Nearly a Quarter of Americans Believe God Had No Hand in Human Creation

evolution exhibit
A woman walks beside an exhibit displaying the proposed evolution of humans, at the Darwin's Evolution Exhibition in the Calouste Gulbenkina Foundation in Lisbon. (Reuters/Jose Manuel Ribeiro)

Following Sunday’s 88th anniversary of the famous Scopes Trial, a new study reveals that the number of people who believe humans evolved with no influence from God has increased in the last decade.

In what has come to be known as the “Monkey Trial,” Tennessee high school teacher John Scopes was charged with teaching evolution, which at the time was against the law in that state. The event is considered a watershed moment in American public opinion, with more and more people believing in evolution.

Research from YouGov reveals that overall, 21 percent of Americans believe that “human beings evolved from less advanced life forms over millions of years, and God did not directly guide this process,” while 25 percent believe that “human beings evolved from less advanced life forms over millions, but God guided this process,” and 37 percent believe that “God created human beings in their present form within the last 10,000 years.”

The number of those who believe in evolution without help from God has gone up by 8 percent since 2004, when CBS conducted a poll using the same question. YouGov reports that this number may continue to increase in the coming years, as the number of those who believe in evolution with no influence from God is most common among people ages 18-29—with 31 percent of that age group believing it.

However, Americans are still divided on the teaching of creationism and intelligent design in public schools. Slightly more (40 percent) favor teaching creationism and intelligent design than those who oppose it (32 percent), and 29 percent are not sure.

The question of evolution vs. creationism remains politically decisive, with 57 percent of Republicans in favor of teaching creationism and intelligent design in public schools, and only 30 percent of Democrats.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the 1987 Edwards v. Aguillard decision that the teaching of creationism violated the Establishment Clause of the Constitution because it intended to advance a particular religion. A 2005 federal court decision found that intelligent design also violates the Establishment Clause.

Click here for the full results of the study.

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