U.S. Public opinion polls
evolution& creation science
Polls by various groups, 2006 to 2010.
Beliefs in other countries. Sources of beliefs.
2006: CBS Poll:
A late 2006 poll by CBS showed that:
"Americans do not believe that humans evolved, and the vast majority says
that even if they evolved, God guided the process. Just 13 percent say that
God was not involved. ... Support for evolution is more heavily concentrated
among those with more education and among those who attend religious
services rarely or not at all."
|Group of adults
||God created humans in [their]
||Humans evolved, [but] God
guided the process."
||Humans evolved [but] God did
not guide [the] process.
The creationist view seems to have received increasing support when compared
to earlier polls. This might be
partly because of the elderly who represent a gradually increasing part of the U.S.
population. At the same time, support for naturalistic evolution has also
increased. The nation may be becoming more polarized as belief in the compromise
theistic evolution position -- that evolution happened , but under God's guidance -- has dropped.
By any measure, the United States remains a highly religious nation, compared to other
developed countries. American adults tend to hold more conservative beliefs. For example,
the percentage of adults who believe that "the Bible is the actual word of God
and it is to be taken literally, word for word" is 5 times higher in the U.S.
than in Britain. Church attendance is about 4 times higher in the U.S. than it is in
Britain. 2 Similarly, according to one opinion poll, belief
that "Human beings developed from earlier species of animals..."
is much smaller in the United States (35%) than in other
countries (as high as 82%).
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 polling questions that we have ever seen, 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 separately 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 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 widely, and include the origins of the universe, 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
2010: Gallup Poll showing breakdown by sex, education, etc:
Results for the poll reported on 2010-DEC-17 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 beliefs
in creationism in college. See above for similar 1991 data.
Beliefs elsewhere in the world:
Belief in creation science seems to be largely a U.S. phenomenon among
countries the West. A
British survey of 103 Roman Catholic priests, Anglican bishops and
Protestant ministers/pastors, perhaps conducted in 1999 showed that:
|97% do not believe the world was created in six days.|
||80% do not believe in the existence of Adam and Eve as actual persons. 4|
Why do people hold these opinions?
The Wichita Eagle and the Kansas City Star, surveyed 604
respondents on 1999-OCT-22 to 26. Kansas had been a target of much
interest and some ridicule after the state Board of Education dropped the
necessity of teaching evolution in its public schools. 5 Some
interesting comments by Kansans were published. As always, beliefs seem to
be derived from people's fundamental interpretation
of the Bible:
As is normal in media reports, a liberal/progressive religious source or a secular source was not interviewed. If someone who was a
Unitarian Universalist, Humanist, Agnostic, Atheist, or other secularist were
asked, they would probably comment that Genesis is a very beautiful
myth, but not a story that should never be interpreted literally. They might suggest
authors of Genesis lived in a pre-scientific era and simply adopted
creation legends from the surrounding Pagan Mesopotamian cultures that surrounded them.
||Auctioneer Gary Corwin said: "I believe that the Lord God
created everything, just like the Bible says, I don't think we came
from apes." [Darwin was misquoted over a century ago by a reviewer of one of Darwin's books. He said that Darwin believed that
humans are the descendants of apes. Actually Darwin had written that humans and apes had
a common ancient ancestor. This misquote has remained active ever since.]|
|The National Center for Science Education, which promotes
the teaching of evolution. Spokesperson Eugenie Scott commented:
"It goes to the meaning and purpose of life. I think many
Americans believe that somehow they are less special to God if they
evolved from nonhuman animals." [Author's
note: The main alternative to evolution is found in Genesis which
states that Adam came from dirt.]|
||The Rev. Victor Calcote, pastor of Epworth United Methodist
Church in Wichita KS stated: "I believe there is a God
that's in control of creation. I've never gotten hung up on how he
did it." He added: "I don't appreciate some of the
caricatures of Kansans. Just because our school board voted that way
doesn't mean we're [all] a bunch of bumbling idiots."|
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/
- News item in ReligionToday for 1999-DEC-29. They
quoted the Conservative News Service. Original source of data was not
- Most Kansans for evolution: Majority polled think
kids should study, be tested," Associated Press, 1999-NOV-9.
Copyright © 1995 to 2010 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Originally published on 1995-NOV.
Last update: 2010-DEC-26
Author: B.A. Robinson