The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press released on Tuesday the results of a survey on religion and political parties in the U.S. Part of the survey focused on evolutionary biology and attitudes about teaching creationism in public schools.
Disbelief in evolution and acceptance of divine creation were found most commonly among “conservative Republicans”—60% of whom “believe that living things have always existed in their present form, while just 11% say that evolution occurred through natural processes.” Only 29% of “liberal Democrats” are reported to hold creationist views. Fifty percent of those who believe that life has existed only in its present form have only a high school education or less, while 40% of college graduates “accept the natural selection theory of evolution.”
The survey reported that 64% of Americans “are open to the idea of teaching creationism along with evolution in the public schools, and a substantial minority (38%) favors replacing evolution with creationism in public school curricula.” The survey reported support for “teaching creationism along with evolution is quite broad-based, with majority support even among seculars, liberal Democrats and those who accept natural selection theory.”
I’m curious what the public wants taught in science courses about creationism. We could teach why creationism is not science, and this would be valuable. Myths, such as the Biblical story of creation, cannot be tested—they exist beyond the realm of science. In contrast, models for the absence of evolution—such as Hardy-Weinberg Equilibrium—are a common part of basic biology curricula in colleges and probably should also be taught in high schools. We need to recognize, however, that models for the absence of evolution and tests for whether the parameters of those models are met—which are science—are far from teaching creation myths in a science curriculum. Let’s teach creationism in comparative literature or folklore courses, which are more the domain for the study of myths.