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Americans open to teaching creationism, poll says

More than 150 years later, Darwin's ideas still divide many, according to July poll.

Creationism, the theory that today's life-forms look pretty much like they did at the beginning of time, is fairly popular, according to a poll conducted by The Pew Research Center for the People and Press.

Forty-eight percent of Americans said human beings and other life-forms evolved over time, but 42 percent said they believed that life-forms have remained the same since the dawn of time.

Thirty-eight percent of poll takers said creationism should replace evolution in public-school curricula. Meanwhile, 64 percent said creationism should be taught in schools alongside evolution.

Particular religious beliefs were more strongly correlated with creationism. Seventy percent of evangelical Protestants said they believed in it, while only 32 percent of mainline Protestants and 31 percent of Catholics agreed.

Pollsters, however, also found that most schoolkids have been unperturbed by evolution. Only 6 percent of kids were uncomfortable when the subject came up, according to responses from parents.

The evolution debate recently flared when President Bush suggested that "intelligent design," which states that life is so complicated that it must have been devised on purpose, could be taught in schools. By contrast, evolution states that things like opposable thumbs developed over time in response to genetic mutations and adaptation.

The Pew organization interviewed 2,000 people in July.