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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Polls: Slight majority of Britons are okay with intelligent design

According to the Daily Telegraph (06 February 2009), "Poll reveals public doubts over Charles Darwin's theory of evolution: Belief in creationism is widespread in Britain, according to a new survey."

(Note: If you are looking for Mark Steyn's testimony on the Ontario Human Rights Commission, go here.)
A curious tic of legacy mainstream media is the need to present as breathlessly new findings stuff that anyone could have told them years ago.

In By Design or by Chance? (2004) , I noted this very thing (in the Notes),
See, for example, Mary Wakefield, “The mystery of the missing links” in the Spectator (October 25, 2003). Wakefield was dismayed by the fact that a well-educated friend questioned Darwinism, but when she went home to discuss the subject with her three flatmates, she discovered that they all questioned it, too. Wakefield believes that the Discovery Institute (see pp. 221–25) is to blame for this situation, but that is implausible. One little institute could not do that much damage to a major worldview all by itself. This book has attempted to provide a detailed roadmap to the changes in public perception that have resulted in her flatmates’ surprising views. (p. 322)
and nothing has changed.

Jonathan Wynne-Jones, Religious Affairs Correspondent, writes,
More than half of the public believe that the theory of evolution cannot explain the full complexity of life on Earth, and a "designer" must have lent a hand, the findings suggest.

[ ... ]

In the survey, 51 per cent of those questioned agreed with the statement that "evolution alone is not enough to explain the complex structures of some living things, so the intervention of a designer is needed at key stages"

[ ... ]

The suggestion that a designer's input is needed reflects the "intelligent design" theory, promoted by American creationists as an alternative to Darwinian evolution.
Of course, the question is badly written, and the latter statement is false.

Design is not intervention; it is a pattern created by intelligence. Whether, when, and how an intelligence must intervene is a separate question.

Meanwhile, Richard Dawkins announces that the reason for the high "design" figure is that "much of the population is 'pig-ignorant' about science." You wouldn't think so, to judge from British science achievements. My guess is that Dawkins is one of the reasons so many Britons doubt Darwin.

The research was sponsored by Theos, a group promoting Darwinian evolution as compatible with Christian teachings. (Of course it isn't - Darwinism is actually one of the few types of evolution that is not consistent with Christian teachings. The whole point of it is that there is no evident design or purpose in the universe - natural selection is supposed to be a mechanism that turns chemicals into molecules and mud into mind, or even births universes. On that point, Dawkins is right and Theos is wrong.)

Neurosurgeon Mike Egnor comments,
51% of the British population is a substantially higher portion of the population than the portion who are seriously religious. If my memory serves me, only 10-20 % of Brits attend church each week. This means that Darwinism is doubted by may people who aren't even seriously religious, in the traditional sense.

You don't need to be devout to see the obvious evidence for design in nature.
No, but you do have to observe carefully and think clearly, something many "faith and science" bores don't bother with.

See also: A summary of recent polls of US public opinion on the ID controversy

Find out why there is an intelligent design controversy

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