Survey: The number of Republicans who believe in human evolution has declined
A visitor looks at an exhibit comparing Neanderthals to Homo sapiens, part of the 'Evolving Planet' exhibit at the Field Museum March 7, 2006 in Chicago, Illinois.
December 30th, 2013
03:27 PM ET
4 years ago

Survey: The number of Republicans who believe in human evolution has declined

Washington (CNN) – A growing partisan divide is emerging between Republicans and Democrats on human evolution, according to a poll by the Pew Research Center.

Forty-eight percent of self-identified Republicans told Pew in a study released Monday that they believe humans "existed in their present form since the beginning of time." On the contrary, 43% of Republicans said the opposite, that they believed humans "have evolved over time."

That is a sizable shift from 2009, the last time Pew asked the question. In that survey, a majority of Republicans – 54% – told Pew they believed in human evolution.

The percentage of Democrats who believe in human evolution, on the other hand, grew in the last four years. Two-thirds (67%) said they believe in human evolution, compared to 27% who said they didn't.

In 2009, the number of Democrats who said humans evolved over time was 64%.

"I didn't expect to see that kind of shift," said Cary Funk, the senior researcher at Pew who oversaw the study. "I think it basically fits with a pattern of growing polarization. And we see that on some other science issues."

Despite the fact that most scientists agree that the Earth is 4.5 billion years old, the universe is 13.7 billion years old and that humans have evolved over time, not everyone agrees. According to the Pew poll, 60% of Americans believe humans have evolved over time, compared to 33% who said they have not – a number that has remained constant since 2009.

The latter belief is particularly strong among white evangelical Protestants, many of whom read the Biblical creation account in Genesis literally: The six days in the account are strictly 24-hour periods and leave no room for evolution. Sixty-four percent of white evangelical protestants and 50% of black protestants believe humans have not evolved, according to the poll.

The idea of creationism has been scorned by the mainstream scientific community since shortly after Charles Darwin introduced "The Origin of Species" in 1859. By 1880, The American Naturalists, a science journal, reported nearly every major university in America was teaching evolution.

For Funk, the Republican shift was surprising and led the researchers to check the numbers by controlling the data against racial and ethnic divides between the two parties. Even still, Funk said, the divide on human evolution between Democrats and Republican, as well as the changes in Republican beliefs, persisted.

"Differences in the racial and ethnic composition of Democrats and Republicans or differences in their levels of religious commitment do not wholly explain partisan differences in beliefs about evolution," read the Pew report. "Indeed, the partisan differences remain even when taking these other characteristics into account."

The Pew report is based on telephone interview conducted between March 21 – April 8, 2013 with a sample size of 1,983 adults. The survey has a sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.

Filed under: Polls • Republicans
soundoff (70 Responses)
  1. just saying

    liberals are living proof we are devolving, not evolving.

    December 30, 2013 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  2. HoleN1

    No surprise here.Teatrolls have regressed as a species. Have you not seen Duck Dynasty, Ted Cruz, Sara Palin or read Donna and Rick McDaniels comments?

    December 30, 2013 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  3. Rudy NYC

    Despite the fact that most scientists agree that the Earth is 4.5 billion years old, the universe is 13.7 billion years old and that humans have evolved over time, not everyone agrees.
    Even the late, great Pope John Paul II accepted those facts, including Big Bang Theory.

    The problem for Republicans is a very simple one. They've painted themselves into a philosophical corner. They want to project an image of themselves as orthodox Christians, believing that the Earth is just a few thousand years old. They've also realized that holding that belief precludes them from believing other mainstream scientific facts. It has a ripple effect.

    They cannot believe in climate change because that would mean that they would have to accept ice ages occurring every 100,000 years. They cannot accept human evolution because that, too, would mean accepting an Earth that has existed for far more than several thousand years. Everyone that I've spoken to about dinosaur bones denies them as fakes.

    December 30, 2013 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  4. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House -aka- No Redemption Votes

    If you think the earth was created 6,000 years ago, then you have issues!

    December 30, 2013 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  5. truth hurts but reality bites

    I am still waiting for your apology Tampa Timmie. Be a man for once in your life and apologize for your false statements.

    December 30, 2013 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  6. Malory Archer

    just saying

    liberals are living proof we are devolving, not evolving.


    It's difficult to argue with your statement as when you put the two side by side, liberals ARE living proof that cons are devolving.

    December 30, 2013 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  7. Steve, New York City

    Wow – pretty amazing. At least 43% of the surveyed GOP respondents were the ones that actually paid attention in science classes and/or are non-evangelicals. Any mention of australopithecus afarensis to the above 48%, and they'd probably try to punch you because they'd think that your uttering a satanic verse.

    December 30, 2013 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  8. HoleN1

    Just look at the picture of Rep. Grimm for example. Look at his head structure....

    December 30, 2013 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  9. Donna

    Dominican mama 4 Obama
    Good one Gary!
    The very best of the Benghazi New Year to you!!

    Nice, real nice. Now the deaths of four Americans is a joke to the leftist lunatics. It appears there is no depth you all will sink to. Truly a sad and pathetic bunch.

    December 30, 2013 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  10. Tampa Tim

    It is interesting what the right will believe. Tax cuts for the rich create jobs, government shutdowns are free, unfunded wars don't add to the debt, women need regulating, poor people don't work, minorities should not be allowed to vote, 45 million uninsured is no big deal, war is good, Canada is one of the 50 states but Hawaii is not, Obama was responsible for Bush's Katrina, Mitt Romney killed bin Laden, long form birth certificates are not legal, trickle down economics, etc.

    December 30, 2013 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  11. Tim

    I believe in evolution more than this survey.

    December 30, 2013 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  12. Ol' Yeller

    Fact is, they thought the world was flat- it wasn't.
    They thought the earth was the center of the Universe- it wasn't.
    They thought the sun revolved around the earth- it doesn't.
    They persecuted, imprisoned, and killed blaphemers and heretics for NOT believing these falsehoods.
    Galileo and Copernicus both had to renounce their theories in a court of the Church or face imprisoment and torture.

    If I hadn't evolved I probably wouldn't believe in it either.
    I'd probably believe some old man in the sky did everything...

    December 30, 2013 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  13. Silence DoGood

    GOP: Please get help. The founders of this country were smart, philosophers, scientists, free-thinkers. You insult their work and memories when you act stupid. Ben Franklin should come back from the grave and give you a good talking to.

    "“Mark my word, if and when these preachers get control of the [Republican] party and they’re sure trying to do so, it’s going to be a terrible damn problem. Frankly, these people frighten me. Politics and governing demand compromise. But these Christians believe they are acting in the name of God, so they can’t and won’t compromise. I know, I’ve tried to deal with them.”
    ~ conservative Barry Goldwater, November 1994

    December 30, 2013 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  14. IA

    TEA..Taxed Enough Already...What an insane idea?!?!?. Pure and Simple! Comments from the left....Please. I know this has nothing to do about Evolution,but.....the lefties on these blogs are always referring to TEA Party members as Teatrolls, so its fair to ask why Taxed Enogh Already is such an insane idea. Spin me lefties!

    December 30, 2013 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  15. Lolo

    So I guess this means that they do not believe in a higher power known as God then. They really are hypocrits masquerading as Christians. Well Gollee!!!!!

    December 30, 2013 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  16. Ol' Yeller

    "... or read Donna and Rick McDaniels comments?"

    Belly laugh, HoleN1.... belly laugh.

    December 30, 2013 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  17. A True Conservative

    Really CNN? I'm a conservative. University educated in a STEM discipline with an advanced degree. Are you really going to continue to crap like this? Have you ever heard of Theistic evolution? You know, like what was originally described by Darwin? Are we al going to continue to read about how the climate is changing.....just as it always has? But for some reason it's now the fault of mankind? The ignorance demonstrated by the "enlightened" left is astounding! BTW HoleN1 has is right to a point.....he is a hole......

    December 30, 2013 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  18. Biotechdev

    WOW – CNN is really scraping the bottom of the barrel to divert attention from Obamacare

    December 30, 2013 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  19. ThinkAgain

    @just saying: "liberals are living proof we are devolving, not evolving."

    Your inability to write proper English and post anything more than right-wing talking points proves GOP/tea bag followers are desperate, scared and pretty darn dim to continue to vote against their own self-interest.

    December 30, 2013 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  20. Smitty

    @Rudy, you are why people hate New York

    December 30, 2013 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  21. ThinkAgain

    Genesis doesn't contradict evolution; in fact, it describes it perfectly, albeit in simpler terms that reflect not just the understanding of the world at the time, but the oral tradition of history before printing was wide-spread.

    Genesis describes the Big Bang ("And God said, let there be light.").
    Evolution: Sea and land, sea creatures first, land creatures next in growing complexity, humans (the most evolved) last.

    Speaking of which, according to Genesis, women were created after men; therefore, we're the most evolved: God made us and said, "Got it right!" 🙂

    December 30, 2013 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  22. Gurgyl

    @holeN1' could we add just saying too in that list. I am doing Benghazi fine, how are you...

    December 30, 2013 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  23. ThinkAgain

    My favorite is when folks like Rick Santorum – whose daughter wouldn't be alive without specialized medical treatment – slam higher education (going to college) and call anyone with an advance degree "elitist."

    December 30, 2013 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  24. ThinkAgain

    @HoleN1: Speaking of the Quacks, those folks need to grow a pair and do an episode showing the world what they looked like before they decided to grow out their hair and sport long beards so they could pretend to be stereotypes and sucker in the hillbilly wannabes.

    Check out the Internet: It's full of photos of the Quacks showing them as the yuppie metro millionaires they were and are – laughing at all the gullible rubes on their way to the bank.

    December 30, 2013 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  25. Name jk. Sfl. GOP CRUZ lee&rubio 24billion dallar LOSS of your tax money conservatives,the garbage of America.

    The GOP spokesman jam dal said they were the party of stupid, what else do I have to say!!! Oh yes, they are also the one trick pony party hiding behind obamacare to hide their incompetence and obstruction. Who would vote for a party full of bs and no ideas and no solutions??? Oh, and then theirs the 24 billion the lost in 16 days , a WORLD RECORD for their incompetence !!!!

    December 30, 2013 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
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