A full 77 percent of Americans believe that “prayers can help someone heal from an injury or illness, while 20 percent don’t believe that,” reported Fox of its phone survey, conducted in late August. “The remaining 3 percent are unsure.”
Fox found that the groups most likely to believe in the healing power of prayer “include those who regularly attend religious services (93 percent), white evangelical Christians (91 percent), blacks (89 percent), conservatives (85 percent), and those who are part of the Tea Party movement (84 percent).” The survey also found that “women (82 percent) were more likely than men (71 percent) to believe in the healing power of prayer.”
Similarly, the survey found, some 45 percent of Americans believe in the biblical account of creation as the explanation of human life, while 21 percent said they embrace the Darwinian theory of evolution. Amazingly, 27 percent said they believe in both explanations. (Perhaps some of those believe in theistic evolution, a middle-ground alternate belief not offered in the survey.)
“By a 20-percentage point margin, conservatives (53 percent) are more likely than liberals (33 percent) to accept creationism as true,” reported Fox. “And, conversely, liberals (37 percent) are more than three times as likely as conservatives (11 percent) to believe in evolution.”
Back in 2009, on the 150th anniversary of the publication of Darwin’s On the Origin of the Species, a Zogby survey found that Americans overwhelmingly favor the belief that life on earth came about by “intelligent design”— meaning they think “God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1). As reported on the website EvolutionNews.org: “When asked if life developed ‘through an unguided process of random mutations and natural selection,’ a standard definition of Darwinism, only 33 percent of respondents said they agreed with the statement. But 52 percent agreed that ‘the development of life was guided by intelligent design.’”
As for any possible political implications such surveys might have for the 2012 race, Fox reported that thus far Republican frontrunner Rick Perry “is the top choice for GOP primary voters who believe in creationism as well as those who believe in evolution.”
Photo: The "Praying Hands" sculpture at Oral Robert University in Tulsa, Oklahoma.