1 The Roman Catholic Church has long accepted – or at least not objected to – evolutionary theory. Pope Francis is not the first pontiff to publicly affirm that evolution is compatible with church teachings. In 1950, in the encyclical “Humani Generis,” Pope Pius XII said that Catholic teachings on creation could coexist with evolutionary theory. Pope John Paul II went a bit further in 1996, calling evolution “more than a hypothesis.”
2 A minority of Americans fully accept the scientific explanation for the origins of human life. According to a 2013 Pew Research Center survey, 60% of Americans say humans have evolved over time, but only about half of that group (32% of U.S. adults overall) believes that humans and other living things evolved solely due to natural processes, the explanation accepted by the vast majority of scientists. About a quarter of U.S. adults (24%) say that humans and other life evolved, but that this evolution was guided by a supreme being. The same survey found that a third of Americans (33%) reject evolution entirely, saying humans and other living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time.