If the latest research is correct, the anti-science phenomenon is affecting more than just politics — fundamentalist Christians are actually making Americans far more ignorant than people in other developed countries.
Case in point: According to surveys from the National Science Foundation, one in five Americans believes that the sun revolves around the Earth. Why? Some of these people may simply be uneducated, but many believe that because the Bible says that the Earth is the center of the universe, it must be true.
I had some trouble swallowing this, so I did a little research. One Christian forum was particularly disturbing, with statements like, “I was recently reading some bible verses that clearly state that the suns [sic] revolves around the earth. Scientest [sic] have been wrong all this time, all they had to do was look in the bible.”
One commenter agreed, theorizing that scientists are lying to us to discredit creationism or the possibility of life on other planets, which the devil wants us to keep hoping for. Eek.
That may seem extreme, but creationist hogwash has so infiltrated our culture that one-fourth of all public-school biology teachers think that humans and dinosaurs once roamed the earth together, according to a study by the University of Texas.
Thanks, in part, to these “teachers,” 42 percent of Americans believe that god created humans 10,000 years ago, and just half of Americans believe in evolution, according to a recent Gallup poll. Even among this group, most believe that god guided the process.
But while fundamentalists have a stronghold on America’s education system, they’re basically a fringe group in other developed countries. One study showed that 80 percent of Europeans accept evolution, while just one-third of Americans think it’s “definitely true.” Of all the countries included in the study, only Turkey had a larger population of evolution-deniers than America.
In the words of National Geographic, study leader Jon D. Miller surmised that the “U.S. has a tradition of Protestant fundamentalism not found in Europe that takes the Bible literally and sees the Book of Genesis as an accurate account of the creation of human life.”
Thankfully, it’s getting better. The most religious Americans tend to belong to older generations, and the young folks are proving far more reasonable. The trend is toward science, not myth; hopefully soon, common sense will win.