New Research on the Views of Protestant Pastors in Regard to Evolution and Creation

Creation and evolution is always a heated topic. It’s come up in the Presidential campaign. Occasionally, creates a national controversy, always includes ongoing debates, and leads to lots of conversations.

As such, we wanted to know what Protestant pastors thought. On January 9, LifeWay Research released new data on the views of Protestant pastors which suggests there is ongoing debate over the creation account in Genesis. While Protestant pastors overwhelmingly believe that God did not use evolution to create humans (and think Adam and Eve were literal people), other topics do not have the same level of agreement….

In response to the statement, “I believe Adam and Eve were literal people,” 82 percent agreed while just 17 percent disagreed.

On those two issues, Protestant pastors overwhelmingly agree (evangelicals more, mainliners less). Yet, also asked about the age of the earth. The “old earth” vs. “new earth” view was split 46-43 in favor of a “new earth.” From my view, I was surprised and intrigued that so many Protestant pastors hold a young earth view. There are always more evangelicals that mainliners in such a sample, but the number is still surprising to me.

………

Below are some of the highlights.

  • Pastors in the Northeast are more likely than their counterparts in any other region to strongly agree that God used evolution to create people. While 25 percent of Northeastern pastors strongly agree, only 13 percent in the West, 12 percent in the Midwest and 8 percent in the South feel similarly.
  • Pastors of larger churches are less likely to believe in evolution than those in smaller congregations. Only 4 percent of pastors in churches with 250 or more in attendance strongly agree that God used evolution to create humans. In comparison, 13 percent in churches with attendance of 0-49, 14 percent with 50-99 and 12 percent with 100-249 feel the same.
  • Pastors who consider themselves Mainline are more likely than Evangelicals to believe in evolution. Among those identifying themselves as Mainline, 25 percent strongly agree that God used evolution to create humans. Only 8 percent of Evangelicals strongly agree…
  • Pastors with graduate degrees are more likely to strongly disagree that Adam and Eve were literal people than those whose highest level of education is a bachelor’s degree (16 percent vs. 2 percent).
  • Pastors in the South are most likely to strongly disagree that most of their congregation believes in evolution…

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For the full report (22 page PDF document) click here.