It is difficult to find good quality studies on the prevalence of Young Earth Creationist views specifically, even in the USA. Most surveys only ask people about their acceptance of evolution. I want to know how many people believe that the Earth and everything on it were created, as is, in the last 10,000 years. Or that a flood literally covered the entire planet. None of the major surveys ask these questions.

Ken Ham has made vague references in speeches suggesting that they collected that information in the America’s Research Group (ARG) survey regarding the market for the Ark Encounter. However, I have not been able to find a copy of that survey. My search led me to the book Already Gone, written by Ken Ham and Britt Beemer (like most AIG books, if you scroll down past the “buy” links you can read the full text for free online). Already Gone is not a survey of the general population, but of one thousand American 20 to 29 year olds who regularly attended an evangelical church growing up but no longer regularly attend church. Thus, it does not answer my question. But I read the book anyway, and I was startled that a professional survey company would ask these questions. Perhaps there is less nuance in consumer marketing than in people’s religious beliefs. Or maybe they are just so wrapped up in their own strong religious beliefs that they are just incapable of looking at their questions from an outsider’s point of view. But in my opinion the wording of the questions makes the majority of the survey completely useless.

One section particularly stood out to me. Britt Beemer is expressing his confusion at the results of certain questions of the survey. And in each question he’s confused about, the question is worded in such a way that I would give the same answer as he would. Which is problematic, considering that I am an atheist and he is a young Earth Creationist. I don’t think he intended to group us together in his survey.

Here is the section:

“Every once in a while, some numbers just don’t make sense. It makes you wonder how much people have really thought through their Christian teachings and their Christian faith. Sometimes I have to push myself back from my desk, scratch my head a little bit, look up at the ceiling, and wonder what in the world are these people thinking?

Do you believe that dinosaurs died out before people were on the planet?
60% of those who attend church on Easter and Christmas said yes.
32% of those who don’t attend church at all said yes.

This is exactly backward of what we would expect. In every other area of belief, those who attend church at the holidays gave more accurate biblical answers to our questions . . . except this one! It’s sad but true that many Christians have not logically thought through the earlier teachings in their lives. I believe those who attend church only on Christmas or Easter and those who don’t attend at all are answering the question about dinosaurs based more upon movies they’ve seen than scriptural teachings. Sometimes you just have to accept that people are not always logical and therefore are never predictable.”

But dinosaurs did not die out before people were on the planet. The scientific consensus is that modern birds are dinosaurs. Thus, I would give the same answer as Beemer, “no”.

I know AIG likes to present this as a recent development that only fringe scientists hold, but it has been the scientific consensus for decades. In fact, even the AIG publication Journal of Creation used the term “non-avian dinosaurs” in 2003. It’s not new. Of course, it’s also not necessarily common knowledge in the general public. But this was not a survey of the general public. This is a survey of people who left the church, and the reason many of them gave for that was evolution. Thus, it could well be a group that had a better understanding of the theory of evolution than the general population.

Beemer continues:

“But this was the one that really got me wondering: Do you believe that God used evolution to change one kind of animal to another?
24% said yes.

When we asked the same group this question: Do you believe that humans evolved from apelike ancestors?
30% said yes.

You would expect to have the same identical answer to both of these questions. However, we don’t. And the reason we don’t have the same answer is that these young people were not adequately equipped when they were younger to understand and defend the Scriptures.”

I would not give the same answer to both of those questions. I would answer “no” to the first question because I don’t believe in God, and “yes” to the second question because I accept evolution. But I also know that there are a variety of other reasons that people would consider those different questions. People who would answer “no” to the first question include:
a. Creationists.
b. People who don’t believe in God.
c. People who believe in God but do not believe he was involved in evolution.
d. People who object to describing evolution as “chang[ing] one kind of animal into another”.

People who would answer “no” to the second question include:
a. Creationists.
b. People who generally accept evolution but believe in a special creation for human beings.
c. People who believe humans evolved from something other than an apelike ancestor.

Furthermore, there was a third question asked which is a combination of those two questions, “Do you believe God used evolution to create human beings?”, which he does not discuss. People who would answer “no” to this question would include:

a. Creationists.
b. People who don’t believe in God.
c. People who believe in God but do not believe he was involved in evolution.
d. People who generally accept evolution but believe in a special creation for human beings.

Unsurprisingly, that was the question with the highest number of “no” answers. Here are the full numbers on all 3 questions:

Note that the question that doesn’t mention God, and thus only asks a single question, has the highest number of “yes” answers and the lowest number of “I don’t know” answers. Clarity helps.