Americans are more scientifically literate than ever in 2021 — so much so that creationism has become a minority opinion. And Americans are likewise been able to identify intelligent design and other forms of creationism as the inherently religious theories that they are.
We know this thanks to a new study published in the journal Public Understanding of Science, one which analyzed surveys of public opinion since 1985 and noticed a trend in attitudes about evolution. As more Americans became highly educated — obtaining university degrees, taking college science courses, displaying rising levels of civi science literacy — acceptance of evolution grew accordingly.
From 1985 until 2010, there had been a statistical dead heat among Americans who were asked if they agreed that “human beings, as we know them today, developed from earlier species of animals.” Acceptance then began to increase, becoming a majority position in 2016 and reaching 54 percent in 2019. Even 32 percent of religious fundamentalists accepted evolution as of 2019, a stark contrast from the mere 8 percent who did so in 1988. Eighty-three percent of liberal Democrats said they accept evolution, compared to only 34 percent of conservative Republicans.
While it is welcome to scientists that acceptance of evolution continues to spread, fundamentalists still pose a threat to America’s overall scientific literacy.