Britons Reject Creationism but Some Find Evolutionary Theory Lacking by Catherine Pepinster

The Bible says God created the world in six days and on the seventh day he rested. But less than 10 percent of people in the U.K., including those with religious beliefs, now accept the biblical account of Creation.

According to a new survey published this week, the majority of Britons, including adherents of the major faiths, now accept evolutionary theory.

Even so, 19 percent of religious people in Briton (and 29 percent in Canada) found it somewhat difficult, difficult or very difficult to accept evolutionary science.

Yet at the same time that a broad consensus has developed in the U.K. about evolutionary science, significant numbers of British people without religious beliefs and even atheists do not find that evolution provides a satisfactory explanation for the development of human consciousness and the origins of what can be called spiritual aspects of human nature.

“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.

“We found a range of people are uncertain of evolutionary science-based explanations for the origin of humans and human consciousness. It appears rejection of or uncertainty about aspects of human evolution is not necessarily an issue of ‘religion versus evolutionary science,’ but an issue of universal questions around what it is to be human and about the human experience that affect all of us, across those of all faiths and none. This fundamentally challenges the way we tend to think about evolution and creationism.”

The survey also showed that individuals struggling to accept evolutionary science as an explanation for the origins of life do not have similar doubts about other fields of science. They overwhelmingly accept science as a reliable source of knowledge.

Wright of Derby, Joseph. An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump. London, United Kingdom. National Gallery, 1768. Oil on canvas..jpg
Wright of Derby, Joseph. An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump.


“It seems undeniable that, collectively, the American churches have encouraged puritanism, philistinism, manicheanism, and racism. They have encouraged the cult of individual material success growing out of raw capitalism and the imperialism of a good conscience (the two fundamental ingredients of Americanism in the eyes of its internal and external adversaries). . . . At the same time, the inculcation of individualism, nonconformity, and Protestant freedom have combined to preserve the country in its whole history from the worst horrors of totalitarianism. Religion has nourished the dynamism, egalitarianism, tolerance, generosity, humanity, and idealism of this great people – the only one in history which has mixed all the major ethnic groups and built a great world power without ever falling under the heel of a tyrant or a military oligarchy. Religion has helped this immense continent, filled with all sorts of people, to acquire a soul, to forge itself into a nation, and to anchor itself in its diverse past without ceasing to look toward the future.” – Claude-Jean Bertrand

Chapman, John Gadsby. Baptism of Pocahontas. United States, Washington, D.C. Capitol rotunda, 1840. Oil on canvas.
Chapman, John Gadsby. Baptism of Pocahontas.