New Gallup Poll Shows Significant Gains for BioLogos View

Let’s hope the acceptance of Christianity continues to gain momentum with more mainstream church attenders! :wink:

What attracted my attention most in Dr. Haarsma’s blog post was this nugget:

Considering just those who completed college, the percentage holding the “present form” position dropped by almost half in the last five years, from 46% in 2012 to just 24% in 2017. Unfortunately about half of these college graduates shifted to the “God had no part” position, but the other half shifted to the “God guided” view.

This, to me, sounds like half of the kids who grew up holding the “present form”/YEC view left the faith after college, and that is not good news.


Agreed, I think that’d be great! Hahaha! Perhaps I should have stated the simultaneous acceptance is gaining momentum. Unfortunately, I also have to agree with you on your final point. I’m afraid young people with a YEC upbringing that lose faith due to a false dichotomy (at least in part) is also gaining momentum.

Category 3 wouldn’t apply to progressive creationists, since the whole purpose for holding that view is to allow for an old earth, while the description of that category had humans created, “as-is” within the last 10,000 years.

And “God had no part” could include those Christians who believe God didn’t intervene in evolution. This is one of the problems with polls that ask “big picture” questions in multiple-choice format. The picture gets a little fuzzy in the details.

The other problem with polls like this is how honest or perhaps more accurately how thoughtful people are, when they answer. I know folks who look at fossils, geologic formations and pictures of deep space, never questioning deep age, yet who when asked may answer that the earth is young. Many when asked will reply that both may be true.

Yes, I had that critique when they first wrote about this poll. I honestly didn’t know whether I would choose 1 or 2 if asked, but decided I would choose 1 since 2 seems to be the atheist choice, though I could justifiably choose either one.

A few notes. First of all option #3 is not just YEC. It also includes many (if not most) OECs who think that humans were only created in the last 10,000 years (which is what the option states), even if life itself is much older.

However, I’m wondering why any Christian would be excited by the poll numbers. If you look at the full graph, the number of people believing that life is based on God’s plans have decreased overall. Unless one thinks that YEC and OEC are worse than atheism, this doesn’t seem to be good news.

Excellent points, though perhaps some inkling of optimism is possible in that the loss in Present Formers since 2014 seems to be absorbed into the God Guided group, instead of all going into the atheist group.
I agree that the overall trend is not a real reason for joy, yet supports the mission of Biologos as meaningful and productive in helping stem the tide.

Might it not be another factor that it seems current YECs largely believe that the “kinds” have changed in the last few thousand years, both as a result of the Flood and in adaptive ways? So some of the other categories might actually be capturing on-trend YECs.

Please don’t use that ugly term, “evolutionist”. It means, “One who believes in evolution”. Hardly anyone believes in evolution. They conclude it from the evidence.


As a linguist (and, in mid-career, some even called me a lexicographer, though I didn’t and wouldn’t), I’ve never understood why this ubiquitous argument is anything but an equivocation tactic. My nearest English language lexicon at hand lists as the first definition of the verb BELIEVE:

“to accept some concept or declaration as true and/or reflecting one’s view of reality.”

That sounds reasonable to me. And I happen to believe that the Theory of Evolution is a truthful explanation of changing allele frequencies in populations over time. I believe the theory provides remarkably accurate predictions of such changes. By any rational measure in common English language usage, I happen to believe in evolutionary processes and the discoveries scientists have made in their efforts to understand them.

I certainly do. And I’m in good company.

So do I. Overwhelming evidence is why I believe in evolution, photosynthesis, mitosis, relativity, and all sorts of other natural processes and phenomena which scientists describe.

Because of the way detractors often use the term with a denigrating sneer, I too tend to dislike it. However, I can certainly understand the need for a convenient noun which refers to people like me: those who affirm the Theory of Evolution as our best explanation of the evidence we observe throughout the biosphere. Even so, I can’t immediately think of another noun which is equally convenient and unambiguous in the minds of the general public. (I find the popular alternative, “Darwinist”, even more problematic.)

When someone speaks of an “evolutionist”, I sometimes ask them, “Do you mean a scientist? Or perhaps evolutionary biologist?” But I’ll admit that that is rather snarky on my part and it doesn’t capture their intended meaning.

What noun should we use to refer to a person (whether a scientist or not a scientist) who affirms the existence of evolutionary processes and accepts the Theory of Evolution as the best scientific explanation for our observations of evolutionary processes? Suggestions?

Checking Merriam Websters dictionary for “believe” I come up with:

a : to have a firm or wholehearted religious conviction or persuasion : to regard the existence of God as a fact Do you believe? —usually used with in believe in the Scriptures
b : to accept something as true, genuine, or real ideals we believe in believes in ghosts
: to have a firm conviction as to the goodness, efficacy, or ability of something believe in exercise
: to hold an opinion

So I can sympathize with @Barry here. Adding the “-ism” to the end of a word typically connotes something a little stronger than that you just merely have accepted something but that perhaps it has even taken on a little more of an ideological passion for you as well. Given the determination of some anti-evolutionists and their anti-religious allies to keep the waters muddied by conflating Evolutionism with mere scientific evolution, some reactivity against this obstinate confusion seems warranted by evolution-accepting creationists.

I don’t think you will be successful finding any popular new words for such a person because it’s the person (and their held concepts) that so many have a problem with, not the label of popular choice that gets slapped on. So whatever new label you fuss over and gussy up, the detractors will start in with their “lipstick on a pig” objections as soon as they catch on to it. “Theistic evolutionist” has been tried – as have “evolutionary creationist” and others I’m sure. In the end, you just have to clarify for people exactly what you believe if they really want to know.

The trouble comes when the young earth crowd uses definition 1 with the evolutionary creationists who are using definition 2 or 3 in the discussion about evolution.

As to all the other terms, I sort of wish we used integrative theology, signifying the integration of both books of revelation into one theology, though I really cringe at integrative medicine, which sort of spoils the word for me.

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It is worth mentioning that lexicographers have traditionally numbered and ordered their definitions under a given word/lemma based on chronology of appearance in the language—not the descending frequency of the most common definitions/usages. However, I’m not entirely certain that all dictionaries adhere to that convention as strictly as the scholarly lexicons. Some appear to assign the most common definition first in the numbered list of definitions even if that order is contrary to the chronology of first appearance.

It is also worth noting that many people have never examined the evidence supporting evolutionary theory—both many people who affirm evolution and many people who deny evolution—and so it can truly be said that their opinion is based largely on a decision to trust or not trust the scientists (and other authorities in their lives.) So there are plenty of people on both sides of the divide who have no grasp of the evidence which might support the opinion they’ve chosen to believe.

I flatter myself in thinking that I am fairly and broadly informed on this topic and yet I have never traveled to the grand canyon to examine rock layers for myself or gone into a lab to verify Dr. Venema’s claims about genetics (the details of which are far beyond me anyway). So in the end I too am trusting that scientists are telling me the truth and posting real photographs and real information for viewers like myself. Granted – the likelihood that they are all in a vast conspiracy to deceive all the rest of us (as some YECs get excited imagining) is vanishingly unlikely. Still, since I have never directly examined evidence for myself am I merely a believer? I would like to think I am a critical and educated appraiser of evidence who stays cognizant of who my sources are.

It seems to me that there may be a continuum between the stark choices of 1. belief and 2. solidly evidence-based acceptance.

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And we tend to take for granted that continuum with so many other topics. For many of us, the non-professional’s decisions about evolution are not really that much different. (We all depend upon a combination of our own analysis of the evidence for various ideas as well as rely upon experts.)


A little color …

Here’s a quote from the article… I’m saying Amen to that !!!

“While loud voices continue to push extreme positions on origins, either anti-science or anti-God, this study shows that many everyday Americans are open to a conversation that brings science and God together.”

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Eddie spoke his piece regarding Pres. Haarsma’s analysis of this poll over at the Hump. Check it out as you may wish.

He makes some good points, but ultimately, you have to interpret the poll for what is is, not what you wish it was. One strength is the consistancy of the questions over time, rather that asking different questions.

I would share his concern that the long term trend towards atheism is not good, but would argue that drawing a line in the sand with YEC style interpretation is proving to be a losing proposition.


I see that Eddie is up to his old tricks again.

If you look at my post 21, I show what the poll numbers look like graphically.

If you were to just read Eddie’s description of the numbers, you would come away depressed!

He writes:
“If we look only at the past three years, one could argue that the drop came mostly from the movement from the creationist camp to the God-guided evolution camp. But if we look at the overall trends since 1982 (and a handy table comparing past results with current ones is provided in the pdf of the full survey results, downloadable from the Gallup page cited above), it seems that something else is happening.”

He continues:
“The “atheistic” position (number 2) has grown from 9% in 1982 to 19% in 2017; i.e., it has more than doubled. During that time, the “God-guided” position has remained in roughly the same place. So in the longer perspective, atheism has gained 10%; i.e., it has picked up exactly the percentage that creationism and “no opinion/other” have dropped since 1982.”
The problem with Eddie’s “something else is happening” is that he is trying to draw conclusions about the value of BioLogos as indicated by a 1981 to 2017 comparison. How deceptive Eddie can be!, even in his noble retirement…

If you want to assess the value of BioLogos, you can only go back to 2007 when it was founded - - though I’m sure important analysis could be made from what happened between 1981 (which was even prior to Karl Giberson’s “conversion” to Theistic Evolution!) and 2007.

So, using 2007 as the benchmark, we see “God Guiding Evolution” meandering around 36%, and then dropping down to 32% and 31% before rebounding to 38% for the 2017 poll. Clearly something dynamic has been going on in recent years in the realm of Creationism and rival theories.

And the most important conclusions, if you ask me, is that since 2007, Creationism (despite 2 times spiking to 46%), has been in a long slide into the 30%'s! While Atheism has been in a long climb up from 13% to now 19%.

In a war of attrition between Atheism and Creationism, it seems the Creationists really are losing ground! In nearly 40 years, this year will be the first time Creationism wasn’t in the 40%'s!

But instead of offering cheers to BioLogos, Eddie does his customary work at suggesting BioLogos is the “loser” here:

"In light of these cold facts, the “spin” put on the survey results by BioLogos President Deb Haarsma is strained at best. In one of her rare columns on BioLogos, she argues that the survey is good news for the TE/EC folks. " Eddie sure doesn’t think so; and I think he’s quite wrong about that. Certainly it shows that supporter funds are sustaining BioLogos as the “center” of a battle being waged around it by Creationists vs. Atheists … with the Creationists losing.

Instead, Eddie goes on this phantasmagorical interpretation of the data!:

[If we Changed the Poll Question]
"If the “God-guided evolution” option were divided into two variant options, the meaning of the survey results would be much clearer. Then people could choose between,

[New Option A]
“God influences natural processes in direct personal ways to guide evolution to produce human beings”

[New Option B]
“God, who loves the freedom of his creatures, lets nature do its own thing, exerting no special influence to alter the outcomes of chance or natural laws, but by a divine mystery we cannot understand, without actually guiding evolution, guarantees that human beings will appear.”

[The Hypothetical Results]
"If the survey question were split up thus, I predict that the first version would get three times as many votes as the second; "

Because this is BioLogos Secret Aim
"and that would not give any comfort to BioLogos (where most of the leaders, I am convinced, would vote for the second version)."

Sounds like a plate of baloney with a side of malarkey. Nothing in the words of Dr. Collins suggests to me that BioLogos is not serious about God-guided evolution.

Then Eddie does a fish-tail move and suddenly he is talking about I.D. … with its focus on irreducible complexity. I’d love to see how God would re-word the survey for that particular issue!

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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