It’s pretty amazing when you read that about half of the American population doesn’t believe in evolution. A good chunk of them also believe we were created about 10,000 years ago, despite all the evidence to the contrary.
According to a recent article:
Nationwide, 4 in 10 Americans said they believe God created humans in their present form about 10,000 years ago, according to a December 2010 Gallup poll. Thirty-eight percent said they believe God guided a process by which humans developed over millions of years from less advanced life forms, while 16 percent said they hold to the view that humans developed over millions of years, without God's involvement.
In the Monmouth University/ Asbury Park Press Poll, support for evolution was higher among Democrats (55 percent) than Republicans (45 percent).
The level of education was a factor, as well, with 69 percent of college graduates saying they believed in evolution, compared to 37 percent of those with no college experience.
Those numbers have hardly changed in years. In 2006, researchers compared polls from different countries and found that among the countries included in the research, only Turkey was more likely to reject evolution than America. The study concluded that the reason for Americans unwillingness to accept the scientific consensus was that religion, politics, and the public understanding of biological science all converge to undermine science. For example, in many countries, politicians would field questions about evolution by pointing people towards scientists, while in America, politicians seem to wear their ignorance on their sleeve and use evolution as a wedge issue to gain votes. It isn’t even much of a partisan issue because while Republicans seem to be more likely to reject evolution, Democrats don’t seem to be much more likely to accept it.
So why is evolution so important?
Here’s a clip from the National Center for Science Education:
There are two main reasons that biological evolution is mandated in science educations standards. First, it is the fundamental, unifying theory that underlies all the life sciences. It has formed the basis of productive and active research for over 140 years and continues to do so. This is why evolution is universally accepted among professional biology researchers.
The second reason is that science education standards emphasize learning the process of science and especially scientific inquiry. The first step in this process is to develop testable questions that can be answered by scientific investigation. These questions are guided by scientific theories and their answers continue to show the value of biological evolution as a theory for forming useful, answerable questions in biology.
In order to believe that we as a species were created 10,000 years ago or less would require a massive amount of ignorance or denial…or both. You’d have to ignore biology, archeology and history for starters.
Like the NCSE site points out, evolution underlies all of the life sciences, which include biomedical science, environmental science, food science, health science, neuroscience, wildlife biology, zoology and many, many more.
The future of humanity may well depend on having to combat a pandemic sometime in the future. Evolution and the life sciences it underlies will be in the forefront of that battle.
If nothing else, ignoring or denying science in favor of literal interpretations of 2000 year old documents written by primitive men is a huge mistake and will probably lead to the downfall of America as a leader in the scientific and technological fields.
I’m not a huge fan of Obama, but he was right when he said:
Today, more than ever before, science holds the key to our survival as a planet and our security and prosperity as a nation. It's time we once again put science at the top of our agenda and work to restore America's place as the world leader in science and technology.
– President Barack Obama