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.
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Anyone can "believe" whatever they want. Frankly, who cares? But that does not change facts.
The problem with the christian and evolution is that by definition, evolution depends on random mutations, some of which prove beneficial to the species and thus become more common. I think the thinking Christian can accept numerous changes, some of which proved beneficial to species, but would reject that they are random, and perhaps posit that God introduced/allowed/set in motion a process that allowed various mutations to occur, but that "random" would not be an appropriate word for the process.
As for the age of the earth, etc., why not read John Walton's "The Lost World of Genesis One." Walton argues that Genesis 1 is the 12th divisiion of the book of Genesis and is not concerned at all with material origins, but is a teleological Ancient Near East temple text. I think he is convincing; some scholars do not. Walton also provides a great understanding of God "making the sun stand still" for Joshua.
It is a common misconception that evolution is an entirely random process. Mutation, one of several sources of variation in traits, is indeed largely random; however, natural selection (the "Darwinian" aspect of evolution) is decidedly non-random. It is in fact the filter through which variations pass which allows some traits to persist in future populations, while others do not. This filter (natural selection) is the combination of environmental, demographic, and social conditions in a given time and place – the selective environment.
In short, the generation of new traits through mutation is random, but the differential persistence of those traits is by definition patterned. That pattern is largely the result of natural selection.
When someone characterizes evolution as a process that happens by chance, you can be sure they are not entirely clear on what they are talking about.
Using evolution as an excuse to reject the teachings of the gospels is a cop-out.
There are a lot of old-school pastors out there, but the real news in the article is that 12% accept both the teachings of Jesus and the theory of evolution. Amoung the congregatiions, the number of Christians who believe the data supports the theory of evolution is much larger – not half, but probably in the range of a third.
The point is you can't reject the teachings of the gospels just because you don't agree with other unrelated beliefs that are common among adherents. Do you share all beliefs in common with athiests? If you have any intellectual integrity, you'll have to go to the gospels to ascertain whether or not your believe them.
I agree. There are plenty of other reasons out there to reject the gospels. Take your pick: 1) The bible is full of violence and destruction and its moral code is far below what we expect out of people in modern society. 2) There is and never has been any verifiable evidence to support the belief that a god exist, and even if he did go back to point #1. He's ordered the m.urder of women and children. 3) Jesus was a home wrecker. He demanded that his followers leave their families and love him more than them. He even told one man not to bury his father. 4) The bible is full of misogyny and repeatedly treats women as second-class humans.
While I personally dont accept evolution and do believe in God, I do know that most people take the Bible too literally (ex. Earth was not made in 6 days, its is obviously much older than that) and also many Biblical myths such as "going to Hell" or Heaven if your a good or bad person, which contridicts if you think about it (that would suggest God and Satan work in harmony which makes no sense if you actually read a Bible). But I wont go and rightfully say evolution is wrong, it has truth to it. Though I think science should focus more on other things than to try to de-bunk God which seems very childish, if they really want to win more people over than they should try to investigate new theories that make better sense than 'nothing and nothing made nothing then the Universe came to be' and other things like that. I do love science but I think it would make sense to move forward with no ideas than to continue to say the same stuff year after year; because I'd like to see other areas of science explored with as much attention as evolution.
Scientists studying evolution aren't trying to disprove anything at all. They are looking at the facts as they know them and seeing where they lead us. If some choose to take the scientific facts and research results as we know them today and extrapolate from that to mean the bible was written as a book of fiction, full of parables with no scientific backing...that it not within the control of those doing the research. A legitimate scientist who discovered evidence for God would announce their results and publish it in a peer reviewed journal for others to duplicate or refute. There is no room for the irrational in a rational scientific study.
Science does not try to "debunk" god, it has no positiion on god.
It is a system designed to determine facts regardless of personnel beleifs,
Religion concerns itself with beleif, regardless of what the facts are.
Guess what? Catholics believe in evolution and adaptation. You CANNOT ignore science in your religion. It makes no sense. Who do you think created the laws of nature??? It is wrong to take everything literally in the Bible. If you are properly interpreting the story of Genesis, then you would know that the Hebrew word for man in general (which can be plural) is "Adam" and the word in general for woman is "Eve". The Hebrews used hyperbole and metaphor to tell their stories instead of facts!!! So they are saying at some point, the world evolved with people in it. And do you know where they adapted the story of Genesis from, the Sumerians, and they were pagans! Everything adapts from somewhere else. Think how old the world is, do you really think God waved his magic wand and "poof!" there's the world? Have you actually seen evidence of magic in your life time? Didn't think so b/c God doesn't work that way. He uses natural things to work his will. That being said, as the word changes so do we. Why do you think that doctor's don't put you on the same anti-biotic twice in a row...because the bacteria have adapted through time to become resistant to that medicine. Evolution? I think so!!! So if it can happen with the tiniest of molecules, you can better believe it happens with larger living things since as God made science, so has the world adapted through change as it is yes, older than 2000 yrs. PS: Dinosaurs did NOT walk with man!!!
Science is not false, but evolution is a false theory. I encourage scientific inquiry. In fact, if you dig deeper into the hard (not biology) sciences, you will discover that they are more consistent with God. Don't just make inductive observations like Darwin, look at the fundamental science behind the observations.
Isn't science great! Unlike say, religion, where you can pick and choose what you like and dislike, claim you understand god(s) will and follow it at your own speed, (good) science is unbias and presents facts and observations without a hidden agenda. Sorry Bumps, but you can't really pick and choose what theories work and don't work based on your opinion.
Bumper, evolutionary theory isn't "false" or "correct," it is a scientific theory that is continually being studied and adapted as new information comes in. The theory of evolution describes a process and the more we investigate that process the more complete the theory becomes. As of today, the theory of evolution is better understood than many other scientific theories about gravity and other phenomena in the physical world. God doesn't factor into the process or the description. If you are really interested in discounting certain aspects of evolutionary theory then go get a degree and begin your own work. If you really know how "God" is a better explanation (whatever that means) then you should garner world fame within a short time. Good luck to you, and happy researching.
The only group of people on the planet that are still troubled with the conclusions of evolutionary theory are Christians. Anyone else exhibiting a minimum threshold of critical thinking, and reading abilities, after 45 minutes of study will see not only that evolution is aptly proven, but also makes complete logical sense.
I guess I'll just have to take your word for it that evolution is a false theory. ... and I will assume you know just as much about the theory as those thousands of scientists who say it is not a false theory.
I think this may help some of you change your perspective. I suggest watching it with your children.
Judgment Day - Intelligent Design on Trial: Nova
I second that recommendation to anyone who is truly interested. The link is not some crackpot website, it is an excellent episode of PBS Nova.
My personally favorite part of the Dover "pandas" trial started with, "Q. Let's discuss archaeology a little bit more."
There are only two reasons why someone would not accept evolution; poor science education or their religion gets in the way. Often it is a combination of both.
For those of you that disagree, try reading 'Finding Darwins God', but Ken Miller... or watch some of his videos online. He is a Christian that can help you understand how to accept good science, but still keep your faith.
Stephen Jay Gould (who most certainly believed in God) put it best when he called Science and Religion non-overlapping majesteria. Perhaps phrased best as "the principled resolution of supposed "conflict" or "warfare" between science and religion. No such conflict should exist because each subject has a legitimate magisterium, or domain of teaching authority—and these magisteria do not overlap "
New Earther's, please explain Dinosaurs
I wonder what the world would be like if we weren't spending our time arguing over who's belief was better and instead spending our time actually helping people who need it... Oh wait that will never happen.
I am more optimistic. There are several groups of people currently doing just that. One of these groups is scientists, and it's pretty remarkable what has been accomplished in the just last few hundred years. It is especially remarkable when you consider the enc.umbrance of having to drag along the religious, kicking and screaming all the way.
Mr. Hat –
What have you done for anyone other than yourself lately?
Fundamentalist Christians state evolution is not true, while scientists who have dedicated their lives to analyze the imperical data say it is true. Which side is better informed?
From AIG's website (answers in genesis)
"By definition, no apparent, perceived or claimed evidence in any field, including history and chronology, can be valid if it contradicts the scriptural record."
@ Data1000 ... ask to see the empirical evidence for evolution, and ask for emperical evidence of creationism. Then you'll know.
@Mirosal: Please provide us with some empirical scientific evidence for creationism. And you cannot quote the bible.
@Ian: I think you missed the point.
Further, from a non-believers perspective (NOT MINE) you are playing Russian Roulette with three bullets in the chamber and the stake is eternal life with God or Hell.
If the real "God" is Allah (or Thor, or Zeus or Quetzalcoatl, etc)... kaplooey for you, Bub.
The issue is with your fallacy regarding any such things as an eternal life, a god, or a fantasy location named Hell.
Nope. From a non-believers perspective, the existence of God is at least 50%. The reason why is because either there was an infinitely creative being that lit the litmus paper or not, hence a binary decision. Your analogy with lottery tickets and 10,000 gods is complete garbage.
Sorry, your comment is complete rubbish.
Yes 50 percent. Either this is a God or there isn't one. If there is one, which one is it? How can we verify that we believe in the right one? The possibilities are endless, like i said even if you believed in 10,000 Gods those are not great odds given an infinite amount of possibles. It's playing the God lottery. There is no reason at all to do that.
The probability of any god existing is way less than 50%. Believers have been trying to establish the factual existence of a god for 2000+ years and thus far there is not a single shred of factual, verifiable and independent evidence for the existence of any god. I agree with learned men such a Richard Dawkins (richarddawkins.net) that the probability of there being any gods is non-zero but so small as to be virtually zero. As time goes on, the probability of any god existing is decreasing. Unless of course you have a new and novel, and most importantly winning, proof for the existence of any god.
Bumper, your argument is mathematical nonsense.
The fact that there are 2 possibilities in a situation does NOT imply that they are equally likely (i.e. 50% probability for each).
Consider another example: you WILL or WILL NOT get hit by lightning today – there are just 2 possibilities. By your argument, there is therefore a 50% probability that you WILL get hit by lighting today.
The notion that there are 2 possibilities (God DOES exist or God DOES NOT exist) tells us NOTHING about the probabilities of 2 possibilities.
To reiterate, any two possible outcomes are not a 50/50 proposition. An airplane piloted by a polka-dotted rhinoceros wearing ruby slippers might land on my lawn today or it might not. That does not mean that there is a 50% chance that it will.
In another comment, Bumper suggested that someone should "go read up on theology and science." Trying to keep coffee from coming out of my nose, I suggest he take his own advice.
This is surprising news? Let's be honest, you don't have to be the sharpest tack to be a preacher. The intellectual bar is pretty low. All you need is an ego that's big enough to believe that god speaks to you and is asking you to lead people, and an out of control imagination. Those who can't... preach.
you have to be able to reach people, too.
Humans evolved from Gorillas.
Wookies evolved from Ewoks.
Doc, you are correct but oversimplifying. Wookies and Ewoks share a common ancestor, and mtDNA evidence indicates that this ancestor lived a long time ago in a galaxy far far away.
Evolution is an incomplete and false theory.
A new paradigm for the religion and science debate should be cast in terms of God's existence, and higher quality computational physical sciences instead of biology and marginalized belief systems. I'm a 100% believer and I've never quite understood how any person could be an Atheist. Irregardless of anything posted on this blog, you have to admit that there is at least a 50% chance that God exists. To the non-believer, the decision is binary in that either He exists or not. There are no alternatives. Therefore, one has absolutely no incentive to be Atheist at all. There is not much at stake in this game other than were you will spend all of eternity. You have the ability to make your own choices, but God will decide what happens based on the choices you make with your life. Your life is not predetermined and you will only enter into Heaven if you live a life that glorifies God. In the end, He will examine your heart. He knows what choices you will make based on the condition of your heart. We live out of our hearts. We can change the way we think and our external behaviors, but not hearts. The only way to transform the heart is through Christ. If you ask Jesus to enter into your life, He will guide your path and lead you in the right direction. Let Jesus take the wheel because the burden of life (the world is too full of sin and disappointment and has nothing to offer) is too heavy for any person to carry by themselves. During your life on this earth, it is never too late to except Christ. In the Bible, this was demonstrated in the parable of the 11th hour workers and the statement made to sinners as he hung on that judgement tree. If you don't except Christ, you will certainly go to Gehenna.
Summary: Rambling mix of standard silly and woefully inept apologist claims with a Pascal's wager fail as the cherry on top...
I have no position to defend and you will have to do the hard work.
The comparison to Pascal is actually a compliment.
50 percent chance a god exists. Out of that 50 percent, what percent chance do you have picking the right one? So that 50 percent chance is pretty much .0000001% chance because nobody even knows and even if you believed in 10,000 Gods honestly you still have basically no chance in believing in the right one. Just as someone who buys 10,000 lottery tickets still has no chance of winning. Your argument is crap. Goodnight.
I have 100% certainty that God exists, the 50% represents the scraps left behind for the non-believers to debate.
Also, I'm not an apologist, if you read my comment carefully, I'm asking one to dig deeper
into science and abandon incomplete theories like evolution.
Evolution has empirical evidence on its side. You have unsubstantiated claims, anecdotes and far-fetched fantasies on yours. Science doesn't require faith—magic tricks do. If you want proof of evolution, then you only need to study, learn and dare I say "evolve" to learn to read the clues that have been left to us over time.
If you're looking for incentive to be an atheist, a.k.a., realist, then you need look no further than the joy of learning personal responsibility and putting an end to blaming other for your problems and expecting forces outside of you to bail you out when you're in trouble. You can take pride in yourself knowing that you figured things out on your own.
In other words, Bumper wants to believe in a god, therefore he/she will ignore the substantial evidence the contradicts his unsubstantiated belief.
@bumper, There are many believers of thousands of different gods. They are all equally ready to claim credit for all of creation, and every healed child.
They all have equal credibility. Pick one at random, or pick none.
The sciences are far more modest. We don't claim any credit for the existence of the Universe- it was here before us. We do know when we have saved the life of a patient- and we also admit our losses. We do know we have permitted more people to live- there are now 7 billion of us- unimaginable without science.
Have all the confidence that a God exists. You are still making too many assumptions. That it is your God that exists, that it issues an afterlife based on whether or not you believe a story in a book.. Your argument is garbage. There are many Christians that accept evolution, so quit the false dilemma.
Yes, and the belief system you reference is called Hinduism, etc... Place it on the trash heap of other religions.
Bumper : "Place it on the trash heap of other religions."
Right along with yours, Bub... right along with yours.
I stopped reading after you wrote – Irregardless. Not a word... seriously how can we take you seriously.
It would be interesting to see the denominational breakdown. I can see how Baptists would reject reality, but less so Methodists and Episcopalians.
Reject reality? You've GOT to be kidding me...
I always like how christians quote the bible instead of forming their own opinions and stating their own thoughts. That right there tells you everything you need to know. mindless drones
Hey stupid, you don't even know how evolution starts and ends. There is the last part were the monkey's brain all of a sudden becomes bigger in a small time instead of the millions of years. That the missing link.
Hominid cranial capacity can easily plot on a fairly smooth line of +volume over time. There are several associated mutations that have been identified. Some seen rather distantly related, like the size reduction of mandible muscle attachments, or delayed fusion of the parietal bones. But they all add up.
Don't confuse Omen with truth. He/she has a belief, therefore any fact that contradicts that belief will be proclaimed a lie. Also, he/she will call you stupid, because that is his/her only defense against reality.
Yes, Omen, that glaring mistake in the theory was obvious enough for you to pick up on but has never been looked into by an expert...
And this belief of there's, is exactly why they should have no sway with any THINKING, FUNCTIONING mind, person. There are many unknown's that we simply must accept but thinking this earth is only 6000 years old and that there was no evolution in our development is so absurd. When you read the bible, the so-called "word of God" what a THINKING mind gets from it is that it is so human male centric – as if he is the center of the universe – because with his small mind and oversized ego – he is. He can't really conceive of a bigger picture where rather than "God created man in HIS own image" which really translates to "MAN created God in his own image" (given all he can envision is his own self imporantace and ego centered view of things) flows all the erroneous mistaken human manufactured "laws" (of god) designed to manipulate us and keep us in fear. God is not a gender, nor would anything you could call "god" obsess over the pathetic, mental-midget, human things those who lead these churches do. The bibile was written by men and it is the word of men, not God. With all the contradicitions and absurd explainations that make no sense...it could only be the minds of men...especially when these same men ignore all the love thy neighbor, practice peace and kindness while overdoing it with all the hatred of all those who aren't them and instilling fear of those "others". Choosing fantasy tales and fear based nonsense over sound scientific study and deduction is what simpleton's feel compelled to do because they cannot make peace with the limitations their doctine (because it was written by men) represents. That we've let them regain so much influence on society at large is nuts. Teaching future generations this drivel at the exclusion of scientic thought and study is ridiculous. Why do we want to regress to idiothood? That we have a spiritual essense and nature is undeniable, but that it is co-opted by organized religion to maintain its power and influence and benefit those men whose egos need the power and need to feel they dictate reality is an absolute waste. This prevents us from the real meaning of life...which is for each of us to have the experience of the unique discovery of our true nature for ourselves...and to allow us to make peace with the fact of the unknown which is a part of our reality. Fear is the thing which makes people cleve to the misguided beliefs of the evangelicals and other religious zealoths and strengthens the hold that the fear and ignorance have on us. It does us no good. It holds us back. It keeps us weak and it supports the absolute waste of precious time. Today's religion in America seems to be mostly a weaponized version used for a variety of nefarious purposes. We suffer thanks to this influence we are all forced to endure. Slaves to ignorance...even if your "faith" allows you put the burden on your "god" and get by.
THat is an awful lot of words to call people stupid. Look in the mirror and do some self assessment and tell us why you think you are so smart.
The key to life is not reason , but faith , hope and love, tempering reason and realizing you will never know every thing there is to know, and that some things are educated conjecture with opinion. Evolution – the macro kind, fits that.
You made some very stupid comments there. Not even worthy of a response. Go read up on theology and science.
When you dismiss evolution you are basically denying what has already been proven. Dinosaurs did not roam the earth in the last 6000 years. Most religious people will choose delusion over rationale as long as they feel safe and secure inside hoping there is a magical place for them when they die. Intentionally blocking logic out for the sake of a false sense of hope. All I can do is laugh.
And I all I can do is pity you, and pray for you.
@counter, I'm sure bdl would worry if it hasn't been scientifically proven that prayer has no outward effect. This is why no matter how much faith you have you'll never be able to pray a limb to grow back once it's been lost. Why is good so good a curing diseases which we have medical treatments for, but fails when it comes to amputees?
@counter...You should pity all those Native Americans who went to hell before Christianity was introduced to them.