Americans hold diverse ideas about how mankind came into existence, but there's one key detail that the majority do agree on: that God or another being created humans, according to a new study.
In fact, 68 percent of respondents said that they embrace this notion, according to the National Study of Religion and Human Origins. Digging down a bit deeper into the data, though, there's a great deal of debate surrounding how people believe the finer details came to fruition, as Deseret News reported.
Consider that just over half (51 percent) of Americans embrace that the Bible is actually God's word, with 56 percent contending that Adam and Eve were real people. But these proportions become more complicated as additional details are taken into consideration.
"Thirty-seven percent [of Americans] are creationists, 16 percent are theistic evolutionists, and nine percent are atheistic evolutionists. If we consider only those that are very or absolutely certain of their views this falls to 29 percent, eight percent, and six percent," the study contends. "This tells us that well over half the population are at least somewhat uncertain about what they believe."
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As specific parameters are added into the mix, the proportions change, making the general labels that dominate the discussion more diverse that some might expect. For example, consider what happens when Adam and Eve are taken into account.
"Creationists, both Old Earth and Young Earth, should believe that God directly and miraculously created a historical pair of individuals (Adam and Eve) that were the progenitors of the entire human race," the study read. "If we add in these restrictions about how God created and the historicity of Adam and Eve, we will find that 25 percent of the U.S. population should be considered creationists. Twenty-two percent of the population fit this more restrictive definition and are certain of their views."
The goal of the National Study of Religion and Human Origins study, which was composed by Dr. Jonathan Hill of Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, was to dig deeper than Gallup and other research firms have gone in the past to assess how Americans truly view human origins.
In the end, the results paint a more complex picture than many might assume.
"I conducted a nationally representative survey of more than 3,000 U.S. adults. This study, in addition to trying to parse the various positions on human origins, includes the tools to map the social context of these beliefs," Hill explained in a blog post earlier this month. "Numerous questions about family, friends, religious congregation, and education were included to try to assess if they had an impact on beliefs about human origins."
After combining the data points, the study claims that only 8 percent of Americans can be called young-earth creationists who hold that the world was created in 24-hour periods over the course of a week and that humans have only been around for 10,000 years.
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This isn't to say that other creationists don't embrace or at least entertain these sentiments, though the report claims that the remaining two-thirds are unsure what they believe about the matter, according to the National Center for Science Education.
The study also found that only 9 percent of the public would be counted as "atheistic evolutionists" — that is, those who do not believe God was a part of the evolutionary process, though they, too, might still embrace the existence of a God.
In the end, Hill said that the biggest takeaway is as follows: "Individual theological beliefs, practices, and identities are important, but they only become a reliable pathway to creationism or atheistic evolutionism when paired with certain contexts or certain other social identities. These positions are not free-floating ideas that individuals snatch from the air after considering all the alternatives; rather, they are found in certain social locations, and they become most plausible when shared with others."
Read the study for yourself here.
(H/T: Deseret News)
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