Evolution Gradually Losing Public Support...
Evidence is growing that evolutionary teaching is increasingly losing public support in the British Isles. If correct, this would seem to be following a transatlantic trend, for Science magazine has stated that whereas only 7% of Americans were questioning of evolution in 1985, this grew threefold to 21% by 2006.
"The percentage of people in the country (U.S.) who accept the idea of evolution has declined from 45 in 1985 to 40 in 2005. Meanwhile the fraction of Americans unsure about evolution has soared from 7 per cent in 1985 to 21 per cent last year." (Science, 2006, vol. 313 p765).
With regard to Britain, according to a 2006 MORI Poll, only just under half of Britons accept the theory of evolution as the best description for the development of life.
Furthermore, more than 40% of those questioned believe that creationism or intelligent design (ID) should certainly be taught in British school science lessons.
The survey was conducted by Ipsos MORI for the BBC's Horizon series.
Over 2,000 British participants took part in the survey, and, when asked what best described their view of the origin and development of life, the following was the result:
- 22% chose creationism
- 17% opted for intelligent design
- 48% selected evolution theory
- and the rest did not know.
Intelligent design is, of course, the concept that certain features of living things are so complex that their existence is better explained by an "intelligent process" than by natural selection.
Andrew Cohen, editor of Horizon, commented: "I think that this poll represents our first introduction to the British public's views on this issue. Most people would have expected the public to go for evolution theory, but it seems there are lots of people who appear to believe in an alternative theory for life's origins."
When given a choice of three descriptions for the development of life on Earth, people were asked which one or ones they would like to see taught in science lessons in British schools:
- 44% said creationism should be included.
- 41% intelligent design.
- 69% wanted evolution as part of the science curriculum.
- Participants over 55 were less likely to choose evolution over other groups.
(Source: BBC News website, Thursday, 26 January 2006).
This figure is surprisingly healthy for the UK. The British, traditionally, have considered matters like 'science' and 'evolution' to be in the domain of academics (unlike the Americans who consider such matters much more a matter of public opinion and debate). Unfortunately no 1980's comparisons appear to be available for the UK but there is little doubt that support for evolution would have been much, much stronger during that decade, moreover, the ID movement ('intelligent design' movement) was not even on the scene then. These MORI figures also appear to show that the British are much more aware of, and influenced by, movements in the U.S. to challenge evolution as the required classroom teaching, than many might have once thought.
The truth is that the scientific world itself has been rife with debate on this issue for several years, especially since the arrival on the scene of molecular biologist Michael Behe. Behe's outstanding work has uncovered huge areas of new understanding, areas in which, it must be said, evolution cannot provide an explanation - but divine creation can.
Robin A. Brace, February, 2008.