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. arcandciel

    I think ithat my first comment which seems to roll around page 30 now was incomplete. A great intellectual thought that I didn't think that the 7 days of creation in Genesis were literal 24-hour days. I certainly believe that they were 24-hour periods let that be clear. What I explained is what happened between the first 2 verses of Genesis where the earth BECAME dark and in a state of decay. It was not created that way as God is not the author of confusion. What I didn't mention is that the creation week was NOT the original creation of the earth, but a re-creation of the surface of the earth in a week's time to repair the damages that had previously been caused by Satan's rebellion and a third of the angels who followed him. The first verse says God created heaven and earth, it doesn't say WHEN, it could have been billions of years ago. Then it was destroyed in a way and then repaired in the creation week. From the creation week to now is almost 6,000 years. People get confused and say the Bible says the earth was created 6,000 years ago when a simple analysis proves no such thing. The word "was" should really be "became" as this would have avoided a lot of confusion....

    January 12, 2012 at 10:54 pm |
    • Jimmy

      So, you're saying that God didn't build the house from scratch, he just renovated a run-down structure? Makes some sense, I suppose? I've seen plenty of reno jobs done in a week. Tell me, how much time did God spend on the tenant's couch watching Pay-Per-View?

      January 12, 2012 at 11:54 pm |
    • Dr.K.

      If so, I don't think he installed the utilities to code. There isn't enough power or water for all the people he put here.

      January 13, 2012 at 12:54 am |
    • TR6

      Typical headstrong, myopic christian refusing to believe what the bible says when it disagrees with what they want to believe. Though I will give you points for the most inventive bible based creative fantasy I’ve seen

      January 13, 2012 at 5:58 am |
    • arcandciel

      I find it very interesting to discuss with great intellectuals because we really do connect, don't we? Yes, God performed a reno job, but you purposely omit the fact that He created perfection in the first place and that it is Satan and his powerful friends who destroyed everything as God allowed them to do. And that leaves ample room for the pre-human giant dinausors who ruled the earth at the same time as angels inhabited the earth administering the Government of God. For angels to live with dinausors wouldn't have bothered them in the least as they are spirit beings each maybe millions of times more powerful than dinausors. But, notice that in His great wisdom, God did not re-create the dinausors at the same time as He created man as poor man wouldn't have survived more than a few minutes after being crushed to death or eaten as an appetizer. But the real reason to create man in His image in the first place was for God to reproduce Himself into billions of copies so that man can one day enter the Family of God and inherit the whole universe for all eternity by being able to travel through it at the speed of thought. Thanks for flattering me for my imagination, the only problem for you pagans is that I'm right! HAHA!....

      January 13, 2012 at 7:48 am |
    • Primewonk

      So your god, being omnipotent and omniscient, knew that Lucifer would become evil. And your god knew this befor he created the universe. Yet your god created him anyway.

      In retrospect, this seems like a pretty stupid idea.

      January 13, 2012 at 8:43 am |
  2. BloodofNords

    Sometimes....I wish I were a werewolf.

    January 12, 2012 at 9:46 pm |
  3. G. Zeus Kreiszchte

    I've seen the Flintstones on TV and I've been to the Creationist Museum in KY so that proves dinosaurs lived side by side with humans. Thar ain't no sich thang as evolution. Darwin was a liar!

    January 12, 2012 at 7:43 pm |
    • Cedar rapids

      lol, just the right amount of sarcasm, nicely done.

      January 12, 2012 at 10:35 pm |
  4. Reality

    Only for the "newbies":

    What is being taught in some Catholic schools (plus some added comments):

    "The story of Adam and Eve is only symbolic?

    Yes, this story was composed in the 900s BCE and functions as an etiology (explanatory myth) . In the 900s Israel was self ruling, under King David and Solomon. The people were no longer at war and the question" Why are we not happy?" may have been asked. The short answer is sin. (Look at 1 Kings 11 for some clues into why the story depicts Eve sinning first and then tempting Adam [Solomon]).

    Original sin is therefore only symbolic of man's tendencies to sin?

    Yes, I teach Original Sin as symbolic of the sins of our origins – in our
    families and in the broader society, both of which affect each person
    profoundly. The "sins of our origins" approach helps to account for certain
    patterns of sin in particular families and societies.

    Baptism does not erase original sin since the sin does not exist?

    Yes, the old "laundry of the soul," approach to Baptism is no longer accepted.

    Infant Baptism is only a rite of initiation and commits parents and godparents to bringing up the child in a Christian home.
    Yes, but, since baptism is now celebrated at Sunday Eucharist, all the members of the parish family are encouraged to pledge their support and care for the faith life of the newly baptized. (A manifestation of this is
    persons volunteering to teach other people's kids the basics of Catholicism.)"

    And if there were no Adam and Eve, it follows that there was no biblical Noah. see also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noah's_Ark#Other_flood_stories

    As per National Geographic's Genographic project:

    " DNA studies suggest that all humans today descend from a group of African ancestors who about 60,000 years ago began a remarkable journey. Follow the journey from them to you as written in your genes”.

    "Adam" is the common male ancestor of every living man. He lived in Africa some 60,000 years ago, which means that all humans lived in Africa at least at that time.

    Unlike his Biblical namesake, this Adam was not the only man alive in his era. Rather, he is unique because his descendents are the only ones to survive.

    It is important to note that Adam does not literally represent the first human. He is the coalescence point of all the genetic diversity."

    January 12, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
    • Mike

      @ DR K....."an example of how many of the anti-evolution questions sound"......You therefore should have a good idea of how many of the anti-Christian questions sound to Christians. However, from a logical standpoint, if Christ is not alive then you nor Christians have anything to worry about. If he is, then you have an eternity to worry about. I would suggest, simply being willing to follow Christ if he is willing to reveal himself to you.

      January 12, 2012 at 8:02 pm |
    • .........

      the best advise hit report abuse every time you see a reality post

      January 12, 2012 at 8:22 pm |
    • Jimmy

      Christ's not actually being around does not protect us from the harmful effects generated by the many people who merely think that he is around. Even if it's just a question of whether Christ might be around, is it worth performing silly rituals, or even shunning and judging people just to avoid what amounts to the same thing as bad luck? It's a superst.ition, and it doesn't matter whether rhino's horns cure erectile dysfunction, the net result is still the near extinction of the animal.

      January 13, 2012 at 12:18 am |
  5. Bumper

    God created man.
    A man mistakenly created evolution.
    Evolution is on the endangered theories list.
    Evolution is going extinct.

    January 12, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
    • Frank

      And may evolution R.I.P

      January 12, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
    • Dr.K.

      Instead of offering an argument, let's just take your statement as a testable hypothesis. It can be addressed in two ways: First, has the frequency of research based on evolution decreased or increased over the last 100 years? Second, theories "go extinct" when they are replaced by explanations that better explain the data. What research paradigm in biology, paleontology, medicine, anthropology, archaeology, etc. exists that better explains all of these data?

      January 12, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
    • Alex

      K-u believe in chances? what are the chances that your progeny would have evolved into an angel with wings? Can you get the mathematical probablity of this evolution taking place?

      January 12, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
    • rick

      man created god

      January 12, 2012 at 6:35 pm |
    • tan_theta

      Rick-then who created Man?

      January 12, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest


      Your reply in no way addresses the points that K made. All you are attempting to do is move the conversation in a direction that you feel you would be able to win instead of admitting the validity of the point.

      January 12, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
    • Dr.K.

      I'm sorry Alex, you seem to be convoluting so many misconceptions at once that it would be hard to know where to begin, if I understand you at all.

      Let me give you an example of how many of the anti-evolution questions sound to someone who actually has a basic understanding. They sound something like this: "If jello is made of concrete, how come it makes kittens speak German?" They are too nonsensical to even begin to address.

      January 12, 2012 at 7:05 pm |
    • Mike

      @ DR K............"an example of how many of the anti-evolution questions sound"......You therefore should have a good idea of how many of the anti-Christian questions sound to Christians. However, from a logical standpoint, if Christ is not alive then you nor Christians have anything to worry about. If he is, then you have an eternity to worry about. I would suggest, simply being willing to follow Christ if he is willing to reveal himself to you.

      January 12, 2012 at 8:17 pm |
    • LinCA


      You said, "You therefore should have a good idea of how many of the anti-Christian questions sound to Christians."
      True. Questions about logical inconsistencies tend to fall on deaf ears when addressed to believers.

      You said, "However, from a logical standpoint, if Christ is not alive then you nor Christians have anything to worry about."
      Even if he miraculously was alive, I would have nothing to worry about. I'm sure he'd be run out of town by some christian who doesn't recognize him. There are, after all, more than 30,000 different christian denominations, sects and cults. each has their own interpretation of what it means to be christian and what their savior stood for. They can't all be right. They can all be wrong.

      You said, "If he is, then you have an eternity to worry about."
      What about Thor, Zeus, Ra? Don't you worry about appeasing them, too? There is exactly equal evidence for the existence of your god and any of the millions of others invented over the years. Most of these gods are nasty buggers. They don't like people that don't believe in them and praise them. They do tend to dislike the same people their followers don't like.

      January 12, 2012 at 8:47 pm |
    • Dr.K.

      Even though you missed my point entirely, I will take the bait. I insist that if you don't stand on your head for at least 20 hours of your life, when you die all of your children and grandchildren will be cursed because you didn't. If I'm wrong you have nothing to worry about, but if I'm right.....well, why not just put in your time standing on your head just to be sure. Just makes sense.

      Are you making those same measured wagers for all the other religions too? The stakes are equally high if you are not committed to Islam. Do you bow toward Mecca just to be sure?

      January 12, 2012 at 8:53 pm |
    • Sim34

      The acrostic for your little verse Bumper reads GAEE, pronounced "gay"! 🙂

      January 12, 2012 at 11:49 pm |
    • Mike

      @ Dr K......You will notice I did not say anything about you actually doing something, I merely mentioned your WILLINGNESS, and that is always the issue. I know for a fact Christ is alive and if he revealed to me that he wanted me to embrace evolution or bow 7 seven times a day I would do so in an instant because he literally died for me and you.....how much more could he do? But, would you willingly embrace him if he revealed himself to you?

      January 13, 2012 at 4:52 am |
    • TR6

      @ Mike:” But, would you willingly embrace him if he revealed himself to you?”

      Mike, I’ve been looking for evidence of a god (any god) since I was a teenager and based on the lack of evidence I have decided there are no gods (at least nothing like the Christian one). But if I was presented with real, testable, verifiable evidence of one I would have no trouble changing my mind. Oh and a 2000 year old book of sadistic fairy tales does not count as evidence

      January 13, 2012 at 6:28 am |
  6. Grumpy

    Apparently American Protestant Clergy have an idiot majority! Stupid, stupid people!!!!!!!!!!

    January 12, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
  7. Primewonk

    " LifeWay Research, a division of the Southern Baptist Convention"

    And remember the SBC was formed in 1850 because they were just sure that their god said in the bible that they should be able to own black people.

    January 12, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
  8. ChristianBot

    Article on evolution detected.
    Initiate debate sequence.
    Ask questions about evolution that I could look up myself.
    Fail to understand the answer even though it is logical.
    Claim victory.
    End sequence.

    January 12, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • momoya

      Ha!!! Succinct and correct!

      January 12, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
    • Puzzled

      Fairly high level language they use.

      January 12, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
  9. Jon


    If the bible said 2+2=5 would you believe it?

    January 12, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
    • BoldGeorge

      The bible does not go there, but our texts book in our school system says 2+2=5 that more or less. You don't accept or not accept the bible with intelligence. That's humanity's greatest error.

      1 Corinthians 1:21 – For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.

      January 12, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
    • Primewonk

      George – your bible states that pi = 3.0

      Do you volunteer to fly in a plane designed and built using that value for pi?

      January 12, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
  10. BoldGeorge

    Here's a little comment I wrote previously to a special someone:

    I can't convince anyone to believe as I do, nor am I trying to. Something as deep as religion, spirituality and more importantly Salvation is a matter of choice from the heart, from the soul and from the mind. It wouldn't even make any sense to try to convince anyone of this because that would be like saying, "I have a mother and I love her...so you have to love her too." God, obviously, is muhc greater than my mom.

    But one thing I can assure you is this, whoever sincerely wishes to seek out God, He will undoubtly make His existence evident to you. And I don't mean He will appear to you in a nightly vision or dream or give you a new revelation. He has already given to us a revelation, He has spoken and His speech can be found in the form of His word, the Bible. God's message to us is simply this:

    God gave man (and woman) the Ten Commandments to show us His only holy standard of living. We cannot enter into His kingdom after we die if we don't meet His standards. Sounds difficult, right? Well, it's totally impossible. I nor no other person will be able to. We are such a corrupt people (you at least have to admit that) and everyday we offend God with our own sinful way of meet His righteous standard of living. If you can honestly admit to that, it is a start. You wanna know why? Because your heart will always be clouded by the pride of your wisdom and unbelief. [James 4:6 – “ God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.”]

    And it makes me sad to know that pride and unaccountability gets in the way. But hope is not lost because this is where Christ comes in. He came to bear our punishment in its totality. God has imputed righteousness in us through His Son, and also has defeated death when after He died, He resurrected so we may have hope in the eternity.

    January 12, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
    • Primewonk

      The vast majority of Christians in the world (90%) have no problem with a faith in your god and an understanding that evolution is real.

      January 12, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
    • BoldGeorge

      But then “ Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter." Matthew 7:21

      You can't believe in evolution and the Bible's account of our origins. How do you reconcile death into this? According to the Genesis account, death came after Adam's fall. Every living being, after his fateful decision to disobey God, was cursed to die, not before. The evolutionary theory suggests that there was death and mayhem billions & billions of years before Adam came into the picture.

      January 12, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
    • nonimus

      Sorry, where exactly does it say that nothing died before 'the fall'? It says Adam wsill surely die, but doesn't speak of any thing else.

      January 12, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
    • BoldGeorge

      nonimus...you sure you want an answer? Here it is:

      Romans 5:12
      Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men...

      January 12, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
    • Nonimus

      Ah, Paul, of course. Thought you were talking about Genesis. Thanks.

      January 12, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
    • BoldGeorge

      Genesis means "origin". Therefore, the book of Genesis is the book of origins. You either believe that or you don't. Death begins at chapter 3. Nothing di.ed before that but if you wanted the bible to say "And nothing di.ed before man's fall..." then you basically want to be biblically s-p-o-o-n fed. That's why Jesus, Paul, and other New Testament figures continuously sited Genensis and the old testament.

      January 12, 2012 at 9:45 pm |
    • Dr. Gary Hurd

      "Genesis" means "begining."

      January 13, 2012 at 12:17 am |
  11. Joe

    Evolution = no Adam and Eve = no Original Sin = no need for Jesus

    Evolution just jacks up their business model. They need people to think that humans were born in a sinful and fallen state so that they can sell their BS miracle cure: Jesus.

    January 12, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
    • momoya

      Plenty of pastors and theologians tweak the system enough to include evolution somewhat rationally, but it certainly strikes a blow to the unintelligent who don't have the ability to perform the mental gymnastics necessary to keep the faith alongside the science.

      January 12, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
  12. The Bobinator

    7 out of 10 pastors are placing their feelings over reality. Well, I suppose that shouldn't be surprising.

    January 12, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
  13. Hitched Up

    You have got to be kidding! This article is a good example of why children need a good education, otherwise they grow up without the benefit of knowledge and gather sheep for slaughter. You may not like the idea that you evolved from an ape, you may not like the idea that Earth is at least 6,000 years old, you may not like that you are not the center of the solar system, galaxy, or universe, and furthermore, you may not like the idea that there is no God. Yet every bit of your knowledge is based on your faith. Very sad! Even sadder is to know you believe that you must have a religious belief to be a decent human being. You kill, mane, and continue to contribute to the deliquency of humans all in the name of faith-less knowledge. Continue your walk with the Reverend Jim Jones...and I will walk mine alone thank you!

    January 12, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
    • Will

      I second that motion.
      More simple put, religion is a learned behavior and it can be unlearned.

      January 12, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
  14. Patti

    I'm sure these pastors would believe and swear by the accuracy of DNA if it exonerated them in a crime they didn't commit. But when this same science can prove we all have a common ancestor (National Geographic) that goes back over 100,000 years it's flawed? Just because you believe the world is flat doesn't make it true.

    January 12, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
    • Dr.K.

      Though they get up in the morning, take their blood pressure meds, put in their contacts, adjust the thermostat, use their microwave, drive to work, turn on the computer (linked to satellites), and then use that computer to type messages that science can't be trusted, the irony seems lost on them.

      January 12, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
  15. Reality_Check

    This is like asking stupid people if the Earth is flat.

    January 12, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
    • BoldGeorge

      Funny you should bring that up, but that was once a theory (possibly a 'fact' back then) that most believed in. Again, science had to make the correction.

      January 12, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
    • Will

      Didn't the catholic church execute the man who claimed the earth was round and it orbitted the sun?

      January 12, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
    • BoldGeorge

      That may be so, but wh said the Catholics have it right?

      January 12, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
  16. Todd

    Boy am I glad that the church doesn't run schools anymore.

    January 12, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
    • BoldGeorge

      But whatever is running the schools now has got kids shooting up and massacring each other INSIDE the schools during class sessions (never mind after school).

      January 12, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      Its called bad parenting.

      January 12, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
    • fred

      Not bad parenting but lack of respect all around. When there was prayer and Bible study is school you at least showed respect even if you did not believe. Respect was outside of self and directed to a higher source. Today respect is has a different meaning altogether because there is no higher source than self in schools.

      January 12, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
    • rick

      fred: public schools are not here for bible study or prayer

      January 12, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
    • Primewonk

      Careful with the cause anf effect there, Fred.

      I can just as easily claim that everything went down the toilet after we added "under god" to the Pledge.

      See how easy that is?

      January 12, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
    • fred

      Great post Primewonk.

      January 12, 2012 at 9:51 pm |
  17. Oldbear 60

    And why would they not reject the concept. They already buy into some very fancy fiction, so if they believe in evolution they are countering the concept of an all knowing and all powerful deity who controls everything.

    January 12, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
  18. Bumper

    Evolution is on par with mythology.

    January 12, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
    • momoya

      You obviously have professional training in neither. Go talk to some mythology professors and try to sell them that; then go talk to so biologists and see what they think. Some people spends the better parts of their lives studying mythology or evolution, but you claim to know more than they? It explains your simple-minded beliefs to a great degree.

      January 12, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
    • BioHzrd

      Evolution has been proven time and time again in the lab and in nature, whereas mythology by its nature cannot be proven. Evolution is a myth as much as gravity, germs, and atoms. Please, go take your ignorance elsewhere.

      January 12, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
    • Jimmy

      You say this, and can only just say it because you cannot demonstrate any truth in it, correct? Basic propaganda. Keep repeating a lie enough times and people will just accept it as true because it's so familiar.

      January 12, 2012 at 9:26 pm |
  19. npr

    Darwin is liked by evolutionists because he liberated science from the straitjacket of observation and opened the door to storytellers. This gave professional evolutionists job security so they can wander through biology labs as if they belong there.
    David Coppedge

    January 12, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • Brady

      Evolution is a proven, didn't ya know that? Little fella archie is the link 😉

      January 12, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
    • Archie

      hey-I am not the link, but I like that quote.

      January 12, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
    • Bob

      Is there an observable process in which new genetic information can be added to the genetic code of an organism?

      January 12, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
    • Jorgath

      Yes. It's called mutation.

      January 12, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
    • grand_design

      Bob-Is your question is around macro evolution; for new genes/information that produces complex structures and cellular systems?-If so, the answer is there is NO.

      January 12, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
    • Dr.K.

      The whole "mciro" vs. "macro" evolution thing is a fallacy. It's like saying "I have seen a person walk 20 miles in one day, however it's unbelievable that a person could walk 200 miles in 10 days."

      January 12, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
    • Bob

      GD-Yep that answers the q. Thanks!

      January 12, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
    • Dr.K.

      Bob – funny how Jorgath first answered the question, but you ignored it in favor of grand-design. Must not have been the answer you already had in mind. In other words, it was never an honest question.

      January 12, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
    • Jimmy

      Isn't David Coppedge the NASA employee who was fired for proselytizing at work? He isn't any expert on biology, so why does his opinion count any more than a mechanic's, or a pastor's for that matter?

      January 12, 2012 at 9:21 pm |
  20. Binky42

    Only in America. If you did this survey in ANY other English speaking, majority-Christian country it would be more like 1 in 50 pastors reject evolution.

    January 12, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
    • BoldGeorge

      It's believeable. Actually, the bible even states it in Matthew 7:21 – Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.

      January 12, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
    • Bonky42

      And approximately 67% of the people in the world reject Christianity.

      January 12, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
    • BoldGeorge

      Right again Bonky....Here's another one: Matthew 22:14 – For many are called, but few are chosen.”

      January 12, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
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