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YouGov poll on evolution

A new poll from YouGov suggests (PDF) that in the United States the level of public acceptance of creationism and the level for support for teaching creationism in the public schools are down.

Asked "Which of the following statements comes closest to your views on the origin of human beings," 21% of respondents preferred "Human beings evolved from less advanced life forms over millions of years, and God did not directly guide this process," 25% preferred "Human [beings] evolved from less advanced life forms over millions of years, but God guided this process," 37% preferred "God created human beings in their present form within the last ten thousand years," and 17% were not sure.

YouGov noted that in a 2004 poll conducted by CBS News, only 13% of respondents preferred "Human beings evolved from less advanced life forms over millions of years, and God did not directly guide this process"; 27% preferred "Human [beings] evolved from less advanced life forms over millions of years, but God guided this process," 55% preferred "God created human beings in their present form within the last ten thousand years," and 5% said they didn't know or didn't answer.

In the YouGov poll, preference for the creationist option was stronger among females than males (43% to 31%), respondents aged 30-44, 45-64, and 65+ than respondents aged 18-29 (34%, 42%, and 39% to 21%), Republicans than Democrats and independents (55% to 31% and 32%), blacks than whites and Hispanics (49% to 37% and 30%), those with less than high school, high school, or some college than college grads or post grads (41%, 44%, and 39% to 26% and 16%), respondents in the Midwest and South than respondents in the Northeast and West (46% and 46% to 28% and 24%), Muslims, Protestants, and Eastern or Greek Orthodox than Mormons, Hindus, Roman Catholics, "nothing in particular," Jews, atheists, Buddhists, and agnostics (64%, 59%, and 53% to 38%, 35%, 30%, 24%, 17%, 2%, 0%, and 0%).

Asked, "Do you favor or oppose the teaching of creationism or intelligent design in public schools," 40% of respondents indicated that they favored it, 32% indicated that they opposed it, and 29% indicated that they were unsure. YouGov observed that the teaching of creationism in the public schools is unconstitutional, referring to the decisions in Edwards v. Aguillard (1987) and Kitzmiller v. Dover (2005).

The results from the 2004 CBS poll are not directly comparable, since there were two questions — one asking about teaching creationism along with evolution; one asking teaching about creationism instead of evolution — and both mentioned creationism only, not using the phrase "intelligent design." Still, as many as 65% of respondents then favored the teaching of creationism along with evolution.

In the YouGov poll, the level of support for teaching "creationism or intelligent design in the public schools" was strongest among Republicans (57%, as opposed to 38% of independents and 30% of Democrats) and Mormons and Protestants (76% and 52%, as opposed to 42% of Roman Catholics, 32% of Jews, 29% of "nothing in particular", and 17% of agnostics). The level of opposition was strongest among those with post-college education (51%, as opposed to 16% for those who haven't finished high school, 23% for those who graduated from high school, 34% with some college education, and 43% for college graduates) and Buddhists, atheists, agnostics, and Eastern or Greek Orthodox (84%, 83%, 67%, and 60%, as opposed to 42% of Jews, 34% of "nothing in particular," 23% of Roman Catholics, 21% of Protestants, and 9% of Mormons).

Evidently the sample size was 1000 and the survey was conducted July 8-9, 2013; further details of how the poll was conducted are not readily apparent.