From the earliest days of civilization, humans have considered themselves exceptional among living creatures. But a new survey by Discovery Institute of more than 3,400 American adults indicates that the theory of evolution is beginning to erode that belief in humanity’s unique status and dignity.
According to the survey, 43 percent of Americans now agree that “Evolution shows that no living thing is more important than any other,” and 45 percent of Americans believe that “Evolution shows that human beings are not fundamentally different from other animals.”
The highest levels of support for the idea that evolution shows that humans aren’t fundamentally different from other animals are found among self-identified atheists (69 percent), agnostics (60 percent), and 18 to 29 year-olds (51 percent).
The theory of evolution is also reshaping how people think about morality. A majority of Americans (55 percent) now contend that “Evolution shows that moral beliefs evolve over time based on their survival value in various times and places.”
“Since the rise of Darwin’s theory, leading scientists and other thinkers have insisted that human beings are just another animal, and that morality evolves based on survival of the fittest,” says historian Richard Weikart, author of the new book The Death of Humanity: And the Case for Life (Regnery).
What this new survey shows is just how pervasive these ideas have become in our culture. Many people no doubt continue to believe that humans are unique, but most do not think that evolution supports that position. Many critics of my earlier scholarship will be disconcerted to see this data, which powerfully supports my arguments about the way that Darwinism devalues human life, a key point I explain further in my new book.
Weikart is a professor of history at California State University, Stanislaus, and a Senior Fellow with Discovery Institute’s Center for Science & Culture.
The data for this survey was collected from March 17-20, 2016, using SurveyMonkey Audience, a nationally representative panel of more than 6 million people recruited from the 30+ million people who take SurveyMonkey surveys each month.
The SurveyMonkey platform has been used for public opinion surveys by NBC News, the Los Angeles Times, and other media organizations. Survey respondents were randomly sampled from members of SurveyMonkey Audience in the United States who are 18 or older, and the survey included 3,427 completed responses.
Image credit: Gabriel von Max [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.