New Poll: Atheists in Britain, Canada Are Losing Faith in Evolution

A new survey about evolution in Britain and Canada revealed that while most people accept evolutionary theory in those countries, atheists and non-religious people harbor grave doubts about evolution's ability to explain humanity.

One in five British atheists (19 percent) and more than one in three Canadian atheists (38 percent) agreed with the statement, "Evolutionary processes cannot explain the existence of human consciousness." Non-religious people also harbored this doubt: 34 percent of the non-religious in Britain and 37 percent of them in Canada also agreed with that statement.

Similarly, over one in ten British atheists (12 percent) and nearly one in three Canadian atheists (31 percent) agreed with the statement, "Animals evolve over time but evolutionary science cannot explain the origins of human beings." In Britain, 19 percent of non-religious people also agreed, while 31 percent of the non-religious in Canada also expressed this doubt.

The Newman University/YouGov survey also studied the opinions of religious people. Over half of the self-described religious or spiritual people in both countries (54 percent in Britain and 55 percent in Canada) agreed that evolution cannot explain human consciousness, while 37 percent of British believers and 45 percent of Canadian believers said evolution cannot explain the origins of human beings.

These results are striking, especially because most Brits and Canadians believe in evolution. Almost three-quarters of Brits (71 percent) and almost two-thirds of Canadians (60 percent) said they accept evolutionary or theistic evolutionary accounts of the origin of human beings.

Only 9 percent of British people and 15 percent of Canadians said that "humans and other living things were created by God and have always existed in their current form." About one quarter of Americans believe such a creationist view, according to Gallup.

In Britain, 64 percent of adults said it was easy to integrate evolutionary science with their personal beliefs, while 50 percent of Canadians said so. Only 12 percent of Brits said it was difficult to accept evolutionary science, while 20 percent of Canadians said so.

While the low levels of belief in six-day creationism may grab headlines, the doubts about evolution may be the most significant.

In discussing faith, C.S. Lewis wrote that most people see faith and reason as in conflict, with the human mind being ruled by reason. But he found this not to be true. "For example, my reason is perfectly convinced by good evidence that anaesthetics do not smother me and that properly trained surgeons do not start operating until I am unconscious. But that does not alter the fact that when they have me down on the table and clap their horrible mask over my face, a mere childish panic begins inside me."