This week, CNN reported on a recent survey of American adults that revealed almost half of us reject the concept of human evolution and believe that humans were created by God within the past 10,000 years; among Republicans, 60% hold this view. This large contingent of creationists is, to say the least, disturbing to those of us who accept the scientific method as the only legitimate means for solving the mysteries of the Universe and for defining our place within its vast realm.
The results of the survey suggest that two factors are at play. First, scientific education within the U.S. is woefully deficient, even among college-educated adults. Second, the influence of organized religion in America remains very powerful and, despite the copious scientific evidence that supports human evolution, many religious persons either choose to ignore that data or find the ancient, pre-scientific writings of early prophets more convincing. There is little doubt that religious beliefs, ingrained in childhood and sustained by fear and guilt, fuel distrust of science, as they have since the earliest days of human civilization.
The fact that we live on a small planet near the outer edge of a massive galaxy that is one of billions of galaxies in our Universe seems to have no bearing on their belief; neither does the evidence that the Universe is 13.7 billion years old, that Earth is 4.6 billion years old and that life has colonized our planet for 3.6 billion years. If the creationists are correct, God is a very patient deity indeed.