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40 Percent of Americans & 55 Percent of Republicans Still Believe in Young Earth Creationism

I was stuck on a flight from Houston to San Diego with a "young earth creationist [YEC]" several years back and it was the longest flight I have ever endured. After we got buckled in, he turned to me and said, "you don't believe in evolution do you?" I winced, noticeably I'm sure, because after moving to the South in the late 1990s, I had met quite a few folks who had tried to convince me that God had created the earth, including humans in their present form, within the last 6 or 7 thousand years. So, I knew what was coming next from my in-flight companion. He had decided that I needed "saving" and he was going to start with the book of Genesis.

The gentleman I met on that flight is just one of about 40 percent of Americans who are "young earth creationists [YECs]", according to a recent Gallop poll. They reject evolutionary biology and believe that God created humans in their present form fairly recently. Some even believe that a close reading of the bible shows that the earth, humans, dinosaurs, etc were all created in 4004 BCE. "In 1650 CE an Irish archbishop and scholar, James Ussher, engaged in a detailed study of when the world began.  Ussher based his calculations on the genealogies of the Bible, starting with those in the book of Genesis (which state not only who begat whom, but also indicate, in many instances, how long each of the people thus begotten lived) and a detailed study of other ancient sources, such as Babylonian and Roman history.  On these grounds, he argued that the world was created in 4004 BCE — in fact, at noon on October 23.  This chronology became dominant throughout Western Christendom.  It was printed widely in King James Bibles and continues to be believed by non-evolutionary minded Christians today."

The recent Gallop poll found that there is a partisan tilt toward creationism among conservatives. 55 percent of Republicans, compared to 34 percent of Democrats and Independents, reject evolutionary biology and accept some form of Ussher's young earth creationism. That reflects the large evangelical Christian component of the modern Republican party.

A person's religion is very personal and generally no one should interfere, but sometimes there are spillover effects within society. Young earth creationism is one of those cases. Like my friend on the plane, many believers want to convert everyone and continue to try to get it taught in America's public schools, despite a long series of Federal Court cases starting with Edwards v. Aguillard and including Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District which struct down the teaching of "creation science [creationism with a textbook]" as a violation of the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause. Conservative Republican legislatures, mainly in the south, continue to test such precedent with new legislation meant to reintroduce creationism into high school biology classes. And, the election of Donald Trump, his conservative Supreme Court picks and the appointment of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education have given YECs new hope.

That's a problem because adherence to young earth creationism requires the rejection of 150 years of biology, chemistry, archaeology, paleontology, astrophysics, and nearly all other scientific thought. YECs must undermine science, and the scientific method itself, because there is simply no other rational way to explain away the mountain of evidence that supports evolutionary biology. Creationism [or "creation science"] is not a competing scientific theory, it's a rejection of reason, evidence and logic. And if you reject science and the scientific method, finding and agreeing on solutions to the nation's problems [climate change, for instance] becomes infinitely more difficult.

#religion #news #research

By: Don Lam & Curated Content

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