(INTHESETIMES) — Did humans evolve over the course of millions of years, or were we created by God just a few thousand years ago? A letter signed by more than 50 scientific societies in 2009 said that the theory of evolution is “the foundation of modern biology, and is crucial in fields as diverse as agriculture, computer science, engineering, geology and medicine.” The letter was addressed to the Texas State Board of Education. That group, dominated by creationists, had only faith and the Bible on its side, yet it was squarely within the American mainstream. Polls show that about 40 percent of the population believes God created humans within the last 10,000 years.

Do tax cuts increase revenues? Is abstinence education more effective than comprehensive sex education? Does human activity create climate change? The answers are no, no and yes, if you believe experts and the body of empirical evidence that has emerged from their work over the past several decades. But clearly, many Americans don’t believe experts and empirical evidence, and instead choose to base their opinions on little more than faith, or on dubious experts whose work is considered marginal within their field.

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