19 April 2007

Evolution and the young

While a depressingly-large number of Americans still cling to creationist mythology, it turns out that acceptance of evolution is broadest among the young (63% of people 18-25 years old accept it, compared with 42% of those over 61, with intermediate age groups showing intermediate levels of acceptance). Combined with the empirical evidence that people do not become more religious as they age, this offers considerable hope for the triumph of rationality in the future.

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8 Comments:

Blogger Larro said...

I would add that our young Americans have experienced a shift in federal education policy. No Child Left-behind and the Office of Faith-based Initiative have had a key role in this. In the past eighty years or so we saw a standard set forth with the precedent of Scopes v. the State of Tennessee in 1925 in which real empirical education in the U.S. found its footing. Apparently the No Child Left Behind Act has caused many school districts struggling with academic standards that have to meet a federal guideline in order to receive funding from the government. OFBI consequentially has offered federal dollars to religious organizations. Xtian schools have been able to tap into grants from the federal government. I have seen in this area that I live mega-churches and Xtian schools popping up left and right. I am sorry to say that I do not think there is hope that there is indeed triumph of rationality in the future. Run to the hills.

19 April, 2007 15:14  
Blogger Losing My Religion said...

It's that indoctrination of the young is actually growing less and less the norm, I think (not that the parents aren't believers", they just don't practice heavily). This leaves the door open for rationality...and I find this a great thing! A wonderful gift I am glad I gave my kids, I tell ya.

BTW, thanks for the comment. I will keep writing...and hope you'll keep leaving your thoughts, too.

19 April, 2007 16:43  
Anonymous Patrick Bateman said...

Interesting perspective. My perception was actually that a growing number of young (15-30) people were turning to evangelism and losing faith (if you like) in science.

It will be very interesting when the current crop of 20-somethings and 30-somethings, who have been raised in an era of dominant hi-tech and astonishing scientific advances, are 40 or 50.

20 April, 2007 00:11  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

My perception was actually that a growing number of young (15-30) people were turning to evangelism and losing faith (if you like) in science.

It's not impossible that both things are true -- that is, that the proportion of young people who reject evolution is smaller than among older people, but that among those young people who reject evolution, more of them are inclined to be evangelical about religion.

There actually tends to be an inverse correlation between numbers and intensity -- that is, as the number of adherents of a movement shrinks due to people losing their attachment to it, the ones who remain in the movement are likely to be most intense true believers (they're the least likely to give up on it). This can mask the reality of decline.

In any case, a survey is solid data, while perceptions can be misleading.

20 April, 2007 04:49  
Blogger Dr. Zaius said...

I share your enthusiasm over these numbers, but the truth is that those statistics are still really sad. Only 63% of people 18-25 years old accept evolution. Yikes!

20 April, 2007 10:41  
Blogger Chell said...

Even religious people can have rational moments. ;) I wonder how strong or healthy a religion can actually be when followers are afraid that truth will shatter it.

20 April, 2007 15:30  
Blogger The Buss said...

As a teacher, I can tell you that No Child Left Behind is a government mandated hostile takeover of the American education system. Private schools (the implication being that many are religious) aren't held to the same accountability, well, to be honest, they're not accountable at all, even though they take federal dollars, yet they're heralded as superior, and NCLB seeks to hand control of 'failing' schools to the private schools. It stinks to me, I just hope the next administration has more sense, before the theocratic mindset permeates public education.

20 April, 2007 23:03  
Blogger Chris said...

It's often the case that scientific ideas come to be accepted simply because their opponents eventually all die. In just a few more decades, creationist proponents will be outnumbered to irrelevance by a younger, more educated generation.

28 April, 2007 19:46  

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