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Poll shows Americans split on evolution, creationism

WASHINGTON—Nearly two out of three Americans, 64 percent, favor teaching creationism or intelligent design in public schools, according to a recent survey of 2,000 adults.

Only 26 percent want to keep the idea of divine intervention out of school science classes, the nonpartisan Pew Research Center for the People & the Press found in a July survey.

Slightly less than half of those surveyed, 48 percent, believe humans and other living things evolved over time, the position most scientists share.

A substantial minority, 42 percent, reject evolution and believe that life has existed in its present form since the beginning of time.

Barely a quarter of the sample, 26 percent, agree with the dominant scientific view that life evolved by a process of natural selection, without divine intervention.

A smaller fraction, 18 percent of the total, accept evolution but believe a supreme being guided the process. This is one version of the theory of intelligent design.

More than a third of those polled, 38 percent, would teach creationism instead of evolutionary theory in public school science classes. Creationism is the belief, based on a literal reading of the Bible, that God created humans and all living things in their present form in six days about 6,000 years ago.

The questions in the Pew survey didn't distinguish between creationism and intelligent design. Intelligent design accepts that the Earth is billions of years old and that evolution has occurred on a small scale, but that a supernatural intelligence must have directed the process with the purpose of creating human beings.

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To see the full report, go to www.pewforum.org and click on "Poll Report."

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(c) 2005, Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.

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