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. BobFromPA

    Gees and these are relatively educated people with very closed minds. Too bad.

    January 10, 2012 at 9:41 pm |
  2. Marc

    "46% agreed that the earth is 6000 years old". Thinking that the earth is 6000 years old is like thinking that the United States measures 10 feet from the Atlantic to the Pacific. People seriously need to start thinking with their brains instead of thinking with their bibles

    January 10, 2012 at 9:41 pm |
    • robert baca-bowers

      Exactly. With tens of thousands of children dying of disease and starvation in Sudan and South Africa, the killings in Syria and the Middle East, all the christians think that god is much to involved with tim tebow to worry about all of the pain and misery in the world.

      January 10, 2012 at 9:51 pm |
    • ⋙ I AM ⋘


      February 15, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
  3. robert baca-bowers

    Not surprising. These hucksters are out there selling a product; religion. Do you really think that a used car salesman is going to tell you that the car he is trying to get you to buy might be a "lemon"? If preachers let their flock believe in evolution, they are out of a job.

    January 10, 2012 at 9:39 pm |
  4. Jerseyjoe123

    I find it interesting that the Bible, a book compiled by a group of men about 400 years after the death of Christ, that is believed to be historically accurate (from a religious perspective) of events covering the previous 4400 years. Yet 1600 years later, people can't get their facts straight about who did what within the government 4 years, let alone 1100x that long.

    The argument is generally it was passed down by word of mouth from generation to generation. Ever play that game where a small group of people sit in a circle and one person whispers something in one person's ear, and tell them to pass it on? What comes out the mouth of the person at the other end is very different. Now imagine the story after 4400 years and, what, 70-80 generations?

    January 10, 2012 at 9:38 pm |
  5. genebrady

    Who cares what they think, really. The bible was written by men that didn't understand a word of what Jesus taught. They relied on Mary Magdalin to decipher. They got rid of her and didn't start to write their bulls–t until 32 years AFTER Jesus was dead. The ignorant writting what they didn't understand and got rid of the ONLY person that DID understand. How many people have died and are still being massacred over religion?

    January 10, 2012 at 9:37 pm |
  6. Sigh!

    Religion is the opium of the people, truly!

    January 10, 2012 at 9:37 pm |
  7. Professor P

    Actually, the 6,000 year age of earth is not necessarily implied by the Bible. The Bible never says that Adam was the first man that God created. The only reference to Adam as the first man is in 1Cor 15:45 where it refers to Adam as the first man and Christ as the second man. Clearly, this does not mean that Adam was the first man created.
    Reag Gen 1,2 carefully. It is easy to infer that Adam was the first man created, but that is not stated nor is it strictly implied.

    January 10, 2012 at 9:37 pm |
    • robert baca-bowers

      You are trying to use myths and fabrications to prove myths and fabrications. None of it is true.

      January 10, 2012 at 9:45 pm |
  8. JeramieH

    Meet the new century... same as the last century.

    January 10, 2012 at 9:37 pm |
    • 2tired2care


      January 10, 2012 at 9:37 pm |
    • Cielo

      And unfortunatley going back several more centuries!

      January 10, 2012 at 9:41 pm |
  9. AB

    Evolution is BS, and anyone who believe on it is a complete idiot.

    January 10, 2012 at 9:36 pm |
    • Sigh!

      Why is it BS? Give us some facts.

      January 10, 2012 at 9:38 pm |

      Hahaha. Are you the first liberal christian? You don't believe in fact?

      January 10, 2012 at 9:40 pm |
    • Gadflie

      It's not like he has any facts to back up his wishful thinking.

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


      Speaking of idiots, "and anyone who believe on it is a complete idiot"?
      Perhaps you should learn the language before you call others idiots.

      January 10, 2012 at 9:49 pm |
  10. John

    What do you expect from those that preach a blind Faith. Without faith the churches would go bankrupt....it is all about money and not about Christ. And I am very sorry to say this.

    January 10, 2012 at 9:36 pm |
  11. Weasley

    When theories or scientific discoveries appear to contradict scripture, the science isn't wrong, it's man's understanding of scripture that is almost always flawed.

    January 10, 2012 at 9:35 pm |
    • Jim

      If it's OK to continuously re-interpret the scripture every time a scientific discovery contradicts the old interpretation, what good is the canon?

      January 10, 2012 at 9:38 pm |
    • DeeCee1000

      So from one century to the next, the same words can have a totally different meaning? What's the point? And why would anyone call that kind of scripture "The Truth" if the meaning can be changed over and over? It's like reading a line from a Nostradumus refrain. Oh it means this, no it means that. I'd rather just stick with facts thank you.

      January 10, 2012 at 9:45 pm |
  12. 2tired2care

    10 out of 10 religious people are being brainwashed.

    January 10, 2012 at 9:33 pm |
  13. Rob Dinsmore

    And you wonder why this country is only half the success it should be. You have the Pope telling the wacko Catholics that gay marriage is a serious threat to the human race and then you have this southern clowns brainwashing their children to reject science and to ultimately become untrainable morons. It sickens me.

    January 10, 2012 at 9:33 pm |
    • DeeCee1000

      They're all a bunch of wackos taking advantage of people's minds who they prefer stay ignorant.

      January 10, 2012 at 9:40 pm |
    • Jim

      The future belongs to the scientifically trained. The innumerate, untrained masses will become the new underclass now that blue collar jobs have disappeared.

      January 10, 2012 at 9:42 pm |
  14. christopher

    That is OK. 7 out of 10 people who are not morons accept the Theory Of Evolution and reject the theory that the Earth was blinked into exsistence by a magic fairy in space.

    January 10, 2012 at 9:33 pm |
  15. The Phist

    Evolution is real, god is not.

    January 10, 2012 at 9:33 pm |
  16. Zaphod 2010

    If god is for real he has really screwed up his project hasn't he? Maybe he can do better in that fat galaxy that was just discovered.

    January 10, 2012 at 9:30 pm |
  17. 2tired2care

    People in this country are so freaking stupid. The end of the world will become a reality because of these numbnuts.

    January 10, 2012 at 9:29 pm |
  18. Manu Mukasa

    How many people actually buy this survey? How do we know this isn't some kind of made up propaganda cooked up by the Southern Baptist Convention to make it seem like they have more on their side than they do?

    January 10, 2012 at 9:29 pm |
  19. Danram

    This poll is "Exhibit A" as to why I am not a religious person. Anyone who, after being presented with the MOUNTAINS of evidence supporting not only evolution but also the Earth's estimated age of 4.7 billion years, can still deny it all simply because they don't want it to be true is truly a delusional fool. I don't want to give either my time, my support, or my money to fools.

    January 10, 2012 at 9:28 pm |
    • MJ

      The evidence can really support both creationism and evolution. You can take a look at fossils, carbon dating and even DNA, to mention a few, and the same evidence can make strong points to support either one. At the end of the day, all we have is the evidence, so as we dig deeper it becomes evident that they both are religions, both beliefs. Because the evidence can support both and we dont have any video of anyone there at that time, they both can become beliefs equally. So, the difference, I think is the world view. The worldview of someone who tends toward evolution vs the worldview of someone who tends to creationism. However, relative truth cannot be an answer, it's impossible. There's only one truth, so we MUST consider the historic evidence we have and this must include the Bible as it is considered historically accurate and we must consider our lives now, which includes logic and logic cannot come out of an accident, that's illogical. Some recommended literature that has helped my understanding is by Ken Ham and Jason LIsle

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

      Ken "Jesus on a Dinosaur" Ham? Bwah hahahahahahaha! Thanks for the laugh! Now I can go to bed.

      January 10, 2012 at 10:04 pm |
  20. sockpuppet

    they shouldn't say 7 out of 10 pastors, they should say 7 out of 10 SOUTHERN BAPTIST pastors. THat is a very specific denomination and it does not accurately reflect all Christian Pastors.

    January 10, 2012 at 9:27 pm |
    • DeepThinker

      If we're talking about Southern pastors we'd have to change the ratio to 9/10.

      January 10, 2012 at 9:31 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.