Comments: What the British think about Darwin and Evolution

Who exactly are these people? And how come I have never met any of them?

Posted by Merseymike at Friday, 6 February 2009 at 5:34pm GMT

This was in the Free Church paper over here a couple of days ago.

I didn't bother to check it up.

Is it for real? - and as Merseymike asked Who are these people? Are there many?

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Saturday, 7 February 2009 at 7:12am GMT

Yes. They are for real. Theos' research was very thorough -- a sample of about 2,000 adults. We don't meet them because we are either educated or interested in these questions or both. But you simply cannot underestimate the ignorance and lack of interest in science or any other form of disciplined intellectual endeavour on modern Britain. Probably about the same in much of Western Europe. It's a consequence of the more general collapse of the school system. There is a commenter at the Guardian site who cannot spell at all without a spell checker. I know this because he repeatedly and reliable spells "were" as "where". It also emerges that he is a teacher in a secondary school. So we can assume that his students too emerge without much knowledge of this useful distinction, and with a firm belief that anyone who thinks it matters is just trying to put them down.

Posted by Andrew Brown at Saturday, 7 February 2009 at 8:58am GMT

There are a lot of people out there who believe in young earth creationism, they can be quite vehement in their beliefs.

One observation is that their thinking has a core premise that humanity is made in God's image (the masculine one), and that God is thus human-like.

The idea of a God that exists before, after, with or without humanity scares them silly. As does the idea that God might have no form, or take on any form.

It is an infantile form to postulate that God can only exist within human constructs, and that God does not exist unless humanity acknowledges God. Humanity needs God to exist, God does not need humanity to exist. Nor does God require only one form of sentience, where the conditions are right, God brings forth life and ecosystems, the forms and their history are their own. They are not dependent on human male approval to either exist or evolve.

Posted by Cheryl Va. at Saturday, 7 February 2009 at 10:16am GMT

I never pay much attention to this sort of poll. So much depends on how the questions are phrased, and you tend to get back what you put in. Leaving the 10% of young earthists aside (and what is the sampling error?), the remaining 90% of respondents are categorised in a pretty confusing manner. In what sense is 'Evolution' (define please, it's important) 'True'? Once you pose that question the rest falls apart methodologically with great speed.

Posted by mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) at Saturday, 7 February 2009 at 10:53am GMT

I wonder about the "probably true" ones. They're more likely to misunderstand what the term theory means in scientific circles, and they could be the ones who read about increasing understanding of the process, therefor thinking that we still don't know enough to have a final, lasting piece of knowledge. When they say "probably true" they might well be making a positive statement, not a sceptical one.

Intelligent Design is also a concept often misunderstood. I know people who believe that there is a creator God who kick-started the process of evolution, and who would call this Intelligent Design.

For many it's a simple progression:
A meticulously created universe - Intelligent Design - No God.
And so most agnostics and many Christians would fall somewhere on the ID ends of the scale, without being ignoramuses or anti-science.

Posted by Erika Baker at Saturday, 7 February 2009 at 1:43pm GMT

Once upon a time in USA Bible Belt states, I had a real conversation with a faithful woman believer in my large, extended family of religious folks. We happened to touch on her doubts about evolutionary models. If Darwin is really true, she asked me, Why aren't Chimpanzees still gradually dropping down out of the trees and evolving into humans right before our very eyes.

I knew immediately that she was speaking for a surprisingly large number of people who just do not speak up about their doubts, though doubt they do.

Fa Real, yo.

That - sadly - is pretty much where too many believers are more or less situated. In USA at least, we already know it accompanies the grand decline of math and science education in way too many USA schools at every level from elementary schools on up to colleges. Even conservative college student groups only preach slightly more moderated versions of what evolutionary models are and why they are wrong. College students have even lodged formal complaints, explaining that their biology advising professor flunked them because they wrote a class paper on Intelligent Design, anti-Darwin in the sadly compromised sense that has become so familiar among rightist believers.

If Rowan and the instruments of global communion want to get exercised about hot buttons - the dumbing down drift going on, outside and inside the communion, will have far larger, deeper, and longer-lasting impact worldwide than VGR being bishop in New Hampshire for a few years. Think the slow melting of the educational and intellectual ice caps in what system models call a runaway to a tipping point.

Posted by drdanfee at Saturday, 7 February 2009 at 7:45pm GMT

This is really depressing. I thought that the anti-Darwin crappola was mostly an American oddity. Sorry to hear Brits also infected. A big part of the problem among the ill-educated is that they think the word 'theory' means 'best guess,' when in science, it means 'established paradigm' or 'established pattern of behavior.' Like, the theory of gravity.

Posted by Cynthia Gilliatt at Sunday, 8 February 2009 at 1:37am GMT

The best way to see the Darwinian system, I suggest, is as a chaotic system. Most of the time it has a sort of large scale equilibrium where mutating bits don't add up to much. But in some localities, and very occasionally across the world, catastrophic changes in the environment mean that mutations start to matter, as tiny proportions of a mass dying population survive, and also varying species emerge out of the intense environment.

Once a population that's adapted starts to grow, there is a new equilibrium.

Most reptiles dying allowed little mammals through, and thanks to that, and the rift valley and less jungle, human species emerged and we are the last.

How on earth people can believe in an eternal Christ (other than pure human myth) when the system is chaotic beats me.

Posted by Pluralist at Sunday, 8 February 2009 at 3:44am GMT

It seems to me Andrew Brown mixes the absence of knowledge with Dyslexia. Not at all the same.

And also disregards, what Mynsterpreost indicates, the prominence of Calvinist Free Churches in promoting, creating, "belief" in Intelligent Design and the like...

It's possible that the proportions be something like 90% to 10%, but only where Free churches are strong and politically powerfull enough to promote it...

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Sunday, 8 February 2009 at 6:02am GMT

Hi all,

I think that the wording of the questions was flawed.

Have a look and see what you think.



Posted by ppsiloiordinary at Sunday, 8 February 2009 at 8:16am GMT

Intelligent design is nothing but a wedge strategy for so-called Christian creationism.

There is no Gen.1:0 saying "this is how it happened". God's processes have given us brains with which to analyse actual evidence; anything else is idiotic.

Posted by Tim at Sunday, 8 February 2009 at 2:04pm GMT

The wording of the questions is always the difficulty in questionaires.

What you ask for - and how - will determine the answers given at a specific time...

But I can't find these questions?

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Monday, 9 February 2009 at 6:38am GMT

It almost doesn't matter what the questions were. if you asked "Do you believe Darwin's theory of the origin of species is correct?" or "Do you believe in evolution?" or similar questions, the problem is that most people have never really read or studied Darwin or evolution...they only know the little they got in high school science (and in some states here in the US, that might be damned little) and/or what they read in the papers when the controversy comes up. You're asking them to state a belief in something they know virtually nothing about.

But in the scientific world, evolutionary theory is about on the same level as gravitational theory. (Yes, thanks to Einstein and quantum mechanics, we are indeed unsure of exactly how gravity works...we just know it does--sort of like evolution.) Try asking somebody "Do you believe in gravity?" Of course, they do, they experience it every moment of their lives. They experience evolution every moment of their lives as well...they just don't realize it, because it's not as obvious as apples falling from trees.

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Monday, 9 February 2009 at 11:35am GMT
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