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 • Science

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

    Man's existence on this little blue green rock is but a flash in the pan of time. Now we are discovering new blue green rocks in our galaxy that have the potential for life. I wonder if they have their own Abrahams and Muhammads? While I ponder these questions I'll continue to pray to the only two beings that give me updates and answers: Steve Jobs and George Carlin

    January 11, 2012 at 5:13 am |
  2. Jason

    After reading many of the comments to this article I am astounded by blanket assertions that man evolved from non-living chemicals and if one believes otherwise then there is no shred of intelligence in them. I propose it is the other way around. To believe in Darwinism fully one must also believe that the cell happened by random chance and that chemicals naturally arrange themselves into decodable/encodable information called the genetic code. The cell is amazingly complex which is a product of it's own genetic code. But the genetic code is useless without the very engine collectively called the cell. All the decoding parts of the cell are themselves a product of the code. Not to mention the other insurmountable problem that the genetic code must be made of compounds lined up with the same symmetry known as chirality (which BTW doesn't happen naturally nor directly either). There are no satisfactory explanations to this problem. Just blanket statements that anyone who holds an opposing view to the "tested" fact of evolution must be stupid.

    January 11, 2012 at 5:09 am |
    • clearfog

      I, for one, do not think that people who do not believe in evolution are stupid. I think that they are very stupid.

      January 11, 2012 at 5:26 am |
    • awasis

      Overwhelming evidence for evolution is there. What we do not understand yet is how it all started. But just because we can't go any farther back than an amoeba doesn't invalidate the evidence for evolution and for that matter overwhelming evidence that the Earth is WAY, WAY, WAY older than 6000 year old.

      January 11, 2012 at 5:29 am |
    • NJBob

      You clearly don't understand how evolution works by natural selection.

      January 11, 2012 at 6:02 am |
    • zoft2000

      "You clearly don't understand how evolution works by natural selection."

      Of course you were selected naturaly by "evolution" after billions of years of trial and error, to rule over mankind. How convenient...

      January 11, 2012 at 6:18 am |
    • mark

      not stupid.. just in denial.
      the scientific method is all we've got.. Otherwise you can make up whatever the hell you want (and trick people into believing it – see "religion is ALL forms") . I find it absolutely amazing that many people still don't get this in this day and age.. Faith (in somehething, whether some supernatural thing or just in yourself.. or in Hope and love..) is fine (and necessary really).. Believe whatever the heck you want.. But don't try to shove it down other peoples throats. And if its blatantly against FACTS as we've come to discover them, don't expect people that actually think a little about it tonot think your a nutjob.. I suppose in your little universe the world is still flat too , right?

      January 11, 2012 at 6:25 am |
    • Dr. Gary Hurd

      @Jason

      I realize that you don't know any chemistry, but you might try to read my "Short Outline of the Origin of Life" anyway. Even skipping the hard parts, it would give you some idea of what modern researchers are doing.

      http://stonesnbones.blogspot.com/2008/12/origin-of-life-outline.html

      January 11, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
    • Jason

      @Gary

      I understand chemistry just fine, and I understand what your blog is trying to say just fine. Resorting to ad hominem attacks doesn't nullify the origin of life arguments I put forth. After reading your page you are guilty of the same thing you accuse me of. Especially point number 7, that ancient cells evolved racemases to maintain/sustain their existing metabolic pathways... To use that hypothesis as the basis for your argument that chirality is not a problem in the origin of life is one of the craziest things I had ever heard. It's an idea but doesn't really hold any scientific merit. Show it in a laboratory, which you can't, then I'll change my opinion and you can be the hero.

      January 11, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
    • Dr. Gary Hurd

      @Jason, We have a tiny preference under certain situations toward an excess of L-amino acids produced from natural reactions. We find in bacteria, but more so in the Archea, there are racemic peptides, the classic example is Gramicidin A. I gave you 6 citations for evolved racemases.

      Your response is that you prefer magic and ignorance.

      January 12, 2012 at 8:26 am |
    • Jason

      @Gary

      The presence of the racemic peptides in bacteria is not a product of ribosome protein synthesis. They come post-translation. It takes 2 to tango for life. D-sugars and L-amino acids, including the coding/decoding process to create proteins from the L-amino acids, not to mention the origin of information contained in the D-sugars to create the building blocks of life. Please tell me that you know the depth of the problem of the origin of life that you are trying to whisk away with all this handwaving. I can stand it when people like yourselves make a stance on blind faith.

      January 13, 2012 at 12:49 am |
  3. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things
    Take time to talk with God today

    January 11, 2012 at 4:59 am |
    • max_headroom

      On the contrary, Atheism teaches us to take care of each other instead of paying homage to an imaginary man in the sky. If all of humanity spent their time caring about the here and now instead of preparing for a non existent afterlife this planet would be a much better place for all species to coexist.

      January 11, 2012 at 5:03 am |
    • zoft2000

      "On the contrary, Atheism teaches us to take care of each other instead of paying homage to an imaginary man"

      Yes that is true, unfortunately that does not jive with human nature. Animals yes, humans no.

      January 11, 2012 at 5:11 am |
    • zoft2000

      The Atheist come out of the woodwork when they see articles like this. Not sure why they are so touchy...

      January 11, 2012 at 5:37 am |
    • NJBob

      @zoft2000– It's because here they can make their feelings known anonymously. If they did it publicly where they could be identified, their Christian employer would fire them, or their Christian "friends" would abandon them.

      January 11, 2012 at 6:05 am |
    • I can haz cheez and cra.ckers

      It changes the time of day ...

      February 20, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
  4. gg

    I just heard from God and She said that 73% of Southern Baptist preachers need to give it a rest.

    January 11, 2012 at 4:53 am |
  5. Craig

    What is their definition of "Protestant?" Before I accept this information blindly, I'd like more information. Where were the people who were polled located? Are all "Protestant" church represented? Did they include a reasonable cross-section of denominations?

    The responses are only as valid as the sample, and without that information, the poll is meaningless.

    January 11, 2012 at 4:45 am |
    • LivinginVA

      Exactly my thoughts!

      January 11, 2012 at 5:03 am |
    • zoft2000

      Craig forget about protestants 85% of the people on the planet do not beleive in evolution, only a gifted few.

      January 11, 2012 at 5:22 am |
  6. curt

    I believe in a creator of the universe but I don't believe everything that is in the bible like bible thumpers live there lives by. For example, the earth is 6,000 years old.... That's a little rushed.

    January 11, 2012 at 4:37 am |
  7. EddyL

    Then 7 out of 10 pastors are MORONS, aren't they?

    January 11, 2012 at 4:29 am |
  8. Minska

    Evolution is scientifically testable. Search for information on retrovirus's(sp?) And cutting edge molecular biology. In a nutshell, chimps contain the same retrovirus in their genomes as humans do. This is impossible for the placement of said retrovirus to be in the same place on the genome lest we (humans and chimps) shared a common ancestor.

    I was raised Roman Catholic. I didn't really believe it, but I sure as Hell wasn't going to burn for being a non-believer. After gaining a certain level of intelligence born from the study of crazy things like history and anthropology, I finally completely cast off the suffocating yoke of religion.

    We are all a product of random chance and happenstance. I have a dead father. The last time I saw him was when I touched his bone and ashes in the urn when I was 8 years old (now in mid 20's). The notion that after death, I will be reunited with him is intensely appealing. Could you imagine, eternity with the man I was denied a lifetime with? The problem is such a belief is not rooted in reality. Self-deception and human arrogance (the basis of religion and God) does not negate this basic tenet that when we die, we return to the universe from which our atoms were born.

    We should live for the betterment of humanity, not for the iron age mysticism that was born through human ignorance and lack of know (about anything).

    January 11, 2012 at 4:28 am |
    • zoft2000

      "After gaining a certain level of intelligence born from the study of crazy things like history and anthropology, I finally completely cast off the suffocating yoke of religion."

      Why is evolution equated with intelligence, you see there goes your pride and arrogance again. Aren't some of the people in church the least bit intelligent ? Most of our presidents believe in religion and this has been a major factor in their electebility, so are you saying that out presidents have not been as intelligent as you are.

      January 11, 2012 at 5:16 am |
  9. DC

    And most scientists reject religion, BFD! We know this already, how is this 'news' ..???

    January 11, 2012 at 4:19 am |
  10. Collin

    Come on peple – get it right – it is actually like the end of the re-imaged Battlestar Galactica. 150,000 years ago, humans and cylons came to earth. "Eve" was half/human half cylon – we are all part cylon....

    January 11, 2012 at 4:16 am |
  11. christards

    christards

    January 11, 2012 at 4:10 am |
  12. David in Cincinnati

    Sounds about right. Evolution is just a theory, like the theory of relativity.

    January 11, 2012 at 4:04 am |
    • Rational Christian

      But there is theory supported by lots of evidence and observation and theory supported by figures on a page. Evolution is one of the former; lots of physical evidence to support that the basis of Darwinism is correct.

      January 11, 2012 at 4:06 am |
    • tffl

      There are scientific theories (where the word "theory" has a specific meaning, and doesn't mean "just a random idea we came up with"), that have reasoned derivations and empirical evidence to support them, and there are biblical beliefs, based on nothing but (old) words on paper and (likely) personal views that the belief makes the believer a more important part of the universe. I know which one I'll go with...

      January 11, 2012 at 4:33 am |
    • zoft2000

      "Evolution is one of the former; lots of physical evidence to support that the basis of Darwinism is correct."

      There is even more evidence that there is no such thing as evolution. All you have to do is look at the fossilized creatures and plants that were found and 99% are the same today as they were yesterday. The ones that have not gone extinct of course.

      January 11, 2012 at 5:42 am |
  13. Rational Christian

    In 1994, the Catholic Church finally admitted that they bungled the whole Galileo Affair – that the Earth is not the center of the universe and that the Earth does indeed revolve around the sun. LOL... 500 years to see scientific reason. More than likely, it'll take 500 more years for Christendom to admit they are wrong about Evolution, Earth age, and a host of other NON-BIBLICAL debates. What matters most for salvation? Evolution or faith, hope, and love?

    January 11, 2012 at 4:00 am |
    • babaRam

      NOT every thing that Bibles is false just cos – some of them were proven other-wise.

      Per Hinduism – there is 'devolution' instead of 'evolution' and at every periodic intervals – the new species are 'resurrected/recreated'. Humans life span keeps shrinking and their height goes down in each yuga.

      Several Darvin's observations show one of the several species 'surviving' or dominating – but that only indicates 'devolution'.

      January 11, 2012 at 4:19 am |
    • zoft2000

      "In 1994, the Catholic Church finally admitted that they bungled the whole Galileo Affair – that the Earth is not the center of the universe and that the Earth does indeed revolve around the sun. "

      Scientific theories on the other hand are debunked every day just read the news.

      January 11, 2012 at 5:52 am |
  14. OneOfTheSheep

    Isn't this "question" a lot like asking Catholics if the Pope is Catholic? Well, duh? These people are PAID to think this was, and I genuinely wonder if those of intelligence (let's be fair) BELIEVE "personally" in the 6,000 year figure or even "eternity". It doesn't MATTER what they think. What MATTERS is the actual "truth of the matter".

    One's personal perspective can be quite different depending on whether they expect to "live" 60-100 years or "forever". Religion excuses the masses from personal responsibility for how things are today on this earth. That's why man has made virtually NO progress in getting along in common cause in some two thousand years. What a waste!

    January 11, 2012 at 3:50 am |
    • wraithfighter

      Actually, the question they asked is an interesting one. They were asked if God used Evolution to create humans. That's honestly a much more interesting question to ask a pastor, and I'm kinda saddened that so many said no.

      January 11, 2012 at 5:07 am |
    • zoft2000

      "Religion excuses the masses from personal responsibility for how things are today on this earth. That's why man has made virtually NO progress in getting along in common cause in some two thousand years. What a waste!"

      Hmmm, Lets see now Islam brought all the Arab tribes together and for thousands of years produced cutting age technology. Ancient Egyptians believed in some form of religion, so did the Ancient Greeks. Science sprung in the Middle ages when the Catholic Church took over what was left of the Roman Empire.

      January 11, 2012 at 5:36 am |
    • OneOfTheSheep

      @zoft2000,

      When I said "...NO progress in getting along in common cause..." I was referring to Muslims getting along with Christians, Germans getting along with Jews, etc.; not tribal or national convenience. Moral matters, as supposedly bind theology and "humanity".

      What is the surviving "work product" of those "thousands of years" invested by Arab tribes? What does the belief system of the ancient Egyptians or Greeks have to do with intercultural cooperation and success? The Catholic Church of the middle ages forced Galileo to recant his discoveries! But I don't expect to convince a serial Christian apologist that their "world view" could survive serious introspection.

      January 11, 2012 at 10:42 pm |
  15. Leprakawn

    "Give a man a fish, and you've fed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you've fed him for a lifetime. Give a man religion, and he'll pray for a fish and starve to death."
    -LuisWu

    "I contend that we are both atheists; I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours."
    -Sir Stephen Henry Roberts

    January 11, 2012 at 3:43 am |
  16. DMC

    Is any of this really a surprise? There is so much fantasy in the bible, sheer impossibilities, outright contradictions, that it shouldn't surprise anyone that people who believe in such things are not going to be convinced by reason, logic or any empirical evidence to the contrary. You have reason and science, and then you have mysticism and mythology - they are not compatible, not matter how hard some people try to force it. You choose either live in the empirical, observable world and the scientific method, or la-la land of invisible beings with wings, zombies (resurrections) and magic/miracles.

    January 11, 2012 at 3:39 am |
    • zoft2000

      "Is any of this really a surprise? There is so much fantasy in the bible, sheer impossibilities, outright contradictions, that it shouldn't surprise anyone that people who believe in such things are not going to be convinced by reason, logic or any empirical evidence to the contrary."

      The Bible was not meant to be read as a car manual. It separates us from the animals. It touches our souls, that is why it's the most popular book ever written by far.

      January 11, 2012 at 5:59 am |
  17. Notso Sheep

    They should try UC San Diego. Classes: Genetics and DNA. I bet most pastors cannot handle the truth. It's not good for their business, therefore they might label it evil, tremendous convenience.

    January 11, 2012 at 3:27 am |
    • DMC

      Math and science are hard... fantasy and make believe are easy (they don't require proof or evidence, just dogma).

      January 11, 2012 at 3:40 am |
    • zoft2000

      "Math and science are hard... fantasy and make believe are easy (they don't require proof or evidence, just dogma)."

      You would not beleive how hard religion is, the human race has been grappling with tis issue for centuries and still can't figure it out. That is why some just decide to do away with it and pretend it does not exist.

      January 11, 2012 at 6:03 am |
    • zoft2000

      "They should try UC San Diego. Classes: Genetics and DNA"

      Yeah then people might learn that Neanderthals the boogy-boogy ape man, the missing link was actually our genetic cousins and even interbred with humans. Then they might find out that Africans do not have the DNA of the boogy-boogy ape man but Europeans and Asians do.

      January 11, 2012 at 6:06 am |
  18. Mark from Canada

    In the same poll, 70% of pastors support Romney. Religion is stupid. Spirituality is wonderful. My spirituality is enhanced by knowing the reality of what is around me through the evidence it is attached too. Blasphemy is making something out of the world through story telling rather than taking it for what it is. The history of evolution on this planet is a fact and the theory is still revealing and pushing the boundaries of discovery in the life sciences.

    January 11, 2012 at 3:18 am |
  19. Justin H

    This article sums up the main reason I reject religion without question. When religious beliefs allow a person to reject real world facts, that religion is not worth consideration.

    January 11, 2012 at 3:14 am |
  20. Face

    46% believe the world is only 6000 years old...... how many still think it is flat? Religion is the anti-intelligence.

    January 11, 2012 at 3:07 am |
    • SixDegrees

      FWIW, probably none. I've looked pretty hard, and belief in a flat earth is a belief that has never really been held by much of anyone I could find. The Greeks knew the earth was a sphere and had estimated its size several hundred years BC, and it appears that knowledge had been around for quite a long time previously. The "flat earther" as an epithet for ignorance appears to be a literary invention by Washington Irving in the 1800s.

      January 11, 2012 at 3:14 am |
    • Rational Christian

      Yo Face. Christians never believed that the earth is flat. But all the while they were talking about "spheres," the Catholic "scientists" said that nobody could live on the other side of the sphere – that "antipodes" (people standing on the opposite side of the Earth) was an impossibility. lol... at least they were consistent.

      January 11, 2012 at 4:04 am |
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
« 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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.