According to the Gallup poll, 46% of Americans believe that humans were created in their present form within the last 10,000 years. This response stands in sharp contrast to those of biologists, who consider evolution to be as well established as the germ theory of disease. What explains this discrepancy?
Although it is tempting to think that Americans’ resistance to evolution is explained solely by religious fundamentalism or political affiliation, previous research suggests that this issue is considerably more complex. We think that part of the issue is that Gallup’s simple multiple-choice question on the origin of life does not capture an accurate picture of the U.S. public’s opinion. Further, while religious and political identity likely do play a role, there are many other factors that contribute to an individual’s acceptance of evolutionary theory, including their understanding of the theory itself and their understanding of the nature of science in general.
The purpose of the current study is to gain a fuller picture of what people in the United States know about the theory of evolution, to what extent they accept this theory, and what factors explain their beliefs and their degree of acceptance.