A new Gallup poll shows that 73% of Americans subscribe to creationism in one form or another, including 42% who take a literal interpretation of Genesis. This is a result that's changed very little over the past three decades.
The poll, conducted between May 8 to 11, asked respondents to identify which of the following three statements came closest to their own views on the origin and development of human beings:
- Human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God guided this process
- Human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God had no part in this process
- God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so
The results: 42% said God created humans in their present form, 31% said humans evolved with God guiding, and a paltry 19% said God had no part in the process. That means 73% of Americans don't understand Darwinian natural selection — a stand-alone process that does not require supernatural intervention.
By contrast, 22% of people in Canada and the UK believe in literal creationism. By contrast, in Norway, only 8% still believe in creationism.
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The number of Americans who believe God had no part in the process has doubled since 1999.
Not surprisingly, people who claimed to be unfamiliar with the rudiments of evolution were more likely to say God was involved. At the same time however, and quite arrogantly, people claiming to be either very or somewhat familiar — nearly 70% of the respondents — still claimed that God was involved:
Frank Newport of Gallup goes over the implications:
Between 40% and 47% of Americans over the past 32 years have said the creationist explanation for the origin of human life best fits their personal views. These Americans tend to be highly religious, underscoring the degree to which many Americans view the world around them through the lens of their religious beliefs. Those who adopt the creationist view also tend to have lower education levels, but given the strong influence of religious beliefs, it is not clear to what degree having more education or different types of education might affect their views.
A number of states have been embroiled in fights in recent years over the degree to which evolution and creationism should be included in their public school curricula. Residents in the South are more likely to believe in the creationist view of the origin of humans than are those living in other regions, making it clear why the fights to have creationism addressed in the public schools might be an important political issue in that region.
Still, few scientists would agree that humans were created pretty much in their present form at one time 10,000 years ago, underscoring the ongoing discontinuity between the beliefs that many Americans hold and the general scientific consensus on this important issue.
Top image: Olivier Le Queinec/Shutterstock | Chart via Gallup.