Specifically in America, the lack of belief in other religions is very prominent. One would think that this would lower scientific illiteracy in America. Yet, it seems not so. With arguments over whether climate change is real and if giving your children vaccines is a wise thing to do, it seems like America claims to very much believe in Science, but many times, not its findings.
First off, the National Science Education Standards states this in regards to scientific literacy:
“Scientific literacy means that a person can ask, find, or determine answers to questions derived from curiosity about everyday experiences. It means that a person has the ability to describe, explain, and predict natural phenomena.”
This analysis of scientific literacy seems very different form the little “scientific illiteracy” test that we did in class, in which I didn’t even pass (and I’m a science major). So when it comes to scientific illiteracy, I pose that maybe it’s not so much knowing certain facts about science content, but more about reading and comprehension skills of science material.
This relates very much to the “belief” in science. I think that the problem with scientific literacy has to do with how science is viewed. The perspective a lot of people take with it is that it’s something to “believe” in, like Santa Claus or the Easter bunny. But really it’s as simple as disproving things in this world. I think the main reason that America, in particular, doesn’t believe in science findings is because of the fact that Americans generally think that if you believe in a religion, you can’t believe in science or its findings.
This may explain why over 40 percent of Americans do not believe in evolution and about 20 percent, when asked if the earth orbits the sun or vice versa, say it’s the sun that does the orbiting–placing these people in the same camp as the Inquisition that punished Galileo almost 400 years ago.
Such views are prevalent in America. Surveys by the Public Religion Research Institute indicate a major divide in thinking among Americans, based on scientific versus religious worldviews. As reported by CNN, although 6 in 10 Americans stated they believe extreme weather events are related to climate change, “More than a third of Americans see recent extreme weather as a sign that the world is in biblical “end times,” and “Thirty-six percent of Americans say that the severity of recent natural disasters indicate that we are at the precipice of Jesus’ second coming and the end of the world. The survey found that 15 percent of Americans believe the world will end, as predicated in the book of Revelation, in their lifetime.”
A call to a change in what Science actually is, and what it isn’t is needed in America and all around the world.