Over half of Americans have difficulty believing that the Big Bang created the universe 13.8 billion years ago, a new poll of scientific attitudes has found.
The Associated Press-GfK poll, rather than quizzing Americans on their scientific knowledge, sought to establish the confidence that 1,012 adults have in various established scientific theories.
While most Americans appear to have accepted medical truths, such as smoking causes cancer, mental illness is a medical condition that affects the brain and there's a genetic code inside our cells; issues such as evolution, the Big Bang theory and global warming continue puzzle many.
According to the study, a significant 51% of those surveyed questioned the Big Bang theory, and around four-in-ten say they are not too confident or outright disbelieve that the earth is warming, mostly a result of man-made heat-trapping gases, that the Earth is 4.5 billion years old or that life on Earth evolved through a process of natural selection.
However, most were at least somewhat confident in each of those concepts.
Political values were closely tied to views on science in the poll, with Democrats more apt than Republicans to express confidence in evolution, the Big Bang, the age of the Earth and climate change.
The survey found that religious values are similarly important.
Confidence in evolution, the Big Bang, the age of the Earth and climate change decline sharply as faith in a supreme being rises, according to the poll.
Likewise, those who regularly attend religious services or are evangelical Christians express much greater doubts about scientific concepts they may see as contradictory to their faith.
The AP-GfK Poll was conducted March 20-24, 2014, using KnowledgePanel, GfK's probability-based online panel designed to be representative of the US population. It involved online interviews with 1,012 adults and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points for all respondents.
"Science ignorance is pervasive in our society, and these attitudes are reinforced when some of our leaders are openly antagonistic to established facts," said 2013 Nobel Prize in medicine winner Randy Schekman of the University of California, Berkeley.
The results of the survey chime with those of the National Science Foundation (NSF) study of 2,200 Americans, which was released earlier this year. That survey, rather remarkably, revealed that one in four Americans 'don't know the Earth orbits the Sun' and only half believe in evolution.
Meanwhile, 51 per cent of Americans knew that antibiotics don't kill viruses. The study also demonstrated that a total of 42 per cent of Americans thought astrology was either "very scientific" or "sort of scientific".
Additional reporting by Associated PressReuse content