William Saletan in Slate:
In a dozen polls taken from 1982 to 2014, Gallup has asked Americans to choose among three views of evolution. One view is that humans “developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God guided this process.” Another view is that humans “developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God had no part in this process.” The third option is that “God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so.” In that three-decade span, the young-Earth creationist option has always been the most popular choice. The percentage of respondents who affirm it has never fallen below 40. These findings, along with similar poll numbers, often alarm scientists, journalists, and educators. Nearly half of Americans, if not more, seem to be hardcore creationists.
But they aren’t. A new study, sponsored by the BioLogos Foundation and conducted by Calvin College sociologist Jonathan Hill, explores beliefs about evolution and creation in greater detail. The results show far more nuance, variation, and doubt than is commonly supposed. Most Americans do believe God created us. But the harder you press about historical claims in the Bible, the less confident people are. The percentage who stand by young-Earth creationism dwindles all the way to 15 percent. The survey, taken last summer and released on Tuesday, asked more than 3,000 people a range of questions about human origins. At Slate’s request, Hill provided detailed data and cross-tabulations on several questions. We’ve lined up the numbers here, from the most to least popular statements, to show how the poll numbers decline as you press people about their confidence in specific aspects of creationism.