While scientists believe the universe began with a Big Bang, most Americans put a big question mark on the concept, an Associated Press-GfK poll found.
Yet when it comes to smoking causing cancer or that a genetic code determines who we are, the doubts disappear.
When considering concepts scientists consider truths, Americans have more skepticism than confidence in those that are farther away from our bodies in scope and time: global warming, the age of the Earth and evolution and especially the Big Bang from 13.8 billion years ago.
Rather than quizzing scientific knowledge, the survey asked people to rate their confidence in several statements about science and medicine.
On some, there's broad acceptance. Just 4 percent doubt that smoking causes cancer, 6 percent question whether mental illness is a medical condition that affects the brain and 8 percent are skeptical there's a genetic code inside our cells. More - 15 percent - have doubts about the safety and efficacy of childhood vaccines.
About 4 in 10 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, though most were at least somewhat confident in each of those concepts. But a narrow majority - 51 percent - questions the Big Bang theory.
TVNL Comment: This embarrassing statistic is the result of pure ignorance, the lack of science teaching in our schools, and the influence of religious mythology. Another example of American exceptionalism, no doubt....