In 1925 the Scopes trial divided America. Passions rose as some claimed only the Biblical view of creation should be taught in public schools while others decided evolution was the only scientific explanation for how we came to be. Now, 89 years later, we have not reached consensus and there are fault lines on this topic even between Republicans and Democrats.
The December 2013 issue of the Christian Science Monitor featured an article by staff writer Harry Bruinius, “Percentage of Republicans Who Believe in Evolution is Shrinking.” He cites a recent PEW research study on the topic. Less than 5 years ago the breakdown between Republicans and Democrats agreeing with the concept of evolution was 54% Republicans and nearly 2/3rds Democrats. Now the number of Republican embracing evolution has shrunk 11 points to 43% (Democrats 67%). According to the PEW report, this drop in Republican acceptance of evolution remained present even after variables such as education, race, and level of religious commitment were eliminated. Among non Hispanic Catholics, 68% embraced evolution along with 53% Hispanic Catholics.
The study broke the data into denominations and, not surprisingly, the white evangelical Protestants were the most skeptical about evolution. In my opinion, since, by strict definition “evangelical” includes the belief that the Bible IS the Word of God, it comes as no surprise that evangelicals would embrace creationism over evolution. Eighty percent of the mainline Protestants (even those with “evangelical” in their names like the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America), who believe the Bible merely CONTAINS the Word of God (which parts?), lean toward evolution.
You can find differences of opinion even within a congregation. Our small Bible study group got into a discussion about evolution when we were merely DISCUSSING studying Genesis 1 for our next meeting. That will be an interesting session.
What do you think?