• evolution;
  • creationism;
  • religious identity;
  • education;
  • science and religion;
  • public policy

Public acceptance of evolution remains low in the United States relative to other Western countries. Although advocates for the scientific community often highlight the need for improved education to change public opinion, analyses of data from a national sample of American adults indicate that the effects of educational attainment on attitudes toward evolution and creationism are uneven and contingent upon religious identity. Consequently, higher education will only shift public attitudes toward evolution and away from support for teaching creationism in public schools for those who take non-“literalist” interpretive stances on the Bible, or to the extent that it leads to fewer people with literalist religious identities.