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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. sean burns

    It is a proven fact that the earth is much older than 6,000 years. PROVEN. It is also proven that the clerics that deny this FACT are laughable and embracing stupidity.

    January 11, 2012 at 7:08 am |
    • mark

      The pain in my brain is older than 6000 years . Religion needs to wake up .There is more than just a book

      January 11, 2012 at 7:13 am |
    • Concerned

      No, it is NOT PROVEN.

      January 11, 2012 at 7:22 am |
    • joe

      Yes it is proven – look at Uranium half-life (4.5 billion years) adn you can see from rock samples the earth is around 4.5 – 5 billion years old

      January 11, 2012 at 7:31 am |
    • Marcus Moore

      Here's what God did. He did create EVERYTHING about 6,000 years ago. When he created the earth, he created it as old as science says it is. He created it with fossil evidence suggesting a planet MUCH older than 6,000 years old. He did that to give us something to study. It's like when you take a picture of a 50 year old man–the instant you take the picture, it is one second old. The man is 50 but the PICTURE is just seconds old! That's what God did. He created a universe that was billions of years old. Not a real difficult concept. And as far as evolution goes–you cannot prove something you cannot observe and you cannot observe evolution.

      January 11, 2012 at 7:38 am |
    • Mike

      So God the trickster created the world 6000 years ago, fossils and all.

      January 11, 2012 at 7:55 am |
    • claybigsby

      "Here's what God did. He did create EVERYTHING about 6,000 years ago. When he created the earth, he created it as old as science says it is. He created it with fossil evidence suggesting a planet MUCH older than 6,000 years old. He did that to give us something to study. It's like when you take a picture of a 50 year old man–the instant you take the picture, it is one second old. The man is 50 but the PICTURE is just seconds old! That's what God did. He created a universe that was billions of years old. Not a real difficult concept. And as far as evolution goes–you cannot prove something you cannot observe and you cannot observe evolution."

      wow huge assumptions here, unless of course you and god talk everyday and he tells you all of his secrets, which I highly doubt. Therefore, you are nothing but a fool

      January 11, 2012 at 7:57 am |
    • Bernard Webb

      Marcus, I honestly cannot tell whether you are presenting your real opinion or making fun of creationists. Your "logic" makes no sense at all, but that still doesn't tell me whether you are serious or poking fun. God, I hope you're poking fun.

      January 11, 2012 at 8:05 am |
    • Maya

      @ Marcus – Do you actually listen to yourself talk?

      If God is purposely going around misleading humans, he is not a worthy deity. Furthermore, it is ridiculous to condemn evolution as unobservable (it isn't, it has been observed in laboratories using certain forms of life that reproduce and therefore evolve very rapidly) while making entirely unverifiable claims about the creation of earth, which by their very nature could never be observable.

      January 11, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
  2. Mark

    I wholeheartedly believe that there is the distinct possibility of a God, Gods, Goddesses, whatever. But I don't think the human brain is armed with the sufficient equipment to have the degree of precision and comprehension necessary to describe It. I have a hard time believing any book so filled with political messages and human moral standards that are out of date(considering that you can eat any meat nowadays if you cook it right, because we know what a germ is) and left open to interpretation. If the Bible or any other book like it were the standard then I say God, why did you let it go so long without a direct update? If he wanted to he could speak in a loud voice the entire earth could hear and say, or deliver via telepathic means: "Alright guys, I applied a patch to The Bible, here is the errata and the list of effective changes", have at it.

    January 11, 2012 at 7:05 am |
  3. larvadog

    I wonder how many of those pastors have a degree in geology? It's quaint that they have opinions based on faith, but their opinions really don't matter.

    January 11, 2012 at 7:04 am |
  4. Rev. Rick

    Quoting the article, "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."

    Well, at least the majority of Americans are smarter than the preachers they listen to.

    January 11, 2012 at 7:03 am |
  5. ____________________

    As usual, CNN gives the hate-theists a soft ball pitch to vent their bigotry.

    And they can't figure out why their ratings are in the toilet.

    January 11, 2012 at 7:02 am |
  6. Jim

    6000 years is so ignorant, they chose to ignore, because the evidence is right in front of your face, it's like saying "I don't believe in the earth", and by saying that, the earth should just disappear...

    January 11, 2012 at 7:00 am |
    • David

      If they think more than a possum and admit their conclusions , they would be out of a job like the rest of the laid off people that actually did do work.

      January 11, 2012 at 7:19 am |
  7. Brian

    Who Cares....

    January 11, 2012 at 6:59 am |
  8. Mulanrui

    and. The sun revolves around a flat earth filled with horned Jews.

    January 11, 2012 at 6:59 am |
  9. Tom

    It's hard to understand how anyone can believe ONLY in evolution. Such people believe in the Dr. Frankenstein bolt. Let's see, a group of proteins and amino acids just kind of get together and then there is a lightning strike and walla: the proteins suddenly are hungry and start moving about for food, have a comprehension of pain, so they seek safe havens. These really were some "special" collections of molecules.
    Life itself is a force, like gravity or the strong nuclear force. No collection of particles will self-acquire such characteristics. If you believe this you should believe in fairies. And, if you believe this, then you should feel morally wrong about hitting your wooden desk with a hammer because that desk is basically made out of the same substances.
    Fundamental Christians are not any better, probably worse, because my criticism of the Frankenstein bolt doesn't mean that evolution is false as that would mean the fossil record were a farce. If they are to survive, Christians are gonna have to let go of a couple stigmas they have: 1: their rejection of science. 2: their blind following of religious and political leaders such that they condone the mass slaughter of poor, innocent people in 3rd world nations at the bequest of their fundamentalist pastor-supporting politicians. They might, however, pray that science will go away.

    January 11, 2012 at 6:58 am |
    • David

      Why does what they think matter and is deserving of coverage like it means something. Science matters and everyone writing comments on her did it becasue of 150 years of technology based on science. Imagine if humans took their head out of thier own @$$e$ from the beginning? The materials were all there for space travel 2000 years ago but ignorance and greed keep it stifled for 2000 years. Chistopher Columbus would have never landed on the east coast becasue he would have been exploring space instead. Wake up people please !!! Next you are going to post stories about 5 year old that still believe in a fat guy in a sled dumping presents on kids at Christmas. Like the priests these children were just not educated enough becasue of well meaning but harmful parents. What excuse do the priests have ?

      January 11, 2012 at 7:15 am |
  10. Lolly

    The blind leading the blind..

    January 11, 2012 at 6:58 am |
  11. Lolly

    It's disturbing that some of the most unintelligent people yield an incredible amount of influence on many citizens in this country. And depressing.

    January 11, 2012 at 6:57 am |
  12. Richard

    It simply proves that ignorance is alive and well today, religion flys us into buildings and science flew us to the moon.

    January 11, 2012 at 6:50 am |
  13. Mark

    For one the earth has had humans for at least 30K years! There is a place called Chauvet-Pont-d'Arc Cave in France with paintings on them that have calcium accretion that could have only formed from at least 30,000 years of building up. And also whats wrong with the concept of God being timeless, and saying OK the second I snap my fingers and the big bang starts history was written. God set the chain of events in place that would lead to the present, with full knowledge of the end state of his creation. Evolution may have been engineered. I offer this as one possible explanation where The Bible and evolution can coexist. In my opinion though think of it this way, if I stepped on and ant mound and then said "let the light of God shine down it's rath upon you" you think those ants would understand? What if I said aloud in English: "OK ants write this down in a book, I have full control over thier life that they will suffer a horrible rapture in which legions of granules of ant poison were to going to attack them for being unholy. So you must worship me". Does that make sense? If God is as powerful and smart as they say he is, then we are just the ants. Ants don't understand what we are any more than we know what God is. They just get P'ed off and scared when their mound is disturbed, just like we do. How could we possibly understand what God want's or what he is let alone put that into accurate terms using our limited noggins? Especially what couple thousand years ago? I hate to say it but humans were pretty crude back then. Those were the days were simple scientific phenomina like a meteor shower or flood was an evil omen or "punishment".

    January 11, 2012 at 6:50 am |
    • Mark

      I wholeheartedly believe that there is the distinct possibility of a God, Gods, Goddesses, whatever. But I don't think the human brain is sufficient to have the degree of precision and comprehension necessary to describe it. I have a hard time believing any book so filled with political messages and human moral standards that are out of date(considering that you can eat any meat nowadays if you cook it right, because we know what a germ is) and left open to interpretation. If the Bible or any other book like it were the standard then I say God, why did you let it go so long without a direct update? If he wanted to he could speak in a loud voice the entire earth could hear and say "alright guys, I applied a patch to The Bible, here is the errata and the list of changes", have at it.

      January 11, 2012 at 7:02 am |
    • nobody1102

      THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS WITHIN YOU!!

      January 11, 2012 at 7:11 am |
  14. tensai13

    This only proves that 7 out of 10 pastors are complete and utter m0r0ns.

    January 11, 2012 at 6:41 am |
  15. indignant

    ten out of ten pastors believe in a nonsensical myth. the details are just various shades of silly.

    January 11, 2012 at 6:41 am |
  16. Soundoff

    These people are a bunch of fools, if the facts are there what is there to debate?

    January 11, 2012 at 6:37 am |
  17. GT

    So they believe Adam and Eve were real people? That's interesting, considering the writers of the creation story did not even believe that.

    January 11, 2012 at 6:34 am |
    • ch

      hmmm where do you get this? Jesus even quotes the Genesis account, how about checking out what this word means "yom' it is jewish

      January 11, 2012 at 7:28 am |
  18. SMT

    No Russ we didn't evolve from apes, our ancestors evolved side by side with today's ape's ancestors.

    January 11, 2012 at 6:32 am |
    • NJBob

      Thank you! You are one of the only people here who knows what they're talking about!!

      January 11, 2012 at 7:30 am |
  19. SMT

    Brilliant! Yes, God is tricking scientists into believing the Earth is 4.5 billion years old instead of 6000.

    Will you people stop for one second and listen to yourself? You sound like a 5 year old explaining away the broken lamp in the hallway. "But Ma, a man climbed in through the window , broke the lamp, and ran out laughing, but really quiet like..."

    Wake up, stupid!!!

    January 11, 2012 at 6:31 am |
  20. setnommarih

    Pirate-SUPER comment, the hypocrisy in religion is so ridiculous that it's laughable until you realize people actually believe it

    January 11, 2012 at 6:30 am |
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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.