Evolution Down Under

Every once in a while, we hear an intelligent but deluded science pundit tell us that the United States is the only industrialized country with a significant creationist population.

It’s just not true.

A survey released recently by the Australian Academy of Science gives us some clues about the prevalence of anti-evolution thought Down Under.

Thanks to the National Center for Science Education’s blog, we hear about this survey of just over 1500 Australians.

The survey is not quite what we would hope for.  We would like to hear more specific questions about Australians’ beliefs about evolution.  This survey asked respondents if they thought evolution was occurring today.  Nine percent answered that they did not believe in evolution.  Another ten percent answered that evolution is not occurring today.  Twelve percent said they were not sure, and seventy percent thought evolution was occurring today.

These answers don’t tell us all we would like to know.  For instance, it is entirely possible—likely, even—that an informed young-earth creationist would answer that evolution was occurring today, in many ways.  Creationists often distinguish between “macro-“ and “micro-“ evolution (a distinction that drives mainstream scientists bonkers).  Such folks can happily agree that evolution is occurring today without agreeing that the earth is older than 10,000 years.  They can agree that evolution is going on now without agreeing that God did not create humanity in a literal week roughly 6,000 years ago.

In addition, other sorts of creationists could also agree that evolution went on today.  There’s no reason why intelligent-design mavens, believers in old-earth creationism, or “evolutionary creationists” would disagree that evolution was occurring right now.  But such agreement doesn’t tell us enough about the contours of anti-evolution thought, in Australia or anywhere else.

Another intriguing question from this survey asked respondents if humans lived at the same time as dinosaurs.  Just over a quarter (27%) of respondents thought that early humans lived at the same time as dinosaurs.  Of course, this question, too, leads to more questions.  Do such respondents believe in the Answers-in-Genesis sort of human/dinosaur cohabitation?  Or are they simply misinformed about the way life began?

One thing seems clear from this survey.  Significant percentages of Aussies, for whatever reason, do not agree with fundamental tenets of mainstream science.  Sorry, Bill Nye, but creationism is not “unique” to the United States.


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1 Comment

  1. 9-27% is insignificant (probably closer to 9%) compared to ~45% imho.


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