Creation-Evolution Poll Released (slightly excerpted)

From: Dick Fischer (
Date: Thu Mar 08 2001 - 16:27:59 EST

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      March 5, 2001

      Substantial Numbers of Americans Continue to Doubt Evolution as
      Explanation for Origin of Humans

      Some Americans appear uncertain as to meaning of terms, however

      by Deborah Jordan Brooks


      PRINCETON, NJ -- Although most scientists subscribe to the theory of
      evolution as the best explanation for the origin of human beings, a recent
      Gallup poll shows that the American public is much more divided in its own
      beliefs. Americans choose "creationism" over "evolution" when asked which
      of these two terms best describes human origins, but slightly larger
      numbers of Americans choose one of two evolutionist explanations than
      choose a strict creationist explanation when given a choice between three
      specific views. At the same time, only about a third of the public say
      that Charles Darwin's theory of evolution is well supported by evidence.

      These different beliefs about the origins of the human race have long been
      important topics of public debate. The Kansas Board of Educations recent
      reversal of its previous decision to omit references to many evolutionary
      concepts in its public school standards has focused more attention on the
      topic in recent weeks. While much of the debate centers on issues
      surrounding the separation of church and state in public school
      classrooms, the discussions are often premised largely on individuals
      personal beliefs about Charles Darwins theory of evolution and the
      biblical theory of creationism.

      Americans More Likely to Identify Themselves as Creationists Than as

      Gallup has asked Americans several times over the last 20 years to choose
      between three statements that describe the origin and development of the
      human race. Generally speaking, the plurality of Americans have come down
      on the side of a creationist approach to human origins, while slightly
      fewer have agreed with a statement that reflects an evolutionary process
      guided by God, and only a small number have agreed with an evolutionary
      process in which God had no part.

      Most recently, in Gallups February 19-21 poll, 45% of respondents chose
      "God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time
      within the last 10,000 years or so," the statement that most closely
      describes biblical creationism. A slightly larger percentage, almost half,
      chose one of the two evolution-oriented statements: 37% selected "Human
      beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of
      life, but God guided this process" and 12% chose "Human beings have
      developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God
      had no part in this process."

      The public has not notably changed its opinion on this question since
      Gallup started asking it in 1982.

      Which of the following statements comes closest to your views on the
      origin and development of human beings -- [ROTATE 1-3/3-1: 1) Human beings
      have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life,
      but God guided this process, 2) Human beings have developed over millions
      of years from less advanced forms of life, but God had no part in this
      process, 3) God created human beings pretty much in their present form at
      one time within the last 10,000 years or so]?

      Humans developed, with God guiding
      Humans developed, but God had no part in process
      God created humans in present form
      OTHER (vol.)/No opinion

      2001 Feb 19-21 - 37%, 12%, 45%, 6%

      1999 Aug 24-26 - 40%, 9%, 47%, 4%
      1997 Nov 6-9 - 39%, 10%, 44%, 7%
      1993 Jun - 35%, 11%, 47%, 7%
      1982 - 38%, 9%, 44%, 9%

      After asking Americans which of the three statements on the origin of
      humans they agreed with, Gallup asked, by name, which of the two theories
      they believe in more. Given this choice, more than half of Americans say
      they believe in or lean toward the "theory of creationism" while far fewer
      believe in or lean toward the "theory of evolution" (57% for creationism
      vs. 33% for evolution) and one out of 10 say they are unsure.

      People who consider themselves to be political conservatives are much more
      likely than liberals to prefer the theory of creationism. Americans in the
      South and Midwest are more likely than people living in the East and West
      to believe in the creation theory. Perhaps most notably, those for whom
      religion is an important part of life (those who attend religious services
      every week) are far more likely to prefer the theory of creationism than
      are those who attend church less often (80% versus 47%, respectively).

      The first question reviewed above explains the precepts of the creationist
      and evolutionary approaches without mentioning the labels, while the
      second gives respondents only the labels without explanation. The results
      indicate some differences in interpretation based on which question is
      used. More Americans agree with the word "creationism" than agree with
      "evolution," but a slightly larger number choose an evolutionary
      explanation rather than a creationist explanation when given specifics.
      In order to better understand these issues, we examined the relationship
      between responses to these two questions, looking at how people who said
      they believed in or leaned toward one of the two theories answered the
      more specific question describing the three approaches to the origin and
      development of human beings.

      Generally, there is a good deal of consistency between responses to the
      two questions. The majority (two out of three) of the people who said they
      believed more in "creationism" selected the statement "God created human
      beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last
      10,000 years or so." But interestingly, more than one-quarter of
      "creationists" selected a statement that can be seen as compatible with
      the scientific findings of evolutionary scholars: "Human beings have
      developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God
      guided this process." Only 1% of "creationists" selected the evolutionary
      statement saying that "God had no part in the process." Thus, while almost
      no "creationists" believe that humans developed without Gods help, a not
      insignificant minority believes that human beings developed from lower
      forms of life, as evolutionary scientists suggest, but that God helped the
      process along.

      People who choose "evolution" as their preferred theory are most
      comfortable with the idea that God guided an evolutionary process of human
      development. A majority -- 51% -- selected the statement "Human beings
      have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life,
      but God guided this process," while 34% selected that statement with the
      condition that "God had no part in this process." Finally, just 10% chose
      the statement that God created human beings within just the last 10,000

      What do these findings tell us? First, only a very small minority of
      "evolutionists" choose a creationist explanation when confronted with the
      specifics of the theories. Thus, the vast majority of "evolutionists" are
      consistent and choose an evolutionary explanation, with or without Gods

      On the other hand, over one-quarter of Americans who say they believe in
      the creationist perspective choose an evolutionary statement -- albeit the
      one that has Gods involvement. Thus, it appears that a substantial
      proportion of "creationists" cannot be distinguished from the majority of
      "evolutionists" in the way they think about the origins and development of
      humankind. While 57% of Americans claim to lean toward the label of
      "creationist," in actuality, only 41% of Americans are "creationists" who
      do not support an evolutionary way of thinking about human development.
      The difference suggests that there is either a very broad interpretation
      of the term "creationism" -- one that does not support the biblical
      account of the creation of the human race -- or that there is
      misunderstanding about what the label "creationism" means, among at least
      some of the creation-leaning public.

      Public Doubtful About Whether Evidence Supports Darwins Theory

      Another question included in the recent poll asked directly about the
      evidence supporting Charles Darwins theory of evolution. Given a choice
      between three alternatives, only about one-third of Americans think that
      Charles Darwins theory is "well supported by evidence," while slightly
      more (39%) believe that it is not well supported, and that it is "just one
      of many theories" on this subject. A substantial percentage of Americans
      -- one in four -- felt they didnt know enough to say.

      Individuals with more education and people with higher incomes are more
      likely to think that evidence supports the theory of evolution. Younger
      people are also more likely than older people to think that evidence
      supports Darwins theory, perhaps reflecting the widespread teaching of
      evolution in the classroom in recent decades.

      Again, however, not all Americans are consistent in their beliefs.
      Seventeen percent of those who say evolution is the best theory to explain
      human origins feel that evidence does not support the theory well in
      response to this specific question about Darwins theory, while 16%
      indicate they dont know enough to say. Among people who prefer
      creationism, one out of five says the evidence supports Darwins theory,
      while 24% report they dont know enough to say.

      Only 34% of Americans consider themselves to be "very informed" about the
      theory of evolution, while a slightly greater percentage -- 40% --
      consider themselves to be "very informed" about the theory of creation.
      Younger people, people with more education, and people with higher incomes
      are more likely to say they are very informed about both theories.

    Dick Fischer - The Origins Solution -
    "The answer we should have known about 150 years ago."

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