Source: Pew Research Center
Most people across Central and Eastern Europe say they believe in evolution – that is, that humans and other living things have evolved to their present state over long periods – rather than that humans have existed in their current form since the beginning of time. And those who believe in evolution are more likely to say that it occurred through natural processes that favored organisms with beneficial traits, rather than under the guidance of a supreme being.
Still, while most people believe in evolution, there is no regional consensus on the broader question of whether scientific and religious worldviews are at odds with one another. In nearly half of the countries surveyed, most respondents see science and religion as generally in conflict, while in the other countries opinion is either closely divided or most people say they don’t see a conflict between the two.
In most of the countries surveyed, majorities say humans and other living things have “evolved over time,” as opposed to having existed in their present state since the beginning of time.
Acceptance of the scientific theory of evolution is most common in the Czech Republic (83%) and Estonia (74%), which have large populations of religiously unaffiliated people. Acceptance also is widespread in Hungary, Latvia, Greece and Russia.
People are least likely to believe in evolution in Armenia and Bosnia, where roughly half or more say humans and other organisms have existed in their current forms since the beginning of time.
Overall, religious “nones” are more likely than those who are affiliated with a religious group to believe in evolution. And people who say religion is very important in their lives are more likely than others to reject evolution.
Across the region, Orthodox Christians and Catholics are about equally likely to say humans and other living things have evolved over time. And belief in evolution is generally about as common in Orthodox-majority countries as in other countries.
Younger people (ages 18 to 34) and those with college degrees are significantly more likely to believe in evolution than older people and those with less formal education.
Respondents who say they believe in evolution were asked a follow-up question: Do you believe evolution was guided by a supreme being, or do you instead believe that living beings evolved through natural processes such as natural selection? In almost every country surveyed, people who believe in evolution are much more likely to say natural selection was the driving force.
By comparison, fully a quarter of Americans (25%) say humans have evolved under the guidance of a supreme being, just slightly lower than the share who believe in evolution due to natural processes (33%). About a third of U.S. adults say they do not believe in evolution.