Evolution

New Pew Poll: 60 Percent of Americans Believe in Biological Evolution

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Jesus on a dinosaur
Dinosaurs of Eden

A report from Pew Research's Religion and Public Life Project, "Public's Views on Human Evolution," finds that 60 percent of adult Americans believe that humans and other living things evolved over time while 33 percent say that they existed in their present forms since the beginning of time. Essentially there is no overall change since the last Pew poll on this topic back in 2009. One change, however, fewer Republicans now believe in evolution. From Pew:

There are sizable differences among partisan groups in beliefs about evolution. Republicans are less inclined than either Democrats or political independents to say that humans have evolved over time. Roughly two-thirds of Democrats (67%) and independents (65%) say that humans have evolved over time, compared with less than half of Republicans (43%).

The size of the gap between partisan groups has grown since 2009. Republicans are less inclined today than they were in 2009 to say that humans have evolved over time (43% today vs. 54% in 2009), while opinion among both Democrats and independents has remained about the same.

For more background see my article, "Are Republicans or Democrats More Anti-Science?"

The religious views of Americans have an impact on how they view evolution. From Pew:

A majority of white evangelical Protestants (64%) and half of black Protestants (50%) say that humans have existed in their present form since the beginning of time. But in other large religious groups, a minority holds this view. In fact, nearly eight-in-ten white mainline Protestants (78%) say that humans and other living things have evolved over time. Three-quarters of the religiously unaffiliated (76%) and 68% of white non-Hispanic Catholics say the same. About half of Hispanic Catholics (53%) believe that humans have evolved over time, while 31% reject that idea.

While a majority of Americans think that biological evolution has taken place, a substantial proportion believe that the process has been guided by the Deity. From Pew:

Those saying that human evolution has evolved over time also were asked for their views on the processes responsible for evolution. Roughly a quarter of adults (24%) say that "a supreme being guided the evolution of living things for the purpose of creating humans and other life in the form it exists today," while about a third (32%) say that evolution is "due to natural processes such as natural selection."

For some background, see my reporting from the 2005 Creation Mega-Conference at Liberty University.

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  1. I think they need to break up the “humans and other living things” question.

    Because that pretty much forces people who think humans were created by God in their current form to give the same answer about all other living things.

    And believing in a separate creation for humans is slightly more intellectually respectable than thinking that all living things everywhere have always existed in their current form…which is kinda retarded, frankly.

    1. Especially since humans have observably directed evolution of other species under our sway. Many plant and animal varieties exist due to human intervention that would not have otherwise.

      1. I get a lot of people over a simple one:
        Wild lettuce has large amounts of latex.
        Yummy latex!

  2. If you can’t explain the difference between Darwin and Lysenko to me, I am going to be somewhat skeptical to your claim that you believe in evolution, he said to that 60%.

    1. I would say explaining the difference between Darwin and Lamarck, for whom the notion of the inheritance of acquired traits was named, because I ain’t never heard of that Lysenko dude before.

      1. Lysenko also pushed Lamarckism.

        Lysenkoism (Russian: ?????????????), or Lysenko-Michurinism was the centralized political control exercised over genetics and agriculture by Trofim Lysenko and his followers. Lysenko was the director of the Soviet Union’s Lenin All-Union Academy of Agricultural Sciences. Lysenkoism began in the late 1920s and formally ended in 1964.

        Lysenkoism was built on theories of the heritability of acquired characteristics that Lysenko named “Michurinism”.[1] These theories depart from accepted evolutionary theory and Mendelian inheritance.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lysenkoism

        1. Look Nutrasweet, when I say I’ve never heard of a guy before, that doesn’t imply that I want to hear about him, okay?

          Keep your book-learnin’ to yourself.

          1. That’s fancy book-learnin’, yokel.

            1. You people and yer fancy spellin’ – its book *larnin’*! Just like its pronounced.

          2. If it makes you feel any better, Hugh, Lysenko hisself was a country bumpkin and total fraud, just like you.

            1. That…that actually does make me feel better, BP. I’m filled with hope by the notion that even gap-toothed rustics such as myself can achieve high political appointment if we just tell the right people what they want to hear.

      2. Lysenko is a good example when the discussion is over science that has been settled by consensus.

        But, yeah, Lamarck would have been a better example to use for this argument.

    2. Yeah who the fuck cares about evolution…the important thing is Natural Selection.

      1. Its like capitalism – the important part isn’t who owns what, its the market mechanism that makes it.

  3. I wonder why evolution stopped. Where are the fish who recently decided to breathe air?

    1. Wouldn’t it take millions of years to notice?

    2. I, for one, am glad that evolution stopped. Just imagine having to deal with antibiotic-resistant germs or having to reformulate flu vaccines every year.

      1. Well played.

    3. It’s still going on. You can see it on YouTube comment threads. But it’s going backwards there.

      1. Evolution doesn’t go backwards – its just that on Youtube, intelligence, poise, and restraint are selected *against*.

        1. Evolution also does not go forwards.
          The shifts are according to what manages to reproduce most at the expense of what reproduces least, or not at all.
          And that is why, since about 1975, I have taken every opportunity to make as many children as possible look more like me.

          1. Plastic surgery? You never know, maybe that Lamarck fellow was on to something?

    4. One thing is certain evolution has definitely stopped and perhaps reversed in regards to the detection of sarcasm.

  4. I found Darwin’s Doubt interesting.

    I find the absolute faith in Darwin’s THEORY of macro-evolution just as creepy as those who believe that the Earth is 5,000 years old.

    1. In what way was it “interesting”?

      1. That there are many peer-reviewed papers out there right now poking massive holes in the theory – but nobody in the media or textbook industry wants to hear this heresy.

        1. Ultimately, it still comes down to evidence. There will continue to be refinements in evolutionary theory. And I don’t pretend to know the details. But I do know for a fact that there’s not a single shred of evidence for Intelligent Design. ID is all conjecture and is no more a scientific theory than the FSM.

          And yes, you could say the same about String Theory as well. So why is String Theory scientific while ID is not? One is mechanical and one says “it is because I say it is”. I’m not sure I can be more verbose than that.

          1. String Theory is not science, it is rationalism (like AGW, Keynesian and Austrian economics, Big Bang, etc.)

            1. Speaking of Big Bang, I have never heard a solution to the “Lithium Problem,” a mismatch of the abundance of light elements in the universe. It’s something the science shows and magazines don’t want to talk about, or else it was solved when I wasn’t looking.

              1. the science shows and magazines don’t want to talk about

                I hate statements like this. It makes it sound like there’s some sort of conspiracy. Look, most TV shows/magazines talking about the Big Bang are substantially simplified for general audiences. The complexities/challenges of the theories are far too obtuse for joe and jane armchair scientist.

                Ever watch Through the Wormhole on Science Channel? I like it because it at least takes a shot at discussing some of these complexities. But it still simplifies them enormously. Because it has to.

        2. “Poking holes in the theory” generally just means refining evolutionary theory into a different form.

          It does not mean rejecting evolution.

          1. It means something else was (is) going on and we don’t have a workable explanation.

            1. So then what? Unicorns! Show Ponies! Where’s the Beef?!?

              1. OK…I can buy that Tom Brady caused the Cambrian explosion.

              2. I don’t know – what makes you think anyone has the explanation yet?

                Why can’t we explain to children that we have a hypothesis with many details missing? Why do we have to teach guesswork that has already been dis-proven as facts?

                How about challenging kids to figure it out without religious nuts on both sides screaming?

                1. Look, if all you’re really arguing is that science is fungible, then fine. But don’t start such an argument with a book sub-titled …And The Case for Intelligent Design. Because that skews the entire conversation.

    2. We’ve built upon Darwin greatly in 150 plus years. It’s like he invented the car, but nowadays we still drive them but we don’t have to manually retard the spark or adjust the choke.

    3. I find the absolute faith in Darwin’s THEORY of macro-evolution just as creepy as those who believe that the Earth is 5,000 years old.

      If you believe that the Earth is immensely old, than it’s pretty much impossible to believe that all living things have always had the same forms.

      So this isn’t really a case where you can declare a pox on both houses. If you think it’s ridiculous to think that the Earth is 5000 years old, you do so for a reason. At least one of those reasons will connect to an evolutionary paradigm (the geology alone makes that inevitable). Maybe not Darwin’s, but at least something where species shift over time.

      1. yes – something.

        1. Finding mistakes in Darwin does not mean God wins.

        2. So what you’re saying is that God is individually managing each organism’s death and reproduction, to secure the genetic outcomes He wants, while also occasionally starting entirely new genera?

          Hey, great. That still means that people who think that all life forms have been in their existing forms since the beginning of time are retarded. All it really does is make them heretical infidels as well. How dare those infidels not glory in God’s stage management of the change of species over time?

          1. Where did I say that?

            1. You said that the Earth is immensely old.

              You conceded that life forms change over time.

              You indicated that you don’t think it’s happening by Darwinian evolution.

              I am supplying the only thing that leaves.

              Of course, you’ll be coy and refuse to actually state a position, while thinking that’s clever. (Fluffy sneers.)

              1. Pretty unimaginative of you to only have 2 explanations (God or natural selection that somehow morphs into new species).

                How about DNA communication using viruses or other media? DNA is life’s information storage device, maybe it is also a network.

                1. Explain how horizontal gene transfer disproves Fluffy’s argument.

                2. Uh, that *is* part of natural selection.

                  Do you know what ‘natural selection’ *is*?

                  Its selection of the *more* reproductively fit by the environment killing off the ‘less-fit’ rivals somewhat faster than the ‘most-fit’ ‘winners’.

                  Evolutionary theory combines that with random mutation – random mutations are ‘judged’ (by the environment) as either more fit, less fit, or neutral. More fit mutations prosper and less fit don’t.

                  There are, literally, only two explanations for the change of species over time – either there’s an intelligence directing it (even *multiple intelligences not acting in concert over time) *or* there’s not.

                  If there’s not, there IS NO OTHER MECHANISM for differentially controlling the random changes in species other than natural selection.

      2. Also, solid misuse of the word theory. I love when people say “evolution is just a theory!”

        Yeah, so is gravity.

        1. Gravity is a good example. We don’t know what causes gravity. They’ve yet to uncover evidence for Gravitons. They’re trying, but still, it’s pure theory at this point. But at least their is something that might be testable. You can’t test “God pulls us all closer”.

          1. We have a good of what causes gravity, what we don’t have is good explanation how the what causes gravity.

    4. Basically the doubts in Darwin come from the fact that many of the chemical pathways in organisms would take far to long to evolve…if you only had one cell dividing over 4 billion years.

      ie bacteria do not have sex therefor it can only be one cell line doing all the evolution.

      This criticism of Darwin is false flag. Bacteria not not have sex but they do share DNA through viruses and plasmids. So you do not have on cell line doing all the evolving…you have them all doing it and then sharing.

      1. There’s also no reason to believe that it started with only one cell to begin with. If there was a process that created a cell, why would it necessarily only create ONE cell? It probably happened more than once, perhaps even within a short span of time.

        For all we know, this process may even still be occurring somewhere on this planet. I’m betting the conditions for it don’t exist all over anymore though.

  5. Believing that Jesus rode a dinosaur makes a person an uneducated idiot, but believing that the internal combustion engine causes polar bears to drown makes you brilliant and educated.

      1. Indeed. I wonder how many people will be able to recognize and understand the irony though.

  6. while 33 percent say that they existed in their present forms since the beginning of time.

    What is this heresy? Can’t people count? From the Big Bang to the creation of man, at least 144 hours, six days, must have occurred.

    Why so many people invest so much of themselves to a book that lies to you every chance the authors get boggles the mind almost as much as an Obama presidency.

    1. Genesis does not define what a ‘day’ is. Different cultures have different ways of keeping time, so why not the Almighty?

      I’m not defending a literal interpretation of Genesis, only that it isn’t necessary to take such a literal interpretation to still believe in that first sentence: in the beginning, God created the Heavens and the Earth.

      1. It says six days, if the authors wanted to say eons, or higher orders of magnitude, they already had that concept at their disposal to do so. If you have to invent a rationale to get you there, you are not really seeking truth.

      2. I hope you don’t debate Constitutional interpretation with that mouth.

      3. But funny how they never need to come up with these “non-literal interpretations” until science and rationality come along to show how the text, as written, is full of shit, huh? If “day” doesn’t mean “day” but might mean “millions of years”, why should anyone take any damn word of the book at face value?

        1. Exactly. Which is why Ken Ham and his ilk put so much effort into proving that Noah could indeed have built that ark.

        2. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.

          –Matthew 5:29,30

          Does the fact that Jesus uses hyperbole diminish the truth of this statement or any of his other teaches taught using metaphor or parable?

          1. Believing that the Bible is the literal word of God means believing that Jesus spoke those words, not that Jesus only ever spoke literally and without metaphor, parable or flourish.

            The literalists have no such defense in Genesis.

          2. Because of course there are such similarities between the Old Testament and the New Testament in both their origination, purpose, and message.

            Because of course relating the story of a person who teaches a parable is the same as claiming that the historical work of the Old Testament is parable. Or at least, it’s parable when it’s convenient to argue it as such.

            Of course.

          3. There is absolutely no reason to believe that’s hyperbole.

            If it is in fact true that either eternal damnation or eternal reward will be handed out to us at the Last Judgment, then if your right eye causes you to sin it’s entirely reasonable to gouge it out.

            In fact, it would be absurdly foolish of you not to. Whatever pain that act would cause would be utterly irrelevant compared to your first billion years of hell…after which you’d still have an eternity in hell to go.

          4. You’re right. His teachings were pretty decent, and you can take them as he intended.

            But there’s more to the Bible than Jesus’s teachings, and considering all of that to be received truth from God is what’s in dispute. The Flood didn’t happen, nor did the Sun get stopped in the sky.

          5. Believing that the Bible is the literal word of God means believing that Jesus spoke those words, not that Jesus only ever spoke literally and without metaphor, parable or flourish.

            No, it means that everything in the Bible is endorsed by God as divine truth. So when Jesus said this you can be sure that it is whole and pleasing to God.

            The literalists have no such defense in Genesis.

            I can’t speak for the literalists because I am not one of them. But you don’t need to reject science to think there is an essential, divine truth in Genesis regarding the concept of Creation.

            There is absolutely no reason to believe that’s hyperbole.

            If it is in fact true that either eternal damnation or eternal reward will be handed out to us at the Last Judgment, then if your right eye causes you to sin it’s entirely reasonable to gouge it out.

            In fact, it would be absurdly foolish of you not to. Whatever pain that act would cause would be utterly irrelevant compared to your first billion years of hell…after which you’d still have an eternity in hell to go.

            Then how come none of the disciples self-mutilated themselves? All of them were sinners and continued to sin even after accepting Christ.

            Surely that would have ended up being recorded somewhere, either as an accepted practice or a heretical, misguided practice the likes of which Paul and the other Apostles attempted to correct in their epistles.

            1. But you don’t need to reject science to think there is an essential, divine truth in Genesis regarding the concept of Creation.

              No, you just have to reject the parts that most rational people think are silly and accept the parts you agree with.

              If you aren’t a literalist, then what are you even arguing about? Only they are offended when someone points out that Genesis is an didactic metaphor rather than a physics textbook.

            2. Then how come none of the disciples self-mutilated themselves? All of them were sinners and continued to sin even after accepting Christ.

              They must not have thought that their right eyes were leading them into sin, then.

              Or they were weaklings and cowards.

              Or they were con men who didn’t actually believe in eternal reward or punishment in the hereafter.

              I can think of lots of reasons.

              It doesn’t change the fact that if there’s eternal reward and punishment, an admonition to gouge out your eye if it will lead you to eternal punishment is not hyperbole. It’s simple math. A < infinity is true for all non-infinite A’s.

              1. Also, if it was just a metaphor, all those guys big in the mortification of the flesh didn’t pick up on it? Especially Origen. He cut his penis off so he wouldn’t commit the sin of lust.

          6. I’m not exactly a big fan of the kind of truth relativism that you are engage in here. A parable is a story to tell a point. The function of a creation myth is to establish a creed as inseparable from the fabric of reality. If they are incorrect, than the creed itself is fundamentally flawed, and that reflects on everything in it that comes after, which is true as well of the example you give. Or else, do you believe Jesus didn’t believe in Hell, but only used it for metaphor?

          7. Yes. Especially when it starts to obfuscate the core issue here – does Hell exist or not.

            If Hell *doesn’t exist then you’re a damn idiot for gouging out your eye.

      4. The bible is the clear and true word of God (except when it isn’t).

  7. I’m thinking most people don’t give the creation of humans much thought, so when asked they default to their religion. Otherwise, it would take a lot of thinking and asking questions that may make them rethink some of their religious views, and that’s scary to some.

    1. it would take a lot of thinking and asking questions

      Faith does not involve any of that. Faith is outcome based. You assume what you need to assume, and then think forward.

      So I don’t think it’s scary to most Fundamentalists. The whole notion of “proving God” can be ignored because it is only a question of an unbeliever. And you need to Believe to have the outcomes you desire.

  8. My only problem with this poll is how Team Blue members will interpret this as a blanket confirmation of their own belief system. If it gives them the strength to go on living in spite of all the evidence to the contrary that that is a wise decision than it is a methodically flawed poll.

  9. How many polled would agree that human evolution has accelerated since the advent of agriculture, though not at a uniform rate in every place?

    OK, few would even understand that question, but still…

    1. Evolution or de-evolution?

      Our pre-agricultral ancestors (Cro-Magnon and Neanderthal) had stronger bodies and larger brains. Once we became domesticated, we went the same way as wolves, and buffalo – weaker bodies, color changes, and smaller brains (in dogs, cattle, and modern people).

      As soon as nature or man starts to select for reproduction individuals who can get along with people (domestication), rather than wild survival traits, lots of other changes take place.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gAnVS27WODg#t=2345

      1. Domestication is a survival trait.

        Last time I checked, the dogs were surviving a lot better than the wolves.

        Hell, wheat is probably the most successful organism ever, in terms of its survival skills. It got us to transport it all over the world! We are wheat’s lowly slaves.

        The entire concept of de-evolution is a misnomer. We lived, the Neanderthals didn’t. That means they were unfit, regardless of their brain size.

      2. There is no such thing as de-evolution, only adaptation to changing circumstances. Evolution has only one direction, that of time’s arrow. Assessing that a species has regressed is a value judgement only.

        1. To expand: You might think that bigger brains or more strength is better. They may be if all other things are equal. But other things are never equal. Fitness is self-fulfilling. If you survived, you were fit.

      3. Gah, I hate the term devolution, but humans changing from being fit to live a mostly *individual* live to being fit to live in closer proximity and better utilize inter and intra-species co-operation is clearly a ‘better’ outcome.

        However, the problem with the difference between ‘evolution’ and ‘devolution’ is in how you define ‘a better outcome’ – its dependent upon an *intelligence* to give meaning to it.

        1. Cro-mags and Neanderthals did not read.

          I don’t know if i am smarter but my brain sure is happier that it can read.

          Maybe large chunks of my intelligence exist outside my head but i can guarantee it is a shit load more then the dull dirt filled lives of cro-mags and neanderthals had access to.

        2. Better as defined by who? What objective criteria are there for “better”? Value is subjective, and thus any idea of “progression/regression” or “forward/backward” only makes sense in the context of one’s values, not the processes of evolution.

      4. larger brains.

        Whales have larger brains…they still get caught up in nets and suicide on beaches.

        1. You know who else committed suicide?

    2. Evolution *doesn’t accelerate or decelerate. Evolution doesn’t go forward or backward. There is no such thing as devolution.

      The only thing that can accelerate here is the rate of mutation.

      1. …no. Selection pressures can be enforced more quickly.

    3. Haha! And here we have a riddle!

      Who argues a position that has no evidence in support of it, who’s argument is entirely made by demanding their opponent’s evidence leap ever higher and more ridiculous obstacles, and isn’t a creationist?

      Ok now, the line for burning torches is on the left, pitchforks on the right. No shoving! There’s plenty for everyone!

  10. Very few people actually know that evolution is true- knowing meaning that one came to that conclusion after examining the evidence. Most people who believe in evolution merely believe so because popular culture accepted it.

    A similar thing is probably true given belief in general relativity. Most people do not have time to go through all of Einstein’s equations to make sure he did not forget to carry the 3.

  11. If an individual philosophically accepts the notions of Free Will, Self Determination, and Liberty, how can this individual logically rationalize believing in a theistic creation myth, or intelligent design ? Also how can a progressive atheist, who accepts Evolution rationalize using proselytization, and coercion on others who do not share their views ?
    I can understand intelligent design applied to cosmology, chemistry, and physics. Biology, and evolution, not so much.
    Also because Jesus riding dinosaurs. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EBbRYz-C18o

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