The Economist has compiled a really interesting chart on the ideological differences between the American and British electorates. (I’ve been kind of obsessed with all things Anglo-American since the start of the John Adams miniseries on HBO.) The article focuses on the large gap between the two publics, but I was actually impressed by how, once you removed God and God-tainted issues (like abortion and homosexuality) from the equation, the two countries were actually rather similar in ways I wouldn’t have expected. For instance, both British and American voters feel virtually identically about increasing taxes to subsidize clean energy, the economic benefits of immigration, and the science of climate change.
That said, the religiosity gap is striking. I assume readers who really want some good old-fashioned deism bashing will get it elsewhere, but it’s still shocking that only 30 percent of Americans believe the theory of evolution “explains the origin of the earth,” compared with 40 percent who credit the Bible. (More than 60 percent of the British public credit evolution.) Of course, no sooner do I get angry at my fellow citizens than I notice that the Economist has asked a really idiotic question. The theory of evolution explains the origin of species, not the earth. Darwin has nothing to do with those cosmological forces that turned some interstellar dust into our lovely blue planet a few billion years ago. That said, the Bible also didn’t play a major role. But I can’t help but feel the Economist inadvertently asked a trick question.
On a related note, be sure to read Razib’s exhaustive summary of the psychology of religion.
Update: The post has been slightly modified to reflect some imprecise wording on my part. See the comments for details.