46% of Americans believe in Creationism
Most of you are probably familiar with Bill Nye. He is a mechanical engineer who hosted a very popular television show for kids, Bill Nye the Science Guy. My own children really enjoyed watching him and he was able to explain scientific concepts to children in a fun and engaging manner. He is currently embroiled in a small controversy regarding the teaching of creationism in schools. He posted a video on YouTube asking parents to not allow their children to be taught creationism in school. Now, the creationists are attacking him, saying that he is attacking their freedom of religion. I find the whole controversy troubling and a very sad indictment of America.
While I was reading various articles about the Bill Nye ‘controversy’ (man insults flat earthers by insisting earth is round) I kept coming across references stating that 46% of Americans believe in creationism. I found that percentage to be astonishingly high, so I wanted to see the poll for myself. In June of 2012 Gallup conducted a poll regarding American’s beliefs in creationism and evolution. From an education (by that I mean – an educated populace) perspective, the actual poll results are worse than what is being reported. Fully 78% of Americans believe that God was involved in the origins of human life. Well, surely that’s just for the uneducated Americans, right? The more education a person has the more likely they are to be a true believer in science, right? Well, yes and no. The participants in the poll who have a post graduate degree believe in creationism less than all Americans, but not by much. 68% of individuals with a post graduate degree believe in some form of creationism. Digging deeper into that percentage is more troubling: 25% of those with a post graduate degree believe that God created humans in their present form within the last 10,000 years. True, the type of post graduate education is not specified in the poll results, however, that does not alter the fact that 25% of the people sampled have received a great deal of formal education, and still believe that God created humans within the last 10,000 years. Click on the link at the beginning of the essay to see the poll results broken down by education, political affiliation and church attendance.
So why is any of this important? This is important for several reasons; 1. America is currently in an environment in which religious beliefs are being taught in place of science, 2. As a secular society we cannot allow religion to dictate public education, and, most importantly, 3. We are not teaching our children science. I personally was raised in an extremely religious household. I could tell stories about the role of religion in my household that I’m sure very few here would believe. However, not once, did my parents ever tell me that the scientists were wrong and that what I was being taught in school was inaccurate. Their belief in God was absolute and it did not depend on whether science agreed with them. I would posit that those who need their faith to be supported by science have no faith at all.
Creationism has no place in public school. America is at a strange time in its history. The far right has taken control of the Republican Party and has been controlling the National Dialogue for the last several years on everything from taxation to public education. This country has the potential to be so much more than it is now. The American space program is a shadow of its former self. In my opinion, the fate of our space program is a sign of the future of American science. As long as we continue to allow the teaching of religion as science we will continue to fall further and further behind other nations. We are raising children who will have the same understanding of their world as their ancestors who slept in caves. That is simply not acceptable. I do not care what you believe, but I care a great deal what you try to teach my children.