A new Pew poll was released showing that 51% of young people (under 30) now believe that man evolved due to natural processes, independent of a deity. And that number is up from 40% in 2009. You can look at all the data here. Ultimately, I’m not surprised by this, and I’m very optimistic about what this means for American culture and politics.
I believe that over the next 20 years we’re really going to reach a turning point in our society, both culturally and politically, as the older generation dies off and the younger generation supplants it as the primary base of voters and workers.
Because when you look at them, young people aren’t only more likely to embrace evolution. They’re also more likely to accept climate change. They’re much less likely to be religious. The folks who remain skeptical of or deny science altogether are increasingly being relegated to a pocket of older Americans. In the next 20 years or so, that pocket will dwindle as those folks die. I realize that that might sound harsh, but everyone dies.
Can you imagine a political population making decisions based on evidence and not faith? Can you imagine a congress where the majority of the people elected grew up believing in evolution? Where a majority of the folks making policy and law in this country don’t believe that a magical man in the sky blinked everything into existence a la I Dream of Jeannie and who don’t create policy based on archaic rules and stories in a book written by scientifically illiterate desert dwellers? I think we’re right on the cusp of that, frankly.
I think we’re on the cusp of a society where the majority of employers no longer openly discriminate against gay people or female employees who choose to use birth control because they don’t derive their morality from a God who hates those people and demands their castigation. Wouldn’t it be great if businesses didn’t have to legally be told to treat their customers fairly and independent of their sexual orientation, but did so because it simply doesn’t make sense to do otherwise?
I, for one, cannot wait to see the impact of these shifts and values as we head into the future.