Physicians, evolution, and religion, Part 2

Are physicians more likely than the general public to believe in evolution?

One poll asked the same Gallup Poll questions we saw in Part 1 – and in fact 38% of physicians believe in evolution, compared to 15% of the general public.

Here are the results.


If you look up the poll report, you’ll notice a confusing headline. “Results of a national survey of 1,472 physicians revealed that more than half of physicians (63%) agree that the theory of evolution is more correct than intelligent design.” This comes from an earlier, poorly worded question in poll (asking doctors if “they agree more with intelligent design or evolution”) that confused the issue.

The chart – by showing the spread between the beliefs of physicians and the general public when asked to chose between creationism, intelligent design, and evolution – makes clear that a very large majority of physicians in fact do NOT believe in evolution, though they are far more likely than the general public to believe in evolution.

Interestingly enough, “intelligent design” advocates grasped the results of the poll pretty well. One “intelligent design” advocacy center had this to say: “A recent poll by the Louis Finkelstein Institute for Social and Religious Research finds that 60% of doctors reject Darwinism, saying that they do not think humans evolved through natural processes alone. Only 38% of the doctors polled agreed with the statement that ‘Humans evolved naturally with no supernatural involvement.'”

We can dwell – if you want – on the fact that about 60% of U.S. physicians don’t believe in the most central and best established theory in all of biological science, or we can just move to another interesting finding of the survey – that the religion of the physician made a big difference in how they answered the question.

Among Protestant doctors, 46% believed in Intelligent Design and 35% believed in creationism – leaving less than 19% that believe in evolution – essentially at the same level as the general population.

Among Catholic doctors, only 11% take the creationist view, and about 67% believe in Intelligent Design – leaving fewer than 22% who believe in evolution.

Among Jewish doctors,  65% believe in evolution, that “humans evolved naturally with no supernatural involvement”. So one reason that physicians are more likely than the general public to believe in evolution is simply that Jews tend to believe in evolution and are dramatically overrepresented in the ranks of physicians (Jews are about 2% of the general population, but 14% of the physician population).

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