Some Pastors Preach Evolution, but Americans Are as Anti-Darwin as Ever

A Pew report shows that Americans' opinions about evolution have remained steady over time.

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By Dan Gilgoff, God & Country

NPR religion correspondent Barbara Bradley Haggerty has a wonderful story up about Evolution Weekend, an annual worldwide event in which pro-Darwin religious leaders speak from the pulpit about what they say is the compatibility between evolution and religion. More than 1,000 congregations are participating this year.

The one problem with the NPR piece is that it implies there's a shift toward acceptance of evolution among religious folks, with lines like this:

Tim Bagwell, pastor of Centenary United Methodist Church in Macon, Ga., says that even in the Bible Belt there's a quiet shift away from literalism.

Actually, no. Americans' rejection of Darwin's ideas have remained remarkably constant over time.

A new Pew report shows that in 1982, 9 percent of Americans believed in an evolutionary process in which God played no role, 38 percent believed in God-guided evolution, and 44 percent believed that God created human beings in their present form within the last 10,000 years or so.

Today, the numbers are almost identical. According to a Pew poll last year, 14 percent of Americans believe in an evolutionary process in which God played no role, 36 percent believe in God-guided evolution, and 44 percent believe God created humans as-is within the course of recent history. There was a jump in supporters of evolution without God's guidance, but I'm guessing those aren't the religious folks.