back to article Only 1 in 5 Americans believe in pure evolution – and that's an upswing

According to a new poll by YouGov, the number of Americans who believe in evolution not directed by God is rising, but those pure evolutionists still only account for one in five of those surveyed. Specifically, YouGov asked its "representative sample of 1,000 Americans" how they felt about three versions of human evolution …

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  1. Alien8n Silver badge
    Alien

    Re: Let there be.....Ignorance?

    You did read my reply didn't you? Pretty sure it says "almost". In fact here it is:

    "Almost every fossil known to man is a result of the fossilisation of skeletons".

    Yes, there are fossils of skeletonless creatures, but they are a lot rarer as skeletons are much more likely to survive long enough to be fossilised. It's basic biology, anything else is likely to be another creature's dinner. Bone, being primarily calcium, is not really that appetising.

    There are pre-Cambrian fossils galore, but the Cambrian era sees the fossil record explode with quantity and variety as a direct result of the evolution of a skeleton.

    Or do you believe that the first T-Rexes suddenly appeared like a dinosaur Adam and Eve with no parents in some sort of Dinosaur Genesis? Maybe created by a Dinosaur God?

  2. eulampios

    @AJ MacLeod

    Please tell us about your knowledge of paleontology. As far as I am informed, even before Cambrian explosion we do have some other things, like microfossils and numerous remains of stromatolites (going back up to 3.7 billion years). There is also a huge body of indirect evidence for organic life, say rock with oxidized iron etc.

  3. Naughtyhorse

    Re: Let there be.....Ignorance?

    Look up Cambrian explosion.

    correct me if im wrong, but that was more than 4000 years ago

    you lose

    again

  4. Daedalus Silver badge

    Slight confusion here

    The question deals with the origin of humans. It's a sensitive subject. Consider the various Native American groups. Most have a mythical origin story. Now we know damn well they're from Asia originally, but many if asked will insist they came up from some other world, sometimes through a straw.

    The non-human evidence for evolution is hard and fast. We can even see it happening in real time if the species reproduces quickly enough. On the other hand the evidence for our origins was famously described as a collection of bones that would barely fill a room, or a closet, if you count only the important ones. You and I may take it as scientific fact that we came from ape-like ancestors, but by any measure the evidence you can hold in your hand is less than compelling. Now take that and try it on the great unwashed and see how far you get.

  5. A Dawson
    Stop

    Re: Slight confusion here

    Still a lot more evidence than the opposition can muster.

  6. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Re: Slight confusion here

    God made the world from the slain body of Ymir the ice giant.

    Do you see any Ice giants left alive? No ? - that's all the evidence you need if you have faith!

  7. An0n C0w4rd
    Joke

    Re: Slight confusion here

    Faith?

    Who is going to find the Babel Fish and prove $DIETY exists, and in doing so actually causes them to cease to exist because proof denies faith?

  8. Don Jefe
    Joke

    Re: Slight confusion here

    The Ice Giants melted due to anthropogenic global warming. Damnit man, do try and keep up.

  9. Rampant Spaniel

    Re: Slight confusion here

    The Native Hawaiians have a similar theory on their creation. I don't have a huge issue with creationism being taught alongside evolution, even it being given equal credence and the kids being left to decide for themselves. I do object strongly to being told I must be tolerant of religions and yet be told that religions do not have to be tolerant of any other ideas.

    Talk to any scientist about scientific fact, they normally will tell you that a scientific fact is the best current explanation that has been proven and not yet disproved. An explanation that best fits the facts, but not something that they would stake their life on being true, at least for the most part. Ask someone religious about the existence of god etc, normally their belief is 100%, unquestioning. One to me seems more reasonable, but I am more than happy to accept another persons right to believe in god without being ridiculed, I just want the same courtesy extended to not believing in god.

    I got in so much trouble at school because I did not believe in god. Apparently it was mandatory, at least to believe in the god they wanted me to. I don't believe I helped myself too much by suggesting their god seemed to be a bit of a cnut and loved to take credit but never responsibility. I don't think it will harm children to allow them to understand different viewpoints, but you cannot force kids to believe something, nor should you abuse your position to promote one answer over another. I cannot prove the existence of god, nor disprove the existence of god. I know what I believe, my kids can make up their own minds. I would rather schools allowed that to happen and brought up a generation of kids that could make a choice rather than be unable to think. There does seem to be a theme with religions not liking education and thinking though.

  10. Malto Dext Rose
    Paris Hilton

    Re: Slight confusion here

    Darwin's treatise was entitled "On the Origin of Species" with the subtitle "or The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life" which he later terms "Natural Selection."

    The evidence for natural selection is hard and fast - just try walking across the African savannah next holiday.

    What controlled experiment has tendered such "evidence?"

    Don't you see that the same leap of faith is required to believe the (circumstantial) evidence for evolution based merely on a similarity of structures as it is to believe that there is a God based on a book that continues to defy skeptics?

    Paris, because she's just as confused.

  11. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Meh

    Re: Slight confusion here

    "Don't you see that the same leap of faith is required to believe the (circumstantial) evidence for evolution based merely on a similarity of structures as it is to believe that there is a God based on a book that continues to defy skeptics?"

    And this is only their second post since joining.

  12. Martin

    Re: Slight confusion here

    On the other hand the evidence for our origins was famously described as a collection of bones that would barely fill a room, or a closet, if you count only the important ones.

    Citation please. That may have been the case fifty years ago. It's a sight more than that now.

    The sheer amount of data and some of the contradictory evidence means that there is plenty of controversy about exactly who evolved from whom and when it happened - but the evidence for evolution of humans from an ape-like ancestor is now overwhelming.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Slight confusion here

    I just can't understand people. The clue is in the fucking name "faith"!

    It's not FACT.

    Those who are not religious seem to be better, more decent folk.

    The the "faith" types you need to watch out for.

    If religion is supposed to be the moral pinnacle, why do the religious nuts all want to kill?

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Slight confusion here

    "I am more than happy to accept another persons right to believe in god without being ridiculed"

    I do not! This evil needs to be stamped out.

  15. Rampant Spaniel

    Re: Slight confusion here

    Assuming they aren't affecting anyone else, i.e. refusing their kid's blood donations \ medical treatment, encouraging people to explode themselves, marrying 8 year olds or other such extreme examples, whats the harm with what someone believes. If a bunch of people want to get together, sing songs, believe in a supernatural being and follow a belief system that normally encourages fairly decent behavior I don't have a huge problem with that. It's not screwing with anyone elses life.

    Now should they decide I HAVE to share their beliefs, then there's an issue. Certain religions (or corruptions of religions if you prefer) do worry me though.

  16. Rampant Spaniel

    Re: Slight confusion here

    I should add that it occurs to me that there are not hordes of scientists running around Africa beheading people who don't believe in science. Although the whole Pluto \ planet thing got close.

  17. hplasm Silver badge
    Meh

    Re: Slight confusion here

    "...another persons right to believe in god..."

    There is no such right.

  18. Rampant Spaniel

    Re: Slight confusion here

    The UN (chap 18 of the universal declaration of human rights), the USA (1st amendment), the EU (EU convention on human rights article 9) all suggest otherwise, but it does vary considerably country to country.

    Should there be a right to believe in a god is a fair question. Stating there is no right doesn't reflect the ideals many countries have enshrined in their constitution or laws. Going on population numbers alone I would say that at least half the people in the world do face some restriction on what they believe though.

  19. Intractable Potsherd

    Re: Slight confusion here @ Malto Dext Rose

    "... based on a book that continues to defy skeptics?"

    Which book is that? Ah yes, "The Origin of Species"! I bet you thought you were referring to one or more of the collections of desert fairy stories, didn't you? Unfortunately for you, it doesn't defy "skeptics" at all ...

    Once again: the existence or not of a god or gods cannot be proven either way. Believing that primitives somehow knew better than we do now is perverse in the extreme. Move on and live in the real world, not the one inhabited by imaginary friends - you'll be much happier!

  20. JDX Gold badge

    @Obviously!

    I just can't understand people. The clue is in the fucking name "faith"! It's not FACT.

    The two are not mutually exclusive. A fact is true whether or not you believe it and whether or not you have evidence to prove it... if I have faith in something without scientific evidence I may or may not be right, not having evidence doesn't automatically mean I am wrong!

    Those who are not religious seem to be better, more decent folk.

    That's the exact opposite of what I see in my day to day life. It's a totally subjective position to take and entirely biased by the position you take on religion affecting how you perceive people. Plus of course which religious people you encounter... or rather people who you even realise are religious.

    If religion is supposed to be the moral pinnacle, why do the religious nuts all want to kill?

    What? None of the religious people I know want to kill anyone, even (especially) the creationist fundamentalists.

    The reason "religious nuts" want to kill people is because they're nuts, not because they're religious... the answer is in the question.

  21. JDX Gold badge

    Re: Slight confusion here

    "...another persons right to believe in god..."

    There is no such right.

    How very liberal of you, to say people must believe the same as you. It sounds very similar to how England forcibly "Christianised" much of the Empire... "you will convert". Also communist Russia & China.

    This is progress into a better world is it, where we're still told what we're allowed to believe but it's a different thing?

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Slight confusion here

    Don' t you think that characterizing all people of faith as religious nuts bent on murder *could* be a bit over the top?

    Moreover, your characterization of faith as being the opposite of fact is misplaced. Faith doesn't happen in a vacuum. Faith requires some kind of evidence on which to be grounded. In the case of Christianity, in particular, the historical claim of the resurrection of Christ is pivotal to the faith. Disprove the resurrection by some means, and Christianity loses all coherence.

  23. Tom 7 Silver badge

    Re: Slight confusion here

    @AC 12:36 "Faith requires some kind of evidence on which to be grounded"

    No faith doesn't - unless you count hearsay as evidence.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Slight confusion here

    "I should add that it occurs to me that there are not hordes of scientists running around Africa beheading people who don't believe in science. Although the whole Pluto \ planet thing got close."

    Just a forum full of clueless nerds wishing they could

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: @Obviously!

    > The two are not mutually exclusive. A fact is true whether or not you believe it and whether or not you have evidence to prove it... if I have faith in something without scientific evidence I may or may not be right, not having evidence doesn't automatically mean I am wrong!

    So exactly why would you believe something for which there was absolutely no proof?

    Given that there is no proof and there are hundreds of different, contradictory religions, why would you believe one rather than the others other than by an accident of your birth?

  26. localgeek

    Re: Slight confusion here

    If you really think that the faith grounded in fact amounts to "hearsay," then on what grounds do you accept any claims about ancient history, since you weren't there to obtain an eyewitness account?

    I'm guessing you probably would attribute Plato's "Apology" to Plato (and, indirectly, to the teachings of Socrates), even though you never met the man and most likely are relying on a 20th century English translation of his work to read it. Absolute skepticism about every ancient claim will leave you with nothing meaningful to say about it.

  27. eulampios

    Re: Slight confusion here

    How many bones would you need to get convinced? What would you do with all the DNA, RNA and protein evidence? Okay, chimps, orangutang and other apes are indeed the closest species to us. The Dr. Pääbo analysis on Neanderthal DNA doesn't mean anything to you.

    Yet, the greatest issue I see in the "alternative idea", evolution deniers is that we are either being offered some Santa fairy tales (Earth is 5,000- 10,000 years old etc), something non-falsifiable, or nothing at all. Absolutely no constructivism and constant nay-saying.

  28. FutureShock999
    Childcatcher

    @Rampant Spaniel...

    I'll give you 70 reasons...

    http://barrierbreaker.hubpages.com/hub/70-Reasons-Why-Im-So-Angry-An-Anti-Theists-Reaction-to-Christianity

    And that's just for starters.

  29. FutureShock999

    @JDX

    "if I have faith in something without scientific evidence I may or may not be right, not having evidence doesn't automatically mean I am wrong!"

    Actually, it violates the scientific principle called Occam's Razor, which basically "states that among competing hypotheses, the hypothesis with the fewest assumptions should be selected. In other words, the simplest explanation is usually the correct one. " (yeah, Wikipedia's definition).

    So by adding all of these make-believe friends and fictional events into any explanation, you are by default adding complexity that cannot be verified experimentally, proven via evidence, nor replicated. In short, exactly the kinds of things that make it very, very, very LIKELY that you are wrong. You are correct - you are not PROVABLY wrong - because it is hard to prove a negative. But you are very likely to be so.

  30. FutureShock999
    Megaphone

    @JDX

    I agree that you have a right to believe what you want - but you have no RIGHT to religion that extends past your personal space. If you want to believe in sky fairy tales, I cannot stop you, nor would I if they make you happier. HOWEVER - the second you take that believe and use it to influence society in ANY WAY - then you have to prove it. You have to prove - in a re-creatable, verifiable manner that your assertions about this set of beliefs is valid.

    That includes influencing healthcare for anyone but yourself, that includes fiscal policy, that includes tax policy (and should include that nice non-taxable religious exemption), defence policy, education policy, legal policy, and a host of other areas. Once you want to use your "beliefs" to influence any of these, you have to PROVE THEIR VALIDITY - and saying some old guy(s) wrote a book 2000 years ago doesn't cut it.

    Don't quote from The Ten Commandments, unless you can SCIENTIFICALLY PROVE there were stone tablets and they were actually handed down from a superior being to guide us. (HINT: you probably can't). Don't quote from a Bible for policy reasons, unless you can prove that it actually IS the word of a superior being meant as guidance to the human race. You can read them and believe all you want, but the second you expect your reading of them to affect MY LIFE, or the life of society in general, THEN they have to pass some pretty tough scrutiny - at least to the same standards of proof that Evolution and the Theory of Relativity have passed.

    Believe what you want - but you should not be TAX EXEMPT for having those beliefs (or leading the discussion of them), and you cannot use them to influence what I or my family do in society. Do not limit my wife's reproductive freedoms because "your god" said so. Do not preach hatred towards my gay brother "because our lord said it was a sin". Do not oppose gay marriage merely because "your lord wouldn't like it". Do not deny even your own children medical care because "your religion said it was unclean". Etc, etc., etc. Unless of course, you can categorically PROVE the existence of your sky fairies. Happy to have their wisdom once they are proven to exist - until then they should stay in your brain and your brain only.

  31. jake Silver badge

    @AC 13:36 (was: Re: Slight confusion here)

    "In the case of Christianity, in particular, the historical claim of the resurrection of Christ is pivotal to the faith. Disprove the resurrection by some means, and Christianity loses all coherence."

    OK, I can do that ... See my posts:

    http://forums.theregister.co.uk/post/search/?q=jake+%2Bbarabbas

    Some of us have actually read the Bible for content, instead of how the local Shaman wants us to read it. Got me kicked out of "Sunday School" when I was roughly 8 years old. See:

    http://forums.theregister.co.uk/forum/containing/322158

    In other news, is Genesis 1 the true story of Creation? Or is it the variation starting at Genesis 2.4? They are quite different, and can't both be correct.

    "But that's the OLD Testament", you howl, "We have a new covenant!" ... OK, so which of the apostles correctly reported the correct last words of Jesus? Was it Matthew, Luke, or John? They all report differently. Mark (perhaps wisely) declined to comment ...

  32. Rampant Spaniel

    Re: @JDX

    I thougth that was pretty much what I said? You can believe what you want till you start pissing on my chips.

  33. Rampant Spaniel

    Re: @Rampant Spaniel...

    The vast majority of that has absolutely no bearing on most peoples lives. If you choose to mix with people who have those views then so be it. As for politics, the separation of church and state is written into the constitution (albeit via an amendment), the reality is very different but basically it's done mostly at a state level. I choose not to live in a state that has those views and laws. By all means you have my support if you want to kick religion out of politics altogether, I would love to see it but I doubt it can ever happen. Religion, like unions, has money and money buys laws, the entire countries legal system is for hire to whatever person, company, religion etc has the money.

  34. Mephistro Silver badge

    "and a full 37 percent dismiss human evolution entirely"

    Hmmm... just like the Talibans. There is some morale hidden here, somewhere...

  35. Don Jefe
    Happy

    Re: "and a full 37 percent dismiss human evolution entirely"

    Hidden moral? I find little morale in neither the Taliban nor any religious dogma. Maybe it's different for you... :)

  36. JetSetJim Silver badge
    Stop

    Re: "and a full 37 percent dismiss human evolution entirely"

    I'm sure they have morals, (as an aside, they seem to have plenty of morale, too), but their "good" metrics are not the same as ours.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Trouble with all this

    Is that in order to make children swallow all this nonsense, they have to carefully suppress critical analytical thinking as well as natural curiosity children have. Vast amounts of scientific knowledge are being erased and replaced with a laconic "because the book says so". The human race will pay dearly for this and that big guy up in the sky will not come to save us no matter if we are believers or not.

  38. Wzrd1

    Re: Trouble with all this

    I always get a kick out of some who survive some tragic event thanking God for saving them, but not wondering why that God was so utterly inept as to allow them to get into the mess that they were "saved from" in the first place.

  39. Annihilator
    Meh

    Re: Trouble with all this

    @Wzrd1 - well he apparently moves in mysterious ways. Catch-all non-argument right there for you sadly.

    Religions have been playing this game for many years now, they've gotten quite good at non-answers (additional ones include "$deity is testing us" and "because the $book says so" and "the $book is $deity's word")

  40. smartypants
    Pint

    Churches don't really believe in God

    Proof:

    I was in one last week. The fire procedure said (and I paraphrase)

    "Run for your lives!"

    ...oughtn't it instead to have said something like:

    "Please pray to God to stop ignoring the fact that his house appears to be on fire. Be aware that he's a fickle type and is as likely to ignore you as he ignored the fire in the first place. He may not even bother telling you to stop wasting your time praying to him, enjoying instead the sight of another of his flock going up in flames in a desperate but ultimately pointless attempt to have a 'relationship' with him."

    Well quite clearly, that would be a waste of time, wouldn't it? Hence the sticking to the sensible first notice. I rest my case.

    (Yes, yes, I know, Jesus still loves me and wants me to join him in heaven with the nuns.)

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Churches don't really believe in God

    Nuns? that could be a fun eternity...

  42. Rampant Spaniel

    Re: Churches don't really believe in God

    Thats just proof even god isn't immune from Lawyers and elf safety.

  43. Simon Harris Silver badge

    Re: Churches don't really believe in God

    Nuns?! Reverse... Reverse!

  44. Ed_UK

    Re: Churches don't really believe in God

    "Nuns? that could be a fun eternity..."

    That's the 72 virgins you were promised.

  45. Charles 9 Silver badge

    Re: Trouble with all this

    "I always get a kick out of some who survive some tragic event thanking God for saving them, but not wondering why that God was so utterly inept as to allow them to get into the mess that they were "saved from" in the first place."

    The religious have an answer to that, too: growth by ordeal. What doesn't break you makes you stronger, so the Lord intentionally tests you so you learn from the experience.

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Trouble with all this

    @Charles 9

    "The religious have an answer to that, too: growth by ordeal. What doesn't break you makes you stronger, so the Lord intentionally tests you so you learn from the experience."

    Doesnt this show that the lord has a kinky side? Surely this would demonstrate his love of S&M and he is the dom?

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Churches don't really believe in God

    "That's the 72 virgins you were promised."

    One Essex slag would be a much better deal....

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?

    Then he is not omnipotent.

    Is he able, but not willing?

    Then he is malevolent.

    Is he both able and willing?

    Then whence cometh evil?

    Is he neither able nor willing?

    Then why call him God?

    - Attib. to Epicurus

  49. Mystic Megabyte Silver badge
    Flame

    To those with an ear to hear.

    >>Then whence cometh evil?

    The reason evil is allowed to exist in this world is to have something to oppose. Just as a sprinter needs a starting block to push against in order to run.

    Those that oppose evil are evolving, those that embrace evil are devolving.

    Jesus showed us what we are all capable of evolving into, a perfect being.

    In the next age people will be developing powers that today we call supernatural, telepathy etc.

    Just as you would not give a gun to a child you need to show maturity before being allowed powers that could kill.

    Therefore we exist in a simulation and only have limited powers.

    To have to opportunity to live in the real world you will be tested with the little power that you have now.

    The simulation that is this world may shortly be ending. Pay attention!

    For the benefit of Christians, it is stated that Heaven is coming down to Earth.

    How do you get to be on planet Earth? By being born in the usual manner. i.e. reincarnation.

    The next age will be started by the 144000 children that will be the only people alive. They will eventually have children of their own, aim to be one of them.

    Down votes from Creationists and Darwinists equally accepted. :)

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: To those with an ear to hear.

    @Mystic Megabyte

    "Jesus showed us what we are all capable of evolving into, a perfect being."

    If I remember the story right he was nailed to a cross and died. I think you are confused about evolution if thats what you think happened. If you want proof I urge you get nailed to a cross and die to prove your point.

    "In the next age people will be developing powers that today we call supernatural, telepathy etc."

    You have the power to see the future? Its evolution!!!

    "To have to opportunity to live in the real world you will be tested with the little power that you have now.

    The simulation that is this world may shortly be ending. Pay attention!"

    Your name isnt neo is it? Can you see the matrix?

    "For the benefit of Christians, it is stated that Heaven is coming down to Earth."

    Is this anything like "the sky is falling"?

    "How do you get to be on planet Earth? By being born in the usual manner. i.e. reincarnation."

    You are really merging the religions now aint you? I guess I will come back as a tree as I will be stumped.

    "The next age will be started by the 144000 children that will be the only people alive. They will eventually have children of their own, aim to be one of them."

    Not 143999? Not 144001? Exactly 144000? All of them children? I would hate to come back and clean up that mess.

    "Down votes from Creationists and Darwinists equally accepted. :)"

    Why would I downvote the funniest thing I read all morning?

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