A creator God
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The Canadian Press Decima Research poll, released July 3, showed that only 29 percent of those surveyed believed that God had no part in the creation or development of human beings. This statistic runs against the grain of common perception. Anyone could be forgiven for thinking Canadians were a race of atheists or agnostics if all they knew of the country came from the daily news.
Despite this ingrained perception, the polls consistently say otherwise. For instance, who knew 26 percent of Canadians are essentially creationists when it comes to evolution? Yet there are almost as many creationists as there are hardcore religious skeptics. Come on over Stockwell Day. It appears the former leader of the Alliance party, and current public-safety minister, has lots of company.
In fact, a plurality of Canadians - 34 percent - actually agree with the statement that "human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God guided this process." Few Catholic theologians, including Pope Benedict XVI, would have any problem with this position from a doctrinal point of view. The Catholic Church has understood for some time that nothing in church teaching stood in the way of accepting evolution as the best available scientific theory for describing the biological roots of humanity, as long as this belief did not preclude the foundational role of God in the process.
There were also some interesting regional revelations in the survey. Belief in creationism was at its lowest in Quebec at 21 percent (not surprisingly), but second was Alberta (22 percent) and British Columbia (22 percent), both of which have reputations as diehard conservative neighborhoods, overrun with fundamentalist Christians. Also in once overwhelmingly Catholic Quebec, the greatest percentage of those surveyed (40 percent) felt God had no role in creating humans.
Another challenge to conventional wisdom can be found in the political preferences of those surveyed. More Conservatives (31 percent) than Liberals (29 percent) were likely to say God had no part in human development. What does this say about the influence of the religious right, except that it has been exaggerated? Or about the "godless" Liberals?
While it is always prudent to be careful how much to read into opinion polls, it could be reasonably concluded from this survey that Canadians are yet to jettison a belief in a creator as the source of life. While institutional religion may suffer from declining attendance and other related ills, Canadians, by and large, still remain believers. Whether those beliefs are more than skin deep is a question for another poll.
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Joseph Sinasac is the publisher and editor of The Catholic Register.
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