A plurality of Republicans ascribe to the creationism theory – belief that living beings have existed in their present forms since the beginning of time – according to a new Pew Research Center study, released on December 30.
In a 2009 survey, 54 percent of self-identified Republicans said they accepted evolution of humans and other life forms. In 2013, the number fell to 43 percent.
That 11-percent swing leaves 48 percent of Republican voters believing in creationism, which they at times refer to as “Intelligent Design.”
Republicans who are unsure which perspective they share grew, too, rising from seven percent to 19.
A growth in creationist beliefs is also found in voters who register as independents, although only slightly, the study learned. Once accepting evolution even more than Democrats (67 percent of independents versus 64 percent of Democrats in 2009), the 2013 study found a two-percent drop to 65 percent of this group.
Also, independent voter’s belief in creationism grew by one percent to 28 in this four-year period.
Democrats’ belief in evolution rose from 64 to 67 percent for 2013, while their support for creationism fell from 30 percent to 27.
Overall, six of every 10 U.S. adults believe Darwin’s theory of evolution is applicable to humans, and 63 percent support it regarding other life forms.
Religious beliefs, when combined with ethnicity, seem likely to influence these perceptions, Pew’s data indicates. For example, only 27 percent of white Evangelicals accept Darwin’s theory, but 78 percent white “mainline” Protestants do, which is even more than those who affiliate with no church (76 percent).
Some religious groups have historically promoted teaching Intelligent Design in public schools, along with attempted challenges to the concept of evolution.
Multiple courts have found the practice to violate the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution for favoring of a particular faith, but attempts to incorporate creationism in public education persist.
In other demographic categories of Pew’s analysis, support for human evolution declines in age groups (from 68 percent of those 18 to 29 years of age to only 49 percent of Americans over 65), while Darwin’s theory grows in acceptance with educational achievement (rising from 51 percent of those with high school education or less to 72 percent of college graduates).
Men are more likely to believe in evolution than are women, the study also found (65 percent versus 55).
The study has a margin of error of +/- 3.0 percent, Pew states.