U.S. Public opinion polls
evolution & creationism
North American polls, from 2007 to 2010.
2007: Gallup Poll:
In the spring of 2007, following an all-candidates meeting of ten Republicans
seeking the presidency, three denied a personal belief in evolution. This
promoted the Gallup Organization to ask American adults between 2007-MAY-21-24:
"Do you, personally, believe in evolution or not."
This is one of the
poorest questions that we have ever seen by any polling company, because people generally hold
one of three beliefs concerning origins:
Naturalistic evolution: Evolution happened according to purely
natural forces and processes without any divine guidance.
Theistic evolution: Evolution happened and was/is guided by God.
Creationism: Species were created individually by God.
When a person is asked if they believe in evolution, they might interpret the
question as belief in naturalistic evolution only. Alternately, they might
consider it as asking whether one believes in either naturalistic or theistic
evolution. Pollsters tend to like simple yes and no answers. Sometimes they do
not handle questions well where there are three or more discrete positions.
In addition, some people regard evolution as covering only the development of life
forms from the first one-celled animal to the present diversity of plants and
animals. Others define the term more broadly, and include the origins of the universe, the origin of the first life forms, the development of
galaxies, stars, planetary systems, development of mountain ranges, continental
The results, for what they are worth are a statistical draw:
- 49% believe in "Evolution;"
- 48% do not;
- 2% have no opinion.
As expected, more highly educated adults believe in "evolution:"
- 74% of people with post-graduate degrees believe in "evolution," as do:
- 48% of college graduates
- 50% of adults with some college
- 41% of adults with high school or less.
More frequent attendance at religious services correlated with a lack of
belief in "evolution:"
- 24% of those who attend weekly believe in evolution, as do
- 52% of those who attend nearly weekly or monthly, and
- 71% of those who attend seldom or never.
As expected, political affiliation reflects a difference of opinion on
- Only 30% of Republicans believe in "evolution;" 68% do not.
- 61% of independents believe in "evolution;" 37% do not.
- 57% of Democrats believe in "evolution;" 40% do not.
The five main reasons why people say they do not believe in "evolution" are
their belief Jesus Christ, belief in
God, "due to my religion or faith," "not enough
evidence," and belief in the Bible. 3
2008-JUL: Beliefs about creationism and evolution in Canada:
About 150 years after Charles Darwin published his world changing book "The Origin of Species," Angus Reid Strategies studied the beliefs of Candian adults about evolution and young-earth creationism. They found that:
- 58% of Canadian adults believe that human beings evolved from less advanced forms of life.
- 22% of those sampled said that God created human beings within the last ten thousand years.
- 20% were not sure or didn't answer.
- Results by gender: 69% of men and 48% of women believe in evolution; 28% of women believe in creationism vs. 16% of men.
- Results by age: 67% of younger adults believe in evolution.
- Results by education: 47% of respondents with a high school diploma or less believe in evolution; 8% of persons with a college or technical school diploma agree. So do 71% of university graduates where believe in evolution.
- Results by political orientation: 29% of Conserative party supporters believe in creationism outnumber creationists by 7% to 14%.
Number sampled = 1,007. margin of error is ~+mn~3.1 percentage points. Data was constant within 1 percentage point between polls conducted in mid-2007 and mid-2008.
In spite of the close similarities between American and Canadian cultures, belief in evolution differs markedly in the two countries. The main reason might be religious belief. Evangelical Christian are only about a third as common in Canada as in the U.S. Also, about 40% of Americans say that they attend religious services weekly, whereas only about 20% of Canadians say that they do. (Actually, about half are lying, as the real church attendance -- confirmed by counting noses among attendees one county at a time -- show that actual attendance is about half what adults say.)
2010: Gallup Poll showing breakdown by education, and church attendance:
Results for the poll reported on 2010-DEC-17 showed a significant drop in support for belief in creationism, and a corresponding increase in the acceptance of the two types of evolution during the previous four years. They were:
|God created man pretty much in his present
form at one time within the last 10,000 years.
||Man has developed over millions of years
from less advanced forms of life, but God guided this process, including man's creation.
||Man has developed over millions of years
from less advanced forms of life. God had no part in this process.
|High school diploma or less
|Attend church weekly
|Attend church almost weekly
|Seldom or never attend church
These results show how difficult it is for people to maintain their religiously-based beliefs
in creationism in college, and how much church attendance indirectly increases belief in creationism.
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- "GOP debate reveals widespread ignorance of science, startling role of how
religion is affecting politics, culture," AANews newsletter, 2007-MAY-06.
Johnathan Moore, "What do Americans believe about the origin of species,"
Public Religion Project, 1998-OCT-12.
Frank Newport, "Evolution Beliefs," Gallup Organization, 2007-JUN-11, at: http://www.galluppoll.com/
Jeff Hecht, "Why doesn't America believe in evolution?" New Scientist, 2006-AUG-19, at: http://www.newscientist.com/
"Canadians believe human beings evolved over millions of years," Angus Reid Strategies, 2008-AUG-05, at: http://www.angusreidglobal.com/
Copyright © 1995 to 2014 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Originally published on 1995-NOV.
Last update: 2014-JUN-04
Author: B.A. Robinson