EVOLUTION IN A NEW HARRIS POLL

(from NCSE’s Evolution education update: December 18, 2009)  A recent Harris poll included questions on evolution and creationism, with unsurprising results. According to Harris’s report, those surveyed were given a list of topics—including God, miracles, heaven, Jesus as God or the son of God, angels, survival of the soul after death, the resurrection of Jesus, Hell, the virgin birth, the Devil, “Darwin’s theory of evolution,” ghosts, creationism, UFOs, astrology, witches, and reincarnation—and asked, “Please indicate for each one if you believe in it, or not.” For evolution, 45% of respondents indicated that they believed in it, 32% indicated that they don’t believe in it, and 22% indicated that they were not sure.  For creationism, 40% of respondents indicated that they believed in it, 30% indicated that they don’t believe in it, and 30% indicated that they were not sure.

The results varied by religion: 51% of Catholics, 32% of Protestants, 80% of Jews, and 16% of born-again Christians believed in Darwin’s theory of evolution, while 37% of Catholics, 56% of Protestants, 20% of Jews, and 68% of born-again Christians believed in creationism.  Overall, the results were basically unchanged from 2007, when 42% of respondents believed in evolution and 39% of respondents believed in creationism. The poll was conducted on-line on November 2 and 11, 2009, among 2303 adults in the United States; figures were weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. “Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel,” the report explains, “no estimates of theorical sampling error can be calculated.”

Previous reports and analyses of polls on NCSE’s website and in Reports of the NCSE include a report on a 2002 poll of the views of Ohio scientists with regard to “intelligent design,” Otis Dudley Duncan and Claudia Geist’s “The Creationists: How Many, Who, and Where?”, Glenn Branch’s “The Latest Polls on Creationism and Evolution” (summarizing the polls of 2004), George Bishop’s “Polls Apart on Human Origins” (reprinted from Public Opinion Pros), a report on a 2008 poll on public opinion in Canada, and a report on the British Council’s 2009 poll of public opinion in ten countries. NCSE plans in 2010 to add a special section of its website to summarize and collect such reports and analyses, so stay tuned!

For Harris’s report (PDF), visit:

http://www.harrisinteractive.com/harris_poll/pubs/Harris_Poll_2009_12_15.pdf

For the cited reports and analyses, visit:

http://ncse.com/creationism/general/ohio-scientists-intelligent-design-poll

http://ncse.com/rncse/24/5/creationists

http://ncse.com/rncse/24/5/latest-polls-creationism-evolution

http://www.publicopinionpros.norc.org/features/2006/aug/bishop.asp

http://ncse.com/news/2008/08/polling-creationism-canada-001375

http://ncse.com/news/2009/07/opinions-evolution-from-ten-countries-004885

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