Evolution Now Accepted by Majority of Americans

The level of public acceptance of evolution in the United States is now solidly above the halfway mark, according to a new study based on a series of national public opinion surveys conducted over the last 35 years.

“From 1985 to 2010, there was a statistical dead heat between acceptance and rejection of evolution,” said lead researcher Jon D. Miller of the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan. “But acceptance then surged, becoming the majority position in 2016.”

Examining data over 35 years, the study consistently identified aspects of education—civic science literacy, taking college courses in science, and having a college degree—as the strongest factors leading to the acceptance of evolution.

“Almost twice as many Americans held a college degree in 2018 as in 1988,” said co-author Mark Ackerman, a researcher at Michigan Engineering, the U-M School of Information and Michigan Medicine. “It’s hard to earn a college degree without acquiring at least a little respect for the success of science.”

The researchers analyzed a collection of biennial surveys from the National Science Board, several national surveys funded by units of the National Science Foundations, and a series focused on adult civic literacy funded by NASA. Beginning in 1985, these national samples of U.S. adults were asked to agree or disagree with this statement: “Human beings, as we know them today, developed from earlier species of animals.”

The series of surveys showed that Americans were evenly divided on the question of evolution from 1985 to 2007. According to a 2005 study of the acceptance of evolution in 34 developed nations, led by Miller, only Turkey, at 27%, scored lower than the United States. But over the last decade, until 2019, the percentage of American adults who agreed with this statement increased from 40% to 54%.

The current study consistently identified religious fundamentalism as the strongest factor leading to the rejection of evolution. While their numbers declined slightly in the last decade, approximately 30% of Americans continue to be religious fundamentalists as defined in the study. But even those who scored highest on the scale of religious fundamentalism shifted toward acceptance of evolution, rising from 8% in 1988 to 32% in 2019.

Miller predicted that religious fundamentalism would continue to impede the public acceptance of evolution. 

“Such beliefs are not only tenacious but also, increasingly, politicized,” he said, citing a widening gap between Republican and Democratic acceptance of evolution. 

As of 2019, 34% of conservative Republicans accepted evolution compared to 83% of liberal Democrats.

The study is published in the journal Public Understanding of Science.

Reference: “Public acceptance of evolution in the United States, 1985–2020” by Jon D. Miller, Eugenie C. Scott, Mark S. Ackerman, Belén Laspra, Glenn Branch, Carmelo Polino and Jordan S. Huffaker, 16 August 2021, Public Understanding of Science.
DOI: 10.1177/09636625211035919

Besides Miller and Ackerman, the authors are Eugenie Scott and Glenn Branch of the National Center for Science Education; Belén Laspra of the University of Oviedo in Spain; and Carmelo Polino of the University of Oviedo and Centre Redes in Argentina; and Jordan Huffaker of U-M.

EducationEvolutionSocialUniversity of Michigan
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  • karennewman

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  • Peter Baker

    And even those Americans who do NOT accept evolution are hoping to qualify as australopithecines soon.

  • Bill Smith

    As those college students why they believe in evolution they’ll tell you because my teacher told me so then I asked him to explain one thing that proves evolution and they draw a blank

    • John Jakson

      Well thats exactly how religion is tought isn’t, believe or else.

      If students are that dumb then they haven’t really learned any science at all. Evolution isn’t that difficult to understand or the age of the earth from geologic science. If they can’t get the basics of science they shouldn’t be in college. And this should have started in middle school, not college remedial science.

  • Jonathan Horton

    Believer’s in such garbage, obviously haven’t taken the time and mental energy to do their own research!
    Evolution has not passed the three basic laws to go from scientific theory to scientific fact. As well they haven’t read up on the weak foundations of evolution.
    For example it took 8 years or more to collect lucy’s bones from a one mile radius and they never dug deeper than a foot.so it’s not as if it was grave like they find dinosaurs or wooly mammoths Further more it took nearly ten years to put it together . They started collecting in they late 70’s and didn’t have it finished until the early 90’s. But paleontologist can dig up a dinosaur from solid rock in 2 years and have it put together in less than 2 years.
    Secondly, evolutionists claim it took the horse a million years to develop a huff and get two feet taller but never got any smarter. They also claim lucy lived 300,000 thousand years ago.ok how did humans go from swinging in trees and throwing feces at each other. To putting satellite’s in space in such a short period of time in comparison of every other species. The orangutan and chimpanzee are the smartest primate’s today and the smartest thing they can figure out in their own natural habitat is stick a stick in an ant mound pull it out and lick the ants off or termites. They have been around just as they are now for over 300,000 thousand years. No change their.
    Secondly, fisherman in madagascar just a few months ago accidentally caught a fish that was thought extinct for over a million years. When the live prehistoric fish was compared to the fossils it had not changed or evolved in the slightest!!!! Further more they discovered an organism in the south atlantic a few months ago that was thought extinct for over a 140 million years it to had not changed in the slightest. A simple organism!!!
    Yet archeologist and anthropologist are consistently discovering proof in the holy land supporting the Torah and holy bible!
    Further more people say jesus never lived or at least he never preformed those miracles. Well the dead sea scrolls support over 95 percent of the new testament. As well the romans documented the the day turned night and the ground shook. When the nazarene was crucified . Titus was so impressed of such reports he even sent a tribune to investigate the reports of the resurrection of the nazarene. The tribune never returned he joined the nazarenes. This was made in to a move nevertheless its documented fact. Ancient records from that time state it.
    In my life thus far I have seen a lot experienced a lot and met a lot of people of all walks of life in the past 23 years of homelessness and incarceration across this country. Thus one of many things I can say is; people who suffer are more apt to have faith. Most people in america do not suffer their are many in this country who like to claim they have but they are like fish in water that don’t know they are in water!! If life wasn’t so convenient in america believe me their would be an over whelming amount of people believing in God and not what man can create nor what a politician says on the T.V. nor the constant bombardment of garbage on the internet influencing the young minds fueling their rebelliousness towards their elders
    Lastly let’s not forget about people who have died on the operating table and could not be be resusatated
    But came back to life after the doctors gave up!!!
    Read the book ninety minutes in heaven . The man was officially dead for an hour an half!! Look it up!!
    Believer’s in evolution are fools that take life superficially due to the conveniences of life in the developed world and they watch to much T.V and believe in what man can create !!!! Oh I almost for got the ancient historians josephus and plateus one greek there other persian confirm the miracles of moses neither was hebrew in fact they were citizens of two different nations that fought each other of and on for centuries. But those to historians agreed on the deeds of moses a hebrew!!!!

    • Smarter Than You

      Clearly the people in this comment section are lacking education or the basic understanding of research. Your questions are so elementary and have been answered over and over and over again, yet you remain willfully ignorant. I assume you are all conservative republicans, anti-vaxx, trump supporters.

  • K e n

    If evolution is real then that means that there are thousands of the same species prior to evolution as evolution takes millions of years. How come we have millions of monkeys bones but not millions of transitional creatures from ape to human?

    They’re only fragments of a jaw or a tooth or a femur but not complete skeletal systems. Also there’s not millions of bones or skeletons of these transitional periods.

    Just interesting thoughts.

  • Billy Bob

    It is impossible for life to spontaneously form from a puddle of mud as evolutionary scientists would have you believe!!!!https://youtu.be/W1_KEVaCyaA

  • Joshua

    I think the answer lies somewhere in the middle. The question regarding “Human beings, as we know them today, developed from earlier species of animals” is far too simple a question regarding such a complex issue. You know a very common story amongst “spiritual” people is that: yes a bipedal hominid evolved on this planet for millions of years, but was genetically altered by a group of extraterrestrials who came to be known as “gods,” which they allowed because ultimately they understood that “the one is the all and the all is the one,” not that they themselves confused themselves with being synonymous with that greater aspect of which they are a part of… like a drop of water in the ocean. And on top of that, it is not believed that our bipedal hominid form is native to the earth, but rather was seeded here through panspermia. We shall see when we have open contact with aliens if they are bipedal hominids as well.

  • ROBERT Verrecchia

    Love these stories,if half country believe this dumb ass theory we deserve to FALL,if so true how come not one ape has talked r walked out jungle.this another site trying to reach these dumb last generations.im 52 pray I dont die b4 I can watch the USA I LOVED BURN N SMOLDER.FOR HOW FAR WE FELL AS A GREAT GOD FEARING RESPECTED LIGHT WE ONCE WERE.

  • BL

    Having read the literature review that this article is reporting on, I don’t find it particularly compelling, especially when viewed next to the problems with the theory of evolution. My background in sociology tells me that sociological surveys (like the information this article is based on) are about as useful as a person’s opinion. A majority of people believing in something doesn’t make it true or even particularly believable, nor does it do away with the evidence that contradicts evolution (such as certain areas of cellular biology, the true behavior of genetic mutations, entropy, etc.). I find it ironic that science basically deifies objectivity but articles like this are more about reinforcing their narrative than about presenting facts.

  • Thomas Fleming

    The stupid “ascent of Man” photo does little to give me confidence that this article is written by someone who understands the concept of “shared ancestry”. Just more fake “evolution” propaganda. The word “evolution” has so many meanings that it has become useless in these debates.