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Pope Francis has become the latest pope to affirm that the Catholic Church sees no contradiction in natural evolution and creation, returning the spotlight to an oft-debated topic: the origin of human life.

In the U.S., a considerable number of Non-Catholic religious adults do not accept evolution, because it casts doubt on their religious understanding of how humans came to be. Here are five facts concerning evolution and religion.

  • 1. Pope Francis is not the first pope to address evolution and faith.

    Pope Pius XII stated in 1950 that evolution and the Catholic teachings on creation were not incompatible. Pope John Paul II said that evolution was “more than a hypothesis” in 1996.

  • 2. While 60% of adults in the US believe that living things evolved over time, only half of those believe evolution occurred completely due to the processes of natural selection.

    33% of all American adults reject evolution, believing that all life came into existence in its present form. By contrast, a very large percentage of scientists accept evolution and natural selection.

  • 3. For white evangelicals, 64% reject evolution, with Protestants in that demographic being the likeliest to do so.

    Only about one in twelve (8%) believe that evolutionary theory is correct, at least in part, while a majority (57%) of unaffiliated religious adults accept evolution by natural selection.

  • 4. Among white Catholics, one in four (26%) reject evolutionary theory even though the Catholic Church accepts it.

    Among Hispanic Catholics, nearly a third (31%) rejects evolutionary theory.

  • 5. Teaching creationism or intelligent design in public schools has been prohibited by several court cases.

    Although there have been efforts in many US states to have evolutionary alternatives taught in public schools, several courts have rejected proposed curricula, which diverges from evolutionary theory.

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