According to a new Pew Research poll out Monday, 60 percent of Americans believe in evolution. Thirty-three percent think "humans and other living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time." The rest, of course, aren't sure. These numbers are about the same as they were five years ago.
But Republicans' views on the matter have changed, just not in the way you'd think. In 2009, 54 percent of Republicans claimed to believe humans have evolved over time. Today, only 43 percent say so. Democrats' views have stayed essentially the same: in 2009, 64 percent believed in evolution, now 67 percent do.
So there's now a 24-point gap between Dems and the GOP. As Pew researchers explain, there is no dominant force, religious or otherwise, that explains the widening gulf.
One of the most famous Republicans to stop believing in evolution is Rep. Paul Broun from Georgia. He's a doctor (who serves on the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology). But he now believes "all that stuff I was taught about evolution, embryology, the Big Bang theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of hell." At a speech at Liberty Baptist church in Georgia last year, he explained,
"There's a lot of scientific data that I’ve found out as a scientist that actually show that this is really a young Earth. I don’t believe that the Earth’s but about 9,000 years old. I believe it was created in six days as we know them. That’s what the Bible says."
While this kind of fringe rhetoric usually doesn't get much serious attention, the Pew poll shows it's becoming more accepted by Republicans. Broun is running for Senate in 2014 to replace retiring Sen. Saxby Chambliss.