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. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things
    The greatest thoughts of the greatest men
    Find the source at the throne of God
    God imparts knowledge to man
    For the betterment of all mankind
    Listen to the voice of God
    Throughout the day
    Prayer changes things

    January 10, 2012 at 8:29 pm |
    • The Central Scrutinizer

      Thank you sir may I have another!

      January 10, 2012 at 8:31 pm |
    • steve

      opening my heart to faith does not mean i have to close my heart to reason

      January 10, 2012 at 8:32 pm |
    • 21k

      prayer didn't work for the millions that hitler brutally murdered, while your god stood by idly. not the type of deity that i want to spend forever with.

      January 10, 2012 at 8:37 pm |
    • augustghost

      nice fairy tale

      January 10, 2012 at 8:38 pm |
    • Tom

      Talking to yourself(prayer) may change things if you get off of your ass and do something..otherwise...it's a fart in the wind...

      January 10, 2012 at 8:40 pm |
    • Flappy

      Religion is not healthy for children and other living things
      Prayer changes things
      The greatest thoughts of the greatest men
      Drowned by the shouts of the self rightious
      To the belittlement of all mankind
      Think for yourself
      Throughout the day
      Use the scientific method as your guide

      January 10, 2012 at 8:41 pm |
    • BBPatriot

      Did you plagiarize this from Hallmark or the Vatican gift shop?

      January 10, 2012 at 8:43 pm |
    • clearfog

      OK. I'll give prayer a chance. Please, God, let me win the lottery.

      January 10, 2012 at 8:44 pm |
    • sportreform

      keeping my kids away from predatory clergymen is healthy for them I advise everyone to do the same

      January 10, 2012 at 9:02 pm |
  2. Jason

    I find it hard to understand that these same Pastors believe in medical science for saving lives in hospitals, in phyics when they put men on the moon and robots on Mars, or biotech when they invent a new wonder drug, but the science of biology has it all wrong. If the bible stated that Man can never leave the Earth then would they believe every member of NASA is wrong too?

    January 10, 2012 at 8:29 pm |
  3. SafeJourney

    Surprise, surprise. U.S. Protestant pastors reject evolution, split on Earth's age. Of course they reject it. To admit to evolution( even with the scienctific evidence right under your nose) would put them OUT of a job trying to SCAM the masses of believers.

    January 10, 2012 at 8:29 pm |
  4. Erik

    As the son of the pastor (who believes in Evolution), I would like to know how "random" this sampling of pastors was. I know a good deal of pastors and all believe in evolution.

    January 10, 2012 at 8:28 pm |
  5. The Central Scrutinizer

    Who will join me for endless-platypus night at Ruby Tuesday as Moses commands? White wine only! Leave your slippers at the door.

    God and his Inellegent Designs....what a crack-up!

    January 10, 2012 at 8:27 pm |
  6. Tom

    If Rick Perry doesn't drop out I'm going to be upset. That man is mentally challenged. How he became governor of a state is beyond me. Oh, that's right, it was Texas.

    January 10, 2012 at 8:27 pm |
  7. Dick Hertz

    Fossils don't mean a thing next to the Spirit in the Sky.Evidence? Who needs evidence? Got to take the word of the Cornholer Society.

    January 10, 2012 at 8:26 pm |
  8. Ed

    What stupidity. Is this the year 1012 or 2012?

    January 10, 2012 at 8:26 pm |
  9. Bob

    What a bunch of idiots

    January 10, 2012 at 8:26 pm |
  10. Aletheya

    This is why organized religion is dangerous and destructive – it teaches belief in fantasy in preference to science. Jesse Ventura had it right: "Religion is a sham and a crutch for weak-minded people."

    January 10, 2012 at 8:25 pm |
  11. Jim

    Yeah yeah whatever. Where can I get those mugs??

    January 10, 2012 at 8:24 pm |
    • korkea aika

      why Jim? do you like hairy naked guys in the morning?

      January 10, 2012 at 8:26 pm |
    • Ed

      Try google – evolution mugs

      January 10, 2012 at 8:31 pm |
  12. Wack A Doodles!

    Wow. Perhaps these people are "pastors" because they couldn't get real jobs!

    January 10, 2012 at 8:23 pm |
  13. Tom

    Drop out Perry, you stink!

    January 10, 2012 at 8:23 pm |
  14. korkea aika

    Reality is just a projection of the Cosmic Mind that we are all caught up in. Waking up from that dream-like web is the purpose of spiritual life. Waking up is 'liberation'. Dream on....

    January 10, 2012 at 8:23 pm |
  15. Joe Aristotle

    Another way to say it: "73 percent of pastors are retarded."

    January 10, 2012 at 8:23 pm |
    • Wanderer

      73 percent? I think the number is way too low. I have not seen any pastor in my life that has any clue about the evolution. All they have is delusion.

      January 10, 2012 at 8:28 pm |
  16. MotoJB

    I am a struggling believer in God (whatever that is). I can say this; If a Pastor openly disagree's with the immense historical data proving evolution, how the heck is anyone supposed to take his/her teaching/doctrine seriously? To know that it was really the hands of a MAN that wrote the book should lead one to hypothesize that perhaps the story is a bit sku'd in some respects. Why is it that God and evolution can't co-exist? Simply because how it was written in the book. What if evolution was in fact part of God's divine creation??? What if MAN simply screwed it up for everyone by writing some glorified, fairy-tale version of God's intelligent design/creation? I for one think that we need to expand the possibilities to imagine that perhaps there are other explanations. Who knows, perhaps this is all part of God's seemingly twisted plan to test us through a split in belief and the resulting split in consciousness...partially boiled down to a stupid ongoing human argument over "evolution or intelligent design". The truth most often lies in between the two polar extremes.

    January 10, 2012 at 8:22 pm |
    • JG

      Let me help you: Are there gods? I don't know. What is a god? Someone with great powers. That would make me a god to my dog. Or a modern human a god to an ancient human. Do various beings in the universe have various powers? Probably. Do any man-made religions (ALL of them) in any way explain a creator, creation, or otherwise? Of course not. Don't be stupid. Religion is a construct made by man, to control man, to take wealth and power from man and place it in the hands of the church. Nothing more. Free your mind. There is no god keeping notes on your life.

      January 10, 2012 at 8:38 pm |
  17. Adam

    This is America. People are free to believe whatever they want.

    Let’s see… my two choices are:

    There was a giant explosion of space and time 14 Billion years ago that resulted in, among other things the creation of the Milky Way galaxy, which travels at unknown speeds across the universe, which gave birth to our solar system, traveling at 100 miles a second around a giant black hole, which spawned our planet, which spins at 1000mph, which was once ruled by giant lizards who were killed when a asteroid hit the planet resulting in “Mammals Gone Wild” for the next 65 Million years, which resulted in the greedy hairless apes called Humans.


    GOD did it.

    I can see the attraction, but I’m sticking with the lizards. You go ahead and feel free to believe whatever you want to believe. Pray for me though… I don’t want to burn any bridges. 🙂

    January 10, 2012 at 8:21 pm |
  18. Jason

    As a scientist I would lke to answer your question. Below I am going to list a few other "thoeries" and attempt to explain why the word theory is used.

    Other theories:

    1) Gravity

    2) Friction

    You cant see Gravity or friction, nor canyou touch it, taste it, smell it, etc but you can setup scientific experiements to TEST the theory of gravity and/or friction. When we setup these experiments guess what? We always get the same results. These tests help us know that the theory of gravity or friction is a correct theory, but we still use the term thoery.

    Theory of Elevolution is the same. We set-up experiements to test the theory of elvolution, and time and time again the test come back true. The lastest test is DNA which has truly allowed us to see how differnet species have elvolved from each other.

    January 10, 2012 at 8:21 pm |
    • colonelingus

      Wow. A scientist with the grammatical abilities of a 5th grader, but what's really mind boggling is that there are actually people out there with above average intelligence who really believe in the ultimate BS. story of Adam and Eve. Scary.

      January 10, 2012 at 8:40 pm |
    • Dr. Gary Hurd


      Try to read for comprehension. And never spell/grammar flame someone when you are making several errors yourself.

      January 11, 2012 at 1:55 am |
  19. Steven Bulcroft

    As Mark Twain so infamously said: "Religion is the last refuge of the scoundrel". I have to add: if ignorance is bliss this pastor's are quite blissful.

    January 10, 2012 at 8:21 pm |
    • korkea aika

      ....and we are all scondrels, that's the point!

      January 10, 2012 at 8:25 pm |
  20. Eficio

    the fossil record does not show millions, thousands, or even hundreds of transitional organisms. If there were intermediate forms, these would testify that macroevolution has taken place in the past. Prominent paleontologists reaffirm that the fossil record contradicts evolution. Despite some arguments that the fossil record is incomplete, there is a consistent universal gap of transitional forms. This is evidence that evolution did not happen. Furthermore, the geological column showing old sediment with simplest organisms at the bottom and new and more complex on top, is a mental construction to explain the evolution theory. It does not exist. In addition, the dates assigned to different strata of the geological column are based on assumptions rather on proven facts. Today people can believe in evolution but it just a believe similar to the belief in God.

    January 10, 2012 at 8:20 pm |
    • SafeJourney

      Ef, Not even close to the truth

      January 10, 2012 at 8:23 pm |
    • Uncle Fudd

      Every fossil shows a transitional form, EF. Heck, in your family plot in the graveyard every headstone is above a transitional form. Its just a matter of time scale. If some forms seem stable for a length of time, then just wait.

      January 10, 2012 at 8:29 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      "If some forms seem stable for a length of time, then just wait."

      Pascals Evolutionary Wager

      January 10, 2012 at 8:31 pm |
    • koga

      Stop quoting your pastor and go read. Good example, whales. Modern whales still have vestigel legs on the back. there are skeletons in the fossile record that have longer back legs, some with 4 legs, and some, way back there in time, that still had the shape and musclature to walk on land, and float in water, much like hippos. This route of tracing a backwards can be done for many modern species. It requires no leap of faith, no man in the sky, no magic, no miracles. Cold hard science. Evolution is an absolute unequivical fact. Anyone who doesn't believe it is ignorant or misled.

      January 10, 2012 at 8:35 pm |
    • DJ

      Ah, yes. The god of the gaps. When transitional fossils ARE found there are yet more gaps to be filled.

      January 10, 2012 at 8:36 pm |
    • Jason


      I do not know you but I already know you are somebody who has not study this subject yourself but relied on false statements that make you fell better about your beliefs. Your statements are not only false they are false in a way that tells me someone stated them with the hope that it would prevent the listener to do there own research.

      January 10, 2012 at 8:36 pm |
    • Tom

      No evidence of any kind refutes evolution...every fossil ever found including all living animals are all transition species...get used to that fact. And the fossil record isn't even close to the strongest evidence...it wasn't there when Darwin published his work...only added to later (a million times over, I might add). Every form of science known to man supports evolution from paleobotany to archaeology, geology, chemistry, astronomy and all biological sciences. The almost entirety(greater than 99%) of the world's scientists know that evolution is true. Christianity however, is a proven hoax...

      January 10, 2012 at 8:37 pm |
    • JG

      Huh? every fossil is a transitional form. We have hundreds of thousands of fossils that are examples of Descent with Modification. Transitional fossils are one of the cornerstones of evolution theory. Your own stupid argument makes you look even dumber than you thought you were.
      Just saying.

      January 10, 2012 at 8:40 pm |
    • Dr. Gary Hurd


      I hope that you will revisit this discussion, and take advantage of a few references. There are two I think most relevant to your problem with science. First, take all of your questions regarding "transitional fossils" et cetera to "29+ Evidences for Macroevolution: The Scientific Case for Common Descent"

      Any left over evolution questions, look them up at, "An Index to Creationist Claims"

      Regarding the geological column, Christian, and Geophysicist Glenn Morton has some information for you;
      "The Geologic Column and Its Implications to the Flood"

      January 11, 2012 at 2:14 am |
    • Adam

      Your mama s ateansitional form. Nice try, next time get a proper education in Biology.

      January 11, 2012 at 8:21 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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.