A new Gallup poll reveals that 40 percent of Americans believe in creationism – that is, that God created humans in their present form about 10,000 years ago.
The statistic marks a slight decrease compared to years past such as in 2008 when 44 percent reported believing in strict creationism. But Gallup notes that it is the lowest statistic it has ever recorded in the history of asking the question since 1982.
Meanwhile, the percentage of Americans who believe humans evolved over millions of years, without God's involvement, has crept up from 14 percent in 2008 to 16 percent in 2010. Nearly 30 years ago, only 9 percent believed in "secular evolution."
Meanwhile, the percentage of those who hold the "theistic evolution" view, that God guided a process by which humans developed over millions of years, has remained steady at 38 percent.
Americans who attend church regularly are most likely to hold the strict creationist view, with 60 percent of weekly church attenders saying humans were created in their present form within the last 10,000 years.
Those who attend church almost every week or monthly are more likely to agree with theistic evolution (47 percent) compared to the other views. And Americans who seldom or never attend church are more likely to say God guided the process of evolution (39 percent).
The poll, released Friday, also found that views vary by level of education.
Nearly half (49 percent) of postgraduates agree with theistic evolution and a quarter agree with secular evolution. Among college graduates, 38 percent believe in theistic evolution and 37 percent believe in strict creationism.
Americans with some college education and those with just a high school degree or less are most likely to hold the strict creationism view, when compared to those with a higher level of education.
Though the creationist viewpoint has become slightly less popular, overall, Gallup notes that scientists continue to be surprised that four out of 10 Americans hold that viewpoint. And the decreases over the past few decades have been very small.
Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Dec. 10-12, 2010, with a random sample of 1,019 adults, aged 18 and older,