Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Gallup Poll Shows Belief in Creationist View of Humans at New Low in U.S.

A new Gallup poll released Monday shows some exciting developments in the faith and science conversation. In a question used since 1982, Gallup asks U.S. adults to choose between the following views of human origins:

1. Human beings developed over millions of years, but God guided this process.

2. Human beings developed over millions of years, but God had no part in this process.

3. God created humans in their present form within the last 10,000 years.

Option 3, the “present form” version, is the typical view of young-earth creationists. Option 2, the “God had no part” version, is the typical view of atheistic evolutionists. Option 1, the “God guided” version, affirms the scientific evidence for human origins and affirms God as our Creator. In the newest poll, the “present form” and “God guided” options are tied at 38 percent, while the “God had no part” option received 19 percent. Gallup notes that this is a historic low for the “present form” option and the first time since 1982 that this young-earth creation view has not been the most common answer.

As you see on the graph above, the “present form” position has dropped over the last five years, from 46% in 2012 to 38% in 2017. This drop is statistically significant (twice the sampling uncertainty of +/-4) and suggests that young-earth creationist views are on the decline. Meanwhile, the “God had no part” position plateaued since the last survey in 2014, stalling at 19% rather than continuing its climb. Since 2014, the “God guided” position rose from 31% to 38% since 2014, rebounding to previous levels. This suggests that those who recently left the “present form” view did not lose their faith in a shift to atheism, but adopted the “God guided” position.

Bottom Line

Most Americans believe that God had a role in creating human beings, whether in their present form or as part of an evolutionary process over millions of years. But fewer Americans today hold strict creationist views of the origins of humans than at any point in Gallup's trend on the question, and it is no longer the single most popular of the three explanations. Creationism still ties for the leading view, along with the view that evolution was guided by a divine hand. Fewer than one in five Americans hold a secular view of evolution, but that proportion has doubled since the start of this millennium.

Since the Scopes Monkey Trial more than 90 years ago, the inclusion of creationism -- and evolution -- as part of public school curricula has been an ongoing and contentious topic. Often rebranded as "intelligent design," especially as it relates to education, the creationist viewpoint has met defeat in the Supreme Court but continues to surface in curricula across the U.S.

There has been an increase in the percentage of those holding the secularist viewpoint in recent years, which aligns with the scientific belief that has been prevalent in public school teaching since the Scopes Monkey Trial. This push and pull with creationism will undoubtedly continue, as this debate about where humans came from rages on.