|"Only 10 percent [of Americans] said
they believe in evolution with no participation from God".|
|"Among scientists, only 5 percent hold
the literal Bible view, 40 percent believe in theistic evolution and a majority, 55
percent, believe in evolution without help from God."|
|Views in U.S. Much
Different Than Elsewhere
Nearly half of American adults believe in
a biblical interpretation of creation. (Source: The Gallup Organization) (ABCNEWS.com)
The decision of the Kansas Board of Education to drop evolution as a
necessary topic in the states science classes has raised loud protests from
scientists and science educators. But if the curriculum were put to a popular vote,
perhaps Darwins ideas would be in danger of being dropped in some places.
In views that diverge widely from those in other developed
nations, about 45 percent of American adults take the Bibles story of creation
Only about one in 10 subscribe to a purely scientific explanation
Scientists Call to
Most Americans do not want creationism to replace evolution in schools. (Source:
The Gallup Organization) (ABCNEWS.com)
This is a fertile soil for such controversies to continue to
thrive, says George Bishop, a University of Cincinnati political science professor
who has compared different nations views on evolution. It just doesnt go
The controversy has also spurred some to call for scientists to
get more involved in education issues.
Creationists won in Kansas, and they are likely to win
elsewhere, simply because they care enough to get elected to school boards, said
Fred Spilhaus, executive director of the American Geophysical Union, in a statement
released last week. Once again, those who value science and support the teaching of
evolution but were too busy to participate in local politics lost, and science education
will suffer as a result, as will science itself.
Creation a Mainstream View
That could be an uphill battle.
In a November 1997 poll by the Gallup Organization that quizzed
people about their views on the origin of humans, 44 percent agreed with the statement,
God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the
last 10,000 years or so.
Thats a lot of people, Bishop says. Thats
not like its some small minority position.
Another 39 percent subscribed to a theistic evolution
view, that humans did develop over millions of years from lower life forms, but God guided
the process. Only 10 percent said they believe in evolution with no participation from
God. Seven percent had no opinion.
The views have not changed much in recent years. A 1982 Gallup
poll, asking the same question, found a virtually identical distribution of opinion.
Among scientists, only 5 percent hold the literal Bible view, 40
percent believe in theistic evolution and a majority, 55 percent, believe in evolution
without help from God.
More Likely to Read Bible
Creation is not the only area where many Americans take the Bible at its word.
In a Gallup poll last June, one-third of American adults surveyed
agreed that The Bible is the actual word of God and is to be taken literally, word
That was the 10th time since 1976 Gallup had asked this question,
and the percentage interpreting the Bible literally has fluctuated only slightly, between
between 32 and 40 percent.
A 1991 survey asking the exact same question in 17 countries
found adults elsewhere were much less likely to take the literal view.
In Great Britain, for instance, the percentage was 7 percent.
You would think they [the United States and England] would
not be very different as nations, Bishop says. And here, Americans are almost
five times as likely to take the Bible literally than people in England.
Germany, Norway, Russia and the Netherlands were also among the
nations where a smaller percentage of adults believed in taking the Bible literally.
This situation in Kansas, it just wouldnt arise in Western Europe,
More Religious Freedom a
According to Bishop, religious freedom in the United States may be one reason for peoples
more conservative religious views. Think of it as a market, he says. You
have many different denominations competing for customers. Because of that competition,
theres more active recruiting, proselytizing and other forms of bringing people into
their particular fold. Thats one notion why this society is more religious than most
Spilhaus said the American Geophysical Union was preparing a
call to arms to its members to get involved in local school boards. Scientists
would be well-advised to run for school boards or, at the very least, to actively support
well-informed candidates, he says. If scientists want to see good science
taught in the schools, they cant just participate as teachers. They have to get out
and get into the policy making aspect of it.
Spilhaus was dismayed that the Kansas science standards diluted
not only evolution but also left out any mention of the Earths age. Boy, if
you start talking about the age of the Earth, youre talking about going away from
something that science considers pretty solid ground, Spilhaus says. Theres
very little doubt in our minds that the Earth is 4ï¿½ billion years old. There is no
credible evidence that supports a young Earth or that supports the so-called creationist
But Spilhaus may not want to take a vote on that.
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