Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of July 23, 2007
Canadians divided on God's role in creation
By DEBORAH GYAPONG
Canadian Catholic News
A recent Canadian Press-Decima Research Poll shows Canadians are divided on the role God played - or did not play - in the creation of humans.
But that does not mean the intelligent design controversy raging in the United States will come to Canada.
According to the poll, 26 per cent of Canadians believe "that God created human beings pretty much in their present form within the last 10,000 years or so."
However, 34 per cent said, "human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God guided the process." Another 29 per cent say God "played no part."
"These results reflect an essential Canadian tendency: we are pretty secular but pretty hesitant to embrace atheism," said Decima CEO Bruce Anderson whose firm released the poll results July 3.
Science journalist Denyse O'Leary, an expert on the intelligent design controversy, agrees the issues have not become politicized the way they have in the United States. "Canada is a much more secular country."
American polling figures on similar questions show 20 per cent more Americans than Canadians believe "God created man in his present form within the last 10,000 years or so," said O'Leary, a Catholic who is author of By Design or By Chance: the Growing Controversy on the Origins of Life in the Universe.
She is more interested in the 29 per cent of Canadians who answered "that God had no part in the creation or development of human beings." In Quebec, that figure rises to 40 per cent; among Bloc Quebecois supporters it shoots up to 51 per cent.
But some poll figures may surprise those who assume Conservative voters would be more likely to hold religious views. The poll indicates that 31 per cent of Conservatives believe God played no part, the same percentage as NDP voters. Only 22 per cent of Liberals agree, however.
O'Leary said those figures prove her contention that there is no "functional religious right" in Canada, nor do religious views dominate in any mainstream political party.
In the United States, Republicans are much more likely to be creationist or believers in some kind of intelligent design than are Democrats.
O'Leary said the poll questions make it difficult for a person "who thinks that God is very much hands on in human life to know how to respond," because they don't believe God is "merely guiding the process" but they reject the "young earth creationist" position.