Another Creationism Opinion Poll

The Daily Mail reports on the lamentable state of idiocy in the US in this article: Only 1 in 5 Americans believe in natural evolution (while most of the rest believe God had something to do with it), and they summarize the poll’s results with a few bullet-pointed items at the start:

• 21% of those polled believe God played no part in mankind’s evolution
• Some 25% believe God guided evolution; and 37% believe in creationism
• Proportion of Americans leaning towards pure evolution belief is rising
• Trend expected to continue – young people tend to lean towards this belief

But there’s more to be said, so we’ll give you a few excerpts. As usual, we’ll add some bold font for emphasis:

Just a fifth of Americans believe that humans evolved naturally over millions of years, while the vast majority believe that God had a hand in the evolution of humans, according to new research. According to a YouGov poll, 21 per cent of U.S. citizens believe that ‘human beings evolved from less advanced life forms over millions of years, and God did not directly guide this process’. Meanwhile, 79 per cent of those polled said they either believe God played a part in our existence (the largest sector at 62 per cent) or were not sure (17 per cent).

We never heard of YouGov before, so we located their website: YouGov. Among the hot topics they deal with is “Would you blast into space with Justin Bieber?” Anyway, here’s their article on their evolution poll: Belief in evolution up since 2004. That’s an encouraging headline, but the results are quite meager. YouGov says:

Questions regarding evolution have continued to divide America over the past century, but new YouGov research reveals the number of those who believe that humans evolved with no influence from God has increased since 2004.

Overall, 21% of Americans believe that “human beings evolved from less advanced life forms over millions of years, and God did not directly guide this process,” while 25% believe that “human beings evolved from less advanced life forms over millions, but God guided this process” and 37% believe that “God created human beings in their present form within the last ten thousand years”.

Only 21%? Is that supposed to be good news? For comparison you might look at our post from a year ago: 2012 Gallup Poll on Evolution — the figure there was only 15%. Let’s read on from YouGov:

[T]he numbers show that 46% of Americans believe in the evolution of humankind in some form [with or without divine assistance], while 37% of Americans deny this.

The number, however, who believe in evolution without help from God has increased by 8 percentage points since 2004, when CBS conducted a poll using the same questions. In 2004, 13% of Americans said that human beings evolved without guidance from God. This number may continue to increase in the coming years, as the belief in evolution without the influence of God is most common among those 18-29 years old, with 31% of those in that age group believing it.

Actually, that’s not bad. Straightforward evolution had only 13% support in 2004, and now — less than a decade latter — that’s up to 21%. They have a graph with three big fat vertical bars — one is light violet, one is somewhat turquoise, and one is musty orange — showing 13% in 2004, 15% in 2008, and 21% in 2013. The graph wasn’t necessary for such a simple data set, but some people will think it’s pretty.

Meanwhile, back at the Daily Mail, they emphasize some of the good news from the poll:

In the latest survey, 31 per cent of 18-29-year-olds said they believed God played no part in their evolution.

That is encouraging — 31% of young adults. But we won’t be happy until it’s over 90%. Then we’ve given some political statistics:

In the political arena, the survey found that 57 per cent of Republicans favoured teaching creationism and intelligent design in public schools, versus just 30 per cent among Democrats. Meanwhile, just five per cent of Republicans supported the theory of a natural, Godless, evolution.

We’ve commented before on the tragedy that the country’s one political party that opposes the current administration is demonstrably insane on issues other than economics and defense. Aside from that there’s lots of other information in the news article, and probably more at the YouGov site (we haven’t really looked around there), so dig through it and let us know what you think.

See also: ICR Is Panicked over Creationism Poll.

Copyright © 2013. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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10 responses to “Another Creationism Opinion Poll

  1. I’m not sure if it is as bad as it sounds. Back when I was a Christian, right until the end, I would have said that Yahweh had something to with it simply because the universe was guided by his will, or so I believed. I still laughed at Creationism and saw that ID was a cheap fraud. I’ll bet a lot of those polled would give a more detailed explanation if asked, saying that their biology text books are true, but because that is the way God wanted the Universe.

  2. This poll is meaningless unless we have the area of the poll, ie North East, South East, Bible belt, Mid West, West Coast. And how many people participated in the poll, how were they contacted. How were the survey questions worded.

    I believe that for a majority of people in our country there is still a need for stability and comfort in their lives that religion gives them. Combine that with scientific ignorance and you end up with people who want a supernatural explanation of how humans came to exist as we do today. A majority will reject the creationalists claim of the 6,000 year old earth because of the science of geology that is all over today.

  3. About the best one can say is that the trends are going in the right direction.

    Climate change is becoming more and more obvious, even to the true believers. As it sinks in that science was right all along and the world is getting warmer – despite what they’ve been told by Fox News, conservative radio hosts, and some religious leaders – perhaps it will cause many to begin to wonder if science is also right in other areas that they’ve been told it isn’t – such as evolution.

  4. I agree with Justin. When I look at all the different ways to interpret “God had some effect” on Evolution I see people who may be religious but are not necessarily closed-off or ignorant to science.

    Those people aren’t the problem. A Christian (or Muslim, or Hindu) that believes in some over-arching supernatural guidance, but doesn’t dispute science, is not gonna try to muck with high school science classes, or insist on a literal interpretation of their holy writings.

  5. Richard Olson

    I don’t think your claims about the insane party’s economic and military philosophy are validated by evidence; quite the contrary.

  6. I think the Insane Party’s economic and military philosophy was a little more defensible during, say, the Eisenhower Administration; but that would have been before said party was truly insane.

  7. It is interesting that acceptance of straight evolution is increasing especially among the young. James A. Haught likewise argues that secularism is swiftly increasing among the younger generation, and that religious faith is finally starting to fade in America as well:

    (I gave this link earlier as well; I found the article after Ken Ham quoted from it, to demonstrate what a horrible godless future lies ahead.)

    So it may seem that slowly, yet perhaps surely, the US is beginning its own journey towards secularism and science-acceptance, a journey the rest of the developed world has largely completed already. I guess the cold war may have delayed the inevitable (?!) for the Americans, since the US cultivated as self-image as “one nation under God” as opposed to the evil godless communists. But after 9/11, the enemy was suddenly all but godless.

    Also, as Rodney Stark has argued, American religions are used to intense competition on a free market, and so “natural selection” has produced particularly virulent strains of religion that were able to survive the rising tide of secularization somewhat longer than in the rest of the world.

    But except in certain subcultures, not indefinitely. If Haught is right, much will probably happen in coming decades. When we appoach the middle of the century, we may be left with an overwhelmingly secular and science-accepting West, America finally coming along as well. Thereafter, strong religious sentiments (and science/evolution denial) will be predominantly a Third World phenomenon. Haught argues that the West may eventually face forms of Third World Christianity that are every bit as aggressive and threatening as Fundamentalist Islam.

  8. H.K. Fauskanger says: “Haught argues that the West may eventually face forms of Third World Christianity that are every bit as aggressive and threatening as Fundamentalist Islam.”

    That’s quite possible. There have been aggressive times in the past — the Crusades, the long period of religious wars in Europe, etc. And the Spanish weren’t very pacifistic in the New World.

  9. H.K. Fauskanger raises some interesting points. In addition to the next generation becoming more secular, there are studies showing that even among the Christian millennials there is a trend toward more acceptance of science and less acceptance of dogma and literal interpretation of scripture.

  10. As for the religious conservatives: as they become more marginal demographically, they will feel more cornered, and a cornered animal is the most dangerous. Their backlash will grow increasingly violent and militant. Bitter enders.