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Poll: Majority of Americans don’t believe in evolution

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Once again, a nationwide poll shows that Americans are prone not to believe in evolution — even if many academic leaders and media members do.

The CBS News poll, conducted April 6-9, asked two subgroups of adults different questions about man’s origins. Although their answers varied depending on the question, in each instance they rejected secular evolution — that is, the belief that God was not involved at all in the process:

— In the first subgroup, 53 percent of adults agreed that “God created human beings in their present form.” Twenty-three percent believed that “human beings evolved from less advanced life forms over millions of years, but God guided the process,” and 17 percent believed that human beings evolved but “God did not directly guide” it. The subgroup included 468 adults.

— In the second subgroup, 44 percent agreed with the statement that “God created human beings in their present form within the last ten thousand years.” The rest of the question was identical to the one posed to the first subgroup. In this instance, 30 percent believed that God guided evolution, and 17 percent believed in secular evolution. This subgroup included 431 adults.

The debate over evolution has divided Americans since at least the late 1800s, and that divide deepened after the famous “Scopes Monkey Trial” in Tennessee in 1925. In fact, in 1925 the Southern Baptist Convention adopted its first statement of faith (the Baptist Faith & Message) in part in reaction to the controversy over evolution.

The media largely has assisted supporting a belief in evolution. An April 12 CNN.com headline about evolution said simply, “Fossil connects human evolution dots.” A New York Times headline the same day read, “New fossils add link to the chain of the evolution of humans.”

But despite the media’s role and an education system that backs evolution, Americans aren’t buying it. The CBS News poll mirrors other recent polls:

— A Gallup poll of 1,005 adults from September 2005 showed that 53 percent of adults believed “God created human beings in their present form exactly the way the Bible describes it.” Thirty-one percent believed humans “evolved over millions of years from other forms of life and God guided” the process, and 12 percent said humans “have evolved over millions of years from other forms of life, but God has no part.”

— A Harris poll of 1,000 adults in June 2005 found that 64 percent believed “human beings were created directly by God,” 22 percent said humans “evolved from earlier species” and 10 percent believed humans “are so complex that they required a powerful force or intelligent being to help create them.” In a separate question, only 38 percent said humans “developed from earlier species.”

    About the Author

  • Michael Foust