Faith

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

Image via Shutterstock, a crumpled piece of paper with the word "God" on it.

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.”

“Now that I am a Christian I do have moods in which the whole thing looks very improbable: but when I was an atheist I had moods in which Christianity looked terribly probable,” Lewis wrote. He defined faith as “the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted, in spite of your changing moods.”

This is one key explanation of why many atheists admit grave doubts about evolution. But another explanation should make them rather unweary.

Evolutionary science is far less settled than many atheists would have the general public believe. Indeed, there is scientific evidence to suggest that evolution does fail to explain human beings and human consciousness.

Stephen C. Meyer, author of Darwin’s Doubt: The Explosive Origin of Animal Life and the Case for Intelligent Design, told PJ Media that the current theory of evolution fails “to solve the fundamental problems of new information and new form — you need new information to build new forms of life.”

Scientists today cannot explain the origin of the information-rich systems like DNA that are necessary for life, nor huge events in the fossil record like the Cambrian explosion, where vast numbers of species came into existence, seemingly from nowhere.

Meyer explained that evolution has already gone through one great “scientific revolution,” from Darwinism to Neo-Darwinism. In recent years, scientists have realized the shortcomings of the current theory, and are looking for a new “extended synthesis” or “third way.”

Many educators and secularists often forget that evolution is a theory, and while it may be the best biological model to fit the current scientific facts, there are many facts that fall outside its explanatory power.

Furthermore, the Christian view of humanity has two powerful elements that evolutionary science lacks — an explanation of how humans understand objective morality, and a direct connection to the source of all truth. In Christianity, human beings are made in the image of God, which means they have a mind similar to the Mind which created the universe and the moral law.

Atheistic naturalism lacks this connection to ultimate meaning, truth, and morality. Darwinists explain the human mind as a product of natural selection, arguing that both morality and the search for truth are survival mechanisms. This sacrifices objective morality and objective meaning, two things at the very heart of Christianity.

Human beings are categorically different from animals. While dolphins may speak to one another and ants may build colonies, they don’t build monuments to famous ants and dolphins and they haven’t have created systems of trade, science, or institutions dedicated to the quest for meaning. This difference should unsettle those who believe in evolution, even if human beings did somehow evolve from other forms of life.

This new study suggested that atheists struggle with doubts about evolution, and it confirmed that even those who make science the grounds of their rejection of God suspect that they are building their faith on unstable ground.

This news should remind everyone that a rejection of God is just as much a faith claim as belief in Him, and that the struggle between science and religion is not as clear-cut as most people think.