Polling creationism in Canada

Among Canadians, 58 percent accept evolution, while 22 percent think that God created humans in their present form within the last 10,000 years, and 20 percent are unsure, according to a new poll from Angus Reid Strategies. The poll was conducted among a nationwide random sample of 1007 Canadian adults interviewed on-line on July 29 and 30, 2008, and its margin of error is +/- 3.1%. The results are virtually unchanged from a 2007 poll, in which 59 percent of the respondents accepted evolution, 22 percent preferred the creationist option, and 19 percent were unsure.

In a press release (PDF), a number of further findings were noted: "Men [were] more inclined than women to believe in evolution (69% versus 48%); women [were] more prone to believe in creationism (28% versus 16%) ... Males (69%), younger adults (67%) and those with at least one university degree (71%) [were] more inclined to believe in evolution ... [and] Albertans (40%) and Conservative Party supporters (29%) [were] more likely to think humans were created by God."

Comparing these results with poll results in the United States is not straightforward, since the question that the Gallup Organization has used since 1982 offers two versions of a pro-evolution response: "Human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God guided this process" and "Human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God had no part in this process." The corresponding Angus Reid response omits any mention of God.

According to a useful summary, in the latest Gallup poll using the question, conducted in May 2008, 50% of respondents preferred the pro-evolution responses, with 44 percent preferring "God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so," and with only 5 percent volunteering a different response or declining to answer. It might seem, then, that Canadians are not as much supportive of evolution as they are dismissive of creationism, compared to their American counterparts.

As the political scientist and polling expert George Bishop observes, however, minor changes in the wording of poll questions about creationism and evolution can make a substantial difference in poll results, so it would be premature to jump to any conclusions. Over the years, Reports of the NCSE has carried a variety of reports and analyses of such polls, including Otis Dudley Duncan and Claudia Geist's "The Creationists: How Many, Who, and Where?".