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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 • Evangelical • Science

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soundoff (6,504 Responses)
  1. lance corporal

    poll: 9 out of 10 non chrsitians don't care what christian pastors think

    January 11, 2012 at 10:05 am |
  2. sayquitter

    The worst thing is when they pass their ignorance down to their flock.

    January 11, 2012 at 10:05 am |
  3. Eye Of The Sun

    The summerians have most of the answers.
    Annunaki tampered with ancient mans DNA.
    The experiment got out of hand when Annunaki started to mate
    with earth woman.
    To early man, Annunaki = God.
    To explain the creation of "Man" and "Mankind",
    Genesis, Adam & Eve, and other childrens stories
    have been created to control "Man".
    Its the Annunaki, who visit often to check up on thier
    experiment, who control "Man".

    Until we evolve from war and religion,
    we will not get to the next step in our evolution.

    True history of Earth and mankind has been hidden from us.
    Its there for all to see, when we are ready.
    We are not ready.

    January 11, 2012 at 10:04 am |
    • God

      nanu nanu !

      January 11, 2012 at 10:09 am |
    • zoft2000

      Eye Of The Sun
      How can we evolve from war and religion when we are supposed to believe that man originated in some mordial soup from a single cell amoeba that decided to split into other cells. Those cells then became a fish, then a squirrel type mamal, then an ape, then an ape-man, then a neandethal then a modern human ?

      January 11, 2012 at 10:10 am |
  4. God

    “God” was not needed to create the universe; rather, all that is needed are the "laws of nature." – Stephen Hawking

    January 11, 2012 at 10:04 am |
    • CreatedbyGod

      Stephen who???? Is he in the Bible? Perform any miracles? Die for our sins? Anything of worth?

      January 11, 2012 at 10:07 am |
    • The Jackdaw

      CreatedbyGod – Your book was written by men. It’s a historical fact. And referring to it to prove that it is accurate is a circular argument, and it therefore holds no water.

      January 11, 2012 at 10:10 am |
    • Des

      There is very little of worth in the bible. The creation myths there are absurd, and the violence it describes and prescribes is horrid.

      January 11, 2012 at 10:10 am |
    • Yepyep6598

      AbraCadabra things appeared out of thin air. Steven Hawkins theories dont hold water. Their has to be a intelligence to orchrestrate anything and everything.

      January 11, 2012 at 10:13 am |
    • Yepyep6598

      so if i didnt come from a monkey, where did i come from? lets here the STUPID THEORIES. Come on I know some of you are about to display STUPIDITY ON BLISS.

      January 11, 2012 at 10:21 am |
    • Yepyep6598

      @Jackdaw U.S. history was written by man will you dismiss it.

      January 11, 2012 at 10:48 am |
    • Yepyep6598

      @Jackdaw World history is written by man shall we dimiss it.

      January 11, 2012 at 10:50 am |
    • Yepyep6598

      @Jackdaw lets dismiss world history, the holocaust never happened, slavery never happened, lets dimiss it all and live in your pathetic little world were history is no history, that nothing is what it is, it's all made up fairytales, myths, hoodoo, voodoo, the world appeared because of a magic wand, that we exsist to exsist no purpose, no meaning, no mission, that we are only God for ourselves. That life is this blank universe of no meaning, yes JACKDUNG we know your kind miserable little whiteman , always complaining, never happy, and a angry SOB, that you are. Take your science of fairytales of humanistic lies and cram them up your A S S.

      January 11, 2012 at 11:03 am |
  5. mullahfullahbullah

    Same poll found that 7 out of 10 pastors do not have the capacity to think for themselves. I think evolution can fit in with religion. Why must you believe one or the other.

    January 11, 2012 at 10:04 am |
    • The Jackdaw

      Because religious people think in absolutes. Black and white. Just like the Sith.

      January 11, 2012 at 10:08 am |
    • Yepyep6598

      the next time a loved one is stricken with a disease or critically injured lets see evolution evolve them to health or better yet ask Steven Hawkins to heal them.

      January 11, 2012 at 10:17 am |
    • The Jackdaw

      Yepyep6598 – Call your God and see if he fixes your sick relative. I'll trust in medical science instead of ritual hokum. I'm glad that you have a clear understanding of evolution. Try reading a scientific journal before you spread your ignorant prattle.

      January 11, 2012 at 10:23 am |
  6. Yepyep6598

    i didnt come from a monkey

    January 11, 2012 at 10:02 am |
    • rick

      no one is saying you did. now, put down the banana and back away slowly

      January 11, 2012 at 10:03 am |
    • God

      ... you came from an ass !

      January 11, 2012 at 10:05 am |
    • The Jackdaw

      No, you didn't. You came from an APE.

      January 11, 2012 at 10:06 am |
  7. avdin

    Evolution does occur. That is a fact. Whether or not it took 4.5 billion years and occurred through the exact mechanisms and processes that scientists propose is a different argument. We cannot, nor shall we ever be able to prove exactly the origins of life, just as we cannot nor shall we ever be able to prove or disprove the existence of God.

    January 11, 2012 at 10:02 am |
    • MarkinFL

      At least there is evidence for the former as there is bugger-all for the latter.

      January 11, 2012 at 10:07 am |
    • openkwldge

      A sensible comment.

      January 11, 2012 at 10:07 am |
    • Yepyep6598

      we know how it began, you fools refuse to believe it

      January 11, 2012 at 10:23 am |
  8. MAG

    I just don't believe this. People in mainline Protestant churches and their ministers have no problem with evolution. My guess is that the Southern Baptist Convention limited their poll to Southern Baptists and other conservative and fundamentalist churches. People in more liberal Protestant churches get really tired of the public assuming we opposed to or don't accept evolution.

    January 11, 2012 at 10:01 am |
    • Beadles

      Mag – I certainly hope you are right. Otherwise it is too scary to contemplate. How can presumably intelligent, worldly, experienced people believe that the story of Adam and Eve is true?

      January 11, 2012 at 10:05 am |
    • Rick W.

      I'm confused. Do you believe the Bible or not? You dont have to read far to see it clearly states God CREATED man. Get on one side of the fence or the other. Dont be lukewarn... if you do read the Bible, you know what God says about that.

      January 11, 2012 at 10:17 am |
    • Rick W.

      Beadles... the same way you can believe that people evolved out of the ocean into tadpoles then fish then grew legs started crawling then walking and finally talking.

      January 11, 2012 at 10:20 am |
  9. CreatedbyGod

    Albert Einstein, who is often falsely characterized as having been an atheist, once said of non-believers: "The fanatical atheists are like slaves who are still feeling the weight of their chains which they have thrown off after hard struggle. They are creatures who - in their grudge against traditional religion as the 'opium of the masses' - cannot hear the music of the spheres."

    January 11, 2012 at 10:00 am |
    • Primewonk

      " It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it. " Albert Einstein

      January 11, 2012 at 10:04 am |
    • HellBent

      Albert Einstein also said that in the view of a Jesuit Priest he is, and always had been, an atheist. Einstein certainly thought that the idea of a personal god, like the christian god, was absurd.

      January 11, 2012 at 10:05 am |
    • CreatedbyGod

      Although there is no evidence that, in life, Albert Einstein accepted the lordship of Jesus Christ, when asked if he believed in Jesus the historical figure, he responded: "Unquestionably! No one can read the Gospels without feeling the actual presence of Jesus. His personality pulsates in every word. No myth is filled with such life."

      January 11, 2012 at 10:06 am |
    • Des

      Thanks, Primewonk. Important quote. The spindoctors of religion will grasp at anything any scientist says that might support the idiocies of religion, and that quote really helps in dealing with that. I think it just shows the desperation of the religious as their dogma becomes increasingly marginalized.

      January 11, 2012 at 10:08 am |
    • Yepyep6598

      Einstein is God?

      January 11, 2012 at 10:24 am |
  10. Bud

    I believe in evolution. I also believe in a God. But, I really don't understand how you can believe in the Bible literally when even the Church admits that it was edited and changed over the centuries. Large parts were taken out or changed to suit the Churches agenda.

    January 11, 2012 at 9:57 am |
    • Des

      Keep studying and you'll probably get over the god thing. The god characteristics described in the bible really are nonsense, and don't fit any reasonable worldview.

      January 11, 2012 at 10:05 am |
    • openkwldge

      I'm with you. I just square away this one glaring thing–dinosaurs. That's why haven't drank the koolaide from either bowl.

      January 11, 2012 at 10:05 am |
    • openkwldge

      I'm with you. I just can't square away this one glaring thing–dinosaurs. That's why I haven't drank the koolaide from either bowl.

      January 11, 2012 at 10:05 am |
    • Yepyep6598

      so was history when it came to slavery in the U.S. some say only a 10,000 slaves were brought to the U.S. others say a million what difference does it make. if we found out there were only 5,000 would that change the fact that there was slavery in the U.S. ? So your arguemet is weak.

      January 11, 2012 at 10:09 am |
  11. Johnny 5

    Ignorance is a disease that spreads through rejection of the facts. Evolution is a proven fact so deal with it.

    January 11, 2012 at 9:56 am |
    • DMan

      Actually, a scientific law is a proven fact...a scientific theory is still in the proving process. The Theory of Evolution is a scientific theory which has not been proven to the point that it can be considered a scientific law. Having said that, I believe that evolution is a viable scientific explaination for the changes in biological lifeforms...including human beings. I say this and I am a pastor. I also beleive that evolution is a part of what we understand as natural law, which is what God created millions and millions of years back when God created our existence...that is, God created order form chaos...something from nothing.

      January 11, 2012 at 10:09 am |
    • Yepyep6598

      @Jhonny what does the 5 stand for your IQ you certainly didnt evolved you have just enough intellegence to keep your vital organs functioning and that in itself is becoming a problem.

      January 11, 2012 at 10:28 am |
  12. Bob

    And so it goes... ignorance multiplies, and intelligence declines.

    January 11, 2012 at 9:55 am |
    • Yepyep6598

      The name Bob is always associated with trailer trash and meth I wonder if your mother used drugs when she conceived you by that unknown father.

      January 11, 2012 at 10:31 am |
  13. scrambolo

    Like you Vollydan?

    January 11, 2012 at 9:55 am |
  14. The Jackdaw

    7 in 10 preachers are uneducated morons who hide their hend in the sandy floors of their churches.

    January 11, 2012 at 9:54 am |
    • John

      Amen brother

      January 11, 2012 at 9:58 am |
    • pbrisen

      You might want to Wiki "catholic priests" and scroll down to education requirements (in the US).

      I'm guessing that 90% of catholic priests in the US are more intelligent than you and most others in this thread.

      January 11, 2012 at 10:06 am |
    • The Jackdaw

      Yes, Wikipedia. I'm willing to bet that you quoted it often in your doctoral thesis.

      January 11, 2012 at 10:13 am |
    • Yepyep6598

      I'll pick up a science journal when you give me 10 Hail Marys and 10 I Fathers. Your sins are forgiven

      January 11, 2012 at 10:36 am |
  15. scrambolo

    Well this just comfirms what the vast majority of people, including myself, believe about the 73% of Protestant Pastors, led by the Southern Baptist Convention. The comfirmation of ignorance is not a new phenomenon on this planet, nor will it be the last. It is a wonder though that so many millions of people will actually follow and believe this nonsense. Yikes!

    January 11, 2012 at 9:53 am |
  16. jim

    So who's more stupid- the pastors, or the millions of sheep who blindly follow them and refuse to use thier brains?

    January 11, 2012 at 9:52 am |
    • volleydan

      I vote for the internet tough guys who waste their time posting on message boards for the sole purpose of insulting the beliefs of others.

      January 11, 2012 at 9:53 am |
    • The Jackdaw

      Your beliefs should be insulted. They are a blight upon humanity.

      January 11, 2012 at 9:56 am |
    • Des

      If you still believe in a 6,000 year old earth and think evolution doesn't happen, you deserve to be insulted, stupid.

      January 11, 2012 at 9:56 am |
    • volleydan

      Last I checked, you don't know what my beliefs are. You're just making assumptions – which doesn't give you a ton of credibility.

      January 11, 2012 at 9:59 am |
    • jim

      Evolution isnt a "belief" any more than the "belief" that the world is flat. It isnt. No matter how many times you say it is, it will indeed remain round. Evolution isnt a belief. Its a fact. We can observe it happening.And the evidence is simply overwhelming. The evidence for creationism is, well, ZERO.

      January 11, 2012 at 9:59 am |
    • Des

      volleydan, what part of the long word "if" did your weak brain not understand?

      January 11, 2012 at 10:02 am |
    • DT

      Tough Guys? You are reading the posts, you have posted yourself right? Being a "tough guy" has nothing to do with it unless you plan to hurt me for expressing myself.

      January 11, 2012 at 10:25 am |
    • Yepyep6598

      @Jim I am betting the one who carried you for nine months

      January 11, 2012 at 10:38 am |
    • Yepyep6598

      @Jim Oops! forgot you evolved outside the womb

      January 11, 2012 at 10:39 am |
    • Yepyep6598

      @Jim Oops! forgot you evolved outside the womb from a swamp

      January 11, 2012 at 10:40 am |
  17. Portland tony

    To paraphrase the Bible: 'They have eyes, but do not see...and ears that......etc' While other nations seek scientific truths, this country builds Mega churches so evangelical egotists can spout illiterate ramblings that are destroying the very fabric of mankind. Goes to show that tools do not a carpenter make, nor a Bible a teacher of truth.

    January 11, 2012 at 9:52 am |
    • Des

      Another problem is that the bible simply isn't a reliable place to look for truth. It contadicts itself, and lends itself too easily to multiple interpretations. You can argue about the contradictions all you want, but the multi-interpretation case is hardly debatable and makes the common Christian claims for the bible being a divine or divinely-inspired work simply ludicrous.

      January 11, 2012 at 10:01 am |
    • Des

      *contradicts*

      January 11, 2012 at 10:01 am |
  18. JPR

    If you don't believe in evolution, don't get a flu shot every year.

    January 11, 2012 at 9:50 am |
    • Sir Lexington

      HANDS DOWN BEST LINE OF ALL THE POSTS

      January 11, 2012 at 9:56 am |
    • Yepyep6598

      Your stupidity is on display

      January 11, 2012 at 10:41 am |
  19. Ralph in Orange Park, FL

    In all fairness to the clergy, if they did not believe their own nonsense, they would be in the wrong job.

    January 11, 2012 at 9:50 am |
  20. 007

    we used to think the earth was flat, come on peopl and that was only a few hundred years ago, Yes we evolve, we travel to space now and soon will live on other planets. Does religion talk about that? no because it was made up when the human race was as smart as a box elder bug. Romans had gods for everything and look how dumb that looks now. Why are records always being broken? If we did not evolve in to smarter, faster, bigger and stronger humans, records would not be broken. Face the facts people, people 100 years from now will think we were pretty dumb as a species, and then 100 y ears from then they will look back and say, what a bunch of idiots they were, they did not know how to comunicate and travel between planets.

    January 11, 2012 at 9:50 am |
    • Rick W.

      007, the scientists of the time said the world was flat (and were wrong). People 100 years from now will think were were stupid, technologically speaking but TRUE Christians will remain the same... yesterday today and tomorrow as we say!

      January 11, 2012 at 10:07 am |
    • MarkinFL

      Rick, you are right. Scientists will update their thinking based on new evidence. Fundamentalists will stubbornly ignore reality until the day they die.

      January 11, 2012 at 10:08 am |
    • SixDegrees

      There really isn't much evidence that belief in a flat earth was ever common, let alone widespread. Acceptance of a spherical earth dates back many centuries BC, and even a good approximation of its size was available. The use of a belief in a flat earth as an epithet seems to stem from a story by Washington Irving in the 1800s. I'd suggest finding another metaphor, because this one relies on a metaphor itself.

      January 11, 2012 at 10:12 am |
    • AndyInAtl

      What's scary is people like you teaching in our schools. Judeo-Christian beliefs have been here longer than all others, which waned and whithered away with time. There are things happening in the world that are not explainable by science, and physical realm is only part of the equation. It's pretty shortsighted to only believe what's pushed to you by weak minded people in modern society.... There is waaaaay more to faith than what ill-informed atheists or modern liberal protestants say. For example, there were millions of people tortured for their faith in China and USSR, with by far majority of them choosing death over denoucing their Savior. Atheism is probably out there among largest killers of humanity on the planet.

      January 11, 2012 at 10:32 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 and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.