Only 1 in 5 Americans believe in natural evolution (while most of the rest believe God had something to do with it)
- 21% of those polled believe God played no part in mankind’s evolution
- Some 25% believe God guided evolution; and 37% believe in creationism
- Proportion of Americans leaning towards pure evolution belief is rising
- Trend expected to continue – young people tend to lean towards this belief
By HELEN COLLIS
PUBLISHED: 06:45 EST, 23 July 2013 | UPDATED: 07:09 EST, 23 July 2013
Just a fifth of Americans believe that humans evolved naturally over millions of years, while the vast majority believe that God had a hand in the evolution of humans, according to new research.
According to a YouGov poll, 21 per cent of U.S. citizens believe that ‘human beings evolved from less advanced life forms over millions of years, and God did not directly guide this process’.
Meanwhile, 79 per cent of those polled said they either believe God played a part in our existence (the largest sector at 62 per cent) or were not sure (17 per cent).
Believers: The number of people who believe in pure evolution is on the rise in the U.S. but those who think God played a part still account for the vast majority – 62 per cent
A quarter of the 1,000 people polled said they believed mankind evolved from more primitive life forms but that ‘God guided the process’.
And a further 37 per cent said they believe that ‘God created human beings in their present form within the last ten thousand years’.
The findings in fact show a trend towards a greater proportion of Americans believing in the theory of evolution, as opposed to the theory of creationism.
Eight years ago, the same poll found that only 13 per cent of Americans believed they evolved without the guidance of God; that figure rose to 15 per cent in 2008.
According to the research and consulting organisation, the upward trend is also likely to continue, since young people tend to lean more towards the theory of evolution than older generations.
In the latest survey, 31 per cent of 18-29-year-olds said they believed God played no part in their evolution.
In schools, however, the nation remains divided on how to teach children of mankind’s evolution.
The YouGov researchers asked a second question concerning creationism (the religious belief that the universe was created by a supernatural force) and intelligent design, a form of creationism that argues against natural selection, attributing evolution instead to an intelligent cause.
The poll found that 40 per cent favour teaching creationism and intelligent design, while 32 per cent opposed such teachings, and 29 per cent were not sure.
Not surprisingly, the vast majority (83 per cent) of those describing themselves as atheist were opposed to the idea, while those who cited a religion were far more likely to support it, particularly Mormons (76 per cent), Protestants (52 per cent) and Roman Catholics (42 per cent).
In the political arena, the survey found that 57 per cent of Republicans favoured teaching creationism and intelligent design in public schools, versus just 30 per cent among Democrats.
Meanwhile, just five per cent of Republicans supported the theory of a natural, Godless, evolution.
The findings show a remarkable shift in beliefs in the U.S. since a renowned Tennessee court case 88 years ago, which charged school teacher John Scopes with teaching evolution, which was at the time against the law in the state.
Scopes lost the trial, according to YouGov, but the case raised the profile and support for the argument to teach evolution in schools.
To read the poll results, click here.