Most Americans Are Fine With Evolution (RJS)

 Most White Evangelicals Are Not.

The Pew Research Center recently released the results of a poll on views of human evolution in the US. The poll reports that 60% of adults in the US believe that humans and other living things have evolved over time, 33% believe that humans and other living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time and 7% didn’t know or didn’t answer. A question substituting the word “animals” for “humans” gave only slightly different results (63%, 32%, 5% respectively.)

The breakdown by religious identification is interesting, but not terribly surprising.

The percentages with the religious affiliations are from a separate report on the Pew site – these affiliations account for 91% of the US population. White Evangelical Protestants, accounting for about 24% of the US population, are more skeptical of evolution than any other group. About 64% of us believe that humans and other living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time while 27% of us accept evolution (18% go on to say that God guided the process and 8% attribute evolution to “natural processes”).

The age distribution is a little more interesting. There is a clear trend with age among all adults. Those under 30 are substantially more likely to accept evolution than those who are over 65.

The trend is clear for the question that puts human evolution in focus and even more for the more general question that takes the focus off of human origins and asked about animals and other living things. There is also a clear trend with education. More than three quarters of those with a college education agree that animals have evolved over time, 72% agree that humans have evolved over time.

God versus Nature. The poll asked those who agreed that humans (or animals) evolved over time a follow-up question concerning agency with two options –

Humans (or animals) and other living things have evolved due to natural processes such as natural selection

Or

A supreme being guided the evolution of living things for the purpose of creating humans (or animals) and other life in the form it exists today.

Here the divisions are intriguing – and lead to some interesting questions. White mainline Protestants and white Catholics accepting evolution split evenly between the two options (36/36 and 33/33 respectively). Hispanic Catholics lean toward “natural processes” while black Protestants and white evangelical Protestants favor guided evolution.

Rather than give my reaction to this poll and the information it provides, I’ll open it for conversation.

Are the results of this poll surprising?

Does it agree with your experience?

Should it have any message for the church?

If you wish to contact me directly, you may do so at rjs4mail[at]att.net

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