A majority of Americans reject evolution. You may have read the Gallup poll from this past February which counted only 39 percent of respondents as holding a belief in evolution. However, this problem is not new. While researching this problem, I have run into many polls from other organizations which constantly place a belief in evolution in the minority. The majority opinion is that God created humans in their current form. What can be done to better educate the public?
Are our teachers failing us? Is there is an organized opposition to the theory of evolution which is simply more compelling then the evidence which supports a gradual change over millions of years? I will admit, creatures popping into existence, fully formed, makes for a great story, but when I want to learn about how things really are, I have to rely in science and empirical evidence, even if the story isn't as fanciful. Richard Dawkins continues the fight to educate the public about evolution with his book, "The Greatest Show On Earth." Will his book work? Will the people who buy it already reject the Christian creation myth?
I would say that it isn't a wasted effort. As I walked through a local book store, I saw the atheist books tucked in with science books, mostly about Darwin and evolution. While you can be religious and believe in evolution, I won't deny that there have been many who read about how evolution really works, not how they were taught in church and that one lie of creation unraveled the web of lies their church, family and friends had been telling them their whole life. Science has evidence, the comfort of predictability, while faith is an empty guessing game.
What else did I see in the book store? In the religion section, few books about evolution, but more books about how to either reject evolution or how religion and evolution are compatible. I'd like to see some of those science books sneak their way into the religion section. Would that have worked for you? I know many atheists who decided that the evidence for a god was lacking after reading "The God Delusion," which was more about evolution then it was in rejecting faith.
Last month, I attended "Atheist Coming Out Day" hosted by Campus Atheists, Skeptics and Humanists at the University of Minnesota. Here, people sat in a circle and told their coming out story. What shocked me, was how many people were so new to calling themselves "atheists," and felt comfortable going to a group meeting to tell everyone about it. Out of the 60 people who "came out," more then a few were raised in conservative Christian families, including one child of missionaries, one child of Salvation Army parents, and one who was a Bible Quiz champion. All of these people strongly rejected evolution, until college. All it took was a freshman biology course with a brief introduction to evolution to realize they had been actively deceived by the people who cared about them. For some, the process of leaving faith behind took a few years, others left more quickly.
What is important, is that there is a community of like minded people who are there, if only to "come out" to, to share our experiences and to make it easier for the next wave of people to throw off life according to mythology and embrace reality.