Politics, Technology, and Language

If thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought — George Orwell

8 Out of 10 Americans Still Crazy

Posted by metaphorical on 30 January 2011

First the good news: The number of Americans who believe that humans evolved over millions of years without God’s active intervention is greater than ever. The bad news: it’s still less than one-sixth the population.

Two and a half times as many—40 percent—hold a strict creationist view that God created humans sometime in the last 10,000 years. The rest hold a hybrid belief that acknowledges evolution while still asserting that “God guided the process.”

Gallup has apparently been asking people since 1982 to choose between

Human beings have developed over millions of year from less advanced forms of life, but God guided this process

(1982: 38%; 2010: 38%)

Human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God had no part of this process

(1982: 9%; 2010: 16%)

God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so

(1982: 44%; 2010: 40%)

I’m characterizing that squishy middle ground as not believing in the theory of evolution, because the theory of evolution makes no reference to God and describes a mechanism that weighs out the future without a divine finger on the scale. But Americans themselves aren’t so clear on what constitutes a belief in evolution. In 2009, Gallup asked this:

Do you, personally, believe in the theory of evolution, do you not believe in the theory of evolution, or don’t you have an opinion either way?

The result:

On the eve of the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth, a new Gallup Poll shows that only 39% of Americans say they “believe in the theory of evolution,” while a quarter say they do not believe in the theory, and another 36% don’t have an opinion either way.

Anyway, the split in the more exacting three-way question runs pretty strongly along party lines. A majority of Republicans reject evolution entirely, while only a third of Democrats do; only 8% of Republicans believe in the theory of evolution, while 20% of Democrats do.

Maybe the most shocking stats of all: 22% of all those with postgraduate degrees are strict creationists, 37% of all college grads are. While those numbers are lower than among those without college degrees, given the strong self-selection that probably takes place, it would seem that college changes few minds about creationism. So much for the powerful liberal hegemony in academia.

4 Responses to “8 Out of 10 Americans Still Crazy”

  1. Vicki said

    Hey, I don’t think you get to do that. You don’t get to say that I don’t believe the theory of evolution (or modern cosmology) just because I think that there was a sentient motive force behind the whole thing.

    You don’t have to hold with my religious belief system, but you can’t use it to invalidate my faith in science.

  2. I gave a reason for my position, do you have an argument, or just a complaint?

  3. (By the way, it’s not obvious that “sentient motive force behind the whole thing” is the same as “guided this process.”)

  4. clairedeplume said

    Of all the bedtime stories I’ve heard, I like Stephen Hawking’s “Story of Everything”. I especially enjoy the tale of two peoples and why the Neanderthals lost out with their short-range weapons when slaying beasts (or trying and dying). That DNA lives on in some of us and I know those people – have worked with them. Some even went to college. Regardless, Neanderthals are still here and by these numbers constitute 40 – 80% of the American population.

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