U.S. Public opinion polls
evolution& creation science
Polls by various groups, 1999 to 2005
1999: Fox News poll:
During 1999-AUG-25 & 26, Fox News asked what is the more likely
explanation for the origin of human life: the theory of evolution as outlined by
Darwin and other scientists, or the biblical account of creation. Results were:
||Biblical creation: 50%
This poll reveals the widespread lack of knowledge of theories of origins. In
discussing human origins, Darwin described the evolution of apes and humans from
an ancient common ancestor. He believed that species can be tracked further back
for billions of years until the first form of life appeared: a single cell. The
Bible talks about God creating the first two humans -- one man and one woman --
out of mud, independently of other species. The two belief systems are mutually
exclusive and cannot be harmonized. 1
1999: Beliefs among conservative Christians:
In 1999-NOV, Focus on the Family, a Fundamentalist Christian
agency, concluded a poll of their web site visitors concerning their
beliefs, mainly about age of the earth. Results were:
||God created the universe, but I don't know when: 46%
||God created the universe thousands of years ago: 43%
||God created the universe billions of years ago: 10%
||Life came into being and evolved on its own: 1%
I don't have a clue: 0.4% 2
[Author's note: The poll is not particularly well
designed; it mixes apples and oranges. The first three options concern
when the world came into existence and assumes that God created it. The
fourth response concerns evolution of life on earth. A participant in the
poll might well believe that God created the world billions of years ago
and that life evolved on its own. They would believe in two options, but
could mark only one.]
The participants in the poll are self-selected from among the visitors
to the Focus web site. They are probably almost exclusively fundamentalist or other
evangelical Christian believers.
2000: Beliefs among some Internet surfers:
The Christianity section of About.com conducted a poll of its readers during
2000-SEP. They listed two responses which more or less agree with the
creationist, and theistic evolution beliefs. Their third response, that
evolution is a fact, would probably have received the votes of most believers in
Their final option would probably have been selected by some creationists who
believe that students should be exposed to all belief systems, and by others who
are undecided. Results were:
|Group of adults
||Evolution is an unproven
theory, contrary to God's revealed truth.
||Evolution was simply the means
God chose to create life on this planet.
||Evolution is not just a
theory, it is a fact.
||Evolution may be an unproven
theory, but it is important enough to merit study in our school systems.
These results are based on 2,904 votes. The margin of error in this poll
is ~+mn~1.8 percentage points.
Needless to say, the Internet surfers
who responded to the poll are are not necessarily typical
of surfers generally, or of the general public. 3
2005-MAR: NBC News:
NBC News conducted a survey between 2005-MAR-8 and 10. They asked about the
origin of human life -- whether it happened by evolution or "the biblical
account of creation." If they answered the biblical account, they were then
asked whether they believed that "God created the world in six days and rested
on the seventh," or that God was "... a divine presence in the formation of the
||Humans came to be via evolution: 33%
||God created the world in 6 days: 44%
||God was a divine presence: 13%
||Don't know: 10%
We are at a loss to understand what "God as a divine presence" means as far
as origin of the species is concerned.
2005-JUL: Pew Research poll:
Between 2005-JUL-7 and 17, Pew Research asked about the history of humans and
other species: whether they "...have existed in their present form since the
beginning of time," or have evolved over time." If the subject
selected evolution, then they were asked an additional question: whether the evolution
was driven by natural processes or guided by a supreme being.
Results were as follows. We have included similar results from a Gallup poll
of eight months earlier for comparison:
||Existed in present form only: 42% (Creationist); cf. 45% for Gallup.
||Evolved via natural processes: 26% (Naturalistic evolution); cf. Gallup's
||Evolved via God's guidance:: 18% (Theistic evolution); cf. Gallup's 38%
||Don't know: 14%
As Benjamin Disraeli once said: "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned
lies, and statistics." The Pew and Gallup results about creationism were a close
match. However, the values for naturalistic evolution differed greatly: the Pew results were twice that of Gallup. On theistic
evolution, the Pew results were less than half that of Gallup. This is one of
the best examples that we have seen of how the phrasing and structure of a
question can massively affect the result.
Pew Research suggests that the Gallup Poll gave the subjects three
options: pro-God (Creationism), another pro-God (Theistic evolution) and anti-God
(Naturalistic evolution). Many respondents might have found the third option
distasteful because it would deny the existence of God -- or at least the
involvement of God. Only 13% chose this option -- roughly the percentage of
people who do not believe in a personal deity. [Many sources quote other Gallup
polls as stating that about 94% of people believe in a personal God. This is in
error. That result corresponds to whether the person believes in God or a
Pew's technique is very different. The first question asked was whether the
subject believed that humans and other living things "evolved over time"
or existed in its "present form since the beginning of time." Here the
stress is on humanity; God is not even mentioned. The subject might well be more
comfortable answering "evolution." At this point, the second question
would be answered: whether life evolved due to natural processes or God's
intervention. Note that Pew described naturalistic evolution "a natural
process," while Gallup used the expression "God had no part in." The
positive nature of Pew's phrase might well encourage more people to choose
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
"Reading the Polls on Evolution and Creationism," Pew Research Center,
2005-SEP-28, at: http://people-press.org/
"What do you believe about creation or evolution?," Focus
on the Family poll, at: http://www.focusonthefamily.org/
"Darwin makes a comeback in Kansas," at: http://christianity.about.com/ The management of this section of About.com was changed and the poll data removed.
Copyright © 1999 to 2015 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Originally published on 1995-NOV.
Last update: 2014-JUN-04
Author: B.A. Robinson