Gallup has been taking polls for 30 years now giving people three options for their beliefs on human evolution: 1) humans evolved over millions of years but guided by God; 2) humans evolved over millions of years on their own; 3) humans were created by God in their present form in the last 10,000 years. And little has changed over the decades. 46% believe that humans were created by God in the last 10,000 years; 32% believe humans evolved over a long period of time with God’s guidance; and 15% believe humans evolved without divine assistance.
The plurality clearly doesn’t know anything about the human fossil record; if they do, they have to engage in some serious rationalization to get rid of the evidence rather than explain it. We have an excellent series of fossil species leading from earlier ape-like animals to modern humans that show the evolution of all the key traits of humanity — bipedality, dentition, brain to body size ratio, etc. — that can’t be explained rationally with either the creationist or theistic evolutionist position.
How would they explain it? Was God just practicing? Is God so limited that he had to work his way up, making an almost-almost-almost human, then an almost-almost human, then an almost-human and finally Homo sapiens? This is how humans often create things, of course, but it seems rather odd for an infinitely powerful being. The young earth creationists have the most absurd argument of all, which is that every hominid species is either obviously ape or obviously human, though amusingly they can never agree on which specimens belong to which group.
Of course, the vast majority of those answering the poll, and the vast majority of Americans in general, are utterly ignorant of all the evidence and have no understanding at all of how evolution operates. They wouldn’t know Homo habilis from homo-eroticism. If they were intellectually honest, 90% or more would answer “I don’t know” to such a question because, in fact, they don’t know. They don’t have the first clue. But they think they do.