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According to a new study, the majority of Americans now accept evolution.

Despite overwhelming evidence, public acceptance of the theory of evolution in the United States has remained low. A new study spanning the last 35 years has discovered that more than half of Americans now accept the theory.

The University of Michigan study, which was based on national public opinion surveys conducted since 1985, also identified factors that may contribute to an individual's opinion on the subject, such as level of education and religious beliefs.

The surveys – biennial surveys from the National Science Board, national surveys funded by National Science Foundation units, and a series focused on adult civic literacy funded by NASA – asked people to agree or disagree with the statement: "Human beings, as we know them today, evolved from earlier species of animals."

According to lead researcher Jon D. Miller, the responses were a "statistical dead heat" for more than two decades – acceptance and rejection of evolution were neck and neck between 1985 and 2010. Until 2016, when "acceptance... surged, becoming the majority position," according to Miller.

Over the last decade, the proportion of American adults who believe in evolution has increased from 40% to 54% in 2019. According to the authors, this newfound acceptance is due to an increase in education.

"In 2018, nearly twice as many Americans had a college degree as in 1988," said co-author Mark Ackerman. "It's difficult to earn a college degree without developing at least a passing admiration for science's success."

According to the study, civic science literacy, taking college science courses, and having a college degree are the most important factors in an individual's acceptance of evolution.

Religious fundamentalism, on the other hand, was discovered to be the most powerful factor leading to the rejection of evolution. According to the study, 30 percent of Americans are religious fundamentalists, a figure that has dipped slightly in the last decade. Acceptance of evolution has risen from 8% in 1988 to 32% in 2019, perhaps explaining why acceptance of evolution is now in the majority.

However, Miller believes that religious fundamentalism, as well as political persuasion, will continue to stymie public acceptance of evolution – "[s]uch beliefs are not only tenacious but also, increasingly, politicised," he said.

In 2019, only 34% of conservative Republicans agreed with evolution, compared to 83% of liberal Democrats.

The ideological divide between the two parties may be as wide as ever, but America appears to be less divided – evolution has the majority, albeit by a slim margin.

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