What the heck… it’s been a while since we last opened up the flood gates on this topic and according to Gallup surveys, we’re no closer to a consensus now than we ever were. The subject at hand is our old friend, evolution vs. creation.
Forty-six percent of Americans believe in the creationist view that God created humans in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years. The prevalence of this creationist view of the origin of humans is essentially unchanged from 30 years ago, when Gallup first asked the question. About a third of Americans believe that humans evolved, but with God’s guidance; 15% say humans evolved, but that God had no part in the process.
It will come as no shock to anyone that the answers given tracked tightly with the religious views of the respondent, and that a majority of registered Republicans fall in line with creationist views.
Two-thirds of Americans who attend religious services weekly choose the creationist alternative, compared with 25% of those who say they seldom or never attend church. The views of Americans who attend almost every week or monthly fall in between those of the other two groups. Still, those who seldom or never attend church are more likely to believe that God guided the evolutionary process than to believe that humans evolved with no input from God.
What’s interesting about the Gallup survey as compared to some others I’ve seen in the past is the phrasing of the questions. You tend to get more clearly splintered results if you pose seriously confrontational questions such as, “Did God create man from dust or did man evolve from ape-like creatures?” Gallup’s choices are a bit more subtle, asking which phrase best describes your feelings.
- Human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God guided this process.
- Human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God had no part in this process.
- God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so.
You’ll notice that none of the choices go so far as to say, for example, “There is no God so the question is pointless” or, at the other end, “The Bible is literal and God created man from the dust and woman from one of his ribs.” I think such polls provide more value if they add in a couple more choices along those lines and forget about trying to be nuanced or avoid offending anyone.
My own views have “evolved” over the past five decades, (if you’ll pardon the phrase) and I’ve seen a number of theories. As a young man, I once lost my faith entirely (and still struggle with it at times) and rashly published a letter declaring that “God is the answer to a collection of questions which man is either too stupid or too frightened to answer. On the day that science answers the final question, God will be dead.”
I confess, I regret having penned that one now, but the young are frequently rash and foolish. But there are other theories which have come down the pike and stuck around. A very popular one which echoes a couple of the Gallup choices is along the lines of The Blind Watchmaker theory. It essentially states that the universe may well have begun with the Big Bang and men may have evolved from lower primates, but this was all precisely how God designed it, like the greatest software programmer ever, freeing Him up to move on to other projects once our reality was set in motion.
But I still have plenty of friends who come from the “six days and a rib” school of thought, and you have to respect them as well. At the opposite end of the scale you find people like my friend Doug Mataconis, who simply seems to be waiting for the day when all this creationist nonsense “evolves” out of our society.
This is why, as I noted the other day, I am skeptical of the argument advanced by Richard Leakey that increased discoveries in the field of anthropology would lead to an end to the evolution debate in the near future. The creationist position has little to do with evidence, and everything to do with faith and culture. It’s not going away any time soon, at least not in this country.
But returning to my original question, does the phrasing of the survey really impact the results for a strictly non-political topic such as this? Since the Hot Air faithful have never been shy about sharing and debating their feelings in a vigorous fashion, let’s toss up our own poll and compare it to the historical results as well as Gallup’s. But we’ll give you a bit more ammunition to work with in the answers. Have at it.