Australians are just one generation away from a time when even most university students believed God created humans

People can change – literally. Picture: 20th Century Fox

In 1986, Australia unleashed Crocodile Dundee on the world. Greg Norman won the British Open, At Talaq won the Melbourne Cup and Hawthorn beat Carlton in the AFL grand final.

Barlow and Chambers were executed in Malaysia.

Internationally, Chernobyl and the Challenger space shuttle exploded. Maradona and his hand beat England in the World Cup.

Apart from Carlton being competent at football, a lot of that will seem fresh enough to Gen Xers. There was even a smattering of Gen Ys alive.

Here’s something else that was happening right at that time, which we’re trying to paint as “relatively recently” – 60% of students in Australia believed a god had something to do with the origin of humans.

Make that 60% of biology students at UNSW Sydney.

Just over 40 years ago, in the same year Microsoft went public, the first computer virus, Brain, went viral, and you could buy a 3D printer, the majority of university students were still on the creationist side of the argument.

We know because in 1986, UNSW Science’s School of Biological, Earth & Environmental Sciences began the longest continuous annual survey of opinions about creationism versus evolution among first-year university students worldwide.

Their timing was impeccable. From that study on, the numbers have swung in favour of the evolutionists. In the latest report from the study, just 29% of UNSW biology students believe a god had a hand in making people.

In contrast, the percentage of students convinced that a god had nothing to do with the origin of humans has increased from 25% in 1986 to 62% in 2017.

In the US since 1986, belief in creationism, while slowly declining, “appears to have remained in the 40% range”, lead study author Professor Michael Archer said.

The study was originally intended to assess students’ “level of commitment” to supernatural explanations for our origin, at a time when introducing more evidence of evolution to first-year students might be seen “as a challenge”.

You can read more about the results here, and what the researchers attribute the dip in Australia to.

But the broader takeout is there for Gen Ys to realise that when their parents were at uni, most biology students believed in some form of creationism.

Which is all the proof you need that education can work true miracles in just the space of a single generation.

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