A new survey from YouGov and researchers at Newman University in Birmingham (UK) on the public’s views of evolutionary science has thrown up some very interesting results, especially as it includes data from countries not previously surveyed in this way before. It was part of a wider international research project called “Science and Religion: Exploring the Spectrum” funded by the Templeton Religion Trust.
Over 4,000 adults in the U.K. and Canada were interviewed for the study and those surveyed included Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists and Sikhs. Researchers based at Newman University, Birmingham, UK announced the results of a national survey conducted in the UK and Canada, at the British Science Festival in Brighton on Tuesday, September 5th, 2017.
According to the survey, the majority of Britons, including adherents of the major faiths, now accept evolutionary theory. About 71% of UK respondents accept evolution (both natural and guided by God) along with 60% of Canadians. Only 9% of UK respondents selected “Humans and other living things were created by God and have always existed in their current form”.
The number of respondents endorsing this “creationist” position in Canada was also relatively low with just 15% selecting this option. This is significantly lower than similar surveys in the USA, which suggest that around 1 in 4 Americans support this option. Only a minority in both countries found it somewhat difficult, difficult or very difficult to accept evolutionary science: 12% in UK and 20% in Canada.
Surprisingly, non-religious and specifically atheist publics show similar trends to religious and spiritual publics when it comes to expressing doubts about evolutionary science based explanations for human origins and the development of human consciousness.
“What these surprising findings highlight for the first time is that concerns about evolutionary science aren’t necessarily based solely on individuals’ religious identity,” said Fern Elsdon-Baker, the study’s principal investigator and the director of the Science and Religion: Exploring the Spectrum project. “The most encouraging aspect of the survey is that there appears to be a large majority who accept evolutionary science in both countries. Both religious and nonreligious people are more likely than not to find it easy to accept evolutionary science in relation to their own beliefs,” he said.
Adults in the United Kingdom showed the highest levels of ease in accepting evolutionary science in reference to their personal beliefs, with 64% saying they found it very easy, easy, or somewhat easy in comparison to 50% in Canada.
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