Americans still hold faith in divine creation

Much of the nation still takes stock in the book of Genesis.

Eight out of 10 Americans believe God guided creation in some capacity. A Gallup Poll reveals that 46 percent think God created man in his present form sometime in the past 10,000 years, while 36 percent say man developed over millions of years from lesser life forms, but God guided the process.

Only 13 percent of Americans think mankind evolved with no divine intervention.

“There has been surprisingly little change over the last 24 years in how Americans respond,” pollster Frank Newport said.

The survey marks the seventh time that Gallup has queried Americans about creation beliefs. Since 1982, between 44 percent and 47 percent have consistently agreed that God created man “as is,” while between 35 percent and 40 percent said man evolved with God’s guidance. The idea of strict evolution without God has proved the least popular, cited by 9 percent to 13 percent of the respondents over the years.

The beliefs intensify among certain demographics. The survey found that 56 percent of Republican respondents, compared with 43 percent of Democrats, said God created humans in their present form. Church attendance held sway over the partisan groups. Among Republicans who attended services weekly, the number rose to 67 percent. Among churchgoing Democrats, it rose to 57 percent.

Findings were similar in the overall population.

“Almost two-thirds of Americans who attend church at least once a week believe that humans were created ‘as is’ within the last 10,000 years or so, compared to just 29 percent of those who say they never attend church,” Mr. Newport said.

“About three-quarters of those with a postgraduate degree say humans developed over millions of years from less-advanced forms of life, while 22 percent chose the ‘created in present form’ option,” he said.

Things were more or less in the middle for those who attended church once a month, with 50 percent saying mankind developed from other life forms and 45 percent citing creation by God.

Women edged out men for their creationism beliefs. More than half of women, 51 percent, compared with 39 percent of men, said God created man in present form. Age also played a role. Fifty-one percent of respondents older than 65 believe in the role of God in creation. That compared with 43 percent of those 50 to 64 years old, 49 percent of those 30 to 49, and 43 percent of those 18 to 29.

The findings are based on two polls of 1,001 adults, each conducted May 8 to 11 this year and Nov. 7 to 10, 2004, with a margin of error of two percentage points.

Other polls had similar findings. A Pew poll of 2,000 adults released in August revealed that 42 percent held strict creationist views, while 48 percent said humans evolved over time — 18 percent of the sample said the process was “guided by a supreme being.” Two-thirds of the group were open to teaching creationism in schools.

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