Stranger Fruit

ID and YEC in Britain

New data on creationism in Britain. The, ahem, “highlights”

  • 51% agree that "evolution alone is not enough to explain the complex structures of some living things, so the intervention of a designer is needed at key stages." 40% disagree.
  • 32% agree that "God created the world sometime in the last 10,000 years." 60% disagree.

Thus, support for ID runs at 51% and support for YEC runs at 32%.

Update: Below is the cross-tabs for the preliminary results from the poll. These are, apparently, preliminary results.


News report here; preliminary report in this pdf; Apparently the full analysiswill be available here in March.


  1. #1 Sigmund
    February 2, 2009

    As a biologist it always used to shock me to see results like this. I was also somewhat confused by the fact that the results varied enormously depending on the questions asked – for instance asking people “did the dinosaurs live millions of years ago?” will usually show very high percentages of the population apparently accepting the idea of the earth being millions of years old, although a significant proportion of the same group of people will frequently agree that the earth is less than 10,000 years old!
    The answer I cam up with was that most of the general public simply doesn’t care.
    Its enormously important to me that the earth is old and that evolution occurred because it is the key factor that explains much of my work. To a lot of the public, however, the age of the earth or whether evolution or instantaneous creation happened has no connection with anything solid in their lives. Either will do.

  2. #2 csrster
    February 2, 2009

    As a scientist, I won’t trust a single word I hear about this survey until the full methodology and results are released. And if there’s one thing I’m 100% sure of it is that whatever this survey does or does not show will become much clearer after it has been thoroughly analysed by scientifically literate bloggers.

  3. #3 Cannonball Jones
    February 2, 2009

    As csrster says I’ll wait to see the published survey before panicking. The Telegraph is notorious for misunderstanding and wilfully distorting and mangling anything to do with science or religion so we can take it with a pinch of salt for the moment. I would personally be surprised in the extreme if those results had any validity whatsoever based on previous polls and personal experience.

    We’re generally pretty widely exposed to science programmes and events over here, the schools generally do a decent if not amazing job when it comes to biology and we’re in the middle of a wonderful Darwin season on TV. The only place you ever see any mention of creationism/ID is in rags like the Mail, Express and Telegraph and they are becoming increasingly obsolete. Maybe the survey was limited to churchgoers over the age of 65? :p

  4. #4 Cannonball Jones
    February 2, 2009

    Haha, as expected the lowest numbers polled were in the 18-24 age group and the highest number in the 65+. The phrasing of the questions is also a bit off. What do the rest of you think? I say it’s horseshit.

  5. #5 James F
    February 2, 2009

    This survey is also radically different from the Miller, Scott, and Okamoto paper from 2006. Anecdotally, whenever I talk to people from the UK about the subject, I get the impression that creationism is nowhere near as big a problem there as it is here in the US. Very strange….

  6. #6 Sigmund
    February 2, 2009

    I occasionally frequent a football forum based in the UK that gets pretty busy – tens of thousands of page views every day – and which often hosts off topic threads including posts about evolution. You sometimes do indeed get creationists on these threads but they are certainly in an extreme minority (and half the time they are based in the USA). I would hazard a guess that the ratio of evolution accepters to creationists would be of the order of 99 to 1, with the creationist generally treated like a lunatic once he (its always he on these boards) feels the need to tell us that Noahs Ark was true or that Women have one more rib than men.

  7. #7 Sam C
    February 2, 2009

    I’m inclined to agree with Sigmund’s guess that this superficially worrying result reflects more on apathy or indifference than anything else.

    For most people in the world, it simply doesn’t matter whether evolution is a fact or not. Most people don’t have to choose between creationism or evolution, they can simply be indifferent to both and get on with life, buying bread, cooking meals, watching sport, whatever.

    It’s a scientist’s fallacy to think that one has to understand things to appreciate them – for most people, it’s easy to marvel at the photography of great undersea creatures and listen to David Attenborough’s succulent narration while being completely oblivious to what he says about the evolution of these things.

    An unbiased survey (if such a thing were possible!) which also effectively isolates “don’t know” and “don’t care” would be more enlightening. I suspect hurried “don’t carers” would plump towards the answer that is closest to “oh, I dunno, a bit of everything, whatever”.

    Interesting that the Theos think tank struggles to recognise that there are other religions outside the Abrahamic trinity, and that it doesn’t quite get that inconsistencies between religion and science are a problem for religion, not for science.

  8. #8 Richard Eis
    February 2, 2009

    What these surveys (and sigmund hints at) show is that in school we are learning disconnected facts and clearly not understanding.
    Our education syste, has serious cracks in it, and i worry that without state/religion separation laws we are wide open to ID happily filling those cracks.

  9. #9 zombie_bot
    February 2, 2009

    what’s that? america making a problem out of nothing? not again

  10. #10 Aj
    February 2, 2009

    Well it’s research carried out for an organisation called ”Theos – The public theology think tank” (looks to have been set up by the Romans and the Anglicans), being reported by the Daily Telegraph (a right-wing newspaper currently in journalistic meltdown).

    … and, looking at the preliminary results, “Atheistic evolution” is defined as “the idea that evolution makes belief in God unnecessary and absurd”.

    Wonder what the results would have been if they just asked about “Evolution”?

  11. #11 Muse142
    February 2, 2009

    So, when people claim that cdesign proponentists are only a problem in America, and that a British publication clearly shouldn’t be worried about stirring up IDers there… they might be a little under-estimative?


  12. #12 Ken
    February 2, 2009

    Simple addition (theist + atheist evolution; definitely + probably) indicate 78% support evolution!!

    Yet Theos and the Telegraph mange to put the oppsot=ite spin on it.

    The poll suggests that a fair proportion of IDers and YCEers also support evolution. Just shows that the poll was poorly designed and the questions confusing.

  13. #13 Modusoperandi
    February 6, 2009

    I’m with Aj. The poll has already given away its conclusion by using loaded speech for one and only one definition. Way to make one side fight uphill.

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