New polling data shows that nearly half of Americans now believe humans evolved from simpler life forms, while less than 40% maintain that God created humans in their present form.
The internet-based polling group YouGov recently published results from a detailed survey of several hundred people in the United States. In the study, individuals were asked various questions about their demographics and backgrounds, and then polled about their beliefs on human origins.
YouGov is an international market research firm with a reputation for accurate polling figures. According to their website, YouGov focuses on “pioneering the use of technology to collect higher quality, in-depth data for companies, governments, and institutions so that they can better serve the people that sustain them.”
The polling results show that 21% of Americans subscribe to naturalistic evolution, believing that God had no direct role in creating humans. One-fourth of Americans believe God used evolution to create humans, while 37% say God created humans in their present form within the last 10,000 years. Thus, in total, 46% believe that humans evolved from lower life forms, 37% do not believe humans evolved, and 17% are undecided.
Additional data from YouGov’s research also denotes that the theory of evolution is gaining popularity with younger generations. Though only 17% of those aged 45-64 say humans’ existence can be attributed to evolution without God, nearly one-third of young adults (ages 18-29) express support of this view. In contrast, support for “young earth” creation appears to be waning—only 21% of young adults identify with this belief, even though 43% of 30- to 44-year-olds do.
A YouGov article accompanying the polling data reaffirms the existence of the aforementioned trend.
“The number … who believe in evolution without help from God has increased by 8 percentage points since 2004, when CBS conducted a poll using the same questions,” the article explains. “In 2004, 13% of Americans said that human beings evolved without guidance from God. This number may continue to increase in the coming years, as the belief in evolution without the influence of God is most common among those 18-29 years old…”
Overall, women are more likely than men to believe in non-evolutionary creation; 43% of females support the young-earth creation model, but only about one-third of all men do. Similarly, a much higher percentage of Republicans (55%) believe in Divine creation than Democrats (31%).
Evolution is a hotly-debated topic among Christians today. YouGov’s survey provides a break-down of the participants’ various religious affiliations, and shows that a majority of Protestants (59%) and Eastern or Greek Orthodox Christians (53%) do not believe in evolution. However, a preponderance of Mormons (53%) and Roman Catholics (55%) adhere to one of the two forms of evolutionary theory.
These figures illustrate the divisiveness of the evolution debate, as on the one hand, some professing Christians believe the Bible’s creation account should not be taken literally, but rather metaphorically or symbolically. One organization that promotes this viewpoint is the BioLogos Foundation.
“Scientific evidence is irrelevant to the Bible—it is simply not a science book,” an article on BioLogos’ website states. “…[S]ome believers look to science for ‘proof’ of the Bible, just as some unbelievers look to science for ‘disproof.’ Proponents of [God-driven evolution] stress that science and the Bible aren’t like apples and oranges; rather, they are more like apples and rocks: you can hold one in each hand without tension, but they have very little in common. We wouldn’t look for God in the phone book, or in an automobile repair manual. Don’t look for science in the Bible.”
Ken Ham, president of Answers in Genesis, distinctly disagrees with this assessment. According to Ham, incorporating evolution into the Scriptures unlocks “the door of compromise.”
“Because the Church has told the world that one can use man’s interpretation of the world, such as billions of years, to reinterpret the Bible, this Book is seen as an outdated, scientifically incorrect holy book not intended to be believed as written,” he wrote in an article. “As each subsequent generation has pushed this door of compromise open farther and farther, they are increasingly not accepting the morality or salvation of the Bible either. After all, if the history in Genesis is not correct, how can one be sure the rest is correct? Jesus said, ‘If I have told you earthly things, and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you of heavenly things?’ (John 3:12).”