A survey conducted by the Christian polling organization LifeWay Research, and released on January 9, shows that Protestant pastors as a group are not only antievolution, but pretty much split on how old the Earth is. 1,000 pastors were polled, randomly selected from a list of all Protestant churches. This means that there is a mixture of liberal and conservative faiths here.
And here are the depressing data (you can download a pdf or Powerpoint presentation of the results here):
- In response to the question “I believe God used evolution to create people,” here are the responses:
Only 12% strongly agree.
- Re Adam and Eve, the survey says
In response to the statement, “I believe Adam and Eve were literal people,” 74 percent strongly agree and 8 percent somewhat agree. Six percent somewhat disagree, 11 percent strongly disagree and 1 percent are not sure.
“Recently discussions have pointed to doubts about a literal Adam and Eve, the age of the earth and other origin issues,” said Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research. “But Protestant pastors are overwhelmingly Creationists and believe in a literal Adam and Eve.”
- “In the LifeWay Research survey, about one in five pastors agree that most of their congregation believes in evolution. That includes 10 percent who strongly agree and 9 percent who somewhat agree. A majority (62 percent) strongly disagree and 13 percent somewhat disagree.”
As for the so-called “liberal” Protestants, check this out:
- “Pastors who consider themselves Mainline are more likely than Evangelicals to believe in evolution. Among those identifying themselves as Mainline, 25 percent strongly agree that God used evolution to create humans. Only 8 percent of Evangelicals strongly agree.”
Since none of these pastors probably see evolution as a non-God-driven process, that means that just one quarter of “mainline” pastors strongly accept the evolution of humans per se. So much for the assertion that creationism is an aberrancy, a sign of “incorrect” or fundamentalist faith.
And the saddest fact of all:
- “In response to the statement, ‘I believe the earth is approximately 6,000 years old,’ 34 percent of pastors strongly disagree. However, 30 percent strongly agree. Nine percent somewhat disagree, and 16 percent somewhat agree.”
That means 46% are in general on the young-earth side, and 43% on the old-earth side. Now we know the earth is 4.5 billion years old, not 6,000 years old, and the evidence, which is not hard to grasp, is readily available to anyone. This shows the extraordinary ability of religious people to ignore the plain facts to adhere to an implausible faith. Remember that a 2006 poll by Time Magazine showed that 64% of Americans would continue to accept a tenet of their church that was contradicted by scientific facts.
This underscores a conclusion that is as plain as it is unpalatable to accommodationists: among the things that religion poisons is acceptance of science. If we didn’t have religion, we wouldn’t have opposition to evolution. It also shows the futility of trying to convince Protestant pastors that their faith does not conflict with evolution. Asking that is equivalent to asking them to give up their faith.