The good news: Belief in Young Earth Creationism is at an all-time low!
The bad news: Belief in Young Earth Creationism is still twice as popular as acceptance of evolution by natural selection.
Gallup announced the new numbers today:
The percentage of U.S. adults who believe that God created humans in their present form at some time within the last 10,000 years or so — the strict creationist view — has reached a new low. Thirty-eight percent of U.S. adults now accept creationism, while 57% believe in some form of evolution — either God-guided or not — saying man developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life.
This is the first time since 1982 — when Gallup began asking this question using this wording — that belief in God’s direct creation of man has not been the outright most-common response. Overall, roughly three-quarters of Americans believe God was involved in man’s creation — whether that be the creationist view based on the Bible or the view that God guided the evolutionary process, outlined by scientist Charles Darwin and others. Since 1982, agreement with the “secular” viewpoint, meaning humans evolved from lower life forms without any divine intervention, has doubled.
I guess we should celebrate the fact that 19% of Americans now accept the only explanation of life on Earth backed by all the evidence… but, damn, that’s depressing. It hasn’t even gone up from two years ago.
And while 38% of Americans accept God-guided evolution, there’s no reason to think that God has a role in the process. That’s just a way for religious people to reconcile their irrational beliefs with reality.
Gallup also noted, not surprisingly, that people with less formal education were more likely to believe Ken Ham‘s version of how we came to exist over that of actual scientists. 48% of people with only a high school degree at best accept Young Earth Creationism compared to 21% of postgraduates.
And, of course, the more often you go to church, the more likely you are to reject what scientists say:
… 65% of those who attend church weekly believe in the creationist view, while those who attend church less regularly have less consensus on the question of human origins.
We still have a lot of work to do. And we’ll have to do it in an environment where church leaders and government officials are all doing their part in spreading this misinformation.