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In US, Belief in Creationist View of Humans at New Low

In US, Belief in Creationist View of Humans at New Low
by Art Swift

Story Highlights

  • 38% say God created man in present form, lowest in 35 years
  • Same percentage say humans evolved, but God guided the process
  • Less-educated Americans more likely to believe in creationism

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- 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.

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

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.

Americans' Views on Human Creation Related to Education, Religious Preference

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.

Which of the following statements comes closest to your views on the origin and development of human beings?
By education, religious preference and church attendance
Humans evolved, God guided process Humans evolved, God had no part in process God created humans in present form within last 10,000 years
% % %
Education
High school or less 33 12 48
Some college 38 16 42
College graduate 45 27 24
Postgraduate 45 31 21
Religious preference
Protestant/Other Christian 39 6 50
Catholic 45 11 37
None 29 57 9
Church attendance
Weekly 28 1 65
Nearly weekly/Monthly 44 6 45
Less often 40 35 21
Gallup, May 3-7, 2017

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.

Bottom Line

Most Americans believe that God had a role in creating human beings, whether in their present form or as part of an evolutionary process over millions of years. But fewer Americans today hold strict creationist views of the origins of humans than at any point in Gallup's trend on the question, and it is no longer the single most popular of the three explanations. Creationism still ties for the leading view, along with the view that evolution was guided by a divine hand. Fewer than one in five Americans hold a secular view of evolution, but that proportion has doubled since the start of this millennium.

Since the Scopes Monkey Trial more than 90 years ago, the inclusion of creationism -- and evolution -- as part of public school curricula has been an ongoing and contentious topic. Often rebranded as "intelligent design," especially as it relates to education, the creationist viewpoint has met defeat in the Supreme Court but continues to surface in curricula across the U.S.

There has been an increase in the percentage of those holding the secularist viewpoint in recent years, which aligns with the scientific belief that has been prevalent in public school teaching since the Scopes Monkey Trial. This push and pull with creationism will undoubtedly continue, as this debate about where humans came from rages on.

These data are available in Gallup Analytics.

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted May 3-7, 2017, with a random sample of 1,011 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.

Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 70% cellphone respondents and 30% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.

View survey methodology, complete question responses and trends.

Learn more about how the Gallup Poll Social Series works.


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