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40% Of Americans, Majority Of Republicans, Reject Evolution

A new Gallup poll provides some fairly distressing news about the state of knowledge in America:

PRINCETON, NJ — Four in 10 Americans, slightly fewer today than in years past, believe God created humans in their present form about 10,000 years ago. Thirty-eight percent believe God guided a process by which humans developed over millions of years from less advanced life forms, while 16%, up slightly from years past, believe humans developed over millions of years, without God’s involvement.

A small minority of Americans hold the “secular evolution” view that humans evolved with no influence from God — but the number has risen from 9% in 1982 to 16% today. At the same time, the 40% of Americans who hold the “creationist” view that God created humans as is 10,000 years ago is the lowest in Gallup’s history of asking this question, and down from a high point of 47% in 1993 and 1999. There has been little change over the years in the percentage holding the “theistic evolution” view that humans evolved under God’s guidance.

Along with the rather obvious differences in opinion on this subject that one might expect based on education and religion, there’s also a striking difference of opinion based on political affiliation:

That a plurality of Americans believe in fairy tales is distressing, that a majority of one of our political parties does is just insane.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Jay says:

    Why is this so important? In 60 years when you’re dead, what will it matter?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 5

  2. Christine says:

    This is astonishing. I prefer the term myth as opposed to fairy tales, although the creationists reject both. The rejection of science and deeming it “elitest” by conservatives is foolish. They will cut their nose off despite their faces. Just like Boehner refusing to use the word compromise and with evolution, the right refuses to adapt and change with the times. Pure classical definition of a conservative. SAD.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  3. sam says:

    “Why is this so important? In 60 years when you’re dead, what will it matter?”

    It might matter if the anti-science freaks get control funding for things like the NSF and the NIH.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  4. Bleev K says:

    Obviously, americans are evolving into morons.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

  5. john personna says:

    There is this term, which has a specific meaning, but I love in a general sense: “bounded rationality.”

    Humans, love ‘em or hate ‘em, they are what they are.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  6. roy slikker says:

    Looks like the yanks have been drummed down to the level that some of them will soon de-evolve into compliant slaves of their media controlling masters

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 4

  7. john personna says:

    If you want to understand war in the Middle East, remember that it isn’t just one Fundamentalist society involved.

    For extra credit, remember which national leader went to war because God told him.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  8. Linda says:

    (I’m hating on Cox Communications, right about now. My Internet keeps going down, and they tell me there’s nothing wrong. ARGH!)

    I’m a Libertarian-leaning Republican (or perhaps it’s Republican-leaning Libertarian).

    ****I believe in evolution.**** Not all of us on the Right fall in lockstep with the Christian Conservative crowd.

    I don’t think creationism or intelligent design should be taught in schools. It takes into account a “Creator” which is “God, and “God” is religion, which has no place in publicly funded education. If this is your belief system, then pay to send your child to a Christian, faith-based school.

    I am also not religious, as you should be able to tell. I abhor that the Religious Right tries to force their beliefs on everyone else. They are also hypocritical, in my estimation. They preach love and understanding, but will bash anything they disagree with, and will use violence to shut it down. Something’s just not right with that.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  9. anjin-san says:

    > Not all of us on the Right fall in lockstep with the Christian Conservative crowd.

    No, just most you you. And you have chosen to align yourself with the know nothings, just as Doug has.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 3

  10. Marvin says:

    It’s scary the way magical thinking is so commonplace in the US. I think it has a lot to do with why people are so easily fooled. Whether it be by commercials for BS products or politicians.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  11. Eric says:

    Actually 78% of Americans reject evolution. The first response:

    “Human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God guided this process”

    is a rejection of evolution. Evolution is a naturalistic explanation for human (and other) life, and has no room in it for supernatural causes; the only way to “fit” God into the process is to take something else out.

    The concept of “evolution guided by God” is literally double-think: it is simultaneously believing two contradictory ideas. “Evolution guided by God” is every bit as ridiculous as saying that objects fall under gravity, guided by God, or that planes fly by Bernoulli’s principle, guided by God, or that our computers turn on with electricity, guided by God.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  12. john personna says:

    LOL, why do you even read polls Eric, if you know better than everyone answering them?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 6

  13. Elle says:

    Eric was clarifying the findings of the poll, pointing out that the article headline is misleading. I don’t see any air of superiority in his post. Why do people so often feel *their personal intelligence* is being insulted when people attempt to be precise or add to the common knowledge?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  14. Eric says:

    In retrospect I sounded a bit condescending… sorry John, and thanks Elle.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  15. anjin-san says:

    My world view has room for evolution and God, though I suspect my concept of God is radically different from your average (or even above average) self identified right wing Christian conservative.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  16. No, just most you you. And you have chosen to align yourself with the know nothings, just as Doug has.

    Quibble here: the Native American Party wasn’t nicknamed The Know Nothings because they were perceived as ignorant, but because they were perceived as overly secretive (“Am I in the NAP? I don’t know nothing about that…”).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  17. michael reynolds says:

    Breaking News: Republicans are dumber than Democrats.

    What is this, a surprise?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  18. John Personna says:

    What I’m saying is, if the Pope’s Astronomer (to name a random human) can believe that evolution and God are not contradictory, it more than condescending to “edit” his answer.

    You are saying his finding, and similar opinions, are invalid.

    As I say, if you have that humility deficit, why read polls?

    Or did I misunderstand:

    The concept of “evolution guided by God” is literally double-think

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 6

  19. John Personna says:

    Note: “guidance” is not provable, but neither is it disprovable. Thus, those who observe the natural world (and evolution) may add faith, or not. It is a value-added option.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 5

  20. John Personna says:

    Btw, I do disapprove of religions which ask their members to disbelieve the world. Someone told me once that God put down dinosaur bones to fool non-believers. That kind of thing.

    But I suppose you have to feel for people. I’ve known some bright people who bought the creationist bundle, because to do otherwise would be to abandon the family religion.

    Good sons. Good daughters.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  21. Eric says:

    Of course many concepts of God are consistent with evolution: non-interventionist gods, for example. But any god that intervenes in the development of human life from other life is not consistent with evolution. (And any god that intervenes with how objects fall is not consistent with gravity, etc..)

    If the pope’s astronomer, or anyone else, disagrees, they are welcome to explain why… though personally I’d suggest asking a biologist instead.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  22. Gustopher says:

    I think a lot of Republicans rejected evolution a couple of generations back…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  23. Matt says:

    If there is no God then nothing matters anyway; you are just a wet-ware program living in an accident of nature deluded into thinking you have a sense of self.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 6

  24. 40% Of Americans, Majority Of Republicans, Reject Evolution…

    40% Of Americans, Majority Of Republicans, Reject Evolution…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  25. Dave says:

    The same can be said about the whole world, there are a lot of religions, and most believe in some sort of divine creation, not evolution. It’s rather bias to just single out Americans and republicans. The blind rejection of evolution goes far beyond that.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  26. john personna says:

    Eric, what about a God dabbling in self-organizing systems?

    With the right low-level rules, the Pope’s Astronomer is an emergent behavior ;-)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 6

  27. Corkey says:

    God invented Evolution

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 6

  28. Joe says:

    Actually evolution allowed humans to create the concept of God

    And to Matt (who said that if there is no God life is pointless), I really hope that was sarcastic, otherwise you need some help.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  29. Luke says:

    The poll was poorly drafted as it doesn’t include such obvious choices as:

    * God created man, said “Oops! Mucked it up again,’” and went off to the next galaxy to try again and never looked back.

    or

    * God created mankind as kind of an ongoing real-life Comedy Channel to watch whenever She got bored.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  30. Stephanie says:

    This is sad. All this time and the only thing we’ve successfully learned to do is devolve.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  31. Bilby says:

    From the article discussing the poll:

    “The significantly higher percentage of Republicans who choose a creationist view of human origins reflects in part the strong relationship between religion and politics in contemporary America. Republicans are significantly more likely to attend church weekly than are others, and, as noted, Americans who attend church weekly are most likely to select the creationist alternative for the origin of humans.”

    That’s a pretty obvious explanation for the difference in numbers. It surely must have been noticed by the author of this post. The only reason I can see for this passage:

    “That a plurality of Americans believe in fairy tales is distressing, that a majority of one of our political parties does is just insane.”

    Is that the Mr. Mataconis deliberately ignored the article from which he derived his material in order to bash Republicans. What he should have written, if his intention was simply to relate the poll findings:

    “That a plurality of Americans believe in fairy tales is distressing, that a majority of regular church goers does is just insane.”

    But that wouldn’t make sense, nor would it provide the desired partisan bias.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  32. Human Ape says:

    “A small minority of Americans hold the ‘secular evolution’ view that humans evolved with no influence from God — but the number has risen from 9% in 1982 to 16% today.”

    Evolution does not need any adjectives. Evolution is called “evolution”, not “secular evolution” which is as stupid as calling gravity “secular gravity”.

    16% of Americans get it. That’s up from 14% and it used to be only 9%. For any civilized country this would be disgraceful but for Idiot America this is excellent progress. This means only 84% of Americans either completely reject evolution, or they think magic is one of evolution’s mechanisms. Not too bad for the most backward nation in the Western world.

    By the way, Corkey, your god fairy didn’t invent anything. Natural processes like evolution don’t need magical inventors.

    darwinkilledgod dot blogspot dot com

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  33. Human Ape says:

    One more thing.

    “40% Of Americans Reject Evolution” is not correct. The gallup poll shows that 84% of Americans reject evolution. When people stick a magic god fairy into evolutionary biology, that is equivalent to denying the fact that evolution is a natural process, which means they are evolution deniers, which means they’re retarded.

    darwinkilledgod dot blogspot dot com

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  34. Grewgills says:

    If there is no God then nothing matters anyway

    That only follows if you have the preconceived notion that a god is the only thing that can give life meaning. That is hardly a necessary preconception.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  35. Grewgills says:

    Can we stop all the talk of devolution or de-evolution? It shows just as profound a misunderstanding of evolution as thinking a god is needed in the process.

    People want to think that they are special and God dabbling in evolution makes us special. As long as that is the extent of their misunderstanding of evolution and they are not asking that it is taught in schools I dont see it as a big deal.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  36. john personna says:

    I think the agnostics have moral and intellectual superiority to atheists in this question of God + evolution.

    They aren’t in the silly position of trying to disprove the invisible.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

  37. john personna says:

    BTW, speaking of contradictions, isn’t it funny when atheists argue from the “mind of God?”

    If He exists, they say, He wouldn’t use evolution!

    Like, they’d know.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 4

  38. Elle says:

    The theory of evolution does not make any claim about God. It merely asserts that you do not need a supernatural explanation, such as God, to account for how man and other species came to be, and goes on to explain those processes in detail.

    Evoution does not make an affirmative statement that a supernatural being is *not* guiding the process. It is silent on the subject.

    In contrast, intelligent design, or guided evolution positively asserts that a supernatural being *is* guiding the process. As such, it is a statement of faith, neither provable nor disprovable.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  39. john personna says:

    “The theory of evolution does not make any claim about God.”

    Evolution doesn’t but we’ve got Eric up above saying:

    “But any god that intervenes in the development of human life from other life is not consistent with evolution.”

    Which of course is where I take exception.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  40. flash says:

    And all of this, including the irrational attacks upon individual rights by the so-called “right to life” crowd (a preponderant porton of rank and file GOP) is why I, as the g g grandson of one who was in the little white school house at the inception of the GOP sumarily left the GOP.. I will not sanction with my sacred vote those who have a core philosophy that is anti-mind, anti-this-life, and worst anti-reason. Reason is man’s fundamental tool of survival, it is what evolution has resulted in, in the case of the homo sapien – we are the highest evolved creatures (most likely), and certainly so intellectually. To jettison this for religious mysticism is evil hardly to be matched..

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  41. john personna says:

    In contrast, intelligent design, or guided evolution positively asserts that a supernatural being *is* guiding the process. As such, it is a statement of faith, neither provable nor disprovable.

    The interesting thing is that the intelligent design folks do go beyond the invisible to a claim that God is provable, and evolution is disprovable, from evidence.

    At least as I understand it, they attempt to prove the watchmaker by way of the watch.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

  42. Scott says:

    Though the general idea of god, or gods, whether creator(s) or otherwise, is neither provable nor disprovable, yet every religion on earth, extant or extinct, has provided qualities for their deities which make it entirely possible to disprove the existence of any of them. Any deity who may exist does not resemble any of the gods so far suggested by any organized religion.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  43. Elle says:

    @john personna, mostly what I’ve seen from ID are assertions that (1) nothing so beautiful, complicated, or perfect as life could have been created by natural processes, or that (2) life is so perfectly suited to the conditions of our world that it could not have happened by accident.

    For the first, there are abundant counterexamples. For the second, there are also counterexamples (extinctions). Moreover, regarding the second, it is equally logical to observe that life evolved under these conditions, so of course living creatures are adapted to them, or they would not be alive. If condtiions had been different, it would have evolved in accordance with those.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0