What do Americans Believe about Origins, According to the Polls?

"By the word of the LORD were the heavens made;
and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth."
(Psalm 33:6)

For decades opinion polls have consistently revealed that a majority of Americans believe in some form of creation, while only a small minority fully embrace evolution. Thus, it was of interest to see the results of a nationwide poll (November-December, 1999) commissioned by the ultra-liberal People for the American Way (PAW), whose anti-creation views are well known.

I first learned of this story when a newspaper reporter from Kansas phoned me for my opinion. She had just received the 54-page news release from PAW and was writing an article. I had not seen the document, but as she read the questions and analysis to me, Paw's overriding bias became clear to both of us. Even in spite of constructed questions, some very interesting results unfolded.

Before discussing the results, let me mention flaws in the survey. The poll repeatedly portrayed creation thinking ("creationism") as a religious belief as opposed to the "scientific" truth of evolution. How should one respond when asked if they want religious beliefs taught as science in public school classrooms?

The poll never defined evolution, never differentiating between adaptation, natural selection, mutations, etc. (sometimes called microevolution, which all creationists accept), and large-scale macroevolution, i.e., fish to man. The idea that man evolved from the apes was deemed a wrong view of evolution, for knowledgeable evolutionists hold that man really evolved from "an apelike ancestor," not an ape (even though the human ancestor most recognized, means "southern ape").

One question was about the Kansas State Board of Education's decision to "remove evolution from their state science standards," but the KBOE did no such thing. They did remove macroevolution from its proposed status as a "unifying principle" in science, but left all the actual "evolution" intact.

One conclusion drawn was that people are confused over this issue and what they believe on both sides. Actually, it was the pollsters who are confused. I am very familiar with both sides and on most of the questions, none of the answers reflected my views, while the questions contained error. Nowhere would I have been allowed to state my preference that the secular scientific information favoring creation and contradicting evolution be allowed.

Nevertheless, it is instructive to note that only 5% of these Americans accepted evolution theory as "fully accurate," and another 22% accepted it as "mostly accurate." Meanwhile, 21% considered it "completely not accurate," and another 8% considered it "mostly not accurate." The real question is: How has this 5% minority of aggressive evolutionists come to fully control the public school system, including the writing of textbooks and teacher credentialing? What can be done to allow a more mainstream view back in?

America still awaits a polling effort with unambiguous, unbiased, revealing questions. For what it's worth, ICR stands ready to help prepare such a poll, and we would welcome the results.

Cite this article: John D. Morris, Ph.D. 2000. What do Americans Believe about Origins, According to the Polls?. Acts & Facts. 29 (5).


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