The notion that only the ignorant can oppose evolution does not hold water. As the political scientists Michael Berkman and Eric Plutzer demonstrate in Evolution, Creationism, and the Battle to Control America's Classrooms (Cambridge University Press, 2010), a slim majority of Americans are aware that mainstream scientific opinion supports evolution. Yet even among those 52 percent of Americans who know that scientists support evolution, large majorities still want schools to teach creationism. And, among those teachers who teach young-earth creationism, a majority—like Broun—hold a bachelor's degree or higher in science and almost half have completed 40 or more college credits in biology.
As it stands, scientists' blundering hostility toward creationism actually encourages creationist belief. By offering a stark division between religious faith and scientific belief, evolutionary scientists have pushed creationists away from embracing evolutionary ideas. And, by assuming that only ignorance could explain creationist beliefs, scientists have unwittingly fostered bitter resentment among the creationists, the very people with whom they should be hoping to connect.
Nor can we take solace in the delusion that these teachers are somehow rogue agents of a vast right-wing creationist conspiracy. As Berkman and Plutzer demonstrate, the creationist beliefs of teachers embody the creationist beliefs of Americans in general. The teachers are not ignorant of evolution, yet they choose to reject it.
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