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
9 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."

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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 means nothing

    My friend, it is the Republicans who are devolving. You made a crucial error there!

    December 30, 2013 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  2. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House -aka- No Redemption Votes

    "It's so simple a caveman can do it" – Geico

    Where do you think they came up with that slogan?

    December 30, 2013 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  3. Thomas

    What time is Duck Dynasty on ?

    Ted Cruz / Elmer Fudd 2016

    Whabit Season

    December 30, 2013 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  4. S.B. Stein

    Why is this not surprising? More people who subscripe to the GOP line of thinking take the bible literally. That isn't a good thing because it was never meant to taken literally all the time.

    December 30, 2013 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  5. ProudDem

    Wow...and the march towards the GOP being a completely Theocratic party continues.

    December 30, 2013 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |

    What's new? They watch Honey Boo Boo,Duck Dynasty and FoxLies.

    December 30, 2013 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  7. IA

    @Think Again...Its a "reality" show...which is as far from reality as believing a video caused the attacks in Benghazi. Its also called "acting". Whats so hard to figure out here? I hate to say it but maybe you should change your tag to "Thunk a what?"

    December 30, 2013 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  8. Rudy NYC


    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!
    Nothing. There's nothing wrong with "taxed enough already". I support the idea. It's all of the other crap like hate talk, vaginal probes, kicking the poor to the curb, tax cuts for the wealthy, etc. that is the problem.

    December 30, 2013 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  9. Rob

    Why do we need gay rights if evolution is real?

    December 30, 2013 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  10. @RI_Roger

    #whocares " CNN Survey: The number of Republicans who believe in human evolution has declined" The #whocares hash tag followed by the publication and then the stupid statement published needs to be the standard the general public uses to send a message to editors that we want substantive, honest journalism, not partisan, negativity baiting comments.... or we walk to the next media outlet.

    December 30, 2013 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  11. Rudy NYC

    from the article:

    The idea of creationism has been scorned by the mainstream scientific community since shortly after Charles Darwin introduced "The Origin of Species" in 1859.
    I think the word scorn overstates the case by a long shot. The mainstream "disavowed" creationism in favor of Darwin. The word scorn carries the connotation of hate and anger that simply does not exist. Scientists are indifferent about it.

    December 30, 2013 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  12. Sam Sun

    I am not sure what this is big news. This is how Darwin's theory of evolution was supposed to work!!!

    December 30, 2013 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  13. Sam Sun

    "Sixty-four percent of white-protestants and 50% of black protestants believe humans have not evolved, according to the poll."

    And the results from the survey is enough proof they have not evolved.

    December 30, 2013 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  14. Get used to IT tea potty! 3 more yrs to spew ur hate @Obama

    The GOP tea potty believes in self-destruction....but then again it's Obama's fault the marxist-socialist Ted Cruz was born by an illegal Cuban dad and a Canadian mom on ObamaCare-like healthcare!!!!

    December 30, 2013 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  15. don in albuquerque

    @Donna–It is people like you who are making Benghazi a joke. Climb back into your rabbit hole, the Hater has your tea waiting. Would you like milk or blood in it.

    December 30, 2013 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  16. ProudDem

    A True Conservative

    "I'm a conservative. University educated in a STEM discipline with an advanced degree. ...the climate is changing.....just as it always has? But for some reason it's now the fault of mankind?"
    _____________________________________________________'re a scientist, and you reject something that can be proven in a scientific experiment...and has been...repeatedly. More carbon in the atmosphere warms the planet. That's proven, not theory. You can set that up in a lab. Mankind is dumping massive amounts of carbon into the atmosphere....again, not theory or open for debate. 1+1 = 2...every time. The vast majority of the 1% of "scientists" that disagree with this all seem to get their funding from billionaires who have a vested interest in carbon producing industries.

    December 30, 2013 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  17. James Hall

    What a surprise! Republicans keep getting more and more stupid. Must be the teatards.

    December 30, 2013 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  18. O'drama ya Mama


    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 |

    This is hilarious. I litterally just burst out laughing from reading that comment hahaha

    December 30, 2013 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  19. featherknife

    The smart people are leaving the GOP like rats leaving a sinking ship.

    December 30, 2013 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  20. Tampa Tim

    Does anyone know why truth hurts thinks I am supposed apolize to him? Did I hurt some feelings?

    December 30, 2013 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  21. dcapettini

    Headline – Intelligent people leave the Republican Party in droves. Party officials think they can make up the losses by appealing to ignorant Democrats and Independents. Said one top party official, "There is no lack of stupid people in the United States. We Republicans just need to channel into their particular stupidity. For example, the Anti-Semite vote is still up for grabs.

    December 30, 2013 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  22. Bubba Man

    The 10 point drop in their belief of evolution matches the 10 point drop in their IQ level.

    December 30, 2013 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  23. Curly

    The evolution that most Christians oppose is the one having one species evolving into a totally new species. As a Christian I believe that God created all living things at the beginning of this world. Now God created one pair of each species of unclean animals and seven pairs of the clean animals. Now of each species of animals there are more than the one now. Now there are more than one species of dogs now but each is still a dog and the same with other species also.
    Now there are reasons for people to believe in evolution, the greatest of these is that if life (including man) evolved then there would not be a reason to be a god therefore no need to honor and follow the god. There would not be any higher power to answer to other than another man thus a person could what he wants to if he could get enough other men to agree that is the right thing to do. Whereas a God would give principals for His creation to follow. Man would not be in control of their own life and would have to answer to a god.
    I could except evolution if it could show (in the lab) of one species evolving into another species ei a virus evolving into a bacterium for instance. But evolutionist say one thing then a few years later they say something totally difference. They say that man started a few hundred thousands a go then say no it started a few hundred thousands earlier.

    December 30, 2013 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  24. John

    This is not even funny. Jokes about my own family would be funny in this context.

    December 30, 2013 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  25. John

    So, some of us are DE-volving. Well,, what a surprise.

    December 30, 2013 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
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