One reason why a huge number of Americans believe an ape created the universe and that the earth was made only yesterday (in geological time), is existential insecurity. What does this mean? At 07:24 of the video "Evolution and Culture," the evolutionary biologist David Sloan Wilson (he is at the center of the group selection debate) offers a clear and precise explanation...
The citizens of a country (say New Zealand or Finland) that provides a high standard of living, strong social safety nets, and easy access to heath services will be more secular than those who live in countries (say Egypt or Somalia) that don't. If you feel safe in your society, you will not turn to God or religion for support.
But what about the US? It's the richest country in the world and yet has, when compared to other rich societies, "an incredibly high number of people who are religious."
The Gallup Poll has been tracking Americans' views on creation and evolution for the past 30 years. In June it released its latest findings, which showed 46% of Americans believed in creationism, 32% believed in evolution guided by God, and 15% believed in atheistic evolution.
Wilson's answer to the fact is not strong enough. Yes, it has to something to do with the US's Third World-like income disparity; but most poor Americans are practically millionaires when compared to, say, poor Africans. So, why is the percentage of religious people in this rich country incredibly high? Meaning, why do so many Americans feel existentially insecure. Meaning, why is there so much fear in a society that has so much wealth?
Let's turn to this report, which the Seattle Police Department posted a few hours ago...
Disturbance outside Hookah Bar leaves one man shot. Just shortly after 4 a.m. this morning two adult men got into a verbal altercation outside a Hookah Bar at 12th and Main. The altercation escalated and one man was shot. According to Security, the two men may have been shooting at each other – those details are still sketchy and no one at the scene would provide officers with information. Following the shooting, the victim was driven to Swedish Hospital via a friend. He was later transported to Harborview where he is currently under going surgery for his injuries. The man was struck in the abdomen and the buttocks. His condition is unknown at this time. Officers recovered over 20 shell casings at the scene. The shooter is still on the loose.
All nine people wounded during a dramatic confrontation between police and a gunman outside the Empire State Building were struck by bullets fired by the two officers, police said Saturday, citing ballistics evidence.
I hope you are getting the picture. However, it's not so much guns but the social production of fear and poverty that leaves millions of Americans with the feeling of existential exposure (this is my term). It's important to understand that the sources of the exposure will not be found in biology or nature but in politics. The number of believers in our society will remain high as long those who benefit politically from the production and reproduction of an environment of fear (fear of violence, fear of poverty) are in power.