An understated yet crucial point that Coyne has made is the way he explains the reactions that people had in several surveys concerning evolution. Coyne explains that about forty percent of Americans believe that evolution is true, forty percent believe it is false, leaving twenty percent unsure. While this statistic is much lower than most other places around the world, in many ways it is not surprising. The United States of America is a very divided country, where we have a large amount of people supporting both sides of any major issue. The supporters on both sides then try to convince the large undecided population to their side of any given issue, to give them the advantage over those with opposing views. This is the exact way that any election in the United States works. The two major candidates spend all of their time and effort on advertisements, rallies, and obtaining endorsements. All of this is directed to the small, but important demographic of people who are undecided. This gives these people much more attention and thus power in determining the outcome, since everyone else has made up their mind.
More importantly, I think that it is important to note the results of the survey about whether evolution should be taught in the classroom. A majority, about sixty-six percent of Americans believe that evolution should be taught alongside creationism or intelligent design in schools. Coyne believes this is because it appeals to Americans sense of fair play, or the idea that everyone’s ideas deserve to be heard. This makes sense, but there is a difference between a person’s views on gun control and their views on evolution. The problem with this is that evolution has become widely accepted in the scientific community, while other controversial topics do not have a clear solution. As Coyne says “Today scientists have as much confidence in Darwinism as they do in the existence of atoms” (xvii). This points out one of the biggest misconceptions about science today. People believe just because something like evolution is called a theory or because it is impossible for scientists to observe and experiment on evolution, then it is not true. This creates a public mistrust in science, even if the research is widely accepted by the scientific community at large.
The reason that such a clear scientific issue has been so controversial has to do with the way that people are being exposed to evolution. As Coyne states, some people are not interested in evolution, and even people who have studied the sciences have not learned the complete background of evolution. Another reason that has a factor on the public’s reception to evolution is the people who actively speak out against evolution by calling it unnatural and untrue. The religious often asserts this, which is as Coyne states, “You can find religion without creationism, but you never find creationism without religion” (xvii). This resistance is the single biggest struggle for people who are trying to teach evolution. Many religious groups have a great deal of money and power that they use to promote their agendas, which can be antievolutionary. This means that schools that are publicly funded have to cater to the religious groups if they want to continue to receive their funding.
The source of the controversy about evolution has to do with the idea that humans came from a “lesser” organism. It is quite unsettling to many people especially if you believe that a creator designed humans. However the science behind evolution is solid, and there has not been a serious alternative to it. For example, Coyne references a court case in the preface where a conservative judge ruled in favor of evolution. The judge said that the proponents of intelligent design lied when they said that they had no religious motivations, and simply substituted the phrase intelligent design for creationism. Most importantly, the judge was able to recognize what evolution means. According to him just because evolution does not perfectly explain every question possible, there is no excuse to “thrust an untestable alternative hypothesis grounded in religion” (xiii). This conservative judge shows that evolution is more complicated than a simple Democrat-Republican issue. There are many different ways to view religion and evolution. Now the struggle to convince science of Darwinism is pretty much over, but the struggle to convince the public is still in full force.