Forty-six percent of Americans believe in the creationist view that God created humans in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years. The prevalence of this creationist view of the origin of humans is essentially unchanged from 30 years ago, when Gallup first asked the question. About a third of Americans believe that humans evolved, but with God’s guidance; 15% say humans evolved, but that God had no part in the process.
Gallup has asked Americans to choose among these three explanations for the origin and development of human beings 11 times since 1982. Although the percentages choosing each view have varied from survey to survey, the 46% who today choose the creationist explanation is virtually the same as the 45% average over that period — and very similar to the 44% who chose that explanation in 1982. The 32% who choose the “theistic evolution” view that humans evolved under God’s guidance is slightly below the 30-year average of 37%, while the 15% choosing the secular evolution view is slightly higher (12%).
Now ten bucks says that if Gallup had taken this same poll in the 60s, 50s, and 40s, the same pattern would be seen. Is there any reason to think I’m wrong? Thought not. So that leads to an obvious question:
What’s the problem here? Yes, I am sure these data cause Coyne and those like him some emotional distress and embarrassment when they travel overseas to science meetings. But apart from such personal emotion distress, what’s the problem? Data such as these tell me the incidence of creationist belief has always been 40+% in the United States. Yet this has not stopped the USA from being a leader in science and technology.
If a country where 40+% of its population are creationists is also the first one to put a man on the moon, you can’t really make the case that there is some societal crisis going on. It would be different if we at least had some type of negative correlation showing a rise in belief in creationism with a decline in some scientific output. But we have none.
Look, I fully accept evolution. What I don’t accept is the Chicken Little Dance which would have us think the sky is falling because “46% of Americans who today choose the creationist explanation.” For has there ever been a time when 46% +/- Americans have not chosen the creationist explanation?
If you think you can make a case that we have a serious problem here, knock yourself out in the comments section.