The majority of the literature aiming to harmonize a literal Biblical account of Noah’s Ark with modern science comes from well-funded Christian groups in English speaking countries. These groups (AIG, CMI, ICR) all require all staff and authors of articles submitted to their journals to sign statements of faith that exclude non-Christians, Catholics, and Mormons, among others. This means that Creationists that do not agree with their statements of faith tend to lack funding to sit around all day debating Ark logistics, and have fewer opportunities to publish their thoughts. Because of this publication bias, most of the theories I discuss come from Protestant Christians. But some of you may be talking to individuals that don’t belong to major organizations, and it’s important to remember that not all people opposed to evolution are Evangelical Christians.

The story of Noah’s Ark is in the Old Testament and is therefore a part of Jewish tradition. Some branches take the story literally, while others (mainly Reform Judaism) do not.

The Quran describes Noah’s flood in more detail than the Christian Old Testament, and has some minor differences between them. Islamic apologists don’t seem to have the same focus on Noah as the Christian YECs, likely because Islamic apologists tend to focus on what separates them from Christianity, not what they have in common.

The original flood story upon which the Genesis account was based was probably composed in Babylon and was common in polytheistic cultures throughout the area in ancient times. However few of those religions are still practiced today. The Hindu religion preserves a flood story about Manu which likely has some relation to the Biblical account. However the differences between the accounts are substantial, and I have not found any examples of Hindus trying to insist that the story is literally true and force it into compliance with modern science.

On a global scale most people who believe in a literal worldwide flood are probably Muslim. Christians do make up 32% of the world’s population, which is higher than the 23% which are Muslim[1]. However, half of the Christians are Catholic and another 12% are Orthodox, and those denominations generally accept evolution, while only the relatively small Ahmadiyya Muslim community officially accepts evolution. Therefore, although I can’t find any global surveys directly addressing this question, there are probably more YEC Muslims than Christians.

However, at least in the US, the Pew Religious landscape survey shows that the official position of a denomination and the beliefs of individuals within that denomination have surprisingly little correlation. In their 2014 survey, Pew asked the question:

“Which comes closer to your view? Humans and other living things have evolved over time or humans and other living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time? And do you think that humans and other living things have evolved due to natural processes such as natural selection or a supreme being guided the evolution of living things for the purpose of creating humans and other life in the form it exists today?”.

Pew Religious Landscape Survey, 2014

Answers to the question are broken down based on the religious denomination that the individuals selected. I’m focusing on the 34% of Americans surveyed answered that human beings have always existed in their current form, a number that presumably includes all YECs, but would also include many other groups, including old earth creationists and people who believe that other animals evolved naturally but humans were specially created.

I’m going to display this information in two ways. First, I have a pie chart breaking down this 34% that deny evolution by religious denomination:

This is very interesting, particularly that 9% of the evolution deniers are “nothing in particular”, a label generally associated with non-believers! And the Evangelical Protestants that dominate anti-evolution literature make up less than half of the evolution deniers. But because the sizes of the different religious groups in the population are so different, I feel that this chart doesn’t give the full picture. Therefore, I’ve made a second chart which represents all of the people in each denomination, placing those that accept evolution above the middle line in red, and those that reject evolution below it in blue. I’ve also colour coded the denominations by their official position on evolution, where applicable. (Note that some denominations were so large that I had to widen the columns).

As you can see, of the 34% who answered that human beings have always existed, over a quarter (26%) belong to denominations that have officially accepted evolution and have actively opposed the teaching of Creationism in schools (denominations shaded red in my chart).  That’s not even counting the “nothing in particular”s and atheists and agnostics, who don’t have an official body to make a statement. Most denominations are pretty divided on this issue, even when their leaders are not.

When talking to individuals who reject evolution, yet belong to a denomination that accepts it, I’ve found that most people just don’t realize that their church accepts evolution. The battle is so often presented in the media as Christians versus non-believers, that many people assume that because they are Christian they have to deny evolution. This is important to remember in discussions. Sometimes the most effective thing you can say is “you should talk to your pastor about that”.

[1] Pew Research Center, Global Religious Landscape Survey, 2012.