Monday, 03 January 2011

Gallup Finds 40 Percent of Americans Believe in Creation Account

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hand of GodAbout four in 10 Americans believe that God created humans in their present form about 10,000 years ago, according to a survey by Gallup, one of the nation’s leading pollsters. That number represents a decrease from 10 years ago, when 47 percent of Americans said they believed in the strict creation account.

Gallup's most recent polling found that another 38 percent believe that God guided an evolutionary process “by which humans developed over millions of years from less advanced life forms,” and that only 16 percent of Americans believe humans developed over millions of years without any involvement from God at all.

“A small minority of Americans hold the ‘secular evolution’ view that humans evolved with no influence from God,” noted the researchers, “but the number has risen from 9% in 1982 to 16% today.” At the same time, the four in 10 Americans who hold to a strict creationist view is the lowest number the pollster has witnessed since it started querying Americans back in 1982. “There has been little change over the years in the percentage holding the ‘theistic evolution’ view that humans evolved under God's guidance,” noted the researchers.

Predictably, Gallup found that an individual’s level of education is a major influencing factor in how he views creation, with those who are less educated more likely to hold a creationist view, and those with college degrees and postgraduate education more likely to hold a strict evolutionist view or to believe that man evolved over millions of years with divine oversight.

As for religious influence, Gallup found that Americans who attend church frequently are more likely to hold to a conviction on man’s creation that includes some degree of God’s involvement. “Still, the creationist viewpoint, held by 60% of weekly churchgoers, is not universal even among the most highly religious group,” Gallup found. “Also, about a fourth of those who seldom or never attend church choose the creationist view.”

Not surprisingly, Gallup found a high correlation between those who hold a creationist viewpoint and those who identify themselves politically as Republicans, a point the researchers said “reflects in part the strong relationship between religion and politics in contemporary America.” Republicans are more likely to attend church weekly than other Americans, the researchers noted, and “Americans who attend church weekly are most likely to select the creationist alternative for the origin of humans.”

Because a majority of Americans believe in God and over 80 percent claim some degree of religious faith, it is understandable that eight in ten of them hold the conviction that God created humans as detailed in the book of Genesis, or at the least was directly involved in the process by which mankind evolved into what we are today. “What no doubt continues to surprise many scientists,” however, continued the Gallup pollsters, “is that 4 out of 10 Americans believe in the first of these explanations.”

While Gallup’s ongoing survey of the issue demonstrates that belief in God’s creation of mankind has waned slightly over the past 28 years, that decrease has not significantly altered the “structure of beliefs about human beings’ origins,” the researchers noted, which helps to explain why the creation-evolution debate continues to be a hot-button issue in the media, education, and the courts. “With 40% of Americans continuing to hold to an anti-evolutionary belief about the origin of humans,” Gallup concluded, “it is highly likely that these types of debates will continue.”