U.S. Public opinion polls
evolution & creationism
Polls by various groups, 2006 to 2010.
2006: CBS Poll:
A late 2006 poll by CBS showed that:
"[Most] 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, some polls in the late 1990's showed that:
- 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.
- The belief
"Human beings developed from earlier species of animals..."
is much smaller in the United States (35%) than in other
countries (as high as 82%).
- Church attendance is about 4 times higher in the U.S. than it is in
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
2010: Gallup Poll showing breakdown by sex, education, etc:
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/
Copyright © 1995 to 2014 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Originally published on 1995-NOV.
Last update: 2014-FEB-04
Author: B.A. Robinson