A significant majority of young Americans don’t want creationism taught in US public schools

By Rosa Rubicondior | 21 February 2022
Rosa Rubicondior Blog

(Credit: Cristine / Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0)

Mood of the Nation: How Americans think schools should teach about race, evolution and sex — APM Research Lab

The results of an interesting survey into American opinion on several hot topics was published a few days ago. The interesting thing from the perspective of what, almost unbelievably is still a controversial topic in the USA – the teaching of scientific evolutionary theory versus teaching Creationism in American public schools – was the difference between young and old, between the higher educated and the relatively less educated and between those with different political leanings.

Perhaps the most significant of those and the one that holds out most hope for the future of science education in the USA, is the difference by age group between those who believe only the scientific theory of evolution should be taught, those believing both the science and a ‘biblical perspective’ should be taught and those believing only biblical Creationism should be taught.

This is significant in that it reflects a distinct trend over the last 20 years or so of Bible literalism and religion in general being increasingly rejected by the younger age-groups, and these are the people who will be producing and influencing the next generation of Americans, while the older, more conservative age-groups become less and less influential and eventually die out. Other surveys have shown that patterns of belief formed before the mid-20s tend to be fixed throughout a person life with little movement toward a more conservative view, as some have claimed.

This chart shows that the key 18-29 and 30-44 age groups differ only marginally in their preferences with an average of 53.9% preferring the teaching of only the scientific theory, 37.6% wanting both the science and biblical perspective taught and only 8.6% wanting Creationism only taught. A clear majority there for not teaching Creationism either with or without the science!

By contrast, 38.75 of the older age groups, 45-64 and 65 and over, prefer the science only, with the largest proportion, 49.4% wanting both taught, and 11.9%, Creationism only. A majority there for some form of Creationism to be included but still only 11.9% for Creationism only.

The biggest difference is seen between those with a bachelor degree or higher and those with lower educational attainment. Of the higher educated Americans, 58.7% want the science only taught, 36.7% want both, and only 4.6% want Creationism only taught.

Of those with less than a bachelor degree, the figures across the groups with high school only and some college education are closely similar with an average of 41% wanting only the science taught, 47.3% wanting both and 12.7% wanting Creationism only. It seems that Americans need to go to university and gain a degree before they acquire an understanding of science and the scientific method and learn to distinguish between religious superstition and scientific facts.

Political leaning also has a profound effect on attitude toward the teaching of Creationism, or maybe that should be the other way round because a better appreciation of reality and an ability to distinguish it from superstition may predispose people to vote Democrat while the Republican Party becomes more and more the political wing of evangelical (Creationist) Christianity. 66.1% of Democrats or Democrat-leaning Americans want scientific evolution only to be taught in US public schools, with 27% wanting both that and Creationism to be taught, and only 69% wanting Creationism only taught. By stark contrast, only 24.7% of Republicans or Republican-leaning Americans want the science taught in public schools with 61.6% wanting both science and Creationism and 13.6% wanting both. Independents come roughly midway between the two in all these measures.

Taken together, only 33.9% of Democrats want Creationism taught in US public schools, either alone or with the science, while 75.2% of Republicans want Creationism taught either alone or with the science. Although the Democrats are generally regarded as being the more progressive of the two main US political parties and the closest to the European social democrats, over one third of even the supporters of European right of centre parties wanting Creationism taught to children as a scientific fact would be almost unthinkable in most of Europe.

Ironically, the only form of 'Darwinism' - 'Social Darwinism' - based on the logically absurd notion that some people are more highly evolved than others and so are naturally superior, is fundamental to the white supremacist and Christian Dominionist Republican-leaning white evangelicals who reject the notion of evolution. The same people purport to support a Republic founded on the supposedly Judeo-Christian, but actually Humanist, ideal that all people are created equal, which is a 'self-evident' truth of the founding document of the American Republic, the Declaration of Independence.

Clearly, Republican-supporting Americans are as ignorant about their own history and the American Republic’s founding principles, as they are of science and the role of evidence in the formation of opinions. However, there are encouraging signs that the younger and better-educated generation of Americans are rejecting ignorant superstitions in favour of what the evidence shows.

Rosa Rubicondior (a pseudonym) is a retired data analyst, biologist, blogger, author and atheist.

Theory of Evolution: How did Darwin come up with it? - BBC News

Bill Nye vs. Ken Ham - The Short Version

BEST Arguments for Evolution w/ Jimmy Akin & Gideon Lazar

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