U.S. young-earth creation views steady but evolution acceptance growing!

While there is little movement in percentages of conservative belief, there is much to be encouraged about in the latest Gallop poll on evolution versus Creationism.

In U.S., 42% Believe Creationist View of Human Origins.

More than four in 10 Americans continue to believe that God created humans in their present form 10,000 years ago, a view that has changed little over the past three decades. Half of Americans believe humans evolved, with the majority of these saying God guided the evolutionary process. However, the percentage who say God was not involved is rising.

The percentage of the U.S. population choosing the creationist perspective as closest to their own view has fluctuated in a narrow range between 40% and 47% since the question’s inception. There is little indication of a sustained downward trend in the proportion of the U.S. population who hold a creationist view of human origins. At the same time, the percentage of Americans who adhere to a strict secularist viewpoint — that humans evolved over time, with God having no part in this process — has doubled since 1999.

An interesting finding is that significantly fewer Americans state they are familiar with “creationism” than did so seven years ago. The commentary notes that even though the adherence to the young earth creationist (YEC) view has not changed over time, people don’t call it that. Does this means that they are more familiar with “intelligent design”? Or that they don’t really think about it enough to give it a ready label?

Since the views on YEC have not really changed but just fluctuated in a range, we can possible assume that greater education will not have an effect on that. The commentary says as much noting that people come by their religious-based beliefs not through schooling. However, since those that have less than a high school education are most likely to subscribe to the YEC, this may be a factor. Also, 50% of this group is over 65 years old. Does that mean the belief will die out as they die out? That the younger more scientific-minded population’s view will replace this? Or, do we get more conservative in our beliefs as we age. Only additional surveys will show.

All in all, the steady growth of people who say humans evolved without God can be interpreted as a success for science-based information supplanting religious dogma. Slowly, but surely. Nature won’t be denied no matter how hard you thump the holy books.

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  9 comments for “U.S. young-earth creation views steady but evolution acceptance growing!

  1. spookyparadigm
    June 4, 2014 at 2:04 PM

    The real story here is the increasing politicization of American religion, something that will likely become even starker very soon. The story is all in that middle line, the moderates. If you look at the age breakout at the link, there is a significant upswing in the more moderate religious view amongst the boomers, though they’re the least likely to believe in straight science. The boomers and their parents grew up in the quieter apolitical religious climate in the mid-20th century US, when the mainline Protestant churches were still powerful. While there is the general wisdom we get more conservative as we age, we also apparently largely get our religion when we are young (with obviously lots of exceptions), something that has been oft-cited in discussion of growing secularism among young Americans.

    But in the childhood years of GenX, you had the beginnings of politicization of American religion, often tied to the fight over abortion, the rise of non-Christian religions, and to general changes in American society in the 1960s, though it is increasingly clear a lot of this is also tied into aspects of white identity and the collapse of Jim Crow. Anyway, the Moral Majority and the religious right emerge in the 1970s, and are followed by the Reagan Revolution. Right-wing politics and increasingly outspoken evangelical Protestantism have been increasingly tied-together ever since.

    What we’re seeing now is the ageing out of those from before creationism re-emerged as a shibboleth of a more religious conservatism. This more in-your-face radical religious politics is a large part of the growth of secularism (which has largely expanded as a reaction to theocratic politics), and why secularism also has a significant opposing political flavor to it. While there are logical reasons why secularism and interest in science might go together, they’ve been shoved together in recent American culture more due to their religious right enemies than anything else.

  2. Travis
    June 4, 2014 at 7:55 PM

    Promising to think that ~half of the YECs will be dead in 20 years. I guess in the next 4-6 elections we should expect some major changes int he US, which is great.
    I’m young enough that I’ll get to see it! :D
    (23)

    • Headless Unicorn Guy
      June 7, 2014 at 3:01 PM

      Problem is, YEC Uber Alles usually comes hand in hand with Secret Rapture/Ye Ende is Nighye. I’ve experienced both, and the second is more damaging.

  3. les Anwyl
    June 5, 2014 at 4:01 AM

    Lord almighty, you yanks are a worry.

    • Bill T.
      June 5, 2014 at 4:15 PM

      Les,

      Yah mate, I know, we’re worried too.

  4. Peter McCarthy
    June 5, 2014 at 4:48 AM

    If you look at the influence of religion in US politics, its a cyclical thing with the Republicans. Every so often they are captured by the Religious Right, then when they get extreme the “normals” decide to take back their party and moderation becomes the norm.

    By the look of the Christian backlash we are about to see a return to normality soon.

    Unbeknownst to Sarah Palin, she is part of the solution. With each wacky comment, she reminds the moderates that they really do have to do something about those playing the Christian card for their political gain.

    It’s been painful watching the rise, but now we are heading towards the fun part.

  5. H.K. Fauskanger
    June 5, 2014 at 5:53 AM

    It turns out that the results of such polls vary greatly, depending on how the question is asked. If you leave out the explicit religious references, you get far greater acceptance of evolution and deep time. Here is a most interesting article about this: http://ncse.com/blog/2013/11/just-how-many-young-earth-creationists-are-there-us-0015164

    • Bill T.
      June 5, 2014 at 4:18 PM

      Excellent points.

      I often see (especially from my political “Representatives”) questions obviously slanted to elicit the responses they want, and often not even covering all reasonable responses. I wish I had a ready example. Pretty much always, “None of the Above” should be a choice.

    • spookyparadigm
      June 6, 2014 at 10:12 AM

      Which makes the point that this isn’t about science or science education as much as it is about cultural identity and politics.

      I’m not really sure I feel better that more people understand elements of reality, but then immediately and subconsciously will deny them for political reasons.

      The conclusion, I suppose, is that changing individual minds may be less important than knocking out the influential sources that link understanding of science to politics. If what you are fighting is politicization of science denialism, and not science denial in everyday people, then the path here becomes somewhat clearer.

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