New Poll Shows Majority of U.S. Adults Believe in Creationism

A new poll indicates that nearly two-thirds of U.S. adults believe in creationism - the belief that God created human beings.

Harris Interactive® conducted a nationwide survey of 1000 U.S. adults between June 17 and 21, 2005. Of those polled, 64% agreed with the idea of creationism, while approximately 22% supported the basic theory of evolution, that “human beings evolved from earlier species.” Ten percent agreed with the idea of intelligent design, that “human beings are so complex that they required a powerful force or intelligent being to help create them.”

The Harris poll also asked about what should be taught in schools. A majority (55%) of the respondents said that all three theories should be taught in public schools, while only 12% agreed with the teaching of evolution only. A greater percentage of those polled (23%) supported the teaching of creationism only and a fraction (4%) supported intelligent design only.

The percentage of U.S. adults who do not believe in evolution increased from 46% in 1994 to 54% in this year’s survey. Trends in the data indicate that those who agree with creationism tend to be older (55 years or older), from the south, affiliated with Republican and conservative views, and without a college degree.

Those who supported evolution tended to be between ages 18 to 54, from the Northeast and West, affiliated with Democrats and liberal views, and with a college education. The poll also showed that a majority of those who agreed with evolution also believed in creationism. A large number within both the evolution and creationism group supported the teaching of all three ideas in public schools.

These very issues are the topic of debate in several states. The most widely publicized have been the hearings on evolution and intelligent design held in Kansas last May. Officials from the state Board of Education heard testimony from both sides and plan to issue new state science standards later this summer that may or may not incorporate intelligent design.

Pennsylvania legislators have been debating a new bill that will require teachers in public schools to teach intelligent design along with evolution. Recently, representatives from the Seattle-based Discovery Institute, known as an intelligent design think-tank, wrote a letter to the state legislature in opposition to the bill.

These and other debates taking place in the classroom all the way to the courthouse have yet to be decided, evidence that the evolution-creation debate is still as controversial today as it was back in the 1920s when the Scopes Monkey Trial put the teaching of evolution on the stand.