Less than half of all Britons accept Evolution as true.

An enlightening article from BBC News reveals that Britons are unconvinced about Evolution:

Over 2000 participants took part in the survey, and were asked what best described their view of the origin and development of life:

  • 22% chose creationism
  • 17% opted for intelligent design
  • 48% selected evolution theory
  • and the rest did not know.

When given a choice of three theories, people were asked which one or ones they would like to see taught in science lessons in British schools:

  • 44% said creationism should be included
  • 41% intelligent design
  • 69% wanted evolution as part of the science curriculum.

Participants over 55 were less likely to choose evolution over other groups.

At least Evolution fares a bit better in the U.K. than here in the states. A poll last October found that only 40% of Americans accepted the theory as true and the majority of those folks felt God guided the process leaving only 13% that bought into the naturalistic explanation. What’s surprising is I can’t recall reading about the sort of contentious debates over teaching classes on Intelligent Design and/or Creationism in England that we get here. Of course there’s nothing really stopping that from happening if folks want it to there as there’s none of that pesky First Amendment business to deal with.

24 thoughts on “Less than half of all Britons accept Evolution as true.

  1. Actually there is no soild evidence of either being fact – guess that’s why it’s still called “Theory” of evolution. There is solid fact that a frog never “evolved” into a tree, nor an ant into a bird.

    Personally I think we were dumped on Earth as defective creatures – some greater intelligent beings trash.

  2. I’m completely shocked by that, to be honest. I’m a (newly qualified) science teacher over here in the UK, and if I’d been pressed to predict a figure, I never would have put the percentages like that.
    To be fair, it’s not an issue that gets discussed very often – it’s just not an issue over here. The only time it really comes up tends to be in connection with the US. Still, the impression you would get from normal conversation is that people just view evolution and faith as separate. I’ve met 2 creationists that I know of in the last 5 years or so, though again it’s probably not something you would pick up particularly easily from general conversation.
    I would like to know how the participants were selected for the survey.

  3. JustaDog spewed the following…

    Actually there is no soild evidence of either being fact – guess that’s why it’s still called “Theory

  4. I don’t believe the particular spin the BBC is giving the results. They are probably seeking maximum publicity ahead of the programme.

    – 48% of us chose “evolution without god”;
    – 22% chose “creationism”
    – 17% chose “creative design”
    – 13% chose “don’t know”

    Presumably the religious nuts fall into only two of the above categories, which comprise 39%.  However the 22% figure must include people who believe in some form of “evolution with God”. For example most of the established church here believe in evolution, but don’t find that incompatible with believing in a god.

    So we can only really be sure that 17% have chosen an unscientific option.  As regards 44% wanting creationism to be taught, many of these will be wanting it taught so that it can be rebutted.  69% of us wanted evolution to be taught. The numbers don’t add up, but nutters are more likely to want evolution not to be taught than scientists are for creationism not be be taught (and rebutted).

  5. Let me explain my claim above—while the news that less than half of the Brits accept evolution as fact is indeed disillusioning, the percentage is still substantially greater than it is here in the States. Therefore, in my eyes, Brits (and many other Western Europeans) are still at least marginally more intelligent (or at least more generally informed and less superstitious) than Americans. Which is precisely what I have thought all along.

    Damn that there is no editing option!

  6. hey hey now.. honest is a strong werd wink eh eh..

    I cant say I find the stats surprising, after all
    they were collected by people from people. that’s
    gotta be a double fault if I’m not mistaken.

    I cant say I’ve ever heard evoloution described as
    frog to tree or ant to bird. Even folks that are
    remotely educated on the subject would pick that
    out as bullshit.

    Ill give JustaDog a hand:

    Evoloutional theory would be better described by sticking
    to some basic rules..
    -evoloution has never been shown to occur
    Cross-Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family or Genus.

    I have heard of split but related species can breed on
    occasion to form what could be considered a new
    species/variant/type before.Examples of such offspring would be
    the Liger and the Ass.

    Natural selection is often argued as the catalyst
    for such change within a species. Environmental
    changes can occur without impact and an adaptable
    animal will survive without a high degree of change
    being required to sustain survivability of a given design.
    One could argue that there is eneough divergence within
    that if one were to find the bones of a tall man
    and woman @ 6″2 or better from sweeden and then
    find the bones of an aboriginal couple dated to the
    same time period they would classify them as two seperate
    species if they hadn’t seen all of the physical diversity in between.

    Typically evoloution is thought of as something
    more like homo erectus gradually changed into
    something else and maybe branched into to
    significant variants, two that failed due to
    environmental factors and one that survived to change
    into a few other variants and eventually
    ends up as what we are today..

    I wonder if GM fruit counts as a new species or not?

  7. To quote the boys,“you bastards” your malignant cancer is spreading.
    The cretinist hinge their argument on the improbability of accidental evolution?Yet don’t seem to be raising a fuss over the improbabilities inherent in physic?
    Why is this?

  8. y’know, that’s something I’ve wondered for a while, Kent. As a person who’s packed down 3 or 4 easy readers on physics, the only thing I can guess is that it’s easier to understand evolution. It’s something we’re taught early on, whose general concepts are common knowledge, and can be understood intuitively. Evolution, as an organizational principle, is easier to understand and formulate arguments against. It’s also got easier gaps to attack. QM and physics in general are tough for an ordinary person to grasp, so attacking it becomes a secondary issue. That’s the first problem.

    There’s an interesting conflict here though. Behe’s whole argument about irreducible complexity is a sort of “how else is it possible?”. When it came to the debate between Einstein and Bohr, Bohr pointed out that unless there is evidence showing something is true, we should not presume it is true (vaguely interpreted, referring to Einstein’s claim that Quantum Theory was incomplete, and offered statistics, not an understanding of the process). I don’t see it, so I’m not gonna say that it’s there. Both are essentially posing the same argument. The difference, as I see it, is consistency. Bohr continued to do research and his claims did not form an antithesis to his work.

    Behe, on the other hand, making such a claim, should have disregarded God entirely. As should all the rest of these ‘creation scientists’. They opt not to, and that makes ignorance the second reason.

    I have no problem with you (not you personally) saying things that make no sense, but if you’re gonna be lazy about the research, expect me to ignore you outright.

  9. long live the cretini!

    god damn i’ll drink to that! anyone got an olive?

    probability ?!.. shit designs tend to fail and not get
    passed on. if it sucks, nature tends to kill it.
    design progression occurs. thats probable premise..
    look at humanity and hospitals. most would be dead
    if only left to natural selection… things that wouldnt
    normally survive are now given a chance to
    reproduce..  ultimately take a few steps back or to the
    side.. de/non-evoloution.. we seem to have some
    control over fate.

    and you thought that god made us all perfect? no room
    left for improvement eh? maybe some mistranslated,
    adulterated ainchent fucking parchment would help “improve” misguided humainty to salvation.

  10. ancient – and i can fucking spell..
    I better lay off those cretini’s im gettin a bit buzzed!

  11. arc-legion
    “I have no problem with you (not you personally) saying things that make no sense, but if you’re gonna be lazy about the research, expect me to ignore you outright.”

    Dawkins has a similar approach.
    He doesn’t thing they should even be given a place at the table,so to speak and that it is the “oxygen” of publicity they desire over advancing scientific understanding.

    Sexy Sadie
    “is merely because this specific theory conflicts (in their minds) with a literalistic reading of Genesis.”

    Aren’t there plenty of scientific theories that conflict with their literal reading.
    I am curious how they reconcile the astronomical evidence,you know light from millions of years ago etc with the 6000 years or so since creation.

    I was reminded of the most loathed list when these statistics were released.
    How could the UK/US could slip into a new dark age No 4 you,(not you personally)
    I knew that Blair had a penchant for religion and had a “guide”
    I was reading dire warnings about the consequences of Falwell Robertson etc cosying up to Reagan 20 years ago.
    I figured if articulate and informed writers like Gore Vidal etc were on the case there was nothing to worry about.oops

    Apologies if this duplicates I am having difficulties posting it seems.

  12. Aren’t there plenty of scientific theories that conflict with their literal reading.

    Along with evolution, the Big Bang theory similarly seems to get their panties in a bunch. Other than these two theories, though, I’m not immediately familiar with some of the other areas of science with which they take issue. Then again, these people (Christian fundamentalists) seem to bitch about almost everything, so I doubt one has to look too hard.

  13. It’s also interesting that young people are more likely to choose evolution than creationism or ID/creationism-lite. All main state schools teach evolution in science, and those that teach religious education will teach creationism as part of study of Christianity (or Islam or other religions as appropriate). Private and church-funded schools may deviate but I’d say the vast majority of schools here treat evolution as science and creationism as religion.

  14. Neil T
    “I’d say the vast majority of schools here treat evolution as science and creationism as religion.”

    True for now but it is a creeping horror.

    “At present,of 25,000 schools there are only 6,384 faith schools in the primary sector and 589 in the secondary sector. About 57% of the faith schools teach religious education according to their own beliefs, and the rest teach a multi-faith syllabus. All but 40 of faith schools are native Christian denominations: of the 40, 32 are Jewish, four Muslim, two Sikh, one Greek Orthodox and one Seventh Day Adventist.”
    The Guardian

    Approximately 25000 schools in total;over a quarter faith schools;half of which teach their own brand.
    12.5% of the population,thats a large percentage and it’s growing as Blair etc are encouraging more of these institutions.

  15. I’d like to think that the culture that gave us some of the best musicians throughout all of human history will endure and use its intellect to dispel the spread of fundamentalist superstitions in public discourse. I have faith in you Brits. cool smile

  16. Kent – that’s true but any faith school that teaches Science and does the GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Edcuation, with at least 95% of 16-year-olds take) will have to teach evolution to allow their students to pass the exams. The exams are centrally controlled, not by the schools, and I think the teaching of Science is a government requirement.

    Here is essentially what students are taught about evolution at school, but in a condensed form.

  17. Neil T
    As you are probably aware here in the UK many parents feel the education system is going to hell in a handbaskest and consequently want to to select the best for little Joshua or Jemimah.
    What parent wouldn’t
    In the past faith schools have performed well in the league tables;they also come across as more disciplined orderly etc;as a consequence more parents are taking whatever steps are necessary to get their children into these institutions.
    I used to be OK with this,in the past religion was applied with a light brush,I do not believe this is the case anymore and think the creationist thing bears this out.
    Religion IMO is becoming politicised and to many of these students are being turned(brainwashed) into ‘activists’ for the cause.

    I do not consider myself to be a conspiracy nut,the politicisation of religion in the US started to go downhill bigtime IMO in the eighties;Gore Vidals too he was issuing ‘warnings’ (Armeggedon Essays)in 85;it is not done openly initialy,a stealth approach is used,I think the document highlighting this was called ‘The Wedge’.
    I am more uneasy about the faith schools in this country than I have been in the past.
    The model for change in the UK as with many other things is coming from the US,I’m sure the fundies will adapt it to suit our particular culture.
    The biggest danger in the UK is we have been so laissez-faire about religion and it may be coming back to bite us.

    Sexy Sadie
    “I have faith in you Brits.”
    I used to have faith in my fellow subjects. I am having a damascene? conversion in my old age.
    Cute picture didn’t you used to have an OZ avatar?

  18. I think we’re fortunate over here as almost all our nature or natural history documentaries discuss physics and evolutionary concepts as fact and, as far as I’ve seen, there hasn’t been any real movement in the press to get creationism taught instead of evolution.
    In my Religious Education classes at school we were taught about creationism, but all I remember thinking about it was ‘what a daft idea, look at all the evidence for evolution in the science class I had earlier today’. I don’t believe creationism was taught (to me at least) as questioning evolution, but as ‘something that some people believe’ which is where I believe its teaching is different to how many Americans and perhaps some Brits feel it should be taught.

  19. metalhead
    I’m pleased you came through the education system (recently?)unscathed.
    Even if creationism is taught as belief;as you pointed out;it is still dangerousIMO;as one of the quotes posted on this site says it’s a small step from believing something to be the case to knowing it and easily taken.
    Dawkins and others argue that teaching creationism;even as belief?;undermines the ability to think critically.

    As for programmes
    Take a look at the sky schedule planner on a TV evangelists spiritualist you name it dozens of them.
    When I was a lad   smile there was a one hour godslot on Sunday.
    If supply and demand works and I have reason to believe it does,then demand for this nonsense must have gone up?
    Presumably if more people are of an evangelical bent then more of them also believe in creationism?

    “What’s surprising is I can’t recall reading about the sort of contentious debates over teaching classes on Intelligent Design and/or Creationism in England that we get here”

    Some are starting to get concerned.
    I hope the link works.It previews OK


    Link to Guardian article

  20. There seems to be an ever-present confusion which scientists fail sometimes to appreciate.

    Evolution – the concept of one animal changing into another – is an undisputable fact given the existence of fossils which do not resemble modernday skeletons.

    The disputable bit (inasmuch as any scientific theory is disputable) is Darwinism – natural selection. Indeed, there are and have been competing theories such as Lamarckism which also try to explain evolution in ways biology meshes with.

    Part of me suspects that this has caused problems with the survey since it is not specific enough. Of course, not having seen the raw results I can’t say for sure.

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