Secularists and skeptics Richard Dawkins and Steven Pinker appeared on Capitol Hill on Monday to argue on behalf of support for science in the U.S. and a cultural move away from religious myths. The two men appeared on behalf of the Secular Coalition for America.
A reporter asked Dawkins about the fact that more than 40 percent of Americans believe the Christian creation myth, that God created the world in seven days.
“This country is, without a doubt, the leading scientific nation in the world, beyond the shadow of a doubt,” Dawkins replied. “I can’t help wondering how much more advanced this country would be if you were not held back by this astonishing burden of 40 percent of the people who literally think the world, the universe is less than 10,000 years old.”
“I mean,” he said, “that is a staggering piece of ignorance. It’s a scandal.”
Believing that the world is less than 10,000 years old, Dawkins said, “is not a small error. It’s a gigantic, ridiculous error.”
The problem, he said, is based in part on the fact that school boards are elected in local elections, and that “in particular districts, it may be that the electors are electing ignoramuses.”