Just 1/3 of Americans "believe" in the theory of evolution by natural selection

Christopher Walsh

The fact that evolution is a touchy subject in the United States isn’t exactly news, but recent results from the Pew Research Center have indicated that, with a margin of error of +/- 3%, only about one third of American adults believe in evolution by natural selection - a process that is accepted by 99% of researchers working in the life sciences.

Poll results show that over a third of adults in this country believe that humans have always existed in their present form, including belief in Creationism as it is lined out in religious texts.

While 60% of adults acknowledge evolution, only a little over half of those (32% of all adults) accept the scientific explanation for evolution. While 24% of all adults accept evolutionary change over time, they believe that it has been directed by a supreme being. This hypothesis is known as Intelligent Design and was conceived as a means of reconciling faith-based ideals with observable scientific facts. Seven percent of those polled did not have an opinion either way.

There are distinct differences between political affiliation and regard for science. Those who identify as Democrats have increased acceptance of evolution, going from 64% up to 67% since 2009. Independents have decreased their evolution acceptance slightly, falling from 67% to 65% within that same timeframe. The biggest decline came from self-identified Republicans. In 2009, 54% of Republicans acknowledged evolution, though that number has plummeted to 43% in the latest poll.

The poll results also indicated that age and education also plays a major role in evolution of acceptance. While only 49% of adults over age 65 accept evolution, younger people have thankfully bucked that trend. Among those who are 18-29 years old, 68% of Americans accept evolution. Evolution is accepted by 51% of those with a high school degree at most, though that number jumps to 72% among those who have earned a college degree.

While these figures apply to views about human evolution, every single demographic has higher answers in regards to the evolution of animals.

The most astonishing part of the evolution debate in the United States is that it is not a scientific controversy whatsoever. The acceptance of evolution by natural selection in the US (32%) is more on par with countries in the Middle East, while most European countries range from 70-82%.

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