70 Per Cent Of US Evangelicals Don't Believe In Evolution

More than two-thirds of evangelical Americans said the theory of evolution - developed by Charles Darwin - was probably or definitely false.Reuters

Almost 70 per cent of American evangelicals believe the theory of evolution is false, according to new research from Rice University.

The study found those who self-identified as evangelical were markedly more skeptical of evolution than they were of climate change. 

More than two-thirds of evangelical Americans said evolution was probably or definitely false. But less than one-third (28 per cent) either thought the environment was not changing or that humans had no role in climate change.

Chief researcher sociologist Elaine Howard Ecklund examined national survey data, studying 9,636 people in the general US population, around 40 per cent of whom said they were evanglicals.

Ecklund said it challenged the popular link between climate change denial and creationism.

"This is different from the popular account that the people who oppose climate-change research and the people who oppose the teaching of evolution are the same and that evangelical Protestantism is clearly linked to both," she said.

Co-authored by Christopher Scheitle at West Virginia University, Jared Peifer at Baruch College and Daniel Bolger at Rice University, Examining Links Between Religion, Evolution Views and Climate-Change Skepticism was published in the journal 'Environment and Behavior' in October.

The research pointed to a strong link between conservative religious groups such as evangelical Protestants and a wider "anti-science" attitude.

Sociologists found Americans generally were less suspicious of climate change (20 per cent) than evangelicals and fewer thought evolution was false (45 per cent).

Ecklund said she hoped her research would help science policy-makers channel their efforts to address climate change.