More Americans Believe in Devil than Darwin
Twice as many Americans believe in God and half again as many believe in a literal devil than the scientific theory of evolution, a new survey finds. Indeed, Darwin’s theory barely outpolls UFOs and witches.
More Americans believe in a literal hell and the devil than Darwin’s theory of evolution, according to a new Harris poll released on Thursday. It is the latest survey to highlight America’s deep level of religiosity, a cultural trait that sets it apart from much of the developed world. It also helps explain many of its political battles which Europeans find bewildering, such as efforts to have “Intelligent Design” theory — which holds life is too complex to have evolved by chance — taught in schools alongside evolution.
The poll of 2,455 U.S. adults from Nov 7 to 13 found that 82 percent of those surveyed believed in God, a figure unchanged since the question was asked in 2005. It further found that 79 percent believed in miracles, 75 percent in heaven, while 72 percent believed that Jesus is God or the Son of God. Belief in hell and the devil was expressed by 62 percent.
Darwin’s theory of evolution met a far more skeptical audience which might surprise some outsiders as the United States is renowned for its excellence in scientific research. Only 42 percent of those surveyed said they believed in Darwin’s theory which largely informs how biology and related sciences are approached. While often referred to as evolution it is in fact the 19th century British intellectual’s theory of “natural selection.”
What is perhaps surprising is that substantial minorities in America apparently believe in ghosts, UFOs, witches, astrology and reincarnation. The survey, which has a sampling error of plus or minus two percent, found that 35 percent of the respondents believed in UFOs and 31 percent in witches.
The findings are depressing, at least on the surface. My hope is that the results are mostly a function of poor question wording.
Granting the selection bias, most of the religious believers I know — which is to say, most of the people I know — believe that evolution and natural selection are undisputed facts about how life in the material universe works. A goodly number of them, though, might disagree with a specific question on Darwin’s theory. They would almost certainly reject the idea that humans evolved from monkeys, which is what many erroneously think Darwin taught.
Belief in religious characters is relatively uncomplicated. One would say they believed in God or the devil even if they only had a vague sense of those things, owing to the cultural norms of a Judeo-Christian society. Similarly, even those of us who don’t believe in flying saucers and little green men from Mars might acknowledge that people see flying objects which they are unable to identify.
Image source: The Pinnacle