Creationism, Evolution, Politics

By Dan Merica, CNN

(CNN) – Forty-six percent of Americans believe that God created humans in their present form at one point within the past 10,000 years, according to a survey released by Gallup on Friday.

That number has remained unchanged for the past 30 years, since 1982, when Gallup first asked the question on creationism versus evolution. Thirty years ago, 44% of the people who responded said they believed that God created humans as we know them today – only a 2-point difference from 2012.

“Despite the many changes that have taken place in American society and culture over the past 30 years, including new discoveries in biological and social science, there has been virtually no sustained change in Americans’ views of the origin of the human species since 1982,” wrote Gallup’s Frank Newport. “All in all, there is no evidence in this trend of a substantial movement toward a secular viewpoint on human origins.”

The second most common view is that humans evolved with God’s guidance – a view held by 32% of respondents. The view that humans evolved with no guidance from God was held by 15% of respondents.

Survey: U.S. Protestant pastors reject evolution, split on Earth’s age

Not surprisingly, more religious Americans are more likely to be creationists.

Nearly 70% of respondents who attend church every week said that God created humans in their present form, compared with 25% of people who seldom or never attend church.

Among the seldom church-goers, 38% believe that humans evolved with no guidance from God.

The numbers also showed a tendency to follow party lines, with nearly 60% of Republicans identifying as creationists, while 41% of Democrats hold the same beliefs.

Republicans also seem to be more black-and-white about their beliefs, with only 5% responding that humans evolved with some help from God. That number is much lower than the 19% of both independents and Democrats.

According to Newport, a belief in creationism is bucking the majority opinion in the scientific community – that humans evolved over millions of years.

“It would be hard to dispute that most scientists who study humans agree that the species evolved over millions of years, and that relatively few scientists believe that humans began in their current form only 10,000 years ago without the benefit of evolution,” writes Newport. “Thus, almost half of Americans today hold a belief … that is at odds with the preponderance of the scientific literature.”

The USA Today/Gallup telephone poll was conducted May 10-13 with a random sample of 1,012 American adults. The sampling error is plus or minus 4 percentage points.

 

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than fifty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.

  • RJS

    :( !

  • http://LostCodex.com DRT

    Now John Wayne (also known as American), one of the elect, was not with the others when humans evolved. So the other scientists told him, “We have seen our forefathers!”

    But he said to them, “Unless I see the webbing in his hands and put my finger where the eggs came out, and put my hand on his hairy body, I will not believe.”

    A week later his scientists were in the house again, and John Wayne was with them. Though the it was many years out of time, fossils and other evidence came and stood among them and said, “My record is untainted by human touch!” 27 Then evidence said to John Wayne, “Put your finger here; see my webbed hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my egg laying cavity. Stop doubting and believe.”

    Thomas said to him, “My ancestor and my blood!”

    Then the evidence told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

    Well, this requires more cleaning up than that, but you get my point

  • AHH

    Not that it matters much, but the CNN guy reported one thing backwards.
    The one where there was a big difference (5/19/19) between Republicans compared to Democrats and Independents was the “without God” option. The theistic evolution position was in the low/mid 30s through all 3 political groups.

    Agree with the frown from RJS.
    This does make me wonder — the “Christian Right” does a lot of scaremongering about public schools teaching things like evolution, supposedly indoctrinating the kids. But if that were true, you would think that these numbers would have changed over the past 30 years. I can think of 2 reasons why the recent creationist proportion remains awfully high:
    1) Rather than indoctrinating kids about evolution, or even teaching them about it, public schools avoid the subject for fear of provoking fundamentalist parents. Teachers I know tell me this happens to some extent; even if they do teach about evolution they try to avoid the word.
    2) “Creationism” has become more of a big deal in churches than it was 50 years ago, producing a generation of Christians for whom how and when God created is essential rather than secondary.

  • Patrick

    AHH,

    I think you’re wrong on what schools teach. They most certainly do teach evolutionary biology in Tennessee high schools.

    BTW, I don’t think teachers being scared is their problem, their problem is many Christians(myself included) rejected out of hand anything to do with Charles Darwin and evolution. They may as well have been talking to a rock.

    My daughter did the same at UT.

    Here’s why. We saw A) Darwin and hostile atheists forming a nexus to beat Christians over the head for a century. We had a B) biblicist view of the Bible, so when you add A)+B) what exactly would you have us do in that instance, given up our faith and sided with Darwin and the likes of Richard Dawkins and Karl Marx?

    You have to understand, we didn’t choose to be raised as biblicists, we just were.

    We had the perceived loyalty to Christ to tell the professors to bug off when faced with THAT option. Plus, her professor tried to evangelize her into atheism.

    Now that we’ve been enlightened with a more accurate hermeneutic, we don’t care for or against evolution and neither would these 44% if they had been given the hermeneutic I think God gave us recently. It’s a gift I was not born with. Below though I believe are serious scientific questions:

    http://darwins-god.blogspot.com/

  • Trav

    Are you doing anything in Melbourne, Scot? Or have I missed the boat?

  • Rich

    As someone who grew up attending Ken Ham lectures/debates and saw the influence the Young Earth Creationists have and the rhetoric they employ (mostly arguments based on fear), I’m not surprised. I often heard that rejecting young-earth creationism led to acceptance sexual immorality and the collapse of society etc!

    20 years later I’m very comfortable holding a theistic evolutionary view of creation which developed after many years of learning science and theology at several tertiary institutions. If anything my views on morality have become even more conservative and traditional. Further, my view of Scripture and the importance of its message is undiminished.

    The bottom line is that theological illiteracy breeds fear (and embarrassment). No wonder Dawkins and Co have such a militant bunch of followers!

  • Mike Kennedy

    I am glad to hear they’re still people faithful to God. I am a Catholic and I have personally experienced Christ in my life.. I believe God created the universe about 15 billion years ago.. It makes God’s love for man even more amazing when you know how long he took to put in place a world for him to live on.. I have been in love with science all my life, I have a degree in science. God could have used evolution to create man, but then it would have had to have been purposeful.. Most people that I have talked to about evolution are atheist, so they are totally unwilling to consider any logical or scientific evidence that might show that evolution was purposeful.

  • http://www.nature.com Agnikan

    Theistic evolution is inherent in Genesis. Humans developing from the dust of the ground by God’s command sounds like theistic evolution to me.

  • CGC

    Hi everyone,
    It would be interesting to see a poll on Jesus creed and I wonder what the results would be? I also think we tend to cluster on blogs around the person leading the blog. Since Scot is a theistic evolution person, there are probably more in that category than there normally would be (how much normally? I don’t know?).

    Secondly, If Scot was a young-earth creationist, I suspect there would be a lot more people in that category simply because we have a strong tendency in society and the church to group with people we agree with or are similar to us. I am not saying anything one way or another here about science but only how we sociologically do follow patterns of group think (despite those who are contrarians or are actually drawn to groups which they might be mostly opposite on most of their viewpoints).

    I will add it seems like at least those who respond the most on Scot’s blog have pretty good academic backgrounds or are well-read. I also suspect that might be intimidating to some others as well? . . .

    Shalom.

  • http://deathisdefeated.ning.com/profile/Norm Norman

    Actually I am encouraged that just a few points differentiate between the Creationist and those who consider God could use evolution. I was afraid the later would fair much worse percentage wise but 6 points is not that significant. This conversion is going to take huge investment and will take time for the percentages to start reversing the order. That’s why folks like RJS are so important and their tireless effort will pay off for our children and grandchildren I have no doubt. Peoples won’t want to remain culturally illiterate concerning science forever.

    Cheer up RJS; you’re going to be on the winning science side. :)

  • holdon

    “the majority opinion in the scientific community ”

    Our hope rests on the dissidents. Here is a little rhetoric for you: Living fish go against the stream. Dead fish accumulate massively and that doesn’t smell good. That’s a fact.

    The message here is that majority opinion doesn’t mean it is the right one. The often cited Allmighty “scientific community” is not necessarily correct.

  • http://LostCodex.com DRT

    holdon, here are some for you

    Assure a man that he has a soul and then frighten him with old wives’ tales as to what is to become of him afterward, and you have hooked a fish, a mental slave.
    Theodore Dreiser

    Fish die belly upward, and rise to the surface. Its their way of falling.
    Andre Gide

    I never drink water because of the disgusting things that fish do in it.
    W. C. Fields

    If you believe in your heart that you are right, you must fight with all your might to do it your way. Only dead fish swim with the stream all the time.
    Linda Ellerbee

    and the best one in response to your post

    Let a man get up and say, Behold, this is the truth, and instantly I perceive a sandy cat filching a piece of fish in the background. Look, you have forgotten the cat, I say.
    Virginia Woolf

  • Bev Mitchell

    Clearly, knowledge of modern science is not an essential part of being a faithful Christian, and acceptance of this knowledge need not damage one’s faith. Thus, from the perspective of the Christian community, one of the the most important questions would relate to the attitudes of those who accept or do not accept the findings of evolutionary biology. Should this blog run a survey, as suggested by CGC #9, it would be interesting to see the results for the following questions:

    1. Can a person be a faithful follower of Christ and not accept the well established findings of modern science, including the basic conclusions of evolutionary biology?

    2. Can a person who accepts the well established findings of modern science, including the basic conclusions of evolutionary biology, be a faithful follower of Christ?

    These questions are important because it seems that those who do not accept many of the findings of modern science are fearful that people they distrust will require them to accept something against their will. They seem to feel that if they can keep all ‘true’ Christians on their side, they are more secure. However, actually denying that someone can follow Christ and still accept basic scientific knowledge, may give them pause. Who knows? 

    We should also not forget that those who accept the finding of modern science, especially the basic conclusions of evolutionary biology, by and large could not explain their position at anything remotely resembling a sophisticated level. In a very basic way, they are simply trusting scientists. The working knowledge of science in the general public is even worse that the working knowledge of theology in the church. So, for most people, the issue is one of trust.

  • http://azspot.net Naum

    And the staggering message from these college-educated adults is that they don’t see any difference between science as a belief system and religion as a belief system. So basically, the preacher tells them what religious people believe, the scientists tell them what scientists believe, and [they think] “I can choose either one.” And the reason they can say that is that they don’t understand what we call “science as a way of knowing”. That it is not a belief system, that it is an evidence-based community process. This is just unbelievable, that our American public can determine our future without understanding the fundamental issues about scientific facts. If the population isn’t prepared to deal with these kinds of issues, to think rationally and respect evidence, then I think the country is really in danger. ~Bruce Alberts, president of the National Academy of Sciences (1993-2005)

  • Ron Schooler

    I find it a bit ironic that the very same people who reject evolution out of hand are the very same people who believe in “absolute truth.” They may also believe the axiom that “all truth is God’s truth.” Today there will be a transit of Venus that can be observed by almost everyone on earth (with proper viewing aparatus, not looking bare eyed at the sun). I guess it is a good thing the Bible does not have a “verse” saying it can’t happen. But, remember this, when Galileo asked the doubters to look through his telescope and see for themselves what he described, they refused on the basis that if what they saw was different from their authoritative sources, it must be of the Devil.

    Science is a source of truth, but not all truth. We should not reject what is right in front of our scientific noses.

  • http://jesus.scilla.org.uk/ Chris Jefferies

    I am a follower of Jesus, I believe the truth revealed in the Bible (including the book of Genesis) but I don’t interpret it in the way most ‘creationists’ would do. Perhaps a creationist would say, ‘We don’t interpret Genesis, we take it literally to mean exactly what it says’. I would say that is still an interpretation. The truth in Genesis as in the rest of the Bible is a spiritual truth. It’s the creator’s message to anyone who will hear him. It explains that he is the Prime Cause of everything and that he wants a relationship with his people, that the relationship was broken by disobedience.

    I’m also a retired biologist who worked twenty years in plant reproductive biology. To throw away scientific evidence is foolhardy in the extreme. Soviet genetics floundered for decades because of the regime’s folly in insisting on Lamarkianism because Darwinian evolution was deemed somehow not in the spirit of communism.

    If America rejects evolution by ignoring the evidence it will be hugely damaging to science, technology, and eventually society. Treating the argument as a contest of wills or of doctrines is very, very foolish. It’s essential to look at the evidence carefully, then follow the consensus view of scientists in the relevant field. Don’t abuse the Bible by treating it like a common or garden textbook in biology, geography, or law, or regarding it as poetry or great literature. It was intended as none of those things. It is Yahweh’s word to us about our relationship with him. No more, and no less.

  • http://LostCodex.com DRT

    Chris Jefferies, I think there is a point that you, and others, including myself, regularly makes. That is that people need to understand that they are always interpreting the bible.

    But I am starting to wonder, are people in general able to understand what that means, even when it is explained. I fear we may be up against a basic intelligence problem.

  • http://LostCodex.com DRT

    I also want to clarify. There is nothing wrong with not being able to understand something. To some it is a question of studying it long enough. To others, it just may be beyond them. If something requires a lot of study to understand and then also requires some abstract concepts, which I think this might, we may still have a problem houston (to quote RJS).


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