New polling data show that for the first time in a long time there’s a notable decline in the percentage of Americans — including Christians — who hold to the “Young Earth” creationist view that humankind was created in its present form in the past 10,000 years, evolution playing no part.
According to a Gallup poll conducted in May, the portion of the American public taking this position now stands at 38%, a new low in Gallup’s periodic surveys. Fifty-seven percent accept the validity of the scientific consensus that human beings evolved from less advanced forms of life over millions of years.
Has atheism taken over so thoroughly? No, and that’s why this apparent break in the creationism-vs.-evolution stalemate is significant and even instructive to those in search of creative solutions to our other intractable public arguments.
As the poll reveals, the biggest factor in the shift is a jump in the number of Christians who are reconciling faith and evolution. They are coming to see evolution as their God’s way of creating life on Earth and continuing to shape it today.
As I noted in a previous post, I find this encouraging. One of the things that has troubled me for quite some time is the large number of kids who come out of Christian homes but then walk away from the faith in college or after. Anecdotally, I think that a large factor in this is that, when they enter college, (unless they go to a conservative school like Liberty University) they come face to face with the abject lack of evidence for the young earth argument and it angers them and sours them on the faith that they have been taught.
If, on the other hand, this poll shows that more people are coming face to face with the evidence of an old earth and YET hanging on to their faith, then this is, indeed, cause for great hope.
Aside: despite Mr. Krattenmaker's statement to the contrary, you do not have to be a religious liberal to accept evolution and an old earth. He should take a trip to the BioLogos site some day. Furthermore, not to throw cold water on his hopes but most young earth creationists that I know do not link that perspective with the health care debate. They only peripherally link it with the climate change debate, as it is. Neither of those issues are viewed in the context of scriptural interpretation. There might be a low level of correlation among them but I doubt there is more than that. The only debate that likely has an R-square even remotely approaching significance is the correlation between creationism and the LGBT issue, for which most Christians (creationist and otherwise) tend to view things more conservatively.