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Survey: Nearly half of Americans subscribe to creationist view of human origins
June 1st, 2012
03:46 PM ET

Survey: Nearly half of Americans subscribe to creationist view of human origins

By Dan Merica, CNN

(CNN) - Forty-six percent of Americans believe that God created humans in their present form at one point within the past 10,000 years, according to a survey released by Gallup on Friday.

That number has remained unchanged for the past 30 years, since 1982, when Gallup first asked the question on creationism versus evolution. Thirty years ago, 44% of the people who responded said they believed that God created humans as we know them today - only a 2-point difference from 2012.

"Despite the many changes that have taken place in American society and culture over the past 30 years, including new discoveries in biological and social science, there has been virtually no sustained change in Americans' views of the origin of the human species since 1982," wrote Gallup's Frank Newport. "All in all, there is no evidence in this trend of a substantial movement toward a secular viewpoint on human origins."

The second most common view is that humans evolved with God's guidance - a view held by 32% of respondents. The view that humans evolved with no guidance from God was held by 15% of respondents.

Survey: U.S. Protestant pastors reject evolution, split on Earth's age

Not surprisingly, more religious Americans are more likely to be creationists.

Nearly 70% of respondents who attend church every week said that God created humans in their present form, compared with 25% of people who seldom or never attend church.

Among the seldom church-goers, 38% believe that humans evolved with no guidance from God.

The numbers also showed a tendency to follow party lines, with nearly 60% of Republicans identifying as creationists, while 41% of Democrats hold the same beliefs.

Republicans also seem to be more black-and-white about their beliefs, with only 5% responding that humans evolved with some help from God. That number is much lower than the 19% of both independents and Democrats.

According to Newport, a belief in creationism is bucking the majority opinion in the scientific community - that humans evolved over millions of years.

"It would be hard to dispute that most scientists who study humans agree that the species evolved over millions of years, and that relatively few scientists believe that humans began in their current form only 10,000 years ago without the benefit of evolution," writes Newport. "Thus, almost half of Americans today hold a belief ... that is at odds with the preponderance of the scientific literature."

The USA Today/Gallup telephone poll was conducted May 10-13 with a random sample of 1,012 American adults. The sampling error is plus or minus 4 percentage points.

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Belief • Creationism • evolvution

soundoff (3,830 Responses)
  1. Curt99

    What a load of crap. If you buy this would you be interested in purchasing the brooklyn bridge.

    June 1, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
    • ME II

      Buy what? the poll results?

      June 1, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
    • Frank

      Or believe in global warming!

      June 1, 2012 at 9:51 pm |
  2. saneCanadian

    It never ceases to amaze me how many religidiots the U.S. is home to. And they are breeding.

    June 1, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
    • Phillydough

      Religion is a nasty thing. It tears down communities, relationships, and sane thinking.

      June 2, 2012 at 12:36 am |
  3. Joe1sentme

    There is only one logical conclusion to draw, the survey is flawed and the results grossly inaccurate. We cannot abide this result.

    June 1, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
    • Thomas

      Respectfully, it is also quite possible the poll is accurate. One thousand people randomly sampled by Gallup. Looks like atheists are outnumbered 5.6 to 1.

      June 1, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
    • jheron

      It doesn't really matter if Atheists are outnumbered...facts aren't determined by majority rule...and facts back up science.

      June 1, 2012 at 8:00 pm |
    • bakslider

      Outnumbered now perhaps but over the last three decades the non-religious numbers have tripled and the trend continues. Non-religious people now make up almost 20% of the population and that number will continue to grow. Bottom line, when you get cancer do you do a hands-on prayer session, see an oncologist or perhaps both? If you see the doctor and pray, you are of little faith. As any cell phone user, TV viewer or cnn blogger will tell you, science works. And will continue to do so. If you like religion, be sure to make note of these family values Psalms 137:9, Luke 14:26, and my favorite regarding women and religion is 1 Corinthians 14:34-35.

      June 1, 2012 at 9:26 pm |
  4. Cyle

    Clarke's Law – Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic (miracles).

    if people would stop and educate themselves, they would see the logic and reason behind science and not rely on blind faith in the mystical.

    June 1, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
    • jheron

      There are better answers to almost everything that was once attributed to God(s) that hold up to reasoning and questioning.

      June 1, 2012 at 8:02 pm |
  5. Steve

    Interesting that the same proportion support Romney! Coincidence or just an affirmation that the ignorant and fearful always dismiss science for the comfort of a book written by fallible human beings. This proves that 46% of Americans are incapable of thinking outside the box. That is why kids with parents from third world counties are smarter, more hard working, and more successful than Caucasian kids whose families have lived in the US for generations. One look at the past 10 years of National Spelling Bee winners brings that point home.

    June 1, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • Will

      It is probably true that very few of the 46% plan to vote for Obama....

      June 1, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
    • Frank

      Steve, You mean thinking out of the box like the idiots who bray about global warming, green energy, and lifting up the lazy by stealing from the productive? Those are the automaton zealots we should be worrying about.

      June 1, 2012 at 9:54 pm |
  6. Chad

    The second most common view is that humans evolved with God's guidance – a view held by 32% of respondents

    That is certain to continue to gain ground, as it is exactly what happened, God created the universe (I wonder what the poll results would be for "how was the universe created" would be) and life in it..

    1) Theistic Evolution: The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief Francis Collins, Former Director of the Human Genome Project.
    2) See: Big Bang (God created the universe ex-nihilio)
    3) See: Life could not have spontaneously generated:
    While the experiments carried out by Stanley Miller and others who have built upon his work show that life may have arisen from a primordial soup, that possibility remains theoretical. There is no evidence for pre-cellular life on Earth; what's more, critics of the RNA world hypothesis point out that the experiments that support the concepts were conducted with biologically created RNA. RNA can act as both a template for self-replication and an enzyme for carrying out that process, but these findings have been carried out in controlled laboratory experiments. This doesn't necessarily prove such delicate actions could happen in the seas of the ancient Earth.
    For reasons like these, the RNA world hypothesis has been largely abandoned by proponents of abiogenesis in favor of other hypotheses, like the simultaneous development of both proteins and genetic templates or the development of life around undersea vents similar to those currently inhabited by today's extremophiles. But there is one criticism that any abiogenesis hypothesis has difficulty overcoming: time. DNA-based life is thought to have developed on Earth beginning around 3.8 billion years ago, giving pre-cellular life forms about 1 billion years to carry out random processes of encoding useful proteins and assembling them into the precursors of cellular life . Critics of abiogenesis say that simply isn't enough time for inorganic matter to become the theorized precellular life. One estimate suggests it would take 10^450 (10 to the 450th power) years for one useful protein to be randomly created .

    June 1, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
    • ME II

      @Chad,
      First, Francis Collins is a very smart and accomplished scientist, however his views on the theistic evolution is nothing more than hypothesis.
      As for abiogensis, that is not part of the theory of evolution.
      What's the source you are quoting? Where did they come up with their "estimate"?

      June 1, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
    • Will

      Those estimates are based on nothing other than someone's desire to believe in God. How do you mathematically model something like that? So many assumptions have to be made as to render the result absolutely worthless. Assign different values to the variables and you reach the conclusion that life could develop in a matter of hours. Nonetheless, intuitively, 600-700 million years in a reaction vessel the size of a planet seems like ample time and space for the development of simple life at least one time.

      June 1, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
    • RickK

      Once upon a time people just like you were CERTAIN God created Adam and Eve and the animals just as the Bible said. Before that they were CERTAIN other gods created the trees and animals. 500 years ago people like you were CERTAIN that witchcraft affected their daily lives. Over and over again through history we see people who are CERTAIN of the supernatural. Yet not once has a natural explanation been replaced by a supernatural explanation, while the reverse has happened every day for thousands of years. You can say what you want, but history says you're wrong.

      June 1, 2012 at 7:35 pm |
  7. Will

    So where are these 46% of Americans? They're definitely not here on this board. You have to stop and think about what kind of people in 2012 will actually answer an anonymous phone call from a surveyor. Then you have to convince yourself that the opinions of this segment of the population are the same as those of the 95% who avoid unsolicited calls like the plague.

    June 1, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
  8. longtooth

    Many years ago, one of my daughters asked me, "Why is there so much trouble in the world?" I answered, "Because most people are stupid."

    June 1, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
    • Steve

      Could not agree with you more. Sad isn't it that the advantages we once held because of a strong educational system are now gone because both parents and kids don't care anymore and the governments (state and federal) won't fix a broken system.

      June 1, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
    • Sanity

      And you proved your point.

      June 1, 2012 at 11:04 pm |
  9. Everett Mack

    Is it April Fools Day already???

    June 1, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
    • D. Darko

      This is just plain sad.

      June 1, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
  10. Catca

    I have to laugh at @Isolate's comment that half of American's fall below the median score on IQ tests. Apparently he doesn't know that the median is the middle score so by definition, half the population has to fall below it!

    June 1, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
    • I wonder

      Catca,

      I wonder which half doesn't recognize a bit of ironic sarcasm?

      June 1, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
    • Al

      I don't think you understand his point. Think harder. Come on. You can do it.

      June 1, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • Dan Sutton

      ...although it could be pointed out that an American 100 score is equivalent to an English 75.

      June 1, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
  11. God

    Evolution?

    I had nothing to do with it.

    June 1, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • Huebert

      That's because you don't exist. Now get back in closet with the Easter Bunny.

      June 1, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
    • God

      My Son,

      Of course I exist.

      Haven't you read the many books written about Me?

      Dost thou blaspheme your Father? I shall strike you down to the flames of the underworld where you'll spend eternity in tourment for saying such things!

      But, I do still love you.

      June 1, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
    • Huebert

      You better get to the smiting because I wont give up on the blaspheming. I'm ready when ever you are 😉

      June 1, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • W. R. Martin

      Ah, god. We all remember it from history. Used to rule the known universe, created it all, watched over it and killed whatever and whenever it felt like it. Now relegated to the intricacies of the microscopic butt end of a bacteria flagella. Oh, and posting sarcasm online. Much like the god-child depicted in the babble – having a tantrum and pitching a fit – still living in mom's basement using her Internet connection.

      June 1, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
  12. Ted

    I find it ironic, the educated folk not long ago just wished for respect, liberty to educate and to not believe in creation.
    Their lack of respect for religion and others beliefs is very telling. There is a difference in being an educator and being an oppressor. I'm not sure which is worse, the inquisition or the new pseudo intellect that wields their perception of knowledge like some battle hardened morning star. Half of what you Yokels are steaming on about will antiquated old fashioned ways of thinking someday. The curriculum is ever changing, and things once though as undisputed facts become passe as new ways of thinking and seeing the world becomes standard. Religion is constant and never wandering, and is ancient as hot meals.

    Cut them some slack, lest you'll be ridiculed someday for your petty thoughts and views on our changing world someday.

    June 1, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • Huebert

      If someone really believes that they were created by god's magic powers they should be ridiculed.

      June 1, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
    • Will

      Wow, who brought the smart kid? You sir are a wise and eloquent debater.

      June 1, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
    • God

      My son,

      From My perspective, hot meals are a fairly new development on my creation Earth.

      June 1, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • ME II

      @Ted,
      In a world where new data and information is created and/or discovered every day, the fact that "Religion is constant and never wandering," is a determent. It has not kept up the new information, like a round planet that circles the sun. If that is the constancy you want everyone to follow, then truly, 'heaven help us, for we are lost.'

      June 1, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
    • JT

      "I'm not sure which is worse, the inquisition or the new pseudo intellect that wields their perception of knowledge like some battle hardened morning star."

      You sir have just made my list for worst analogy of the year. What is worse? The Inquisition that tore families apart, convicted without evidence or allowing a defense and tortured and then burnt innocents by the tens of thousands at the stake. Or" pseudo-intellect" who wield their "perception of knowledge like some battle hardened morning star." How many Christians have been burned at the stake by this "pseudo-intellect"? How many have been put on the rack by these "battle hardened morning star"-wielding bogeymen of yours?

      Simply disgusting Ted.

      June 1, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
    • Jonquil

      It's not those who think Evolution is fact, infringing upon religous people's freedom to believe in Creationism, Ted, that we should be worried about. It's the aggressive outreach evangelising from Christian Fundamentalists that stops us from doing things, as a society, more smartly and humanely, that risk putting them at any kind of evolutionary disadvantage.

      Although, rather ironically, Christian fundamentalists may not believe in Evolution, but they must believe in Natural Selection, since they seem to be winners of it (if not proven to be the unified, missing link of evolution, bunch of living fossils that they are). Their willful stupidity combined with bully violence and hoarding strategies, works wonders for the perpetual, genetic success of their lines. If they hate others and try to stop people from having access to advanced medicine, they can have safe control over who lives and who dies, thus, ensuring their ranks grow while educated people - who wait longer to reproduce - are prevented from having access to the scientific, medical assistance that would allow them to reproduce later in life. If religious groups disregard family planning advances, they can have a superior genetic representation of their lines to then teach this superior survival tactic of religion to and presto - another batch of Creationists. Self-rightousness justifies hoarding and violence for a "cause", so it will be some time before such groups would have to worry about running out of resources; they can just take them from more humane, careful, generous creatures.

      The truth is, religious nuts are bullies and bullies tend to win in The Natural World - not by cleverness but by bulk and brawn. However, religious fundamentalists in America are clever enough to let educated, non-fundamentalists keep society going for them, while they reap the benefits and prevent those who expend their own energy and resources, from fully claiming their gains.

      June 1, 2012 at 9:01 pm |
  13. Kris

    We need better a better educational system; one that includes critical thinking skills.

    June 1, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
  14. Oodoodanoo

    When I hear about the poor economy, my heart goes out to those who are suffering. But then it turns out that about half of them believe complete nonsense, and I understand how this happened.

    June 1, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
    • Frank

      I'm willing the bet it's the 54% who don't believe that are the jobless ones begging the 46% for their hard-earned money. Want to take me up on that one?

      June 1, 2012 at 9:56 pm |
  15. Anomic Office Drone

    We're doomed.

    June 1, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
  16. Now Why

    I believe in Pan-Spermia. We are all decendents of Aliens

    June 1, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
  17. Dan Sutton

    Translation: 85% of Americans are morons. It's shameful and embarrassing. No wonder this country's busy flushing itself down the bowl.

    June 1, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
    • Will

      Uh, either 46% of Americans are morons or 54% of Americans are morons, but I don't see how you get to 85% from the information contained in this article. Which group do you put yourself in?

      June 1, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
    • drkent3

      You only have to look at the intelligence curve. 85% of people are of average intelligence or below. 15% are above average. Now look at the numbers again. Consider that evolution is a complex topic, requiring a great deal of thought and consideration in order to understand it. It makes sense that 85% of the population does not understand it, but their ego thinks that they do – so they chose something very simple and easy to understand because it is 'more believable' to them (simple = believable).

      June 1, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
    • zjames

      "85% of people are of average intelligence or below. 15% are above average."

      I don't think you understand how averages work.

      June 1, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
    • ChuckB

      Actually along with the 46% who believe God created us, 32% believe we evolved with God's guidance. Since only 15% believe we evolved without God's guidance, 7% seem to have no opinion; adding up the 46%, 32% and 7% you get a total of 85% of morons.

      June 1, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
    • Dan Sutton

      Because only 15% believe that humanity evolved by itself. I'm sorry if it's confusing.

      June 1, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
    • Tom from ATX

      @drkent3 – you have know idea whatsoever what 'average' means, do you.?

      June 1, 2012 at 11:51 pm |
  18. Ann

    People argue about science and religion all the time. The core difference, though, is this: science rests on evidence, while religion only has blind faith. Scientific claims can be tested and verified. Religion basically tells you to believe what's in a book–and the book is filled with contradictions, too. Science and religion are also mindsets. Scientists and the scientifically inclined gravitate towards evidence and are willing to change when new information arises. The religious can only argue the same thing for thousands of years, in spite of reason telling them otherwise.

    June 1, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
    • Will

      Religious people will swear until they are blue in the face that religious conclusions are also based upon incontrovertible evidence. The problem of course is both the definition of "incontrovertible" and the definition of "evidence". These words have vastly different meanings to someone who is educated and to someone who is not. If everyone were well-trained in critical thinking the preachers would be out of a job...

      June 1, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • drkent3

      There are studies that show most people believe that 'facts' are what they 'feel' to be true – not what they can actually touch/see/smell/taste/hear. Therefore, it is easy to see why they confuse 'faith' with 'facts', and then believe that they have 'evidence' that matches what science reveals. These same studies also show that when presented with real facts, most people just wave them aside and dig in to whatever they 'feel' is correct – and actually believe that this is what scientists and thinking people are doing! So, they cannot be reasoned with, and similarly believe that thinking/reasoning people cannot be reasoned with, because they refuse to recognize their errors (and will read this and actually claim I am doing what I say they are doing).

      June 1, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
    • Jesse

      Scientific claims can be tested and verified? True, some can. With the help of a lab and researchers, etc. Most empirical research is based on the ability to test a hypothesis through experimentation and then receiving the same results. Thus the hypothesis is confirmed as true. However, evolution has never been tested and verified. No lab has ever proven evolution to be true, as it cannot be tested and confirmed. And if evolution could be tested and confirmed by the use of a lab and researchers, then in essence, it wouldn't be evolution because the experiement requires intelligence to initiate the experiement. Evolution requires just as much faith as creationism does as it has never been empirically tested and verified.

      June 1, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
    • jbot2020

      This is not completely true. In 2000 Pope John Paul II issued a formal apology to Galileo for the whole "Earth revolves around the sun thing". I figure, another 300 years and we should get an apology for evolution.

      June 1, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
    • ME II

      @Jesse,
      Look up Richard Lenski's (sp?) Long Term study on e. coli.
      His team did an experiment lasting for, I think, 30,000 generation of the bacteria E. Coli where it evolved a way to metabolize Citrate as a food source, which E.Coli doesn't normally meatbolize. (my paraphrase, of courese.)
      http://myxo.css.msu.edu/ecoli/

      June 1, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • doug

      Jesse;

      You seem like a thinking person. However, your thinking has gone astray. Natural Selection, the theory explaining evolution, has been tested and proven scientifically – at least most of the central aspects of it. It's simply untrue that "evolution can't be tested." It's even more incorrect to say natural selection has not been scientifically tested and supported. It most certainly has.

      June 1, 2012 at 11:03 pm |
  19. Will

    I don't believe it. It feels more like 80%. Then again, I live in backward-azz Texas...

    June 1, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
  20. QS

    I've not heard of anything quite as sad and depressing as this in quite some time!

    June 1, 2012 at 4:58 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.