Despite scientists’ increasing efforts to convince the public to embrace evolution and to abandon creationism, it seems Americans’ views on the matter have changed little over the past three decades. New research from Gallup conducted earlier this month found that 46 percent of Americans still embrace creationism, the notion that God directly created human beings in their present form at one point in the last 10,000 years.
The numbers that extend beyond this are equally fascinating. While nearly half of the nation believes in the aforementioned view, an additional 32 percent maintain that humans evolved — but with God’s guidance. Taken in its collective, this means that 78 percent of Americans believe that God played a substantial role in mankind’s creation. An additional 15 percent of respondents embrace evolution with no involvement from the Almighty.
Recently, famed scientist Richard Leakey promised that it won’t be long before everyone — including those who fiercely maintain that creationism explains man’s development — accept evolution. In the next 15 to 30 years, Leakey believes that scientific advancements will make embracing such a notion a necessity.
However, in examining the past three decades, Americans have remained quite consistent and there’s no indication — at least when looking at the statistics — that the situation is poised to change. In fact, Gallup notes this, writing, “there is no evidence in this trend of a substantial movement toward a secular viewpoint on human origins.” The research firm continues, highlighting the very slight changes that have occurred:
Gallup has asked Americans to choose among these three explanations for the origin and development of human beings 11 times since 1982. Although the percentages choosing each view have varied from survey to survey, the 46% who today choose the creationist explanation is virtually the same as the 45% average over that period — and very similar to the 44% who chose that explanation in 1982. The 32% who choose the “theistic evolution” view that humans evolved under God’s guidance is slightly below the 30-year average of 37%, while the 15% choosing the secular evolution view is slightly higher (12%).
Not surprisingly, there is a correlation between religiosity and an embrace of creationism. Sixty-seven percent of those who attend church weekly believe that God created man in his current form within the past 10,000 years. Only 25 percent of those who attend church seldom or never report the same.
Gallup continues, highlighting the somewhat unsurprising political and educational breakdowns:
Highly religious Americans are more likely to be Republican than those who are less religious, which helps explain the relationship between partisanship and beliefs about human origins. The major distinction is between Republicans and everyone else. While 58% of Republicans believe that God created humans in their present form within the last 10,000 years, 39% of independents and 41% of Democrats agree. [...]
Americans with postgraduate education are most likely of all the educational groups to say humans evolved without God’s guidance, and least likely to say God created humans in their present form within the last 10,000 years. The creationist viewpoint “wins” among Americans with less than a postgraduate education.
In the end, the debate over evolution versus creationism is a complex one that surely has no end in sight. As atheists and non-believers continue their crusade to instill secularism, it will be intriguing to see if the patterns Gallup has observed continue — or if the public begins to change its views on matters of faith.
What do you think about creationism and evolution? Take our poll, below: