This week, on the Colbert Report, I heard something that shocked me: some evangelical Christian scientists were beginning to publicly doubt that humanity could be descended from one man and one woman, as described in the book of Genesis.
The reason it shocked me is that I couldn’t believe that someone who identified himself as an evangelical Christian would ever accept evidence that his beliefs were mistaken, or publicly admit to it if he did. In my experience, that just does not happen. I had to dig up more information on it.
Back in 2006, National Geographic provided some interesting information on the American public’s take on evolution. The U.S., when compared to other Western nations, is essentially much less inclined to accept evolution as fact:
In the U.S., only 14 percent of adults thought that evolution was “definitely true,” while about a third firmly rejected the idea.
More recent (2010) Gallup data shows 40 percent of the nation embracing the notion that God created man in his current form, with only 16 percent claiming that God played no part in the process of creation. While the scientific and Christian communities continue to grapple with internal disagreement, it seems the creationists are thus far winning the PR war.
The data presented there is factually accurate, but misleading, and I think it was deliberate. The 2010 poll actually had three options:
- Human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God had no part in this process. (16%)
- Human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God guided this process. (38%)
- God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so. (40%, “down from 47% in 1993 and 1999”)
So 54% of people are actually professing a belief in evolution in 2010. The 2006 data seems to have a similar bias, but in a quick search I couldn’t find the hard numbers on it.
That gives me faith in humanity: if even in the US people are getting more inclined to look beyond the doctrines handed down from religious leaders — and doing so at a rate I find frankly astonishing — then we may actually be able to survive the current political crapstorm between intelligence and obstinate idiocy.