"There is no major political party in Europe and Japan that uses opposition to evolution as a part of its political platform," Miller said. "In the United States, there are people who think it is a political advantage to discount evolution."
Not surprisingly, Miller and colleagues also found that persons with strong pro-life beliefs were significantly more likely to reject evolution than those with pro-choice views.
"The total effect of pro-life attitudes on the acceptance of evolution was much greater in the United States than in the nine European countries surveyed," he said.
Miller said a lack of genetic literacy on the part of many American adults also plays a role. For example, only a third of American adults agree that more than half of human genes are identical to those of mice, and only 38 percent of adult recognize that humans have more than half of their genes in common with chimpanzees.
"These results should be troubling for science educators at all levels," he said. "The growing number of adults who are uncertain about these ideas suggests that current science instruction is not effective."