Gene Expression

On a lark I decided to see how Catholics & Protestants broke down in regards to evolution by American region in the GSS. Specifically, I clustered the Census Divisions to create the categories of:

Northeast = New England + Mid Atlantic
Midwest = E & W North Central
South = S Atlantic + E South Central + W South Central
West = Mountain + Pacific

I limited the data to non-Hispanic whites for the question “evolved,” which was asked in 2006 and 2008, so recently. Results below the fold for this question….

Protestant Catholic No Religion

Humans Beings Developed From Animals (True)
Northeast 60 66.8 90.3
Midwest 37.2 67.7 77.8
South 30.6 59 82.8
West 36.5 71.5 86.5

I assume few are surprised that Catholics accept evolution at a higher rate than Protestants, this is evident in many polls going back decades. Rather, the interesting point is that the Northeast does not exhibit much religious polarization on this question, while every other region does. The Catholic – Protestant difference for each region is:

Northeast - 6.8
Midwest – 30.5
South – 28.4
West – 35


  1. #1 Greg Laden
    August 29, 2009

    Having lived in the NE and the middle of the country, I may be able to offer a partial explanation. Non-catholic christians in the Northeast have traditionally been the LESS conservative, not more conservative, groups. This has changes somewhat recently, but it was so true and so strongly true for a long time that it must have an effect.

    Also, I just want to point out that the question itself represents a fallacy. Humans did not evolve from animals. The problem with the phrase is, of course, the word ‘from’. See my discussion on the question of whether humans evolved from apes.