We often regard the U.S. as a bad outlier among non-Muslim countries in our high acceptance of creationism. But creationism appears to be on the upswing in the UK, too. (This is the message I got from many UKers when I lectured on The Queen Mary last spring.) Now an Ipsos Mori poll, reported in Sunday’s Guardian, says that 54% of those surveyed in the UK agree with this statement: “Evolutionary theories should be taught in science lessons in schools together with other possible perspectives, such as intelligent design and creationism.”
This is three points higher than the same response in the U.S. And although we think of Egypt as a country verging on Islamic fundamentalism, the most striking result was this:
It was found that Britons were almost three times more likely than Egyptians to want creationism and intelligent design to be included in the teaching of evolution.
Now I haven’t seen the poll itself, and we all know that you can bias results by how you ask the questions. Nevertheless, this is a distressing — though not surprising — outcome. It’s painful to see a country like the UK regress in this way. And if it’s real regression, and not just the biased results of one poll, then what social forces are behind it? Dawkins, I think, has attributed it to the rise of Islamic schools, but I doubt that more than a fraction of the 973 Britons polled were Muslims.