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. RBRI

    I hope all relegious people are taken away by thier god soon...

    January 10, 2012 at 7:30 pm |
    • Christopher Cobb

      Awesome! I totally agree

      February 7, 2012 at 4:38 am |
  2. LinCA

    If I were asked if “God used evolution to create people", I would strongly disagree, too. But that would, of course, not be because I thing that evolution isn't real, but simply because there are no gods.

    January 10, 2012 at 7:30 pm |
  3. Roland

    Evolution is farce??? Religion is consistent in its beliefs??? Let's review, pastors are split 50/50 on whether they think the earth is 6000 years old when there is overwhelming evidence to the contrary. People once were convinced the earth was flat and the sun revolved around the earth and at that time people "believed" it to be true because they wanted it to be true and they were skeptical of the scientists that had evidence that contradicted it. It took hundreds of years for people to accept it as fact instead of a theory. Just because you believe doesn't make it true and who says religion is consistent in its beliefs. There are countless religions out there with different beliefs. Are all of them true or are you arrogant enough to say outloud that your religion is right and all the others are wrong???

    January 10, 2012 at 7:29 pm |
    • PowerToTheShepes

      We had better hope that religion is not consistent in its beliefs. Otherwise these blaspheming protestant pastors (may they be touched by the light of His noodly appendage) would still be out there burning witches. I never could understand why they ducked them in the village pond first – it makes them so hard to light.

      January 10, 2012 at 8:25 pm |
  4. james

    why do idiots intermix the THEORY (again the THEORY) of evolution with moronic teachings that the earth is only 6000 years old? 1) the Bible does not say the earth is 6000 years old and 2) there is intelligent design

    January 10, 2012 at 7:29 pm |
    • Cardiac50

      You're obviously a little weak on the meaning of the word theory as used by the scientific community aren't you. You manage to use it as a form of a curse word..

      January 10, 2012 at 7:32 pm |
    • Jeff

      Actually the bible does say that. It also says if you wear clothing of 2 fabrics or work on Saturday you must be put to death. Why do you hate god's word? Enjoy eternity in hell buddy. God doesn't like people lying about what he wrote in his book.

      January 11, 2012 at 12:17 am |
    • fintastic

      Looks at the idiot who doesn't understand the use of the word "theory"

      Like "electronics theory"..... yea, just a theory.

      January 11, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
  5. Carol

    If they believe in a literal Adam and Eve to be just as the Bible says, then they must believe that the snake back then could actually talk. If we all look the same as Eve and Adam today, why aren't all the snakes still speaking to us?

    January 10, 2012 at 7:29 pm |
    • fred

      Who said you look like EVE?

      January 10, 2012 at 7:30 pm |
    • Carol

      The seven ministers who think we haven't changed since the Garden of Eden.

      January 10, 2012 at 7:41 pm |
    • fred

      Does it matter if the serpent talked or if it was just Moses using language that his people could understand?
      The visual of Eve is not in the Bible that I know of and was not mentioned.

      January 10, 2012 at 8:01 pm |
    • just sayin

      snakes still talk only now they like to be called atheists

      January 10, 2012 at 8:05 pm |
    • Jeff

      So Fred, you're admitting the Bible is a lie and is unreliable? Good to know. Hope your god didn't read that. You're gonna be a little toasty for a long time.

      January 11, 2012 at 12:18 am |
  6. Bill

    And this is why I no longer attend church services – I cannot relate to people who doubt the obvious and believe in the words of a book written long ago. Bishop John Shelby Spong has a book why religion must change or die – I think religion is on life support.

    January 10, 2012 at 7:27 pm |
    • Philosopher

      Some religions do not hold this view, so to stay out of churches for that reason is... Dare I say it? ...irrational. In technical terms, you've committed a hasty generalization (a logical fallacy).

      January 10, 2012 at 7:34 pm |
    • crazyvermont

      kind of interesting that true faith has never died though many societies have tried to ban or eliminate through banning or even torture; i fact, tough times has always resulted in a stronger and more vigorous faith. You only need to look at countries like China to see what happens to a persecuted church

      January 10, 2012 at 7:34 pm |
    • Bill

      Religion survives due to ignorance and lack of education – people in China have no hope so they need something false to put their hope in – a reward that makes enduring worthwhile.

      January 10, 2012 at 7:38 pm |
    • Philosopher

      And that, Bill, is begging-the-question. Religion only survives due to ignorance, since all religious people are ignorant. (You're assuming what you're trying to prove.) The fact is that very many intelligent people have been, and are, believers also, and this includes many scientists. Your conclusions are far more universal than your evidence (not a good sign) and, to top it all off, it's a very unscientific way to argue.

      January 10, 2012 at 7:48 pm |
    • fred

      Religion only survives due to ignorance
      Exactly what are most Christians ignorant of? Just one please

      January 10, 2012 at 7:51 pm |
    • Philosopher

      (Fred, just to be sure you understand what I'm saying. I'm not saying Christians are ignorant. I'm pointing out the fallacy in Bill's reasoning.)

      January 10, 2012 at 7:56 pm |
    • fred

      It is not ignorance when the evidence is visible . It is something else.

      January 10, 2012 at 7:59 pm |
    • fred

      Philosopher , Thanks

      @fred why are you using my name and why are you following me around the boards?

      January 10, 2012 at 8:06 pm |
    • Jeebus

      Philosopher, it's funny that you used religion and logic in the same sentence.

      January 11, 2012 at 11:48 am |
  7. Mike

    This only proves that 7 out 10 pastors are complete idiots. This is a political issue and only one of many planks in the religious right fanatic platform. Pastors need to stick to faith issues and leave science with scientists.

    January 10, 2012 at 7:27 pm |
    • crazyvermont

      lol...sure I believe in evolution. I also believe If I wait long enough, the pile of rust in the junkyard will be a brand new car. Everything in nature decays as it progresses and you expect me to believe in evolution?

      January 10, 2012 at 7:36 pm |
    • Jeff Williams

      """Everything in nature decays as it progresses and you expect me to believe in evolution?"""

      The answer is: everything in nature does NOT decay as it progresses. And yes, if you had any understanding of science you WOULD accept the theory of evolution.

      January 10, 2012 at 7:52 pm |
    • Dr. Gary Hurd

      crazyvermont, Your basic error is not knowing the difference between a car and a live organism. Your second mistake is not knowing any biophysics.

      Let me suggest;
      "An Introduction to Entropy-and-Evolution and The Second Law of Thermodynamics"

      January 10, 2012 at 11:10 pm |
    • Jeebus

      Don't bother Dr. His mind will just reject it, just like Neo realizing that he's been living in the Matrix and puking. Except in this guys case, he'll just run back to the chair and stick that plug back into his skull.

      January 11, 2012 at 11:52 am |
  8. Mike P

    This shouldn't be a surprise. Most Protestant pastors know the Bible and Christian doctrine backwards and forwards, but a scant few know anything about the science proving human evolution took place. And there are very, very few books that present the evidence favoring human evolution in a way that is definitive and easy understand. The two books that really sealed the deal for me were Sean Carroll's "The Making of the Fittest" and Daniel Fairbanks' "Relics of Eden."

    January 10, 2012 at 7:26 pm |
    • Reasongal.

      Also, "Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why it Matters" by Donald Prothero (no relation to Stephen Prothero that I know of) is very well done, clear and informative.

      January 10, 2012 at 9:21 pm |
  9. pkfops

    Those bible nuts should learn to read Chinese.

    January 10, 2012 at 7:25 pm |
  10. Lindsey

    This should definitively answer the question of whether or not we want a religious fanatic sitting in the White House. NO THANK YOU.

    January 10, 2012 at 7:25 pm |
  11. lynn

    That's truly frightening. For so many to think a super being created our universe and everything else our imagination can drum up goes to prove there are no free thinking human's, just zombies marching to the beat of the religious zealots.

    January 10, 2012 at 7:23 pm |
  12. Dan W

    But in genesis it says, first there were the plants, and then the insects, and then the beasts and then man. That's evolution.

    January 10, 2012 at 7:22 pm |
    • fred

      That is stupid.

      January 10, 2012 at 7:31 pm |
  13. Ron

    In other news....88% of Pastors live in the Bronze Age.

    January 10, 2012 at 7:22 pm |
    • Justin Rosales

      Right you are!

      January 10, 2012 at 7:27 pm |
    • Carol

      They not only live in the Bronze age, they have turned to Bronze.

      January 10, 2012 at 7:34 pm |
  14. imbetterNU

    we are a nation of idiots on the path to major decline.
    Thanks to all the religions of the USA!!

    January 10, 2012 at 7:22 pm |
  15. Rev. S.

    God IS evolution. 'Nuff said.

    January 10, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      And I am 550 years old!!!

      See it's not that hard to randomly say things.

      January 10, 2012 at 7:21 pm |
    • Bill

      Religion is so easy – you don't have to think at all.

      January 10, 2012 at 7:29 pm |
    • FSM

      and I am Betty Crocker.

      January 10, 2012 at 7:29 pm |
    • Bill

      And which God – the Christen God or the Jewish God? And lets not forget the Muslim God. All descendants of Abraham. All kill each other in the name of their God. Whose God is it?

      January 10, 2012 at 7:31 pm |
    • Carol

      There is only one God for all; people have sliced his spirit into tiny segments. When we cross over we'll just all bang into each other. 🙂

      January 10, 2012 at 7:37 pm |
    • Bill

      There is one idea of God – there is really no God.

      January 10, 2012 at 7:39 pm |
  16. Dan of The Prophecy Society

    I don't find it hard to believe that 7 out of 10 pastors have not evolved.

    January 10, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
    • SNAPPA

      Good one!!

      January 10, 2012 at 7:29 pm |
    • Carol

      I don't either, look who they are listening to for the Republican Presidential contenders.

      January 10, 2012 at 7:44 pm |
  17. Paul in Louisville


    January 10, 2012 at 7:19 pm |
  18. Jeff

    I wonder how the poll would have come out if it was entirely anonymous and there was no chance that they that answered the questions would be held to the fire of their perishoners for their answers? Or rather, if the pastors knew that there was no chance of it being a hoax poll or something that they'd get noted for answering.

    January 10, 2012 at 7:18 pm |
  19. Leonid Brezhnev

    This proves that ignorance abounds. Stupid, stupid sheep.

    January 10, 2012 at 7:18 pm |
  20. Lorne

    Christina Hendricks is the only proof I'd accept of Intelligent Design....

    January 10, 2012 at 7:18 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.