NPR : News

On Evolution, A Widening Political Gap, Pew Says

The divide between Republicans and Democrats on their views of the scientific theory of evolution is widening, according to a new poll released by Pew's Religion & Public Life Project.

The overall percentage of Americans who say "humans and other living things evolved over time" (60 percent) versus those who believe "humans and other living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time" (33 percent) is about the same as it was in a similar poll four years ago. But the political gap has widened substantially.

In 2009, 54 percent of Republicans said they accepted the theory of evolution as true, compared with 64 percent of Democrats. But in the intervening years, opinions appear to have evolved: In the latest poll, nearly half of Republicans (48 percent) believed in a static view of human and animal origins, while just 30 percent of Democrats expressed that point of view. Independents tracked closely with the breakdown for Democrats.

"The gap is coming from the Republicans, where fewer are now saying that humans have evolved over time," says Cary Funk, a Pew senior researcher who conducted the analysis, according to Reuters.

Nearly a quarter (24 percent) of those surveyed by Pew said they believed that a "supreme being guided evolution for the purpose of creating humans and other life in the form it exists today."

According to Pew:

"A majority of white evangelical Protestants (64%) and half of black Protestants (50%) say that humans have existed in their present form since the beginning of time. But in other large religious groups, a minority holds this view. In fact, nearly eight-in-ten white mainline Protestants (78%) say that humans and other living things have evolved over time. Three-quarters of the religiously unaffiliated (76%) and 68% of white non-Hispanic Catholics say the same. About half of Hispanic Catholics (53%) believe that humans have evolved over time, while 31% reject that idea."

Broken down by age, respondents 18-29 years old were about 20 percent more likely to accept evolution as were the 65+ age group. The gap between college graduates (72 percent accepted evolution) and people with a high school diploma or less (51 percent accepted evolution) was also fairly pronounced.

The Pew survey sampled 1,983 respondents, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

As we reported last year, the issue of evolution — in particular in states where there have been high-profile fights over how it is presented in public school classrooms — has increasingly placed members of the scientific community at odds with politicians and local school boards.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Texas Bookseller Picks 3 Summer Reads

Julia Green of Front Street Books recommends Moonlight on Linoleum by Terry Helwig, City of Women by David R. Gillham and The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly.
NPR

He Used To Live On The Streets Of Mumbai. Now, His Cafe Welcomes Everyone

Amin Sheikh's new cafe is a rarity in class-stratified India: It's open to people from all walks of life. Sheikh is a former street child, and so are many of his employees.
NPR

For Many Black Voters, Trump's 'What Do You Have To Lose?' Plea Isn't Enough

Donald Trump promises to help bring jobs and security to black neighborhoods. But his poll numbers with African-Americans are in the low single digits, and many say his message is insulting.
NPR

WATCH: Squishy 'Octobot' Moves Autonomously

The robot designed by a team from Harvard University moves without the help of any rigid parts. Researchers say it is the first proof-of-concept design for an entirely soft, autonomous machine.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.