65% for those who attend church on a weekly basis.

All in all, this poll is encouraging in that it shows support for creationism falling and for scientific evolution increasing, especially (by inference) amongst the young, but America has a long way to go, mostly due to failure in its education system which can lead to the majority of people, and even one in five post graduates, not having a basic understanding of how to critically evaluate scientific data and draw unbiased conclusions from it.

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