Monday, February 02, 2015

Creationism in the UK: Overstated?

Forbes is running a story that finds the prevalence of young earth creationism is not as great as has been thought.  John Farrell, who right off the bat equates “creationism” with “young earth creationism” writes:
It was thought, based on surveys conducted in 2006, that more citizens of the U.K. were embracing creationism. Indeed, the BBC Horizon program found that 22% of U.K. citizens identified themselves as creationists.

Unsworth, who has a PhD in molecular biology from University College London, was skeptical, and her survey data suggest her skepticism was well founded.

“Many people simply haven’t thought much about evolution,” she said in a press release shortly after reporting her initial results at a Faraday conference in September.

“Survey questions may force them into ticking either a ‘creationist’ or an ‘evolutionist’ box,” she said, “but whether these labels have much real-life significance is pretty questionable.”
I would believe that most people haven't thought about evolution much. I certainly know that the people that I work with at ORNL don't give it much thought. It simply is not germane to their lives. The only reason it is to me is that I pursued evolution as an academic discipline.  I think that even in the Christian community, there is general apathy about it.  The story continues:
After carrying out detailed face-to-face interviews with over a hundred Christians and Muslims, Unsworth designed her own survey. Of 2,116 people in Britain, she found that only 3% reject the idea that plants and animals have evolved from earlier life forms, whilst 6.8% reject the idea that humans have evolved from non-human life forms. Only 4% would qualify as young earth creationists.

Further, she discovered that even amongst regular worshippers–meaning those who attend religious services once a month or more, only 14.3% reject plant and animal evolution, 28.6% reject human evolution and 10.2% think the earth is young.
England and Europe as a whole are, generally, more secular than is the United States and I wonder how different those numbers would be here. The same survey would have to be administered.

There is also truth to the idea that those numbers would be higher here in the south than they likely would be in other areas of the country.  As is the case here, there are bound to be pockets of people who accept creationism without reservation—the home school crowd comes to mind— and support for the Discovery Institute and its mission remains high here in the United States.

She is interviewed as saying that she has higher resolution on the data, with regards to different denominations and religions.  I would be very interested to see what that information shows.


  1. Am flagging your blog post and the Forbes link at the News section of the British Centre for Science Education community forum (without adding any further comment for now at least).

  2. Ashley, what is that link?

  3. Here:

  4. My latest post here, just now, may also be of interest re other surveys (in the US):