One in three US adults do not believe in evolution, says new survey

Nearly a third of American adults take a creationist view of the universe and oppose the Darwinian view of evolution, believing humans and other living things have "existed in their present form since the beginning of time," according to new research.

Most people believe science and religion are in conflict. Fewer than four in ten overall believe science and religion are compatible.

But for those who have religious beliefs, seven in ten see no conflict between science and their faith.

Reuters

The Pew Research survey of more than 2000 adults found that three in ten of Americans said their personal religious beliefs conflict with science, while 68 per cent said there was no conflict. Paradoxically, the perception of a conflict between science and religion is particularly common among Americans who are not very religiously observant.

More than seven in ten adults who seldom or never attend religious services say science and religion are often in conflict. But fewer of the more religiously observant Americans say the same.

Nearly eight in ten people with no religious affiliation at all believed science and religion were often in conflict. 

Nearly six in ten white evangelical Protestants said their personal beliefs did not conflict with science.

The belief overall that science and religion are in conflict has fallen in the last few years, from 36 per cent in 2009 to 30 per cent in 2014.

Where there was a view that the two worldviews were in conflict, the most commonly mentioned sources were beliefs about the creation of the universe and evolution.

The report says: "It is the least religiously observant Americans who are most likely to perceive conflict between science and religion. But that perception is not closely tied to their own religious or supernatural beliefs. By far, the majority of those who seldom or never attend religious services say their own beliefs do not conflict with science. This suggests the perception of conflict is rooted in assumptions about other people's beliefs."

The survey found that 65 per cent of adults in the US believe "humans and other living things have evolved over time," while 31 per cent believe humans and other living things have "existed in their present form since the beginning of time."

Nearly nine in ten people with no religious affiliation believe humans and other living things have evolved over time, as do more than seven in ten white Catholics and a group that Pew Research describes as white "mainline" Protestants. Nearly six in ten Hispanic Catholics also believe in evolution.

This compares with fewer than half of black Protestants and fewer than four in ten white evangelical Protestants who believe humans have evolved over time, according to the report.

The survey was carried out last year by Pew Research in collaboration with the American Association for the Advancement of Science.