According to a recent research based on a series of national public opinion surveys performed over the last 35 years, popular acceptance of evolution in the United States is now securely above the halfway threshold.
Human evolution is the long process through which humans evolved from apelike predecessors. Scientific data suggests that all humans share physical and behavioral features that developed over a six-million-year span from apelike ancestors.
Between 2 million and 1.8 million years ago, early people moved from Africa to Asia for the first time. They arrived in Europe between 1.5 million and 1 million years ago. Modern human species did not arrive in many regions of the planet until much later. For example, humanity first arrived in Australia around 60,000 years ago, and in the Americas approximately 30,000 years ago. Within the last 12,000 years, agriculture and the emergence of the earliest civilizations took place.
“There was a statistical dead heat between acceptance and rejection of evolution from 1985 to 2010,” stated lead researcher Jon D. Miller of the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research. “However, acceptability grew in the following years, eventually reaching the majority view in 2016.”
The study looked at data over 35 years and found that components of education civic science literacy, attending college scientific courses, and having a college degree were consistently recognized as the most powerful variables leading to evolution acceptance.
According to co-author Mark Ackerman, a researcher at Michigan Engineering, the University of Michigan School of Information, and Michigan Medicine, “nearly twice as many Americans possessed a college degree in 2018 as in 1988.” “It’s difficult to get a college diploma without gaining some appreciation for science’s achievements.”
The researchers looked at data from the Nationwide Science Board’s biannual surveys, numerous national surveys sponsored by National Science Foundation divisions, and a NASA-financed series on adult civic literacy. Since 1985, individuals across the United States have been asked to agree or disagree with the following statement: “Human beings, as we know them today, evolved from previous species of animals.”
From 1985 through 2007, a series of polls revealed that Americans were equally divided on the issue of evolution. Only Turkey, at 27 percent, fared worse than the United States in a 2005 survey of evolution acceptance in 34 affluent countries conducted by Miller. However, from 2010 to 2019, the percentage of adults in the United States who agreed with this statement grew from 40% to 54%.
Religious fundamentalism was consistently recognized as the most powerful factor contributing to evolution denial in the current study. While the percentage of religious fundamentalists in the United States has decreased marginally over the previous decade, the study estimates that about 30% of Americans are still religious fundamentalists. Even religious fundamentalists who scored the highest on the measure of religious fundamentalism changed toward evolution acceptance, climbing from 8% in 1988 to 32% in 2019.
The majority of experts now acknowledge 15 to 20 separate early human species. However, scientists disagree on how these species are linked or whether ones have simply gone off. Many early human species, if not the vast majority, have no living descendants. Scientists also disagree on how to identify and categorize certain early human species, as well as what causes impacted their evolution and demise.
In 2019, just 34% of conservative Republicans agreed with evolution, compared to 83% of liberal Democrats.