America: Getting Dumber

PRINCETON, NJ — Forty-six percent of Americans believe in the creationist view that God created humans in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years. The prevalence of this creationist view of the origin of humans is essentially unchanged from 30 years ago, when Gallup first asked the question. About a third of Americans believe that humans evolved, but with God’s guidance; 15% say humans evolved, but that God had no part in the process.

Read the rest of the depressing stats: In U.S., 46% Hold Creationist View of Human Origins.

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  • The title of this post is less-than-charitable. Maybe “Americans: Not Getting any Smarter?” Might have been a better title.

    As somebody who has within the past 2-3 years come to recognize the errors of my old belief in Young Earth Creationism, and who hopes to bring others alongside me in this journey, posts with titles such as this do nothing to further that journey. I’m mentally unoffended but somewhere it pinched a little.

  • Colleen

    I kinda skimmed the article, but what exactly is evolved. When using biological models on people, for example, the strongest survive and a measure of survival is reproduction. Well does that mean the lady down the street with five kids driving all day long is stronger and fitter? I think not.

    • Curtis

      Evolution applies to species, not to individuals. If humans survive and thrive, it is not because the lady down the street has five kids, it is because humans have figured out support structures — families, neighborhoods, communities, churches — that provide the opportunity for children to thrive in spite of the occasional bad behavior of individual parents. These social institutions also provide the structure in which all humans play a role in child raising, even people without children themselves. Our genes propagate, not because of the strength of individuals, but because of the strength of our community.

  • It’s blog post titles like this that make you utterly unable to dialogue effectively with people from fundamentalist/mainstream evangelical backgrounds.

    • ME

      I’ll pile on as well. Lets be constructive and strive to be help each other be better Christians. Putting people down is not helpful.

      • Carl

        Tony is incapable of grace and charity, haven’t you all figured that out yet? His vitriol is unending.

        • Scot Miller

          Yea, he’s not an uplifting Christian like Carl, who only says nice things about people.

          • Carl

            Just trying to be like Jesus, Scot. “You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell?” I know, one of those many things you pretend Jesus didn’t say.

  • Keith Rowley

    As Doug noted the title is inaccurate and offensive Tony. I recognize that titles like this drive traffic but still wish you would stove to be above that kind of thing.

  • Chris

    Apparently some people don’t get the subtleties between being a provocateur and being obnoxious.

    There is also a group that isn’t represented here that seems to be growing in numbers, that being old-earth creationists. People who believe that the Genesis account of creation is analogically representative of several very long epochs of time (in the millions, possibly billions of years) and that humans were more or less created in the state that we know them presently.

    There is a spectrum of conviction regarding creation and origins for anyone willing to follow the discussion closely. For the purveyors of this survey to reduce the options to 3 is to my mind extremely shoddy scholarship at best. Considering it’s Princeton though, I’m not surprised.

  • Tony,

    Your strength is in your dialog with others. Not offending them. The last several titles of your posts I would expect from National Enquirer, not a man I do have a lot of respect for, and who has on several occasions, caused me to re-evaluate my beliefs.

    • I am not “the other Carl” btw. I am not a heckler. I do not post here often and did not see his name in the mix.

  • Geez everyone, sorry to offend. I wrote that headline with a wink. I’m not changing it, but your comments are noted.

    • Tom

      It should be noted however that in the past 20 years the percentages have changed little statistically. What I get from this study that in spite of the long, drawn out debate on this subject, no one has actually gotten “dumber” and few people have changed their minds. I’m ready to put this “angels on the head of a pin” debate behind us and let’s move along, shall we?

      • Larry Barber

        But in the past 20 years much more evidence has been found supporting common descent and evolution, since creationists are clinging to their belief in the face of much more contrary information, saying that they have “gotten dumber” is not a stretch. If they had not gotten dumber the proportion of people believing in creation would have declined, not stayed constant.

    • Tony, please do not change it. It wasn’t offensive, just distracting (for me).

    • Carl

      “I wrote that headline with a wink.”

      More excuses, no surprise there.

  • Evelyn

    From taking a hard stare at the graph it seems that the percentage of people believing that “Humans evolved with God guiding” and “God created humans in present form” has remained basically unchanged in the last 30 years but that the percentage of people believing that “Humans evolved but God had no part in the process” has increased by 5% in the last 30 years. I don’t see any evidence for a trade-off between the latter group and the first two groups so my theory is that the percentage of people who are now willing to admit an “atheistic” belief rather than abstaining from the poll has increased by 5% in the past 30 years. I think that this points to a greater degree of acceptance of either atheism or a non-creationist viewpoint in our society.

  • Terry

    Is the title so offensive that no one cares about the poll? We are one of the only developed countries who continues to ignore science (evolutionary theory and environmental science). Actually it goes beyond the ignoring of science to a “battling” science.

    • It’s not so much offensive as it is distracting.

      As to the survey, my guess is that most Americans aren’t so dumb as they are ignorant. Most folks who believe in Young Earth Creationism are likely to believe so because they have heard a scientific-sounding argument in favor of it, and therefore they just believed what they heard. Add to it Christians with PhDs and other science degrees from even secular institutions declaring that science and YEC are compatible, and you have a nice little science war going on. Those inclined to not throw God out of things decide that God is in both, and will give the YEC view of origins a bit more of their ear.

      For many there are more pressing things to learn about. Whether we think the earth is young or old has, for most non-fundamentalists, little effect on participation in the Kingdom of God, our eschatological forecast, ecclesiology, or our daily lives. I’ve ignored the issue for nearly 7 years, and have just now started thinking about it on my own (rather than relying on others to tell me what to believe about it—I used to have signed copies of Ken Ham books!). For those 7 years, MANY more things were more important and worth pursuing and had a much greater impact on my life than learning that the earth is older than I had originally thought.

    • Chris

      It doesn’t matter how true your message is if you present it in a repugnant manner. You will just drive people away.

      And the “battling” is very often coming from the science side of the discussion. The God Delusion, God Is Not Great, etc.

      Dawkins, Shermer, Harris, Hitchins do not draw a distinction between Borg, Moltmann, Piper, or Warren. It’s all nonsense to them.

      • Curtis

        Yeah, we should give all students A’s even if they fail the test. Otherwise, we might drive students away from school.

        Get real. Dumb conclusions deserve to be called dumb. What other name is there for a belief that violates all existing physical evidence about the history of the Earth?

  • Carl

    If only there were some real solid EVIDENCE for evolution, rather than conjecture and hypotheses.

    • Scot Miller

      Yea, that fossil record doesn’t count for anything…

      • Carl

        Hahaha, the fossil record. Good one. Exactly how does that prove evolution or even support it??? The majority of the fossil record when it comes to the “missing links” is completely empty. As Darwin himself said, without a thorough fossil record (which we should have found by now), evolution is bunk. Case closed. Darwin wouldn’t even be an evolutionist by now. Now who’s being “dumb”?

  • I, for one, loved the title. If ignoring overwhelming evidence because of sloppy theology doesn’t constitute “dumb” then the word has no meaning.

  • Honestly, I was going to say this before I read all the other comments; Thank you for that title!

  • Why all the sneering condescension toward Creationists? I have lots of family and friends who hold Creationist views. As one commenter stated, they haven’t studied all the latest scientific facts or read science journals in their spare time. They’re just people who are trying to live Godly, productive lives. Why pick on them?

    I’ve never understood why Christians can’t respect each others’ differences on this issue. There are blowhards on both sides (or however many sides there are) and few who want to learn and willing to respect differences. Only American Christians sit around arguing about this like it’s the Gospel.

    • Because we have a planet that needs taking care of. If you think God created everything a few thousand years ago, you probably also think that you don’t need to do anything to keep rivers from starting on fire or to keep our air breathable. I’m generalizing of course, for the sake of brevity, but that’s why it is important to me.

    • Larry Barber

      Why the “sneering condescension”?

      1. Creationism is bad for the church, it is one of the primary reasons that young people leave the church; after they find out what a crock creationism is, and that their pastors and family have been lying to them, they abandon Christianity. It is also causes anybody with half a brain to despise the church and believers, especially if they think creationism is the one true “Christian” position (as most true creationists hold).

      2. It’s bad for humanity, when we have ecological crises breaking all around us (and climate change is just the start) it can’t be a good thing for nearly half the people in the most powerful nation on the planet to be so ignorant of fundamental science. This is not going to help their decision making ability.

      3. Creationism is bad for individual Christians, it makes you read the Bible in really stupid ways, and this carries over to other areas of faith and doctrine.

      4. I’m tired of explaining to people, “no, I’m not one of the those idiots”.

      • Rich

        Actually, Larry, to your point 2… if life is just here by accident and nothing has any real meaning, then ecological crises have no real meaning and there is no reason to stop them. If, on the other hand, people recognize that we aren’t here by accident and God created us all out of nothing, we have a reason to care about the earth. I am always amazed how evolutionists cannot notice the logical inconsistency of believing in evolution yet caring about morality/humanity/environment/etc. Evolutionary theory as the reason for everything means nothing matters.

        • Curtis

          Evolution is not inherently amoral. Quite to the contrary, evolution indicates that each individual is deeply interdependent on the well being of all other life, which is the fundamental basis of morality.

          • Rich

            Curtis, an evolution without any tie to a creator is inherently an evolution without morality or meaning. Survival of the fittest is the rule of law and only morality. You can say murder is wrong, but cannibals think you taste good.

          • Curtis

            Evolution and morality are inseparable. Moral behavior makes a species more apt to survive.

          • Frank

            Curtis there is nothing moral in natural selection. It’s strictly “data” driven.

          • Curtis

            I don’t think morality and nature are incompatible. Can you think of a moral position that violates natural “data”? I can’t think of one.

          • Scot Miller

            Proponents of (descriptive) evolutionary ethics would argue that morality is an adaptation that contributes to the success of the human species. Evolution explains where morality comes from and why we should be moral (

          • Carl

            Scot, I would like to know then, if homosexuality is something to be praised and adored like you claim, how does that contributes to the success of the human species. At least, to my knowledge, no queer men have developed uteri. So homosexuality is completely the opposite of evolutionary-based morality.

          • Frank

            I never said they were incompatible. In fact morality in many ways has altered human evolution but in evolutionary theory as understood today morality has no place. Where is the morality in plants and animals? Humanity and thus morality is separate and should not be automatically grouped in.

            For the record I see no conflict between science and biblical creationism.

          • Curtis

            Individual parents do not raise children; communities raise children. Communities that include adults that do not bear children, for example homosexual adults, have more productive adults to assist in raising children than communities where all adults are occupied with their own children. Communities with homosexual members are more successful in raising children than communities with no homosexual members. Homosexuality is in line with evolution, as well as with morality.

          • Curtis

            Science does not support “Biblical creationism”. There is overwhelming evidence that species have changed over time. There is no evidence that a species was ever presented to the world in its complete, finished, and immutable form, as argued by “Biblical creationism”.

          • Frank

            Curtis that’s a nice stretch you made there, completely unsupported of course, but good try.

          • Carl

            Curtis, it all depends on if you’re talking about micro evolution or macro evolution. No sane person would disagree that species evolve within themselves. Clearly they do. What there is no evidence for is the idea that species evolve into an entirely different species.

          • Carl please don’t bring your misunderstandings about science here. If anyone is interested in the actual definitions of micro and macro as used in biology, I recommend There is no controversy here, evolution is evolution, regardless of the scale.

        • Larry Barber

          Whether or not life developed by evolutionary pathways (and it almost certainly did) has absolutely no bearing on whether or not there is meaning in life and nature. Special creation does not grant meaning, after all the creator cold be trickster god like Loki, nor does evolution deny it. Further, creationists also tend to hold to various “evacuation theologies”, see my point #3, above, which makes caring about the earth and nature an exercise in futility, God will straighten it all out so we don’t have to worry about, and its all going to burn anyway, right?

        • Rich, there are so many things I could say, but isn’t enough that we care about the creatures who will be using this planet after we are gone? God teaches about love and stewarship. For me that includes people I don’t know and people who haven’t been born yet. The same conclusion can be reached by other religions or by atheists. I am more troubled by someone who needs a young-earth God to provide meaning than by just about any other path to meaningfulness.

          • Rich

            Lausten, atheists can care about those things, but they have no reason to and they can’t claim a valid reason to do so. Their worldview necessitates, if one is rationale and logical, that life is without meaning at all.

            I never said anything about young-earth stuff… I just said a pure evolutionary explanation to life leaves one with nihilism. I’ve met a couple atheists who have been bright enough to realize this and they have embraced that nihilism. Most atheists are too short-sighted to connect the dots.

          • Atheists can claim valid reasons for meaning and they do. A pure evolutionary explanation leaves one with art, mystery, wonder, the stars, beauty, a quizzical look in a child’s eyes, love, hope for the future, breathing fresh air after a cool rain and much more. Sounds like a worldview with plenty of meaning to me. Just because that meaning isn’t handed to them from some scripture, doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Your brief polling of a few atheists is inadequate.

          • Rich

            Lausten, there is no beauty or value of any sort in evolution. Things just are. There is no logical reason one thing is more beautiful than another. If survival of the fittest is the only “morality,” then everything that is still surviving is beautiful, in which case nothing is beautiful. It is all meaningless. The stars happened because some random atoms (which appeared out of nowhere) happened to explode into some random shapes. Art is merely the cells of our brains making our hands do stuff. A painting has no more value than stabbing someone to death. Actually, I take that back. Killing someone is MORE valuable, as it supports the highest good of survival. Love is meaningless (and stupid) with an evolutionary worldview. It gets humans in all sorts of trouble, and many times killed. There is no mystery. Spoiler alert: we’re here because of chance and enough monkeys typing on the big typewriter in the sky.

          • Carl

            “Killing someone is MORE valuable, as it supports the highest good of survival.”

            Which is exactly why Hitler did what he did, and why an evolutionist SHOULD argue that Hitler was a great man (at least, until he stopped surviving).

          • In the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.
            ~ Charles Darwin

            Somebody needs to read The Origin of the Species instead of making up stuff about what they think evolution is. Darwin talks a lot about the value of cooperation and never advocated people killing people.

  • Colleen

    Thank you, ME, it’s easy to forget here:)

  • Colleen

    I thought survival is how well we adapt to our environment

  • Colleen

    Support structures..let’s say this woman’s husband loses his job. She has no education and has never worked out of the home. I seriously doubt those support structures are going to pull through. She has to go into the work arena. That is brutal and her chances of survival are less than her neighbor with no kids and an education..who is more apt to survive…