Evolution: Why are Republicans becoming creationists?

This entry is part 2 of 5 in the series Evolution
An anti-Charles Darwin cartoon published in 1871.

An anti-Charles Darwin cartoon published in 1871.

Is science slowly—but inexorably—undermining religious explanations of the world?

It’s not—at least for Republicans. More Republicans today believe in the biblical creation story than Republicans did in 2009, according to a new Pew Research Center poll. Then, 39% of Republicans said that human beings and other living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time, while the majority (54%) said that humans (and other livings things) have evolved over time. Now, however, only 39% of Republicans believe in evolution, and 48% believe the biblical story. Why are Republicans becoming creationists?

Democrats and Independents have not changed their views since 2009. Then, about two-thirds of Democrats (64%) and two-thirds of Independents (67%) subscribed to the evolution explanation. Today, the proportions are about the same (67% and 65%, respectively). The shift in attitudes has occurred for Republicans, not for those of other political persuasions.

How can we explain the shift for Republicans? Pew analysts have wrestled with the question, which they reported in the Pew Fact Tank. One possibility is that Republicans in 2009 and Republicans today are different demographically. So, researchers looked at that question and found the demographic profiles are very similar, with the exception that today Republicans are a little older. Their religious and ideological profiles are also very similar.

Maybe the shift in opinion occurred only for the most religious Republicans. It turns out, however, that it didn’t. To the contrary, the shift towards creationism occurred mainly among less religious Republicans.

In short, we don’t know why more Republicans are becoming creationists. Perhaps it’s not one thing that explains the shift, Pew analysts say; it could be a bunch of little things that changed in such a way that it adds up to a big shift in opinion.

Why do you think more Republicans are creationists now than before?

Why haven’t the numbers changed for Democrats or Independents?

Have your views about evolution and creation changed over time?

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