home
RSS
Survey: U.S. Protestant pastors reject evolution, split on Earth's age
January 10th, 2012
04:18 PM ET

Survey: U.S. Protestant pastors reject evolution, split on Earth's age

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

America’s Protestant pastors overwhelmingly reject the theory of evolution and are evenly split on whether the earth is 6,000 years old, according to a survey released Monday by the Southern Baptist Convention.

When asked if “God used evolution to create people," 73% of pastors disagreed - 64% said they strongly disagreed - compared to 12% who said they agree.

Asked whether the earth is approximately 6,000 years old, 46% agreed, compared to 43% who disagreed.

A movement called Young Earth creationism promotes the 6,000-year-old figure, arguing that it is rooted in the Bible. Scientists say the earth is about 4.5 billion years old.

The Southern Baptist Convention survey, which queried 1,000 American Protestant pastors, also found that 74% believe the biblical Adam and Eve were literal people.

“Recently discussions have pointed to doubts about a literal Adam and Eve, the age of the earth and other origin issues," said Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research, a division of the Southern Baptist Convention, in a report on LifeWay’s site. “But Protestant pastors are overwhelmingly Creationists and believe in a literal Adam and Eve.”

The phone survey was conducted in May 2011, sampling ministers from randomly selected Protestant churches. The survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.2 percent, LifeWay said.

A 2010 Gallup poll found that 40% of Americans believe God created humans in their present form, versus 54% who said humans developed over millions of years.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Christianity • Evangelical • Science

« Previous entry
soundoff (6,504 Responses)
  1. JFKman

    7 n 10 pastors are ignorant!

    January 10, 2012 at 9:58 pm |
    • TAK

      No. 10 in 10 pastors are ignorant. 7 in 10 pastors are freaking nuts.

      January 10, 2012 at 10:12 pm |
  2. frustrated

    Unfortunately, the millions of Christians who accept evolution never make the news.

    January 10, 2012 at 9:56 pm |
    • Colin

      That's ecause they still believe in the supernatural nonsense of a god creating everything, they just push it back to the current limits of our knowledge. Sam krap, different articulation.

      January 10, 2012 at 9:59 pm |
    • Z

      Exactly.

      January 10, 2012 at 9:59 pm |
    • Dr.K.

      I wholeheartedly urge you to shout louder than they do.

      January 10, 2012 at 10:00 pm |
    • Z

      So my "exactly" was to the OP not the followup that assumes people of faith are just practicing different degrees of "God of the gaps", pushed back to the last gap not explained by science. Rather than thinking that there's a point that science will not explain that relies on God, my faith is a way of understanding the world that science is not built to cover. Just like a biochemist will never replace an art historian except, science cannot replace anything but the literalistic aspects of religion's origin stories that play no role in my faith. And even as a practicing Christian and leader in my church, I'm happy to say science does in fact do that piece very well.

      January 10, 2012 at 10:08 pm |
    • Reader50

      "By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible." (Heb 11:3)

      January 10, 2012 at 10:12 pm |
    • ZeroTolerance

       

      February 20, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
  3. S. Vivianne

    Adam's first Consort, according to older myths, was Lilith. She was adamant about being equal to him, and hated to always be on the bottom. Lilith left him for a more interesting partner. Then, according to the myth, Adam cried so much about it, that his god, ba-El, created a shadow woman from Adam's flesh. Eve. (Ova). Personally, I am charmed by the talking asp myth.

    January 10, 2012 at 9:54 pm |
  4. AB

    It is simple; all you've to do is going to your back yard and watch carefully what is going on. Every animal or creatures seemed to have a task. It takes only a supper strategic planner like Jesus Christ to make that happen. If someone is paying close attention to creation, they will automatically wonder how that can be. I have an acre and a half and I watch every creature building up their territory and it is unbelievable what you will see and learn from every one of them.
    If you ever take a cruise and look around and see the ocean only without land, it is vast and powerful, it will take 10 second to swallow that ship, you started to wonder how that can be? If anything happen to that ship, you will end up at the bottom of that ocean.
    Let’s be honest without Jesus that can't be. Sometimes I watch the storm go through while I am on the ship and without the Lord's guidance the ocean could have swallow the ship but after I pray, the ocean seemed to calm down. I know many of you don’t believe the on the Lord, but ask yourself that why is everyone angry at that name Jesus when He is fake and a make believe?
    You can believe in Allah and it is okay but when it comes to Jesus name and the truth, everyone is angry about it. It only makes us Christian stronger because it is proving that Jesus is real and the devil will do anything to discredit Him.

    January 10, 2012 at 9:54 pm |
    • Gadflie

      AB, you have a vivid imagination.

      January 10, 2012 at 9:57 pm |
    • Jim

      I thank Jesus for my Smartphone and the Inter-webs every day, but he just made the Pistons lose to the Dallas Mavericks. If he keeps a ship afloat why would he be so cruel?

      January 10, 2012 at 9:59 pm |
  5. TonyJustin

    I've said it before and I'll say it again, the USA would've have been better off if the Confederacy won the Civil War. That way, the Old South could be a Protestant Theocratic agrarian society, and the rest of the country would be like Canada or Australia.

    January 10, 2012 at 9:52 pm |
    • Jim

      I think the South would have turned into another Apartheid South Africa.

      January 10, 2012 at 9:56 pm |
  6. archimedes109

    If you think evolution is nothing but 'chance,' then you do not understand evolution. The pressures that drive selection are anything but 'chance.' You should take a course in evolutionary biology before you post your ignorance for the world to see.

    January 10, 2012 at 9:50 pm |
    • Chad

      then why does stasis dominate the fossil record?

      January 10, 2012 at 10:15 pm |
    • Z

      Not sure I understand how your question relates to the previous statement Chad, but I'd be happy to take a stab at it if you clarify a bit.

      And archimedes109, surely if you are speaking with such authority on the subject you understand that selection is just one force of evolution. And aside from its "veto power" hardly the strongest!

      January 10, 2012 at 10:19 pm |
    • Chad

      In summary: the fossil record shows millions of years of stable species, then an explosion of necessary mutations, all occurring at the precise necessary time required for more complex organisms to develop, and ALL escaping fossilization.

      “the sudden appearance of most species in the geologic record and the lack of evidence of substantial gradual change in most species—from their initial appearance until their extinction—has long been noted, including by Charles Darwin who appealed to the imperfection of the record as the favored explanation” – Wikipedia

      questions:
      1. Why does stasis dominate?

      2. Why are species always created in these rapid explosions of necessary mutations? Remember that mutations occur all the time but research shows that natural selection eliminates them from the gene pool, that's why species remain unchanged for millions of years. How is it that every species always follows that pattern? How do you over come the mathematical problem of having a series of related mutations?

      3. Why do species always arrive fully formed in the fossil record? How is it that this speciation occurs so abruptly that intermediate forms always escape fossilization?
      Does it really make sense, that ALL species, every single one, millions of them “evolved” along this pattern: nothing happens for millions of years, then in a time period short enough to always escape fossilization ALL of the mutations occur, precisely orchestrated such that more complex organs can develop. All speciations always obey that fantastically improbable sequence. Is this even possible to believe?

      no, without supernatural intervention, it just isnt possible.

      January 10, 2012 at 10:43 pm |
    • Chad

      just a quick math exercise:

      Lets say a mutation occurs every 1 in every 10^7 (10 raised to the power 7) duplications of a DNA molecule.
      I read that we have ~100 trillion cells, so odds are good that we have a couple of mutated cells.

      however, punctuated equilibrium requires rapid and related mutation, not gradualism.

      So, the odds of 2 mutations is 10^7 x 10^7 = 10^14, a hundred trillion.
      Now 2 mutations is a long-long way from a more complex structure, a new species.

      so, 3 mutations? 10^7 x 10^7 x 10^7= 10^21. a billion trillion. "Suddenly, the ocean isn’t big enough to hold enough bacteria to make it likely for you to find a bacterium with three simultaneous or sequential related mutations."

      4 mutations? 10^28, and the earth isnt large enough, and even 4 mutations dont get a new species.

      The mathematical problem of evolution has been acknowledged by evolutionist as a major problem in the "theory". Al l you have to do is google "mathematical problem of evolution"

      January 10, 2012 at 11:05 pm |
    • Wow, just wow.

      Chad really is a rambling idiot.

      January 13, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
  7. tony

    100% of pastors don't think.

    January 10, 2012 at 9:50 pm |
    • Jim

      100% of pastors believe in invisible friends.

      January 10, 2012 at 10:07 pm |
    • Z

      That is an empirically false statement tony.

      January 10, 2012 at 10:20 pm |
  8. sourpickles

    And this is a group that keeps pushing for a stronger political influence...................keep the blinders on friends, it's much easier and comfortable if you don't have to think.

    January 10, 2012 at 9:50 pm |
  9. MashaSobaka

    I'm sorry, but religion is a social disease. I can't wait for humanity to move past it.

    January 10, 2012 at 9:50 pm |
    • ciscokid

      I agree... look at history and tell me of a war that didnt have its roots on religion. Hek, the last ten years alone prove a lot. Let us all love and be happy.

      January 10, 2012 at 10:00 pm |
  10. Keith

    If you look at the Hebrew text of Genesis, God only creates 3 times, and the Hebrew means something more like "created out of nothing". He creates matter, life, and man (in the sense of the human soul). I like how the Catholic Church teaches that the bible is infallible on faith and morals only, so we know God create matter, he created life, and he created the soul. The Bible does not say how, so scientific theories like the Big Bang (developed by a Catholic priest) and Evolution are compatible with Christianity. Christians, as well as atheists, are too eager to deny the compatibility of faith and reason. "Reason and faith cannot be separated without diminishing the capacity of men and women to know themselves, the world and God in an appropriate way" – Pope John Paul II

    January 10, 2012 at 9:49 pm |
    • Chad

      well said

      January 10, 2012 at 10:10 pm |
    • Timmy

      Rationalizations. You people will rationalize anything to keep that 3000 year old book alive. Grow up.

      January 10, 2012 at 10:54 pm |
    • Timmy

      Space-time began at the Big Bang. How can your god "begin" (ie "start" the creative act), "before" time is created ? It's ALL Bull.

      January 10, 2012 at 10:57 pm |
    • Chad

      @Timmy "Space-time began at the Big Bang. How can your god "begin" (ie "start" the creative act), "before" time is created ? It's ALL Bull."

      =>The God of Abraham has no beginning and no end, that's what the bible says.. Pretty amazing concept for a bunch of illiterate goat herders to make up 3500 years ago aye?

      Genesis 1 "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth", God was already there at the beginning. He has no beginning.

      Psalm 90 1 Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

      Psalm 93 "Your throne is established from of old; Thou art from everlasting"

      January 10, 2012 at 11:13 pm |
    • Timmy

      Chad,
      You didn't answer the question. I'm not questioning whether your deity had a beginning or and end. I asked how it is logical to talk about what it was "doing" "before" it created time, since "doing" anything would require time to "do" it in. The best you can say, is it is illogical to say anything about a deity "before" space-time, which sort of leaves out the possibility it existed "before" it created time, (and could have been the creator of everything).

      January 10, 2012 at 11:54 pm |
    • Chad

      @Timmy "How can your god begin before time is created ?

      @Chad "God didnt begin, He had no beginning"

      @Timmy "I'm not questioning whether your deity had a beginning or and end.

      @Chad "er,,., yes you did, see above"

      @Timmy "I asked how it is logical to talk about what it was "doing" "before" it created time, since "doing" anything would require time to "do" it in."

      @Chad "er.. no you didnt, see above.. But in any case, to answer your question: the universe that we live in, this space and time was created by God. How He "lives", and where he "lives" I have no idea. He is able to step into and out of our time/space at will, but is not constrained by it. As such, He is not bound by the space time constraints that exist in this universe.

      January 11, 2012 at 10:44 pm |
  11. Paul

    Why try to debate facts? Evolution is a fact. It exists and it can be proven. Might as well debate whether clouds are in the sky, or the color of George Washington's white horse, or global warming. They are facts. You cannot have an opinion on a fact. You can debate whether a fact has a positive or negative impact.

    A conclusion that can be drawn is that 7 of 10 pastors are not very bright.

    January 10, 2012 at 9:49 pm |
    • Lee

      It can only be proven if you start in the middle of the story. Only faith can explain where the materials to make every/anything we see today came from. How your complex eye, or mechanisms of your ear work is not explained by cosmic soup, a big bang or any other abstract reasoning. It can only be explained by an intelligent designer. It is a shock that there are 3 in 10 teachers of God that believe something different than what their manual – The Bible says.

      January 10, 2012 at 9:55 pm |
    • mrekelligurl

      Well said! I have yet to meet a practicing pastor who was bright! Charismatic, eh..perhaps, decent marketers, yes..someone's kept the business running for 2,000 years...but bright on an intellectual level..nope.

      January 10, 2012 at 9:56 pm |
    • Colin

      Really Lee, and where does your sky-fairy come from?

      January 10, 2012 at 9:57 pm |
    • Gadflie

      Lee, assuming the existence of the most complex being possible to explain something MUCH less complex (the universe being much less complex than God) is the ultimate example of a Rube Goldberg solution. It's laughable that you even pretend that your "reasoning" makes any sense at all.

      January 10, 2012 at 10:06 pm |
  12. Z

    A survey of protestant pastors is going to cover a very wide swath of religious views, from the most literal evangelical to the most progressive mainline protestants. The debates I see in these comments tend to be between those literalists and the atheists who want to characterize all people of faith in this way, ignoring all others who may understand scripture in a way that is central to life in a modern world without being read literally. There are in fact tens of millions of US Christians that belong to mainline protestant churches that generally don't object to scientific understandings of our world, not to mention that the Catholic church has embraced the theory of evolution and itself represents a majority of the Christian population of the world. To those who claim science over the preconceived notions of faith, I would hope that before painting all people of faith with the same brush you would use the same empirical observation you triumph to recognize that it is more likely than not that a Christian belongs to a denomination that supports the theory of evolution than not. Otherwise you are as irrational as those you debate against.

    January 10, 2012 at 9:47 pm |
    • The Phist

      If they didn't object to science, then they'd stop believing in the bible christian myth.

      January 10, 2012 at 9:49 pm |
    • Z

      Only if you define being a Christian as holding a literal understanding of the Bible. One can find truth in the Bible that puts it central to life in the modern world without considering it to be literal fact that would put it in opposition to a scientific understanding of our world.

      January 10, 2012 at 9:55 pm |
    • Chad

      Excellent observations, however I would note that the bible itself when read in complete context, is absolutely 100% consistent with what we know from the origin of the universe (there was nothing then nothing exploded), design (the fact that the universe follows laws, and it's creation itself would have failed if initial conditions had changed by infinitesimally small amounts) and the fossil record (stasis then new species appear in the fossil record fully formed).

      The real problem in my opinion is that people think that "taking the bible literally" gives them license to take verses completely out of context and distort the meanings of the original authors. The authors meant exactly what they meant to say. Some is literal, some is imagery, some is poetry. That's the bible, if you don't want to try and understand what the original author meant to say, you are simply trying to distort for an ulterior motive.

      January 10, 2012 at 10:04 pm |
  13. Sam

    There is no sense in attempting to convince these people that the Bible is just a book of myths written by people that lacked scientific knowledge.

    January 10, 2012 at 9:47 pm |
    • DeeCee1000

      I just don't understand why the Judeo-Christian God quit writing in His bible. Did His hand get tired? Did he have to run out to get more ink? Why did He stop writing?

      January 10, 2012 at 9:51 pm |
    • Reader50

      He was finished.

      January 10, 2012 at 10:03 pm |
  14. PleaseUseLogic

    I'm going to jump to conclusions and guess that upwards of 90% of the creationist pastors who know that they are against evolution would be unable to accurately describe what evolution actually is and what they are against. They just know that they're against it. Of the few creationists that I've encountered in my life (usually south of the Mason-Dixon line), not a single one has been able to describe (with any accuracy) what evolution or evolutionary theory is. Most don't even know that there is a difference. It would be entertaining if it weren't so pathetic and unfortunately pertinent to our education system and world standing in science and technology. I will say that there are a number of ideas and topics in the world with which I disagree, but I can still accurately describe those ideas just as well as someone with an opposing viewpoint. Creationists, not so much.

    January 10, 2012 at 9:46 pm |
  15. Rod

    That's why so many people are rejecting today's churches. People refuse to accept that the earth is flat or that evolution is incompatible with religion. If you have to accept medieval views of the world in order to attend church then many people will choose not to attend. Most people that insist evolution is wrong don't have the slightest understanding of it. Even today you come across people who insist that evolution says that humans evolved from monkeys. It's pure ignorance and a bias against reason and understanding.

    January 10, 2012 at 9:44 pm |
    • Dr.K.

      and yet they still go get flu shots and don't understand why.....

      January 10, 2012 at 9:47 pm |
  16. Cielo

    The more Southern baptists you get into a room, the lower the aggregate IQ drops!

    January 10, 2012 at 9:42 pm |
    • mrekelligurl

      Ramen for that! :P

      January 10, 2012 at 10:22 pm |
  17. ILOVECULTSIWANTTOBEINONE

    I don't know about anybody else, but I sure feel like donating a ton of money to a worthless cause all of a sudden.....

    January 10, 2012 at 9:42 pm |
    • DeeCee1000

      All we are really is just a bunch of really really bored creatures.

      January 10, 2012 at 9:57 pm |
  18. ihasasmart

    It's mindboggling that people in America, in the 21st century, believe that the Earth is only 6 thousand years old. That is no less hysterically ignorant than believing that the Earth is flat or that the sun revolves around it. Scary that these kind of people have the power to vote...

    January 10, 2012 at 9:42 pm |
    • Cielo

      I've always believed that there should be a minimum IQ to vote. Southern Baptists need not apply.

      January 10, 2012 at 9:44 pm |
    • Reader50

      By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. (Heb 11:3)

      January 10, 2012 at 10:08 pm |
  19. SJ

    Amazing how people don't stop and think that it takes faith to believe both Evolution and Creationism. You either believe God or you believe "chance". I think it takes more faith to believe in evolution than it does to do so in creationism. At least you know that there is a God who created. In evolution, you don't even have that and have to blindly rely that man came into existence on his own.

    The choice is simple – Do you believe whether God created man or Man created himself ? Its that simple....

    January 10, 2012 at 9:41 pm |
    • Catherine

      You have a stunning ignorance of evolution.

      January 10, 2012 at 9:45 pm |
    • gabe

      amazing how ignorant you are. boggles the mind that people like you exist. its a shame.

      January 10, 2012 at 9:46 pm |
    • Jim

      Faith is defined as belief without proof or evidence. Plenty of evidence for evolution.

      January 10, 2012 at 9:46 pm |
    • DeeCee1000

      You really have no idea what the heck you're talking about. Go do some studying.

      January 10, 2012 at 9:47 pm |
    • The Gospel 10

      well can one of you genuises enlighten us on evolution.

      January 10, 2012 at 10:00 pm |
    • BL

      As a person of faith it saddens me to see such an uninformed perspective. I suspect many of the respondents did not have issues with evolutionary priciples when getting flu shots for the prevalent strains of influenza this year. The concept of change over time in the natural world is known; I wish that others would see that evolution and faith in God are not mutually exclusive

      January 10, 2012 at 10:00 pm |
    • LinCA

      @The Gospel 10

      You said, "well can one of you genuises enlighten us on evolution."

      Start here:
      http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/evolution/library/faq/cat01.html

      January 10, 2012 at 10:04 pm |
    • Wizard

      Excellent Point!! They same argument can me made for nearly every major difference of opinion there is: Global warming, GOP vs DEM, etc. In may cases there is often strong evidence for one side to be right, yet the other side will still 'believe' they are right.

      January 10, 2012 at 10:24 pm |
    • Timmy

      A perfect example why this country need voting tests. Anyone THAT stupid shouldn't even be allowed to drive.

      January 10, 2012 at 11:03 pm |
  20. .......

    Captan Obvious Strikes Again!!!!

    January 10, 2012 at 9:41 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80

Post a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

« Previous entry
Advertisement
About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.