Pastors Unconvinced … Now What? (RJS)

Pastors Unconvinced … Now What? (RJS) January 10, 2012

The question of Adam and Eve has come up often in the discussion of the relationship between science and faith. While it has no impact for the unbeliever from the science side of the question, it is a serious issue from the Christian side of the question. We’ve discussed it at length through C. John Collins’s recent book, Did Adam and Eve Really Exist?: Who They Were and Why You Should Care, and will return to the question once I get a copy of Pete Enns’s book, The Evolution of Adam: What the Bible Does and Doesn’t Say about Human Origins, published just this month.

On this general topic there is a recent poll by LifeWay Research, brought to my attention by a reader. (HT DA) It is worth some discussion here.

Poll: Pastors oppose evolution, split on earth’s age (and another version of the article here.)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP) — Pastors overwhelmingly believe that God did not use evolution to create humans and think Adam and Eve were literal people, according to a survey by LifeWay Research.

The survey of 1,000 American Protestant pastors, released Jan. 9, also found that ministers are almost evenly split on whether the earth is thousands of years old.

“Recently discussions have pointed to doubts about a literal Adam and Eve, the age of the earth and other origin issues,” said Ed Stetzer, vice president of research and ministry development for LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. “But Protestant pastors are overwhelmingly creationists and believe in a literal Adam and Eve.”

Most pastors both believe Adam and Eve were literal people and doubt that God used evolution to create people.

Do any of these findings surprise you?

Most of the findings in the LifeWay poll are unsurprising. The overall results on the evolution of humans and on Adam and Eve are not much different than I expected. Nor is it surprising that that pastors in the Northeast are most likely to strongly agree that God used evolution to create humans (25%) but pastors in the South are least likely to strongly agree (8%), or that education plays a role, with more highly educated pastors somewhat more favorable to an old earth and evolution in general.

Others results are more surprising – like the link between age and conviction on the age of the earth. The negative construction here is a bit confusing – but younger pastors are more likely to accept a young earth.

I must admit that this last one both surprised me and concerns me. Pastors are split on the age of the earth with about 43% disagreeing that the earth is 6000 years old, 46 % agreeing that it is 600o years old and 12% unsure. However, the age distribution suggests that the protestant church is moving toward the young earth position rather than away from it.

As a Christian and a scientist, this does not seem to me a trend that bodes well for the future.

What do you think? Is this a real trend?

If so, why do you think this trend exists?

What can or should be done about it?

If you wish to contact me directly you may do so at rjs4mail[at]

If interested you can subscribe to a full text feed of my posts at Musings on Science and Theology.

Browse Our Archives