Gallup Poll Release, 8-30-99

Kendra (
Mon, 13 Sep 1999 00:23:05 -0700 (MST)

August 30, 1999
Americans Support Teaching Creationism as Well as Evolution in Public

Divided on origins of human species by David W. Moore

PRINCETON, NJ - Although some leaders in the scientific community have
expressed stunned dismay at the willingness of both leading presidential
contenders, Texas Governor George W. Bush and Vice-President Al Gore, to
support the teaching of creationism in public schools, recent Gallup
polls confirm that Americans are in favor of that policy by a
substantial margin. At the same time, they are divided on how human
beings came into existence.

According to a Gallup poll conducted June 25-27 of this year, Americans
favor teaching creationism in the public schools, along with evolution,
by a margin of 68% to 29%. However, by a margin of 55% to 40%, they
would oppose replacing evolution with creationism.

Despite public support for teaching those subjects in public schools,
most Americans do not believe them to be crucial to a person's
education. According to the most recent Gallup poll, conducted August
24-26, only 28% of Americans say evolution should be a required subject
and 49% say it should be an elective. Similarly, 25% say creationism
should be required and 56% say it should be an elective. The number who
would ban either course from the classroom is 21% for evolution and 16%
for creationism. By contrast, 83% of Americans believe that computer
training should be a required subject, while 76% would require courses
on alcohol and drug abuse prevention, 69% on drivers education, and 60%
on sex education -- among other subjects.
Americans' support for teaching both creationism and evolution could
reflect their divergent views on how the human species came into
existence. According to the most recent Gallup poll, 47% of Americans
believe that God created human beings at one time within the last 10,000
years pretty much in their present form, while 49% believe that human
beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of
life, including 40% who say that God guided the process, and 9% who say
that God had no part in the process. This pattern of responses is
essentially unchanged from the three previous times it was asked --
first in 1982, and then again in 1993 and 1997.

Views on evolution highly related to age and education

Older and less educated Americans are more likely to reject evolution
than are the younger and more educated population groups. American
adults under the age of 30, for example, accept either one of the two
evolutionary explanations for the origins of human beings (either guided
by God or not) by a margin of 56% to 42%, very similar to the pattern of
responses in the 30-49 age group (53% to 44%). However, the 50-64 age
group is about evenly divided on the issue, with 47% who accept
evolution and 50% who say God created human beings about 10,000 years
ago. And among Americans 65 and older, only 33% accept evolution, while
60% reject it.

Americans' level of education is also closely related to beliefs about
evolution, with only 41% of non-college Americans accepting evolution
and 55% rejecting it. Americans with "some" college, by contrast, favor
evolution by a 50% to 45% margin, compared with a 58% to 41% margin of
support among college graduates, and a 66% to 30% margin of support
among those with some post-graduate education.

Survey Methods

The results reported in this article are based on two Gallup polls, both
with telephone interviews of a randomly selected national sample of
about 1,000 adults, 18 years and older. The most recent poll was
conducted August 24-26, 1999, while the other Gallup poll was conducted
June 25-27, 1999. For results based on sample of this size, one can say
with 95 percent confidence that the maximum error attributable to
sampling and other random effects is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical
difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the
findings of public opinion polls.

Next I'm going to read a variety of proposals concerning religion and
public schools. For each one, please tell me whether you would generally
favor or oppose it. First, ... Next, ...

Teaching creationism ALONG WITH evolution in public schools

Favor 68% Oppose 29 No opinion 3 ╩ 100%

Teaching creationism INSTEAD OF evolution in public schools

Favor 40% Oppose 55 No opinion 5 ╩ 100%

Next, I'm going to read you some areas of instruction the high schools
might offer. Please say whether you think each one should be required
instruction, could be offered as an elective but should not be required,
or should not be taught at all. How aboutĚ

The theory of evolution

Required 28% Offered but not required 49 Not offered at all 21 No
opinion 2 ╩ 100%

The theory of creationism

Required 25% Offered but not required 56 Not offered at all 16 No
opinion 3 ╩ 100%

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

Human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced
forms of life, but God guided this process.

Aug 1999 40% Nov 1997 39% Jun 1993 35% 1982 38%

Human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced
forms of life. God had ­no part­ in this process.

Aug 1999 9% Nov 1997 10% June 1993 11% 1982 9%

God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time
within the last 10,000 years or so.

Aug 1999 47% Nov 1997 44% June 1993 47% 1982 44%

No opinion

Aug 1999 4% Nov 1997 7% June 1993 7% 1982 9% ╩

Aug 1999 100% Nov 1997 100% June 1993 100% 1982 100% [total %
each poll]

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