Teens & creation/evolution: Most see God's handiwork

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--America's public schools may be teaching evolution, but a significant number of teenagers aren't buying it, and an overwhelming majority of them believe that God one way or another was involved in the creation of humanity, according to a new Gallup poll.

The poll of 1,028 teenagers ages 13-17 found that 38 percent don't believe in evolution, believing instead that "God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so." Another 43 percent believe that humans "developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God guided" the process. All total, 81 percent believe that God was somehow involved.

Only 18 percent believe that evolution took place without God playing a role.

Mark Hartwig, a social research analyst for Focus on the Family, said the poll underscores the fact that creation itself points to a creator. Hartwig also serves as a fellow for the Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture.

"You have to be educated into not seeing the design around you in the natural world," he told Baptist Press. "... You have to be either bullied or ... socialized out of it."

The Gallup poll also asked teens their opinion about the evidence behind Darwin's theory of evolution. Only 37 percent said they thought Darwin's theory was "well supported by evidence." Thirty percent said it was "just one of many theories" and one that "has not been well supported by evidence." Thirty-three percent said they did not yet know enough about Darwin's theory to answer the question.

Secularist evolution -- that is, the idea that the universe was created naturally and apart from God -- is a "minority position" among not only teens but also adults, Hartwig said.

Evolution, he noted, has been advocated for years in school textbooks, school classrooms and even in various TV specials -- such as PBS' "Evolution."

"And Americans are still saying, 'No, I don't believe it,'" Hartwig said.

Adults actually are somewhat more likely not to believe in evolution. In a Gallup poll of adults last November, 45 percent said they believed in creationism while 38 percent believed that God guided the process of evolution. Only 13 percent of adults said they believed that evolution occurred without God's guidance.

A CBS News poll in November found an even larger percentage of adults disagreeing with evolution. In that poll, a majority of adults, 55 percent, believed that God created humans in their present form. Twenty-seven percent believed that God guided the process of evolution, while 13 percent believed in a God-less evolution. Sixty-five percent of adults in the CBS poll favored schools teaching both creationism and evolution, while 37 percent said creationism should be taught instead of evolution.

"Education has changed considerably since the famous 'Scopes Monkey Trial,' but the debate about teaching evolution hasn't ended," Gallup's Heather Mason wrote in an online article. "... Data from Gallup Youth Surveys and adult surveys alike reinforce the notion that evolution is far from a foregone conclusion among large numbers of Americans."

Such polls, Hartwig said, are bad news for the academic world and for evolution supporters.

"They're frustrated by it," he said. "They're pulling out their hair over these polls."

The Gallup poll of teenagers, released March 8, was based on telephone interviews and was conducted Jan. 17 to Feb. 6. The Gallup poll of adults was based on telephone interviews with 1,016 adults Nov. 7-10.

The CBS News poll was conducted via telephone Nov. 18-21 among a sample of 885 adults.


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