February 16, 2007 -- SAN FRANCISCO — When it comes to scientific literacy, Americans aren't
nearly as evolved as they may think. In fact, only about 40 percent of
American adults accept the basic idea of evolution, a figure much lower
than any European country.
8:30 a.m. PST Friday in an American Association for the Advancement of
Science symposium, titled "Anti-Evolution in Europe: Be Afraid, Be Very
Afraid, or Not?," Michigan State University's Jon Miller argued that
religion plays a major role in how Americans view evolution.
"The lowest-ranking country in terms of discounting evolution is
Turkey. The United States is next," said Miller, who has analyzed
surveys on belief in evolution from around the world. "The way we
characterize religious fundamentalists in Turkey and in the U.S. is
that they are both one-book religions.
"Fundamentalists in this
country say everything you need to know is in the Bible, period.
Islamists say everything you need to know is in the Koran, period,"
said Miller, a professor in political science.
Last year, Miller
published a paper in the journal Science that stated two in five
American adults rejected the concept of evolution, which was a
significantly higher proportion than found in any Western European
country. Another one in five were unsure about evolution.
In contrast, 80 percent or more of adults in Iceland, Denmark and Sweden accepted the concept of evolution.
addition to religion, politics plays a crucial role in how Americans
view evolution. It has become a highly politicized issue, Miller said,
with the Republican Party in particular often using it as a litmus test
for potential candidates.
"There is no major political party in
Europe that uses opposition to evolution as a part of its political
platform," he said. "In the United States, there are people who think
it is a political advantage to discount evolution."
surprisingly, Miller and colleagues also found that persons with strong
pro-life beliefs were significantly more likely to reject evolution
than those with pro-choice views.
"The total effect of pro-life
attitudes on the acceptance of evolution was much greater in the United
States than in the nine European countries surveyed,\\\
Source : Michigan State University