Half of Britons don’t believe in evolution
The results of the Rescuing Darwin survey, published to coincide with the 200th anniversary of Darwin’s birth by the Theos think tank, make depressing reading. A staggering proportion of the UK population are woefully ignorant about evolution. I’d like to say it surprised me, but it didn’t. The story’s on the Guardian website, beginning as follows:
Half of British adults do not believe in evolution, with at least 22% preferring the theories of creationism or intelligent design to explain how the world came about, according to a survey.
The poll found that 25% of Britons believe Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution is “definitely true”, with another quarter saying it is “probably true”. Half of the 2,060 people questioned were either strongly opposed to the theory or confused about it.
I wrote a couple of comments. The first one was,
This is horribly depressing, but not very surprising. I visit schools as an atheist/humanist to talk to kids as part of their RE courses. When I’ve asked Year 10 or 11 kids how much they know about evolution, the answer’s usually been very little, or nothing at all. Their science lessons cover bits of the story, like human or plant biology, but don’t seem to put things in context, so they don’t get the bigger picture. They have no idea how old the Earth is, or what evolution means. Seems to me they’re leaving school completely ignorant of some of the most exciting things they could be learning about in science lessons.
A scientifically trained friend who’s involved with education read my previous post about an article in the East Anglian Daily Times, and emailed,
It is all extremely depressing … In my optimistic youth I was convinced that superstitious nonsense would disappear under the influence of education and the obvious superiority of scientific methodology and logic. I thought that humankind was heading for the stars both literally and metaphorically. I was wrong. They are descending back into ignorance. Mit der Dummheit kÃ¤mpfen die GÃ¶tter selbst vergebens*.
*”Against Stupidity, the Gods Themselves Contend in Vain” – a quote from Friedrich Schiller’s play Jungfrau von Orlean, which Isaac Asimov used for the title for his book “The Gods Themselves”. Asimov said, “Creationists make it sound as though a ‘theory’ is something you dreamt up after being drunk all night.”