Source: Pew Research Center
BY DAVID MASCI
Sunday is the 208th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth, a day now celebrated by some as Darwin Day. Darwin, of course, is best known for his theory of evolution through natural selection. When Darwin’s work was first made public in 1859, it shocked Britain’s religious establishment. And while today it is accepted by virtually all scientists, evolutionary theory still is rejected by many Americans, often because it conflicts with their religious beliefs about divine creation.
While not an official holiday, Darwin Day has been adopted by scientific and humanist groups to promote everything from scientific literacy to secularism. This year, more than 50 events have been planned worldwide, many of them anchored by scientific talks or symposia. Others, such as a children’s scavenger hunt at the Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., are a little less serious.
To mark the occasion, here are six facts about the public’s views on evolution, as well as other aspects of the debate in the U.S. and elsewhere:
1Only a minority of Americans fully accept evolution through natural selection.Roughly six-in-ten U.S. adults (62%) say humans have evolved over time, according to data from Pew Research Center’s Religious Landscape Study. But only a little more than half of them (33% of all Americans) express the belief that humans and other living things evolved solely due to natural processes. A quarter of U.S. adults (25%) say evolution was guided by a supreme being. The same survey found that 34% of Americans reject evolution entirely, saying humans and other living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time.