26 January 2006

What would Darwin think?

Much is being made of a new poll of Brits that suggests Charles Darwin's homeland isn't quite as intellectually advanced as previously believed. The main poll question and statistic of interest is "44% said creationism should be included" in science classes. PZ Myers, for example, heralds the Ipsos MORI poll, conducted for the BBC-TV Horizons series, as evidence that "Brits are just as stupid as we are."

That's one way of looking at it. A recent Pew survey, for example, found 42 percent of Americans believe humans have existed in their present form only (i.e., are creationists). But we really shouldn't be too surprised. Several polls have looked into the level of atheism and religiosity in the early 21st century, and most generate consistent results: between 39 and 44 % of Brits do not believe in God (compared with single digits in the U.S.). That leaves upwards of 61 % who are susceptible to supernatural explanations of things like the diversity of life.

I know that mixing disparate poll results is bad form -- differences in sampling techniques can play havoc with meta-results, for one thing -- but if we assume all the stats are representative, then it would appear that only two-thirds of the U.K. faithful are creationism junkies. The numbers in the U.S. aren't exactly the same, but they show a similar trend. With near 90 % of the populace calling itself religious, only 65 % of the country wants creationism taught, either alone or along with evolution.

What does this say about the never-ending debate we science bloggers are having on this side of the pond over the compatibility of science and religion?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know the answer to your final question, but could you please stop calling us 'Brits'? That's an annoying new invention from your side of the pond, on a par with "Prime Minister Blair" (his title is Mr), that seems to be creeping in over here.

4:51 PM  

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