You are here

Creationism/evolution among Eastern Orthodox laity

A recent survey among Eastern Orthodox laity in the United States provides interesting data on their attitudes toward creationism and evolution. According to the report (PDF), published as Alexei D. Krindatch, The Orthodox Church Today (Patriarch Athenagoras Orthodox Institute, 2008), the survey was conducted from September 2007 to May 2008. Information was gathered by a mail survey of a nationally representative sample of lay members of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North America (GOA) and the Orthodox Church in America (OCA), the two largest Orthodox denominations in the United States. There were nearly 1000 respondents from 103 parishes.

Two relevant questions were included in the survey. First, respondents were asked, "Would you generally favor or oppose teaching creationism instead of evolution in public schools?" Krindatch writes, "American Orthodox laity (GOA and OCA alike) are divided in three almost equal groups: those who favor teaching creationism instead of evolution in American public schools (33%), those who reject this idea (35%) and those who are unable to take one or [another] stand on this matter (32%)" (p. 151). College graduates and those who described their theological stance as "moderate" or "liberal" (as opposed to "traditional" or "conservative") were more likely to oppose teaching creationism instead of evolution.

Second, respondents were asked whether they agreed or disagreed with the statement, "Evolutionary theory is compatible with the idea of God as Creator." Krindatch writes, "the American Orthodox laity are deeply divided among themselves in their approach to the compatibility of evolutionism and creationism. Almost equal proportions of our respondents either agreed (41%) or disagreed (38%) with the statement ... Further, more than one-fifth (21%) of parishioners were unable to evaluate this statement and said that they are '[n]eutral or unsure'" (p. 152). College graduates, converts to Orthodoxy, and those who described their theological stance as "moderate" or "liberal" (as opposed to "traditional" or "conservative") were more likely to agree.