Where, exactly, does the public stand on evolution and creationism? The answer is complicated and differs depending on how polling firms ask questions about life's origins, but the Pew Research Center has new data exploring this phenomenon in detail.
According to Pew's research, six-in-10 Americans believe that human beings and other living things "have evolved over time." That said, 33 percent reject the notion of evolution and believe that humans and other living beings have existed in their current state "since the beginning of time."
Image source: Pew Research Center
While 60 percent of those surveyed did report embracing evolution, some differences were observed among this cohort. Pew notes that about half of those who said they believe in human evolution embrace that it is "due to natural processes such as natural selection." This amounts to about 32 percent of the adult public.
An additional 24 percent, though, believe that "a supreme being guided the evolution of living things for the purpose of creating humans and other life in the form it exists today."
If you add the group that believes no evolution has taken place (33 percent) to the group that embraces evolution, but believes God guided it (24 percent), then 57 percent of adults believe that God has had some role in human development.
Image credit: Pew Research Center
Pew also noted that these results differed greatly among political party and theological perspectives.
Republicans (43 percent) are much less likely than Democrats (67 percent) to believe that humans have evolved. And evangelical Protestants (64 percent) are also much less likely than mainline Protestants (15 percent) to believe that people have existed in their current form since the beginning of time.
A separate study conducted by YouGov earlier this year found that nearly four-in-10 Americans (37 percent) believe that God created mankind in its present state. But that’s not all, as these individuals also contend that men and women were created within the last ten thousand years — a claim that many scientists would scoff at.
Additionally, in this latter study, 25 percent of Americans said that human beings evolved from less advanced life forms over millions of years, but that God guided this process. This means that, combined, 62 percent of Americans believe that God played a role in human creation and development; this compares to 57 percent in the latest Pew study who believed the same.
The Pew results came from a sample of 1,983 adults aged 18 and older. These individuals were interviewed via landlines and cellphones, with a margin of sampling error of +/- 3.0 percentage points.
Read the complete results here.
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