Survey suggests a third of the UK population believes a god created the earth within the last 10,000 years

The Daily Telegraph reports high levels of public doubt about evolution.  In Poll reveals public doubts over Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution religious affairs correspondent discusses an opinion poll that reveals unsuspected high levels of creationist belief in Britain.  Richard Dawkins

[…] expressed dismay at the findings of the ComRes survey, of 2,060 adults, which he claimed were confirmation that much of the population is “pig-ignorant” about science.

The survey was conducted by ComRes for a religious think-tank called Theos – according to the Telegraph article, the survey was due to be released today by Theos, but so far there’s no sign at their website.  From the Telegraph article it would seem that:

  • more than half the public believe that the theory of evolution cannot explain the full complexity of life on Earth, and a “designer” must have lent a hand
  • one in three believe that God created the world within the past 10,000 years
  • 51% agreed  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”, while 40% disagreed with that statement.

If this was a truly representative survey, one must despair at the ignorance of the general population.  However, in keeping with many surveys, one notes that it does support a more theological stance, as might have been desired by Theos.  I wouldn’t be too hasty to interpret without knowing how many were surveyed, how they were surveyed, and what the questions were.

A more pertinant question is why the Telegraph article wasn’t written by a biologist.  I’ll update this post when Theos’ statement is published.  The article also claims

A recent poll of science teachers found that one in three believe creationism should be taught in science classes alongside evolution and the Big Bang theory of the origin of the universe.

No, it damned well shouldn’t – Big Bang theory and evolution are science.  Creationism is medieval superstition supported only by religious bosh and has no place in the science classroom. Period.

Update: I find a press release from the Evangelical Alliance that this isn’t the first time that Theos have used ComRes: they did so for a survey on UK attitudes to the resurrection last Easter.  For that survey,

ComRes interviewed 1107 GB adults online between 22 and 24 February 2008. Data were weighted to be representative demographically of all GB adults.

I’m never to happy to see polls conducted online or by telephone, as this can (often unintentionally) skew the data.  The same page notes “ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules”, so there shouldn’t be an issue there. Here’s a blog response at A Thinking Man.

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