|Most Americans believe it all
starts in heaven: 64 percent of us agree that "human beings were
created directly by God," according to a Harris poll released
yesterday. The belief was pronounced along partisan divides:
- 73 percent of Republican respondents believe God is the ultimate
- 75 percent of conservatives believe God is the ultimate Creator.
- 58 percent among Democrats believe God is the ultimate Creator.
- 48 percent among liberals believe God is the ultimate Creator.
The poll found that while college graduates, adults ages 18 to 54,
Democrats, liberals and those living in the Northeast and West support
"evolution in larger numbers ... among these groups, majorities
believe in creationism."
Among college graduates, for example, the poll found that almost half
believe in creationism, while 31 percent supported evolutionary theory.
Debates over the divide make for piquant politics in the public arena.
In recent years, school districts in Kansas, Pennsylvania, Alabama and
other states have wrangled over science and religion in the classroom,
the debate further compounded by the rise of a third theory --
"intelligent design," which maintains that humans are so
complex that a powerful, sentient force is logically behind their
Harris found that 10 percent of Americans believed in that particular
Yet the nation still supports free choice in the classroom. A majority
-- 55 percent -- felt that creationism, evolutionary and intelligent
design all had a place in public schools. Just less than a quarter said
creationism alone should be taught, while 12 percent favored evolution
only and 4 percent intelligent design only.
Meanwhile, 54 percent of us do not think that humans developed from an
earlier species, a figure which stood at 46 percent in 1994, according
to Harris. Another 48 percent felt that Charles Darwin's theory of
evolution was not proven by fossil evidence, while 47 percent said
humans and apes do not share common ancestry.
Simian heritage was a more popular theory among Democrats, however.
According to the poll, 61 percent of Democrats think man and ape evolved
from the same family tree, an idea shared by 30 percent of the
The poll found that 49 percent felt that plants and animals had evolved
from some other species, however.
Such things fuel spirited discourse.
Yesterday, for example, the Tulsa Park and Recreation Board in Oklahoma
dropped plans to include a privately funded creationism exhibit at the
Tulsa Zoo despite protests from Mayor Bill LaFortune.
The board, which had previously approved the exhibit, had received a
2,000-signature petition from a group called "Friends of Religion
and Science" protesting the idea.
A vexed Mr. LaFortune, however, pointed out that while Hindu and
American Indian beliefs were represented at the zoo, the
"traditional Biblical creation story" had been excluded. In
the name of fairness, the mayor recommended those exhibits be removed.
The Harris poll of 1,000 adults was conducted June 17-21, with a
sampling error of three percentage points.
Other polls have shown similar results. A CBS News poll of 885 adults
released in November found that 55 percent believe God created humans in
their present form while 13 percent felt that God did not guide the
process. Two-thirds felt that creationism and evolution should both be
taught in public schools.
SOURCE: Article by Jennifer Harper ("The
Washington Times," July 8, 2005)
Disclaimer: BHC does
not endorse or adhere to views or opinions expressed in the articles
posted. This is purely an information site, to inform interested parties
of religious trends.