Gallup has run the following poll about US views of “creation of humans” nearly every year since 1982. The choices are:
1. God created mankind in its present form some time within the last 10,000 years.
2. Mankind evolved, but God guided the process
3. Mankind developed, but God had no part in the process
As of this writing, the percent of responses favoring choice #1 has hit a new low.
What’s missing from these choices? Unfortunately, there’s no choice for, “Mankind developed by natural processes that were God’s plan all along”. For those of us who believe this, some will likely respond with choice #2, while others will respond with #3.
Choice #1 seems to indicate an endorsement of young-Earth creationism. However, it could also include those creationists who believe that the Earth and universe are millions or billions of years old but that humans are a recent “special creation”. This was actually the dominant view among creationists before the rise of Fundamentalism in the 1920s. For example, the popular Scofield Reference Bible promoted “gap theory”, which presumed a large gap of time between Genesis 1:1 and all of the following verses in the first chapter of Genesis. The idea was that the first verse encapsulated millions of years of history and accounted for most of the geologic record, whereas the rest of the verses showed God remaking creation anew in six days. It may sound odd today, but some variant of an “old Earth, new humans” was the most widely held belief among evangelical Christians from the 1700s through the early 1900s. It was accepted by Charles Spurgeon, the prominent evangelical preacher, and by William Jennings Bryan, the creationist prosecutor in the Scopes Trial. These days, however, most people who believe that humans are a recent creation also believe that the entire universe is only five days older than Adam.
Choice #2 could either be interpreted as evolutionary creationism or as intelligent design, for the subset of intelligent design supporters who accept common descent but believe God had to supernaturally guide it.
The most potential for confusion arises from the fact that #3 is not clearly endorsing atheism. Choice #3 does mention God and is phrased in such a way that it, when compared with #2, could be interpreted as “the process was natural, but God didn’t have to guide it; He set up the process just fine from the beginning, thank you.”
Do you see the dilemma for evolutionary creationists?
How would you respond?
We hope and pray that the rise in #3 is indicative of more evolutionary creationists and science-accepting Christians rather than a rise in atheism or deism. In any case, these statistics clearly show a drop in those who believe in young-Earth creationism.
Here is Gallup’s own article describing the details of their poll.