2017 Gallup Poll on Evolution

The last time we posted about one of these was 2014 Gallup Poll on Evolution. The results of the Gallup Organization’s latest poll are online here: In US, Belief in Creationist View of Humans at New Low. That’s an encouraging headline! We’ll give you some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

The percentage of U.S. adults who believe that God created humans in their present form at some time within the last 10,000 years or so — the strict creationist view — has reached a new low. Thirty-eight percent of U.S. adults now accept creationism, while 57% believe in some form of evolution — either God-guided or not — saying man developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life.

It’s chilling that 38% are flat-out creationists, but the good news is that it used to be even worse. This is the question they ask each time they poll on this subject:

Which of the following statements comes closest to your views on the origin and development of human beings?

1. Human beings developed over millions of years, but God guided this process.

2. Human beings developed over millions of years, but God had no part in this process.

3. God created man in his present form.

They have a chart showing the poll results on the same question starting in 1982. For question 1 (theistic evolution), the results were originally 38%. That number has bounced around since then, but this year it’s still 38%. For question 2 (non-theistic evolution) in 1982 the result was only 9%. This year it’s up to a whopping 19%. For question 3 (hard-core drooling creationism) it was 44% in 1982, and now that’s down to only 38% (the same as for question 1).

Regarding those numbers, they say:

This is the first time since 1982 — when Gallup began asking this question using this wording — that belief in God’s direct creation of man has not been the outright most-common response. Overall, roughly three-quarters of Americans believe God was involved in man’s creation — whether that be the creationist view based on the Bible or the view that God guided the evolutionary process, outlined by scientist Charles Darwin and others. Since 1982, agreement with the “secular” viewpoint, meaning humans evolved from lower life forms without any divine intervention, has doubled.

Regarding education, they tell us:

Higher education levels are associated with less support for creationism and higher levels of belief in the evolutionary explanation for human origins. Belief in creationism is 21% among those with postgraduate education versus 48% of those with no more than a high school diploma. Agreement with evolution without God’s involvement is 31% among postgrads versus 12% among Americans with a high school education or less. However, even among adults with a college degree or postgraduate education, more believe God had a role in evolution than say evolution occurred without God.

Then they have a chart that shows the results broken down by education, religious preference, and church attendance. About those numbers they say:

Views by people’s religious preferences or lack thereof paint an illuminating picture as well. More Catholics believe that humans evolved but God guided the process (45%) than believe in the creationist viewpoint (37%). Creationism is still the view that half of Protestants and other Christians (50%) hold, but it is not dominant, with 39% saying humans essentially evolved with God’s guidance.

As for those with no religious preference, 57% report a belief that does not involve God, while only 9% are creationists. Not surprisingly, 65% of those who attend church weekly believe in the creationist view, while those who attend church less regularly have less consensus on the question of human origins.

There’s more to it, but you’ll probably want to click over there to study the results for yourself. It appears that some progress has been made, but there’s still a lot of work to be done. The Controversy will be with us for a long time.

Copyright © 2017. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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13 responses to “2017 Gallup Poll on Evolution

  1. Dave Luckett

    I think I recall reading that the third opinion, fiat creationism, peaked at 45% of respondents and held at that level for four decades since 1970. It seems it is now on the way down again, but is still depressing. Even at the declining levels recorded, in the world’s only superpower, nearly two out of five adults believe a myth, not evident reality.

    Come to think of it, can I replace “depressing”, above, with “scary”?

  2. Michael Fugate

    At least when one pops over to Gallup – the trends against a literal reading of the Bible and for marriage equality are progressing.

    One wonders what people think, if they think at all, the what, when, where, how of this god’s actions were.

  3. Eric Lipps

    Personally, I don’t give a rip whether people believe God guided evolution or it happened without any guidance whatever, as long as they accept that it happened. The influence of God (assuming He/She/It exists) in such matters is necessarily a matter of faith, since there’s no material reason to believe (as ID’ers do) that the emergence of life required divine intervention.

    What I do care about is believers demanding that their ideas be taught as science when by their very nature they are actually religious dogma.

  4. I used to think that a lot of the reports of belief in YEC were the phenomenon of “tell them what I am supposed to believe”. People in the USA are supposed to be “good Christians,” (meaning what the most loud-mouthed TV preachers say) so that is what they report to the poll, even if they really think more like “It ain’t necessarily so”.

  5. Ceteris Paribus

    “Belief in creationism is 21% among those with postgraduate education versus 48% of those with no more than a high school diploma.

    Which pretty well explains the current passionate fervor among fundamentalist preachers and legislators to dumb down the public school science curriculum.

  6. @Ceteris Paribus:
    I assume that those 21% include those with education in fields requiring no exposure to STEM.

  7. EricL “doesn’t give a rip”: I tend to agree, but the RCC nicely demonstrates another problem: she maintains that Homo Sapiens descends from two individuals.

    https://www.catholic.com/tract/adam-eve-and-evolution

    “Pope Pius XII stated: … the faithful cannot embrace that opinion which maintains either that after Adam there existed on this earth true men who did not take their origin through natural from him as from their first parents of all, or that Adam represents a certain number of first parents.”

    Also

    https://web.archive.org/web/20140621050711/http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/cti_documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20040723_communion-stewardship_en.html

    62-70.
    I don’t think religion, including christianity, is a priori in conflict with science, but there is no denial it endorses an antiscientific attitude in at least a few respects. I have learned to suspect that precious few christians are completely free from anti-Enlightenment sentiments and that includes a tendency to let theology prevail over science.

  8. Ceteris Paribus

    @TomS:
    SC has several times posted on prominent personages of STEM who are Creationists. Actually STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) exposure is not a guarantee that every person can be protected from the Creationism virus. It’s just like any other immunization program for the flu, or polio, or HPV – there will still always be a fraction of people whose inoculation does not “take”. (tip: Never go to an engineering conference without wearing a face mask.)

  9. The distinction between #1 and #2 seems strange:
    “1. Human beings developed over millions of years, but God guided this process. 2. Human beings developed over millions of years, but God had no part in this process.”

    Even #2 seems to take the existence of God as a given, as opposed to saying “… but no deity had any part in this process.” So we have a strange (deist?) option of a god who is uncontroversially “there”, but is passive as regards human evolution.

    I would rather have worded #2 as “human beings developed over millions of years by a natural process,” with no supernatural references whatsoever. Since so many Americans have a soft spot for religious persectives, they won’t be comfortable picking an option that EXPLICITLY denies God any role. (Especially when the question is so worded that a seemingly uncontroversially existing deity is left with nothing to do.)

    The question of whether any working-behind-the-scenes deity is manipulating events that on the surface seem to happen naturally is about as meaningless as to ask whether a certain event happened accidentally or because of “fate.” Science can have nothing to say about such issues.

  10. hnohf says:

    The distinction between #1 and #2 seems strange:
    “1. Human beings developed over millions of years, but God guided this process. 2. Human beings developed over millions of years, but God had no part in this process.”

    Yes, most of us would have worded the choices differently. I would guess that the hard-core science response and the hard-core creationist response are both sincere choices. Those who may want to hedge a bit could select theistic evolution, thus demonstrating their reluctance to offend the hard-core groups. My guess is that the figures for theistic evolution may include some closeted “science all the way” people who are reluctant to abandon religion. But it’s impossible to know what really motivates people to respond as they do to these options.

  11. I agree with TomS. Polls tells us that 20% of adults cannot recognize the name of the president of the United States. I suspect that when asked “Who is Donald Trump?” 80% obediently say “The President of the USA,” while 20% say “Duh, I don’ know.” I want to see a poll where the pollster show the pollee a $20 bill and says “You can have this if you can tell me who the president is.” If 20% flunked that test, then I would worry

  12. One of my hobby-horses is the fallacies of composition and division – in this case, the difference between the individual (you or me) and the population (or species or genus or whatever).
    Human beings develop over nine months up to about 120 years. The species Homo sapiens hundreds of thousand years. It is only the genus when we get to millions of years.
    And if we ask about the totality of the development involved for us, it’s billions of years.

  13. “It’s chilling that 38% are flat-out creationists…”

    Hmm. That’s about the same percent in the US who are flat-out Trump supporters. Now, that’s what I find chilling. Especially since most are climate change deniers, which has much more serious consequences than denying evolution.