Field of Science

How many Britons are creationist?

According to a survey out today, it's 50%. The survey itself is sponsored by Theos, the religious think tank, as part of their program to 'Rescue Darwin' from his association with atheism. The survey results are published yet, but The Guardian has a report on them:
The poll found that 25% of Britons believe Charles Darwin's theory of evolution is "definitely true", with another quarter saying it is "probably true". Half of the 2,060 people questioned were either strongly opposed to the theory or confused about it.
12% opted for intelligent design and 10% opted for creationism. These figures sound bad, but in fact they are an improvement from a 2006 Ipsos MORI poll, which found that 17% opted for intelligent design and 22% for creationism. The difference might be down to the way they phrased the question - it's hard to tell from the news reports.

Regardless, I guess we should welcome the Theos campaign (funded, incidentally, by the Templeton Foundation) to persuade believers to accept evolution. Apart from this poll, their going to write an essay on why Darwin and religion are compatible, and commission some research into how creationists think. They've even commissioned a PR company.

This poll is the first fruits of the Templeton Foundation's investment. It doesn't really help us much to understand why there are so many creationists in the UK. Hopefully they'll release the full survey results, with an analysis of the demographic factors linked to accepting evolution by natural selection. But in the meantime, here's my prediction about the characteristics of creationists and IDers: They'll be:
  • Older
  • Less well educated
  • More religious
OK so not earth shattering but it does point the way to what you need to do to get greater acceptance of evolution. You have to wait till people with old-fashioned ideas die. You need to be firmer in education (both science and religious) - and to do this you need to stop religious teachers from teaching what they want to teach. And lastly, you need to reduce the influence of religion and religious leaders in wider society.

It's that simple. Over to you, Theos!

2 comments:

  1. I'm dubious about how ID is being treated here - for me, there's a difference between the hard form (there's evidence for a designer) and the soft form (God no doubt played a role at some point).

    I suspect that a lot of people polled fall into the soft category, which is little more than an attempt to weakly reconcile belief in God and acceptance of evolutionary theory.

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  2. I reckon you're probably right. In fact, that might well explain the difference between the Ipsos MORI poll in 2006 and the new one. If you frame the question in a way that make people link support of ID to being faithful, then they will probably opt for that version.

    I suspect that Theos were careful in the way they phrased it, because they want to show that faith and acceptance of evolution are compatible. Ipsos MORI were trying to highlight the conflict. But I'm just speculating, really - without being able to see the questionnaire.

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