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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. Someone

    And we wonder why the US is so low in Science and Math scores........

    June 1, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
  2. salt_fly

    That sound you hear is my mind boggling!

    June 1, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
  3. Alex Gessong

    In other news, majorities in other industrialized Western nations believe in facts, not folklore. If we want to remain the world's technology leader, we must reject fairy tales and embrace reality. The Earth is 4.5 billion years old, not 6,000. Humans and dinosaurs did not cavort together. They missed each other by 65 million years. Humans evolved from more primitive early species. To believe in creationism, one must also believe in talking snakes. Creationist myth says that a talking snake tricked the first two humans into eating a piece of magic fruit, from which they gained the knowledge of good and evil. As punishment for what that talking snake did, all snakes now go on their bellies. Uh huh. Creationists believe in talking snakes and magical fruit. Guess if you can believe in that, you can believe in anything.

    June 1, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
    • Mister Jones

      Right. ... And those two people who ate the fruit had two kids. And one killed the other. Leaving the survivor to mate with .... Wait a minute.

      June 1, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
  4. Jt_flyer

    We've lost our minds.

    June 1, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
  5. Rosslaw

    So if we had an astronaut program anymore 46% of the population took themselves out of the running to be one.

    June 1, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
    • Alex Gessong

      We still have an astronaut corps. They're training now for missions into deep space. It's why NASA decided to end the Space Shuttle program. Can't get to Mars in a Space Shuttle. Some astronauts believe in a God, but you're right: probably none of them believe in creationism. Being an astronaut requires a certain degree of intellectual strength.

      June 1, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
  6. Matt

    I'm a Creationist! Bring on the disrespect!

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

      That would explain why you vote Republican.

      June 1, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
    • Alex Gessong

      @Matt: OK., consider yourself disrespected. 😉 If you'd been born in Europe 2,000 years ago, you'd believe in Thor and Odin, and a completely different creationist mythology. And you'd believe in those things just as strongly as you believe in creationism now, because you'd have just a s much evidence: None. You would live your life in fear of Thor's wrath and you'd die believing that the Valkyries would carry you off to Valhalla. But luckily for you, you were born in the 20th century, so you get to believe in a different creationist mythology. One god instead of hundreds, and you get to float off to Heaven instead of being carried there by flying Valkyries. What progress! Oh, yeah, and you also get to believe that a talking snake tricked the first two humans into eating a piece of magic fruit and that's why humans know good from evil. For some reason, humans had been created without the knowledge of good and evil. Lucky they met up with that talking snake!

      June 1, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
  7. David

    Never underestimate the general stupidity of humanity.

    June 1, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
    • Alex Gessong

      Yep. 2.5 million years of human evolution,,,and some of believe in the same kind of mythology that our ancestors believed in 10,000 years ago. Astounding.

      June 1, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
    • Over It

      It is agonizingly S-L-O-W, but perhaps we are making progress regarding the fantasies and superst'itions. It's been a while since the dunderheads threw food and flowers and people into volcanoes to appease the angry god who lived in there. Nobody burns animal sacrifices anymore to delight the olfactory gland of a god up in the sky.
      Slow, but I hope, steady, progress.

      June 1, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
  8. Susan

    ".Religion is constant and never wandering, and is ancient as hot meals."

    Really???? REALLY? Just more proof of the lack of education too many hold in this country. Anyone who studies religious history realizes that it is ALWAYS changing, and often changes to satisfy some political or social goal of those in charge. Even if you were to limit religion to mean only the Judeo-Christian religion (as I'm guessing this poster was egocentric enough to do, despite the fact that the Judeo-Christian religion is predated by many ancient religions, some of which are no longer around, others of which would be considered Pagan or not "real" religions by many Christian church goers), there have been tons of changes over time. The most obvious change in the Judeo-Christian religion is the breaking apart into sects (there seems to be a new branch of Christianity every couple years), each of which translates the text in a somewhat different way, until eventually there seems to be little on which all would agree. Then of course there is the early evolution of the Catholic church, which originally celebrated the idea of poverty and quiet study and keeping insular communities, then began to advocate having a wealthy church and church officials with all the power and strong conversion efforts where both the original worshipers and the converted were supposed to live humble lives helping the poor and accepting all, and then today where wealth and power seem to be the thing worshiped, assistance to the poor is placed as the responsibility of the churches themselves and not the churchgoers, and in fact people who are poor are seen as"problems to be dealt with", while people with different beliefs are simply "wrong" and not accepted. Want to go further-lets talk about the evolution of priests from family men, to children of wealth expected to become celibate and leave their belongings to the church, to individuals educated outside the church in theology who, depending on the particular church, may or may not be required to be celibate, and now to anyone who wishes to become ordained online and getting a congregation. Or what about all the updates to the bible itself? First under the Roman authorities, then under King James, then through the First and Second reformations, and finally, for those who believe in Islam, through the addition of the Koran to the pre-existing bible (and although the text didn't change, we might even want to count Vatican two in there as well). The new testament today looks very little like it looked 2000 years ago, and the way that Christians worship today has very little to do with the way the original followers of Jesus and his disciples worshiped. Even such fundamental ideas as having only one g-d, or Jesus being the son of g-d have undergone several revisions during the last 2000 years. Again, these are only changes to the Judeo-Christian religion. In fact, the only things that have remained constant about religion through history are its rejection of science even in the face of hard evidence (for ex: for decades people were killed by religious authorities and religious driven governments for daring to assert that the earth was round and that the earth revolved around the sun, rather than the sun revolving around the earth-and no amount of evidence could convince those who were religious that they were in the wrong), and the fact that nearly every society has adopted some form of religion (often as a means to keep the subservient population under control and under educated). For someone who is religious and scorns pseudo-intellectualism, your knowledge of your own religious roots is particularly sad. If you want to assert an argument, at least have your own facts right.

    June 1, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
    • Will

      Ah, another smart kid. I love smart kids....

      June 1, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
  9. bug expert

    Ignorance in America reigns. That's why Americans continue to elect politicians that keep ignorance in the mainstream (e.g., climate change, creationism).
    Faith for an individual is just fine, but keep it out of politics and serious decision making for the future of our species. Ha, that'll never happen because ... ignorance reigns. Welcome to eventual extinction! Probably sooner than later.

    June 1, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
    • Alex Gessong

      @entomologist :have no fear. This poll was taken of Americans, not the general human population. There are still a lot of smart people in many nations. Our species will survive this last gasp of ignorance.

      June 1, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
  10. me

    sooooo, then what some of you are saying is that my ancestors never had a domesticated T-Rex as a pet? No, I refuse to believe it.

    June 1, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • Someone

      Sure they did – it's on the Flintstones, so it MUST be true......

      June 1, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
  11. Warren

    I assume they have been asking the same individuals that question for for 30 years... the alternative is dreadful...

    June 1, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
  12. paulronco

    This just in: 49% of Americans are of below-average intelligence.

    June 1, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • Adam

      LOL...love it!

      June 1, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
  13. Lol

    Hahahahahaha America is the stupidest developed nation in the world hahahahaha!
    Hurray for WalMart!
    Hurray for Jerry Springer!
    Hurray for Baby Jew Jesus!
    Hahaha what an ignorance-infested sh!thole!!!!!!!!!

    June 1, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
    • me

      while you are certainly a troll, and I shouldn't bite...I will, because only Americans are allowed to make fun of other Americans. So I'm not sure where you're from exactly, but I know two things for certain: 1: America has had the greatest positive impact on the advancement of the Human race over any other country since Rome (evidenced by the fact that we invent pretty much everything of importance from the internet, to the plane, to the modern automobile, to nuclear tech...should I go on). 2nd: If you don't like us, that's fine, but understand that if we ever wanted to we could take over and enslave whatever backwater, peace-loving country you're from...so there. Ha.

      June 1, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
  14. me

    this also just in: 46% of Americans are undereducated, ignorant, and part of "the problem".

    June 1, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
  15. Patti

    Jesse, have you ever heard of DNA? So far DNA can be prove we all are related to a single woman who lived over 100,000 years ago in Africa. You need a subscription to National Geographic.

    June 1, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
    • paulronco

      Yeah, and it's interesting that everything else that National Geographic says you probably ignore. By the way, the "woman" we can all trace our DNA looked more like a chimpanzee than a human being. No surprise that we can trace our DNA back to a single ancestor; if you go far back enough, we can trace our DNA to a fish, too.

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

      Patti, that is not true. There are at least 6 first women, more to be revealed as we learn the truth. We all know the fairy tale.

      June 1, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
    • Alex Gessong

      @Keith: Patti is right. One woman, but 200,000 years ago. Mitochondrial Eve, scientists call that woman. As for the guy who thinks this 'Eve" looked like a chimp, no. 200,000 years ago she would look more like a modern woman. Except with fewer tattoos and piercings.

      June 1, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
  16. skoorbasil

    I find it pathetic that the 46% apparently see no value in the overwhelmingly persuasive scientific evidence as to the contrary.

    I'm willing to bet that close to 100% of this same 46% would poll differently if they were faced with a life-threatening medical condition and had to choose either prayer (aka hocus pocus) or medical assistance (aka science) for their treatment.

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

      I agree. And I'll bet 100% of 46% would believe in the accuracy of DNA if it would exonerate them from a crime in a court of law. Then the science that tells us we've descended from apes would be flawless!

      June 1, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
    • Sue

      Patti
      But we didn't descend from "the apes"; we both descended from a common ancestor. You're quoting the creationist misrepresentation. See how fully their propaganda has spread?

      June 1, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
    • Billy

      Good answer

      June 1, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
    • Keith

      Sadly you are wrong, that was the point of the article.

      June 1, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
  17. Cyg

    46% remain Children Left Behind

    June 1, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
  18. maximusvad

    More proof our education is tanking.

    June 1, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • Keith

      No, it is just proof that mankind needs to believe in some kind of magic. If it wasn't "God" it would be something else.

      June 1, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
    • Alex Gessong

      More like proof people still go to church. Schools teach science. Science won't send you to hell for not believing in it. Religion says if you don't believe then you'll be tormented for all of eternity. So, some people believe in religious folklore because they're afraid not to.

      June 1, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
  19. Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

    In educationally disadvantaged countries, such as the US, this is common.

    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2006/08/060810-evolution.html

    June 1, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
  20. HenkV

    A great compliment for our public education system.

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

      It says more about those being home-schooled, doesn't it?

      June 1, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
    • Reality Checker

      More "evidence" of the dumb-down of America.

      June 1, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
    • Alex Gessong

      @HenkV: actually it says nothing at all about public education. Public education teaches science, not creationism. The majority of people receive public education, and the majority of people don't believe in creationism. The 46% who do are just an unfortunate statistic.

      June 1, 2012 at 6:09 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.