A common complaint that I see quite often about Americans is that we’re an overly religious lot (as well as fat, stupid and loud… but enough about Charlie Rangel). “Overly” is of course a purely subjective measure, but on the whole, yes, we are *relatively* more religious than, say, western Europe. But does that mean that the things many Americans get wrong (due to religions teaching factually inaccurate things), our more culturally evolved cousins around the world get right?
Did humans live at the same time as dinosaurs?
The answer is of course no, but about a third of Australians got it wrong in a recent survey.
More than half of the [UK] public believe that the theory of evolution cannot explain the full complexity of life on Earth, and a “designer” must have lent a hand, the findings suggest.
And one in three believe that God created the world within the past 10,000 years.
About a quarter of Canadians also believe in Creationism
This compares to about 45% of Americans who seem to believe that God created the world and it’s critters pretty much as-is in their present form sometime within the last 10,000 years or so. This is shockingly bad, and displays both scientific illiteracy on a vast scale, as well as a very odd, internally contradictory theological viewpoint… most of these Creationists would say they believe in a “loving God” and all that, but apparently its a God who lies *all* *the* *damned* *time,* and has created an entire universe with the express purpose of confusing humans.
And of course, there are differences within the US based on political affiliation. However, the differences are not as pronounced as one might expect. Republicans are the more or less self-avowed “Christian” party, so it’s to be expected (sadly) that they’ll more readily buy into the creationism bunkum, while the Democrats should, at least in theory, avoid Creationism and other trappings of Christian fundamentalism like the plague. And still…
There is a significant political divide in beliefs about the origin of human beings, with 60% of Republicans saying humans were created in their present form by God 10,000 years ago, a belief shared by only 40% of independents and 38% of Democrats.
I’m sorry, but in terms of it being blisteringly obvious that Young Earth Creationism is a bunch of moronic bullcrap, 38% is still really damned high.
The question then becomes, how important is the Creationism delusion to the stability and progress of society? On one hand, having that many people being that badly misinformed cannot possibly be a good thing. But on the other hand, they are misinformed on a topic that, on the whole, does not mean a whole lot to daily life. If similar numbers of people were convinced that the blood of (insert hated religious/political/ethnic minority group HERE) made a really good oil substitute, then yeah, it’d be important. If similar numbers believed that nuclear power was a bad thing and should be banned, it’d be (and has turned out to have been) important. If similar numbers believed that the government owed them goodies, and that the government could just pull wealth out of its ass it’d be (and has turned out to have been) important. But belief in evolution? It’s harder to see similar overall negatives. There is probably a correlation with some aspects of belief regarding medicine… lack of belief in evolution leads to not understanding that bacteria evolve, which has played hell with the effectiveness of antibiotics. And the sort of group that believes that everything was just POOFed into existence by a cosmic teenager with ADD may well correlate with the sort of group that is easily led to believe that vaccinations lead to autism, or that prayer is more likely to cure cancer than radiation. And in these cases it’s a net postive; they are thus selecting themselves out of the future gene pool by avoiding decent medical care.
Another worry might be some sort of cultural clash between the pro-science and anti-science groups turning into an actual bloody fight by way of some sort of civil war. But Americans have usually been pretty good about such things, at least in the last century. While Europeans will happily slaughter each other in their millions over reasons most Americans can’t quite fathom (most of us wouldn’t know a Serb from a Croat, nor likely care), Americans tend to slaughter each other only for reasons of drunken brawls and drug and gang crimes, witha healthy dollop of automotive hijinks thrown in for good measure. Europeans (and, hell, just about most everybody) lump themselves into vast groups to kill each other for stupid reasons; Americans tend to see killing for stupid reasons to be more of a small-group or even individual activity. I find it highly unlikely that the anti-evolutionists in the US are going to start wiping out the evolutionists anytime soon. This is of course a bit of a difference from European anti-evolutionists like Hitler and Stalin who happily threw Darwinists into camps; but since they were busy throwing *lots* of people into camps, evolutionists were kinda further down on the lists.
Along with belief in ghosts, alien visitations, patently absurd conspiracy theories and the like, belief that some god or other created a world full of fossils jsut to mess with us seems to be damn near a universal. The US has a definite high dose, but then this does not seem to be a new thing… and even with that particular anchor around our necks, we still managed to split the atom and send men to the moon. What has retarded our progress, sending us ona trajectory out of first-world status, is not wacky religious beliefs… but wacky collectivist political beliefs. At least in the US, socialism is a far greater threat than anti-sciencism.