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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 • Science

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soundoff (6,504 Responses)
  1. Dr. C.

    Sickle cell....that is a correlation. That is not a trans species causal mechanism. Where is your trans species causal mechanism?

    January 10, 2012 at 11:41 pm |
    • Gadflie

      What makes you think that there need be a separate mechanism? There is no evidence at all of that necessity.

      January 10, 2012 at 11:45 pm |
    • Blinded by the light

      Dr.C's reply button must not work. He ignores you and moves on.

      January 10, 2012 at 11:47 pm |
    • The Phist

      Yeah. It is an idiot.

      January 10, 2012 at 11:50 pm |
    • Atheists are -t--id

      yo blinded-How do you know Dr C is a he and not a she?

      January 10, 2012 at 11:50 pm |
    • go4it

      Women aren't that stubborn!

      January 10, 2012 at 11:52 pm |
    • MC Hammer

      Dr C.-With these kinda responses it will take you another millenia to get answers from atheists who have apparently not yet fully evolved from being an ape. Good luck Dr C.

      January 10, 2012 at 11:57 pm |
    • Blinded by the Light

      I meant the proverbial "he". Anyway, go is right about women.

      And MC Hammer - "Sticks and stones..." Come on. Try to do better than that.

      January 10, 2012 at 11:59 pm |
    • The Phist

      Well, it's difficult to answer a tool that claims evolution is unobservable, when in fact it is. The rest of it's drivel is nothing more than fecal-flavored vomit.

      January 11, 2012 at 12:01 am |
    • Dr.K.

      Dear MC Hammer, millenia is plural, o evolved one, I think "millenium" is what you were attempting.

      January 11, 2012 at 12:04 am |
  2. Bad_Art

    "Pastor" is not the same as minister. One does not have to get a degree in theology to become a "Pastor". Judging by this survey I'm sure at least 46% of them aren't smart enough to even get into a college.

    January 10, 2012 at 11:40 pm |
    • The Phist

      You don't need a degree to become a minister either. In fact, you can get legally ordained online and become a legal minister with the legal ability to start your own chruch, as well as officiate weddings and funerals.

      January 10, 2012 at 11:43 pm |
    • Dr.K.

      I don't think the bible colleges are terribly selective...

      January 10, 2012 at 11:44 pm |
    • Primewonk

      Got my card for the Universal Life Church from the back of Rolling Stone for 5 bucks waaay back in 1977.

      January 11, 2012 at 6:57 pm |
  3. Ed Sr of Dallas Tx

    Somebody throw me a banana while I think about this problem. Thanks.

    January 10, 2012 at 11:40 pm |
    • go4it

      Where are you gonna stick it?

      January 10, 2012 at 11:41 pm |
  4. Dr. C.

    Still waiting for your positions, yawn....not criticisms and arbitrary condescension.

    January 10, 2012 at 11:39 pm |
    • Gadflie

      I already pointed out the flaw in yours. Sorry to burst your bubble there.

      January 10, 2012 at 11:41 pm |
    • The Phist

      *YAWN*

      Still waiting for you to explain your ignorance and incorrect comment about evolution not being observable.

      http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evosite/misconceps/IIFnotscience.shtml

      *YAWN*
      *YAWN*
      *YAWN*
      *YAWN*

      January 10, 2012 at 11:42 pm |
    • Dr.K.

      Your comments are really worth the effort.

      January 10, 2012 at 11:42 pm |
    • Dr.K.

      *aren't

      January 10, 2012 at 11:43 pm |
  5. Ed Sr of Dallas Tx

    They took a poll of pastors.......very good....lets take a poll of everyone who looks and talks like a human......evolution loses.....and certainly where the caucasian is concerned. Only two species can carry sickle cell anemia and one is an ape!

    January 10, 2012 at 11:39 pm |
    • Blinded by the Light

      Mob science.

      January 10, 2012 at 11:40 pm |
    • Dr.K.

      Are you suggesting that the fact that only humans and chimps can carry sickle cell is an argument AGAINST evolution? I realize you were just trying to be a racist scu.mbag, but you shot yourself in the foot.

      January 10, 2012 at 11:47 pm |
    • PopeJon

      Ed, you sound like you are from Texas but you are no Sr....

      January 10, 2012 at 11:54 pm |
    • Dr. Gary Hurd

      I will give 10 to 1 odds that Ed, Sr. is a Christian Republican.

      Not only is "Ed" a racist swine, he is ignorant of the basics of his own effort to demean others (very Christian, Ed). The sickle-cell traint is known from Southern Italy, Northern Greece, Southern Turkey, the Middle East, Saudi Arabia, the Western Provinces of Central India, as well as Africa. There have been 5 different mutations identified with sickle-cell; 4 from Africa, and 1 from India/Eastern Arabia.

      January 11, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
  6. Chach

    There is no proof that the Sun is a giant ball of hydrogen being converted into helium. I mean it's just a "theory" since no one has ever actually been to the sun to observe the process. And since it isn't explicitly explained in the 100% true, accurate and infallible source of information known as the Bible, then it can't be true. Why? Because so called "scientists" are only speculating.

    January 10, 2012 at 11:38 pm |
    • The Phist

      That's the beauty of science. Scientists will be the first to tell you they'd be very excited if theories were proven wrong. Why? Because it means more information. Unlike the bible, which contains no information of any value, whatsoever. And a whole bunch of that useless information contradicts itself.

      : D

      January 10, 2012 at 11:40 pm |
    • Dr.K.

      "The sun" is a theory in crisis. Scientists have known for years that the "sun" idea is hopelessly flawed, but they conspire to keep it alive to keep the funding coming.

      January 10, 2012 at 11:41 pm |
  7. Michael in Citrus Heights

    Religious leaders cling to fairy tales created in the middle ages to control people.
    Coo Coo........ Coo Coo...........
    Belief in the invisible man who lives in the sky nothing more than mental illness.
    Whackos controlling other whackos with fairy tales........Suckers !!!

    January 10, 2012 at 11:36 pm |
  8. Dr. C.

    WHAT theory of evolution MANY are you all supporting? There are so many....but I guess you knew that...oh wait.

    January 10, 2012 at 11:35 pm |
    • The Phist

      You stated incorrectly that evolution (you didn't state which theory specifically by the way, that must hurt) can't be observed.

      http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evosite/misconceps/IIFnotscience.shtml

      You're not very bright.

      January 10, 2012 at 11:37 pm |
    • Charles

      They wouldn't know that, their mind is still evolving from thinking like an ape.

      January 10, 2012 at 11:38 pm |
    • Gadflie

      Actually, there is pretty much just one theory. There is different ideas of how the mechanism actually is applied in the real world but the theory itself is the same.

      January 10, 2012 at 11:39 pm |
  9. Dr.K.

    I suspect one of the main reasons that anti-evolutionists don't understand evolution is that it was taught to them by other anti-evolutionists, who also don't understand. When you believe that evolutionary theory boils down to the idea that one day a monkey gave birth to a human, it's no wonder it seems ridiculous.

    January 10, 2012 at 11:34 pm |
    • Chach

      The beauty of Science is that it too can evolve as our ability to discover more about "things" in general increases. It is not absolute, unlike religion. Religion pretends to be unchanging and perfect, but it is neither. It is imperfect, flawed and it has changed more drastically than science has. Science can say "I was wrong. But I have a better explanation." Religion can not. It is immovably and proudly ignorant.

      January 10, 2012 at 11:44 pm |
  10. Dr. C.

    When is someone going to give the evidence for why they think as they do? I think both theories have flaws. Neither is proven because in and of itself a historical science is inconclusive. There is no trans-species causal mechanisms identified. Second, punctuated equilibrium has MANY unseen flaws as does gradualism. Punctuated equilibrium infers (well it was so fats you cannot see that). in Harlem play some 3 card money. Gradualism....bones dont show it. PERIOD.

    January 10, 2012 at 11:34 pm |
    • asda

      How does being stup1d and brainwashed feel?

      January 10, 2012 at 11:35 pm |
    • Gadflie

      No "trans-species causal mechanism"? That's actually pretty funny. What makes you think that there needs be a separate mechanism?

      January 10, 2012 at 11:35 pm |
    • Happy Jack

      Dr.C,
      Why do you think 99% of all biologists adhere to the fact that evolution is real? Is this a conspiricy against you?

      January 10, 2012 at 11:38 pm |
    • SciGuy

      You tell us, asda.

      January 10, 2012 at 11:38 pm |
    • Phil

      Actually, it has been proven. You choose not to believe it.

      93% of the members of the National Academy of Sciences reject the concept of god. 93% is an overwhelming majority. These are not just a few scientists - that is tens of thousands of them.

      January 10, 2012 at 11:46 pm |
  11. James

    7 out of 10 pastors reject evolution, but 10 out of 10 pastors will vote for a Mormon since their first allegiance is to the Republican party rather than to their religion.

    January 10, 2012 at 11:32 pm |
    • CypressSteve

      Of course they would. They may, at times, be delusional but they are not stupid. They know that this country was founded on basic liberties and that there is to be NO RELIGIOUS TEST in order to qualify for public office. Voting for a Mormon is no more a betrayal of Southern Baptist/Evangelical principals than voting for a Catholic, a Jew, or anything else. The sooner we move beyond the "my Jesus is better than your Jesus" nonsense, the happier we will all be.

      January 10, 2012 at 11:46 pm |
  12. Phil

    Religion. It's like history class, without the facts.

    January 10, 2012 at 11:31 pm |
  13. PhilG.

    I'm 52 years old now,I have probably 50 more years of this shxt.

    I'm not going to waste it arguing about a science and a belief.

    God's here,right now,in the room,in the chair,right next to me.

    He's telling me,"You look like a monkey to me."

    That's good enough for me.

    January 10, 2012 at 11:28 pm |
    • yeah right

      LOL, that is good, very funny

      January 10, 2012 at 11:31 pm |
    • Happy Jack

      Bellview is waiting...

      January 10, 2012 at 11:31 pm |
    • Ed Sr of Dallas Tx

      If you are not white, you probably are a monkey. God did not create EVERY species!

      January 10, 2012 at 11:37 pm |
    • Timmy

      Ed Sr. is a Pink Monkey.

      January 11, 2012 at 12:02 am |
  14. oceanblue1

    That's OK, I reject the theory of Creationism.

    January 10, 2012 at 11:27 pm |
  15. Peter

    Anyone believing that the earth is 6000 years old is not only delusional but also a certified idiot...dogmatic religions (and the ones who support and control them) have historically been (and still are) the primary source of all human misery...remember all the wars, atrocities and other crimes committed in the name of one god or another...if only people could use more of their brains and fear less about their afterlives !

    January 10, 2012 at 11:27 pm |
    • Felix

      Your grandpa ape is very proud that his progeny has evolved into a being that can now use computers.;)

      January 10, 2012 at 11:32 pm |
  16. Dr. C.

    Medical science is observable and replaceable. Evolution is not. This is ordinal data based on historical science. Not saying creationism is true, just saying all things are flawed to some degree. You know, as a scientist you have no position...you examine and are critical of what you gather.

    January 10, 2012 at 11:27 pm |
    • go4it

      What do you mean evolution is not observable. It is observable data that led the world's biologists to the conclusion that evolution is a fact.

      January 10, 2012 at 11:30 pm |
    • The Phist

      You are 100% wron.

      Evolution is observable.

      http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evosite/misconceps/IIFnotscience.shtml

      Please state facts, not uneducated opinions. By stating uneducated opinions, you propagate stupidity.

      January 10, 2012 at 11:32 pm |
    • The Phist

      wrong*

      January 10, 2012 at 11:34 pm |
    • HawHaw

      Science has observed in simple organisms and even some complex organisms evolutionary changes over time. The viruses and bacterium are great examples of evolution. We know for a fact they can evolve rather quickly, becoming resistent to drugs and even jumping from species to species where they previously could not. Its not that much of a leap that other carbon based life forms could do the same thing. Fossil records strongly suggest evolution as the origin of our species. There is more evidence to support evolution than there is to support belief in a god.

      January 10, 2012 at 11:38 pm |
    • Phil

      You really aren't that bright are you.

      It takes to long to observe...therefore, god must have done it.

      Fortunately, religion will eventually make it's way into the world of fiction one day and everyone will finally reject the idea that god had anything to do with...well...anything.

      January 10, 2012 at 11:50 pm |
    • Dr. Gary Hurd

      "Dr" C, your education was obviously very poor. I hesitate to respond to you, but as a simple matter of evidence, we have directly observed the emergence of new species, and in fact can induce this to happen experimentally.

      January 11, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
  17. Marc in Florida

    The rejection of science is wrong as is the rejection of religious theory. Jewish scholars were divided into camps, some saw the bible as literal, others as coded for deeper meanings, and some understood the bible as metaphoric. The Old Testament was viewed as an oportunity to pose questions and various interpretations were encouraged and accepted. Conflicting opinions were acceptable.

    The Jewish calendar dates the birth of Adam and Eve 5772 years ago. This could well clarify the literal interpretation of the world as 6000 years old. However, metaphorically that 6000 years could represent millions or billions of years. By respecting both science and religious teaching one encourages the lessons of the bible as a critical partner to our sciences. Each can be viewed corrrect and each continues to undergo discussion and study.

    The literal interpretation of the bible limits reflection and discussion. By viewing the bible as metaphoric allows a bridge connecting science and religous docrine. To deny either is to nurture ignorance.

    January 10, 2012 at 11:24 pm |
    • Blinded by the Light

      Marc,
      Metaphors are only what is left of religious certainties after science disprooves them. All of the advances that you are claiming from religions that use the bible were also gained from religions not using the bible and from totally secular sources. If the bible were never written it probably would not have mattered.

      January 10, 2012 at 11:28 pm |
    • The Phist

      The bible says that 1,000 years to us is a day to god. Therefore, literally, according to the bible, the Universe is around 12,000 years old, give or take. It can't be taken metaphorically if the bible outlines specifics. Therefore, the bible is wrong. It is correct to reject religious theory since it has been proven wrong. There is no getting around this fact.

      January 10, 2012 at 11:29 pm |
  18. Dr. C.

    Oh wow an attack. Guess you jus 'occupy' rather than contribute here as well.

    January 10, 2012 at 11:23 pm |
  19. Doc

    You know, it's funny how most religious folk are perfectly willing to embrace science when they need medical attention, but then turn around and reject one of the most intensely investigated and supported theories in science – evolution. Which, by the way has helped us develop much of the medical advanced of the modern age thanks to our understanding of the relatedness of all life on earth.

    January 10, 2012 at 11:23 pm |
    • Dr.K.

      Also frustrating how they use scientifically derived technologies (computers, internet, satellites, etc) to argue against science. They don't even perceive the irony.

      January 10, 2012 at 11:28 pm |
    • So Totally Amused

      I agree: for all intents and purposes creationist "flat earthers" ignore evolution and the scientific method (which is the basis for scientific thinking and testing) but they don't mind using TV, phones, the internet, hey, even electricity which were described, explained and utilized by the very same scientific method.
      If Ma' Nature were a person with a sense of humor she'd pull the plug and let all those evangelist TV stations go dark. "Now, now , children, if you don't want to learn your lessons, no TV for a month, until you do your homework...."

      January 10, 2012 at 11:54 pm |
  20. evensteven

    To put things in perspective, the book known as the Old Testament is considered the history and cosmology (system of beliefs) of but one tribe of people—the Jews. But how many thousands or tens of thousands of tribes have lived on this planet? Among those many thousands of tribes have been thousands of belief systems, cosmologies and histories each containing their own stories, prophets, prophecies, wise men, visionaries, allegories, and "truths." Yet, billions of people in this day and age hold up the record of the Jewish people (The Bible) as the only source of "truth" on this planet. That's absurd!

    Yes, most of the tribal histories and cosmologies and words from the "wise ones" have not been preserved because most of them were oral traditions handed down in spoken word which have since vanished with the tribes who owned them.

    But to base one's entire life on the words of one small group of people living thousands of years ago is a bit like betting one's entire life on one number of a roulette wheel—except this roulette wheel has thousands of numbers.

    January 10, 2012 at 11:23 pm |
    • Robin

      Were those other tribes on the information super highway? more evolved, probably? or were they still evolving from apes?

      January 10, 2012 at 11:29 pm |
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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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.