British Conservatives Oppose Creationism

IN the United States, creationism seems to be concentrated in the Republican party, although a large percentage of democrats are also creationists. See Opinion Polls on Evolution and Creationism, in which we quoted a Gallup poll that said:

There is a significant political divide in beliefs about the origin of human beings, with 60% of Republicans saying humans were created in their present form by God 10,000 years ago, a belief shared by only 40% of independents and 38% of Democrats.

America’s Republican-creationism linkage is an historical anomaly, a consequence of Nixon’s Southern strategy. There was a time when US creationists were mostly democrats, but those days are gone now and the GOP has to live with today’s politics.

The situation is different in the United Kingdom. At the website of Ekklesia, a British “think-tank which examines the role of religion in public life and advocates transformative theological ideas and solutions,” we read Tories say they would would close down creationist schools. Here are some excerpts, with bold added by us:

A Conservative government would not allow schools that teach creationism as if it was science, the shadow schools secretary has said.

Michael Gove MP told BBC1’s Andrew Marr programme this morning (14 February) that ‘fundamentalist groups’ who taught in a way that undermined ‘democratic values’ would be challenged, and if necessary closed down.

Well, good for them! Let’s read on:

To my mind you cannot have a school which teaches creationism” he said. “And one thing that we will make absolutely clear is that you can not have schools that are set up which teach people things which are clearly at varience with what we know to be scientific fact.”

One couldn’t ask for a better declaration of principle. We continue:

Educationists point out that while creationism is strong in many areas of the US and has been growing among fundamentalist believers in parts of Europe and elsewhere, it is opposed by the official teaching of mainline churches and by theological specialists.

We know the Anglicans oppose creationism. Here’s a list of Statements from Religious Organizations. Let’s read more from Ekklesia:

But a global opinion survey in October last year showed that the British public continued to be confused about how evolutionary science should be taught in school classrooms and whether opposing non-scientific views should be included.

That’s not surprising when one considers all the propaganda efforts of creationists. Moving along:

The Church of England’s general synod, meeting in London last week, said that rejecting science “weakens the Christian voice” and that churchgoers should not read the Bible as if it was a modern textbook.

Here’s the final paragraph:

Creationists — who reject the idea that natural processes are of God, and believe the world was brought about by divine fiat in contradiction to the picture science paints — are wealthy, numerous in the US ‘Bible belt’, and politically determined. But all the major churches accept the evolutionary accounts and see these in relation to the world as divine gift.

That sounds great, but as the article hints, all is not well in the UK. See One-Third of Brits Are “Young-Earthers”, and also 54% of Brits Want Creationism Taught.

Your Curmudgeon is pleased that at least in the UK, conservatives are on the rational side. Rule Britannia!

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14 responses to “British Conservatives Oppose Creationism

  1. Your Curmudgeon is pleased that at least in the UK, conservatives are on the rational side.

    But we do still drink our beer warm.

    And beer means real ale, not pasteurised lager (which is undrinkable at room temp, though barely tolerable even when icy).

  2. From the article: “And one thing that we will make absolutely clear is that you can not have schools that are set up which teach people things which are clearly at varience with what we know to be scientific fact.”

    I hope they are prepared to fight the “Discoveroid” strategy too. Which is not to teach any easily-falsified YEC or OEC account, but merely to promote unreasonable doubt of evolution.

  3. Anyone else depressed that about 50% of voters in this country are creationists. And about a third in Britain. A very sad set of figures for some of the most advanced countries on the planet. What are we doing wrong?

  4. Alb – I’m not as worried as you; I think at least some of that is just bad polling. Sure there’s a hard-core of creationists but I think if you did a nuanced look you’d find a majority of people, even in the U.S., are theistic evolutionists with no real problem with biology or science in general. Maybe they have a problem with some detail (did humans evolve in an undirected fashion?) but not whole-cloth rejection.

    Can’t remember who did it, but there was a UFO poll that asked the question “have you ever seen something in the sky you didn’t recognize” and reported the response rate as ‘people who had seen a UFO.’ Bad polls are a dime a dozen.

  5. Eric, Gallup polls over the past twenty years have drawn a reasonable distinction between Creationists and theistic evolutionists. Even then, about half of those responding are Creationists.

  6. Rubble and Alb – here’s a Gallup link. When phrased as an ‘option 1, 2, or 3’ question the creationist response runs at ~44%. Its never been over 50%.

    There’s also an extensive list of other questions; the hard core creationists tend to run around 1/3. (By which I’m counting the people who have a problem with evolution in schools or are absolutely certain of creationism).

    To be sure the Gallup results show a sizeable minority, maybe even a plurality of creationists. But its not a majority unless you’re willing to count ‘guided’s, which is sort of like counting unknown object observers as UFO observers.

    If you look at questions A and B, where science and religious answeres are not posed as either/or, the support for even human creation only runs at 40%.

  7. Here’s the part that bothers me:

    “opposing non-scientific views should be included”

    Uh, if its non-scientific, then it explicitly does NOT belong in the science class. If you want to have such a dissenting opinion, it belongs in the philosophy class. And the philosophy class, as Steve Martin pointed out, will be just enough to screw you up for the rest of your life.

  8. But we do still drink our beer warm.

    Lucas™ still makes British refrigerators, eh?

    😉

  9. Albanaeon: “What are we doing wrong?”

    For the US at least I think there’s too much focus on religion. That’s the courts’ job, and they are doing it impressively – so far. Our job is to increase science literacy and fight what has been called the “anti-science cancer.” To most people scientists are either comical nerds, evil or both. Science can never do enough to overcome unhealthy suspicion, yet every major pseudoscience (including creationism) gets a free pass by at least a large minority if not a majority.

    The “us vs. them” mindset also needs to change. Anti-evolution activists are only a tiny %, and the hopeless evolution-deniers are at most 25%. We need to focus on the other ~20% who have been fooled into varying degrees of doubt of evolution, and another ~20% that accepts evolution (or more likely a caricature) but thinks it fair to teach the controversy.

  10. We conservatives down here in Australia are basically the same.

    Our new Opposition leader, who nearly became a Catholic Priest publically stated he believes in evolution, he also tetchily asked the interviewer if anyone had asked our church going PM if he believed in evolution.

    There are a couple of overly religious types in state parliments (Fred Nile springs to mind) but they are pretty much at the fringe.

    Ian Plimer did a lot of yeomans work about 12 – 14 years ago making sure they didn’t get a foothold in education etc.

  11. Richard says: “We conservatives down here in Australia are basically the same.”

    It probably helps to be living on a continent populated by creatures Noah never dreamed of.

  12. And beer means real ale, not pasteurised lager (which is undrinkable at room temp, though barely tolerable even when icy).

    I assume this is a snarky reference to Budweiser or Pabst or some such, but the fact is that in America there are hundreds or thousands of varieties of beer available.

    I live in an isolated town of 20,000, but each grocery store probably has fifty different beers. At local bars I prefer Mac and Jack’s and Hale’s Stout.

  13. The Curmudgeon says: “It probably helps to be living on a continent populated by creatures Noah never dreamed of.”

    Actually, looking at most of our flora and fauna, it’s more likely God was too scared to drown them…

  14. Gabriel Hanna noted

    I assume this is a snarky reference to Budweiser or Pabst

    …and I confess, probably too snarky. Your point is a good one: I have enjoyed some excellent local brews in the US, and we aren’t short on big brand gnat’s piss beers in the UK.

    I blame Ed McMahon.