According to a recent Gallup poll, 4 out of 10 Americans believe that God created man in his image about 10,000 years ago (the “creationist” perspective). Thirty-eight percent of those polled believe God guided a process by which humans developed over millions of years from less advanced life forms (the “theistic evolution perspective), while 16% believe humans developed over millions of years, without God’s involvement (the “secular evolution” perspective), a number that has risen from 9% in 1982.
Unsurprisingly, Americans’ views on creationism and evolution vary according to level of education and religiosity. Those who have college and postgraduate degrees are more likely to subscribe to one of the perspectives involving evolution, although the most significant difference is between people with postgraduate degrees, who are far less likely to be “creationists” than even people who have college degrees.
Regular churchgoers were also more likely to believe in creationism, although it was certainly not a universal viewpoint. A quarter of creationists attended church seldom or never, but only 2% of weekly churchgoers believed that God had no part in guiding human development.
A significantly higher number of Republicans subscribed to creationism, although a sizeable percentage of creationists said that they were Democrats or independent.
Because most Americans are religious and believe in God, these results are fairly unsurprising, especially the finding that about 8 in 10 of Americans believe that God had some hand in human creation. What may be more distressing for scientists is that 40% of Americans refuse to give science any place in their view of human origins, and certainly, that has serious political implications. The people at Gallup concluded that since these numbers have stayed mostly stable since the early 1980′s, they don’t indicate any major shifts in American public opinion, so we can continue the debates over evolution to continue – despite the fact that the “secular evolution” perspective seems, over time, to be gaining force.
Photo from Wikimedia Commons.