Europeans Accept Evolution More Than Americans

March 2007 - Participating in a recent American Association for the Advancement of Science symposium entitled Anti-Evolution in Europe: Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid, or Not? Jon Miller, professor of integrative studies at Michigan State University argued that religion plays a major role in adult Americans' view of evolution with only about 40 per cent accepting the basic concept, much lower than any country in Europe.

Jon Miller said:

"The lowest-ranking country in terms of discounting evolution is Turkey. The United States is next. The way we characterize religious fundamentalists in Turkey and in the US is that they are both one-book religions. Fundamentalists in this country say everything you need to know is in the Bible, period. Islamists say everything you need to know is in the Koran, period."

Research led by Jon Miller and published in the journal Science in 2006 found that the concept of evolution was rejected by two in five American adults, and another one in five was unsure about it. This was much greater than in nine European countries surveyed, with 80 per cent or more adults in Iceland, Denmark and Sweden accepting the concept of evolution. Researchers found that in addition to religion, politics also plays a crucial role, with the Republican Party in particular often using attitude to evolution to assess the suitability of potential candidates.

Jon Miller commented:

"There is no major political party in Europe that uses opposition to evolution as a part of its political platform. In the United States, there are people who think it is a political advantage to discount evolution."

Researchers found that people with strong pro-life beliefs were significantly more likely to reject evolution than those who supported choice.

Jon Miller added:

"The total effect of pro-life attitudes on the acceptance of evolution was much greater in the United States than in the nine European countries surveyed."