I did a relatively unscientific poll among my Origins, Evolution & Creation class the other day, asking them (through a written assignment) to accept one of the three “standard” poll positions about human evolution: recent creation of humans, God-guided evolution, or naturalistic evolution. You may remember that the national support for these positions runs at about 47, 38 & 15 percent and that these figures have stayed fairly constant over the past thirty years.
The proportion of self-identified young earth creationists in the class was 6% whether one looked at the class as a whole, science majors, biology majors or non science majors. That’s noticeably less than the 47% national number. While education is (hopefully) playing a part in this, I think there might also be a slight under-reporting due to the question being asked in a classroom environment (a similar online poll last year in the same class gave an 11% YEC group although that poll didn’t ask explicitly about human evolution). I find it interesting that there appears to be no effect of major on whether one was a YEC or not. Looking at that 6%, many explicitly stated that they adopted that position in the face of the scientific evidence precisely because they felt their religious belief required them to. I wasn’t able to find any respondent who rejected human evolution because of evidential reasons.
Among science majors, 69% were naturalistic evolutionists and 25% held to god-guided evolution. There was no difference between biology and non-biology majors. I find this interesting as I would have, perhaps naively, expected biology majors to perhaps accept evolution at a higher rate.
When one looks at the non-science majors, the pattern changes significantly. Only 38% of this group hold to naturalistic evolution while 56% believe in god-guided evolution. Make of this what you will.