The FINANCIAL -- The percentage of U.S. adults who believe that God created humans in their present form at some time within the last 10,000 years or so -- the strict creationist view -- has reached a new low.
Thirty-eight percent of U.S. adults now accept creationism, while 57% believe in some form of evolution -- either God-guided or not -- saying man developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life.
This is the first time since 1982 -- when Gallup began asking this question using this wording -- that belief in God's direct creation of man has not been the outright most-common response. Overall, roughly three-quarters of Americans believe God was involved in man's creation -- whether that be the creationist view based on the Bible or the view that God guided the evolutionary process, outlined by scientist Charles Darwin and others. Since 1982, agreement with the "secular" viewpoint, meaning humans evolved from lower life forms without any divine intervention, has doubled, according to Gallup.
Americans' Views on Human Creation Related to Education, Religious Preference
Higher education levels are associated with less support for creationism and higher levels of belief in the evolutionary explanation for human origins. Belief in creationism is 21% among those with postgraduate education versus 48% of those with no more than a high school diploma. Agreement with evolution without God's involvement is 31% among postgrads versus 12% among Americans with a high school education or less.
However, even among adults with a college degree or postgraduate education, more believe God had a role in evolution than say evolution occurred without God.
Views by people's religious preferences or lack thereof paint an illuminating picture as well. More Catholics believe that humans evolved but God guided the process (45%) than believe in the creationist viewpoint (37%). Creationism is still the view that half of Protestants and other Christians (50%) hold, but it is not dominant, with 39% saying humans essentially evolved with God's guidance.
As for those with no religious preference, 57% report a belief that does not involve God, while only 9% are creationists. Not surprisingly, 65% of those who attend church weekly believe in the creationist view, while those who attend church less regularly have less consensus on the question of human origins.
Most Americans believe that God had a role in creating human beings, whether in their present form or as part of an evolutionary process over millions of years. But fewer Americans today hold strict creationist views of the origins of humans than at any point in Gallup's trend on the question, and it is no longer the single most popular of the three explanations. Creationism still ties for the leading view, along with the view that evolution was guided by a divine hand. Fewer than one in five Americans hold a secular view of evolution, but that proportion has doubled since the start of this millennium.
Since the Scopes Monkey Trial more than 90 years ago, the inclusion of creationism -- and evolution -- as part of public school curricula has been an ongoing and contentious topic. Often rebranded as "intelligent design," especially as it relates to education, the creationist viewpoint has met defeat in the Supreme Court but continues to surface in curricula across the U.S.
There has been an increase in the percentage of those holding the secularist viewpoint in recent years, which aligns with the scientific belief that has been prevalent in public school teaching since the Scopes Monkey Trial. This push and pull with creationism will undoubtedly continue, as this debate about where humans came from rages on.