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U.S. Public opinion polls on evolution & creationism

Harris Polling data in 2013.
Beliefs by Americans of different faiths.

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This topic is continued from an earlier essay

2013: U.S. National Harris Poll showing breakdown by political affiliation, and age:

Results for the poll reported on 2013-DEC-18, based on a sample size of 2,250 American adults, were:

  • About evolution:
    • 47% of respondents said that they believe in evolution -- apparently including those who believe in either theistic or naturalistic evolution.

    • 29% said they don't believe in evolution.

    • 25% were uncertain.

  • About creationism:
    • 36% of respondents said that they believe in creationism,

    • 31% said they don't believe in creationism.

    • 33% were uncertain.

  • Belief by political affiliation:
    • 36% of Republicans, 52% of Democrats and 51% of Independents believe in "Darwin's theory of evolution."

    • 49% of Republicans, 30% of Democrats and 34% of Independents believe in creationism.

  • Belief by age of respondent:
    • 49% of "Echo Boomers" (aged 18 to 36) believe in "Darwin's theory of evolution," as do 48% of Gen Xers (37 to 48), 45% of Baby Boomers (49 to 67), and 43% of Matures (68+)

    • 33% of Echo Boomers (aged 18 to 36) believe in creationism as do 35% of Gen Xers (37 to 48), 38% of Baby Boomers (49 to 67), and 37% of Matures (68+)

  • Shift in belief from 2005 to 2013:
    • Believers in Darwin's theory of evolution gained 5% in numbers.
    • Believers in creationism decreased by 3%.
    • These data are probably not statistically significant.

The Harris report stated:

"Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated." 1 If the respondents had been randomly selected, the margin of error would have been ±2.1 percentage points.

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Beliefs among Americans of different religions and Christian groups:

Wikipedia published the following graphic showing belief in evolution for Americans of different religions and faiths. 2 Data was derived from Pew Forum poll in 2007. 3 However, the data is probably fairly reliable for 2014 because teachings within various religions and denominations change very slowly.

Belief in evolution by faith 2,3

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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. 4 Some interesting comments by Kansans were published. As always, beliefs seem to be derived from people's basic interpretation of the Bible:

  • 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."

    Webmaster's note: 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.

  • Eugenie Scott is a spokesperson of the National Center for Science Education, which promotes the  teaching of evolution. He 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."

    Webmaster'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. ... 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."

As is normal in media reports, liberal/progressive religious sources and secular sources were not considered. If someone who was a Unitarian Universalist, Humanist, Agnostic, Atheist, freethinker, or other secularist were asked, they would probably comment that Genesis is a very beautiful myth, but not a story that should be interpreted literally. They might suggest that the authors of Genesis lived in a pre-scientific era and simply adopted creation legends from the surrounding Pagan Mesopotamian cultures. 

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This topic continues in the next essay

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Evolution in a new Harris poll," National Center for Science Education," 2013-DEC-18, at: http://ncse.com/
  2. "Level of support for evolution," Wikipedia, as on 2014-JAN-29, at: http://en.wikipedia.org/
  3. "Religious Differences on the Question of Evolution," Pew Research, 2009-FEB-04, at: http://www.pewforum.org/
  4. "Evolution in a new Harris poll," National Center for Science Education," 2013-DEC-18, at: http://ncse.com/

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Copyright © 2010 to 2014 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2014-JUN-04
Author: B.A. Robinson
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