Intelligent Design

More than 30% of students in the UK believe in creationism and intelligent design

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In a survey last month, more than 12% questioned preferred creationism – the idea God created us within the past 10,000 years – to any other explanation of how we got here. Another 19% favoured the theory of intelligent design…This means more than 30% believe our origins have more to do with God than with Darwin – evolution theory rang true for only 56%.

Steve Jones, professor of genetics at University College London…. has been talking about evolutionary biology in schools for 20 years. For the first 10 of those he was lucky to find one student in 1,000 expressing creationist beliefs. “Now in any school I go to I meet a student who says they are a creationist…”

He blames the influence of Christian fundamentalists in America…

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36 Replies to “More than 30% of students in the UK believe in creationism and intelligent design

  1. 1
    scordova says:

    The number identifying themselves with ID is shocking!!! The term ID has only been around since 1987, and its modern formulation was laid out in 1996 by Behe and 1999 by Dembski (correct me if I am wrong anyone). Apparently the kids can distinguish between creationism and ID, and its important that pollsters are at least attempting to make the distinction. My only reservation is that it really is not an either or situation, but at this stage I am not going to complain.

  2. 2
    bFast says:

    One thing I found frustrating about this survey report was that it didn’t clearly discuss who the participants were. Were highschool students included or was it only college kids?

    I like the surveyor’s definition of ID: “the theory of intelligent design – that some features of living things are due to a supernatural being such as God.”

    I found the following statement interesting, “10% of those with no particular religion favoured intelligent design.” 10% of the non-religous population accepting the ID position, with only 30% of the overtly Christan community accepting it certainly doesn’t support the “ID is religion” argument, does it?

  3. 3
    russ says:

    “For the first 10 of those he was lucky to find one student in 1,000 expressing creationist beliefs. ‘Now in any school I go to I meet a student who says they are a creationist or delude themselves that they are.'”

    Have students changed their minds, or were they afraid/embarassed to support a minority view? Or have some said “My skepticism about evolutionist claims now has a name and I think I’ll embrace it.”?

  4. 4
  5. 5
    Carlos says:

    If the preponderance of the evidence warrants intelligent science (e.g. as an inference to the best explanation), that’s all well and good, and we should be concerned about how a priori metaphysical commitments (e.g. to materialism) interfere with recognition of the available evidence. But shouldn’t even intelligent design theorists and their supporters be concerned about students who admit that their beliefs are not constrained by evidence?

  6. 6
    Chris Hyland says:

    Just to clarify:

    The survey was all students not just science not just science students.

    The survey is based on self selection, so what it actually tells us is of the people with a .ac.uk email address (includes anyone who works at a UK university including possibly secretaries, IT technicians etc), who are registered with the website and decided to fill in the survey. I think that the statistic \”nearly 20% said they had been taught creationism as fact by their main school.\” is very suggestive that the survey is biased.

    Most people in the UK think that intelligent design is the same thing as theistic evolution. Almost all antievolutionary activiy in the UK is youg earth creationism, eg AIG.

    The students in science subjects claim to reject evolution becuase of their religious beliefs.

  7. 7
    Mats says:

    Hi Chris

    \”The only moment they don’t know about Darwinism is when they don’t agree with it\”.

    I would like to pose a question:
    Would you conceed that there are people who know full well what Darwinism is (and its alleged \”overwhelming\” evidence), and yet don\’t believe it reflects the true biological history of the universe? Would you agree that there are trained scientists who disagree with Neo-Darwinism for scientifc reasons? Or do you follow the E.S.D. (Eugenie Scott Darwinists) who believe that opposition to Darwinism is based SOLELY on religious grounds?

  8. 8
    bebbo says:

    Mats said “Thirdly, unlike the Darwinian priesthood, historians don’t fear “critical analysis” of their theories, nor would a historian who believes that there was an holocaust deny debating holocaust deniers in order “not to give them legitimacy”.”

    Actually, there are historians who don’t debate Holocaust deniers. That’s because they know the deniers use bogus methods to push what is more of a political cause than genuine historical research. I think you’d be hard pushed to find many historians who would support teaching Holocaust denial in school history classes.

  9. 9
    Chris Hyland says:

    \”Would you conceed that there are people who know full well what Darwinism is (and its alleged “overwhelming” evidence), and yet don’t believe it reflects the true biological history of the universe?\”

    I am sure there are, the literature is there for anyone who wants to read it, and I am under no illusion that everyone who sees all the evidence will accept evolution.

    \”Would you agree that there are trained scientists who disagree with Neo-Darwinism for scientifc reasons?\”

    Maybe there are, I would hope if there were they would act by publishing their ideas on journals, going to conferences and meetings, and trying to convince the scientific community. It also depends on what you definition of Neo-Darwinism, Ive read in ID friendly publications that Stuart Kaufmann is an anti-Darwinist, in which case the answer to your question is yes.

  10. 10
    Carlos says:

    Stuart Kauffman is “anti-Darwinist”?? And I suppose Brian Goodwin, too?

    Maybe it’s just me, but doesn’t that really threaten to water down the meaning of “anti-Darwinist” to mean “anyone who disagrees with Dawkins on anything at all”?

  11. 11
    bFast says:

    When the scientific community, by and large, is telling us to accept Neo-Darwinian evolution as \”fact\” when their case has so clearly not been made that many Ph.Ds in the field do not buy into it, the result is that their integrity gets rightly questioned.

  12. 12
    bFast says:

    Alas, though there are suggestions that ID is attempting to “destroy science”, and that ID will “destroy society as we know it” and all such hallusinations, the strange comparison that kinda migrated into this thread is not realistic. The events that took place at Auschwitz were on the extreme edge of heinous. To deny that these events happened is to open the door to allowing them to happen again. It is this cause that makes “denying” so reprehensible.

  13. 13
    johnnyb says:

    Chris —

    Sometimes when you post here it feels like you are struggling to find something that you disagree with us on. I almost feel as if you are an ID-er who just doesn’t like the idea of being an ID-er. Either that or you have a notion of what ID is which is not reflective of its leaders.

    For instance —

    “It also depends on what you definition of Neo-Darwinism, Ive read in ID friendly publications that Stuart Kaufmann is an anti-Darwinist, in which case the answer to your question is yes.”

    Why this large beating-around-the-bush answer? Kaufmann has the same disagreement with Neo-Darwinism as the rest of us. Have you just not read his criticisms? Or have you not read ours? What makes his criticisms different from ours? We obviously have different replacement theories, but our criticisms of the current one are largely similar.

    As far as publication, what about Ax and his research on limits of mutational changes? What about Nelson and his study of ontogenic depth? What about Meyer and Minnich in their studies of the flagellum? What about Dembski and his studies of statistical inferences? What about Schwartz and his studies of agency in neurology? What about Wells in his exploration of Centrioles? What about Trevor and Abels in their analysis of functional proteins as the result of choice contingency? What about Voie and his arguments from Godel incompleteness? All of these have published ID-related research (with the possible exception of Nelson) in their relevant fields.

  14. 14
    scordova says:

    As far as publication, what about Ax and his research on limits of mutational changes? What about Nelson and his study of ontogenic depth? What about Meyer and Minnich in their studies of the flagellum? What about Dembski and his studies of statistical inferences? What about Schwartz and his studies of agency in neurology? What about Wells in his exploration of Centrioles? What about Trevor and Abels in their analysis of functional proteins as the result of choice contingency? What about Voie and his arguments from Godel incompleteness? All of these have published ID-related research (with the possible exception of Nelson) in their relevant fields.

    Let us not forget our beloved friend, John Davison. :=)

    Salvador

  15. 15
    antg says:

    Now AC Grayling uses the results of the poll to link belief in ID to suicide bombing…

    http://commentisfree.guardian......ation.html

  16. 16
    russ says:

    “But while we’re on the topic, what does a public ‘debate’ accomplish? Public consensus does not determine truth – neither do debating skills.”

    A public debate gives the “morons” a chance to weigh the evidence instead of having to rely on the trustworthiness of “experts”. This is only fair since the “morons” are footing much of the bill for science via their tax dollars (in the U.S., anyway). It’s also the best way for the “morons” to determine what the truth is, because it brings the best arguments for and against a position into the open and can often expose hidden agendas such as religious preconceptions that underpin a position (i.e. atheism, careerism, institutional groupthink, etc.)

  17. 17
    Charlie says:

    And why should we assume that your atheism doesn’t require the reassurance of Science™?

    As an atheis it was required for Dawkins’s intellectual fulfillment.

  18. 18
    bFast says:

    I have not had opportunity to study Kauffman’s work. However, reading the reviews of “The Origins of Order”, it looks like Kauffman is in the “law” camp, a camp that I solidly see as an ID camp.

    I really feel that the law camp, unlike the contingency and agency camps, is neglected. Denton seems a little unclear in “Nature’s Destiny” as to whether he is in the “law” or “agency” camps, but he certainly raises the acceptibility of the “law” premise to a high level.

    Law is ID is certainly respected in cosmology, in the strong anthropic principle. Yet so far the ID community is quite determined to believe that no amount of law could possibly account for biology as we know it. I wholeheartedly agree that the two mechanisms of random mutation and natural selection are painfully inadequate to explain biology — despite what the biological community teaches. Yet work like Kauffman’s causes me to wonder whether a further discovery of laws of nature and “fine tuning” of nature could account for biology.

    H.L. Mencken, is it your view that “agency” is bunk, or do you reject a “natural law” (fundimentally beyond rm+ns) as bunk also?

  19. 19

    Closing this discussion and cleaning it up. Ad hominem attacks are not welcomed here…we don’t mind opposing views but if you can’t offer them in a respectful manner then you will not be allowed to post.

  20. 20

    Comments are now allowed. Remember, avoid non-sequitors (such as comparing the lack of belief in Darwinism to the lack of believe in the Holocaust, which is also offensive) and ad hominem attacks (calling people “morons”).

  21. 21
    Michaels7 says:

    mlmencken said,
    “Nice dodge, but can you explain why 45% of UK citizens have never heard of Auschwitz?”

    Your entire line of questions, except one is a dodge. How many of the 45% believe in Darwinism? Your point is invalid as both sides might be represented and indeed Darwinism may be most represented. Also, don’t forget political ideology and propaganda. Abbas, the PLO leader did his dissertation at Moscow University on the Denial of the Holocaust. This was in the days of The Soviet Union, you know the one Mencken, the one that killed 20 million people in the Gulags, many of which simply believed in a higher power. Yes, atheist in Russia taught Holocaust denial – imagine that. Teaching against the very people of the Torah, by atheist. Your question is misleading and shown to be utterly without merit. In fact, there is more of a case that people without Christian faith are more apt to never “heard” of the holocaust or deny it due to propaganda.

    “How about why 1/3 of Americans believe the U.S. government was involved in the 9-11 attacks?”

    Another dodging question… Maybe because they listen to people like Howard Dean? Most of which fall into the category of far-left, atheist, agnostics, Darwinist, UFOlogist, turn-on, tune-out crowd. Again, what’s your point? That Darwinist are more likely to believe in consiparcy theories?

    “Or why 60% of Americans believe the Earth is less than 10,000 years old?”

    Finally, you hit upon a valid target which one can debate. Maybe you should get an appearance on the Jon Stew-Bob show where most Darwinist get their “news” written by a team of comedy writers? Creationist support ID(albeit with their own interpretations). But atheist support Darwinism – so what? The labeling of supporters does not make or break a theory, it can only shed some light upon preconceived ideas by certain groups. In that case, Marilyn Manson is an atheist. Am I to believe all atheist are like him, uh her, uh him? Am I then to believe Marilyn Manson represents all Darwinist if he believes evolution to be true?

    “Or why 70% of Americans believe in JFK conspiracy theories?”

    Maybe we should all ask Hollywood and Oliver Stone, he of conspiracy fame, who also believes Fidel to be a nice guy? Again, dodging questions. How many are darwinist in this pol? You fail to make any point against ID. Conspiracy theorist do not favor ID anymore than Darwinism.

    “Or why 1/3 of Japanese citizens believe the “Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion” to be authentic?”

    Again, how many of this 1/3 are Darwinist? Do you see how your logic fails? Unless you do an independent study of all your questions you really do not know. A majority here may favor Evolution. So what then? Japanese are smart with one exception? Your question is invalid.

    “I have a theory. It’s super technical but I’ll try not to bore you with it’s arcane details. Most people are morons.”

    Your theory appears to be sarcasm, snide comments and putdowns. Such venting shows you have nothing to offer.

    defined at wiki, Moron:*Originally a scientific term, coined by psychologist Henry Goddard from a Greek word meaning “foolish”, and used to describe a person with a genetically determined mental age between 8 and 12 on the Binet scale. It was also once applied to people with an IQ of 51-70 and was a step up from “imbecile” (IQ of 26-50) and two steps up from “idiot” (IQ of 0-25).

    If you’re only retort is to label people as mentally deficient then there is no need to discuss or debate with you. It is obvious that the majority of people are not “morons.” Most people go to work daily without a care about evolution because it simply does not intrude upon their well being. However, it does not lead to them being ‘morons’. They simply have higher priorities in their life than evolutionist or the NCSE.

    And with the fact that scientist like Dr. John Sanford can conclude all his scientific work was done without need for evolutionary doctrine, why should they bother to care?

    The evolutionary argument grows weaker by the day. It is the information increase of DNA, genetics, the daily scientific discoveries which are making an impact. The books, publications produced by many represented here are making an impact. People are becoming more informed, not less.

    With the exception of one statement, the creation 10K belief which would genuinely reflect upon ID groupings in a pol, you simply doomed both sides and you hurled a final insult.

    Maybe this is not so surprising considering the leaders of NDE. Like Dawkins taunts of his opposition, one is more inclined to verbal putdowns without experimental evidence in the lab to back up their atheistic cause. For one so “happy” in his atheism, he sure is frightfully upset all the time with other people. His alarmist rhetoric aside, science moves forward despite his vitriolic rants and absurd claims to the contrary; that religion is bad for science.

    Haha…. you know, I find it amusing. YEC, OEC, OEN(old earth non-believers), as I see problems on both sides and so I remain skeptical and open minded to the time question. But I just laugh sometimes when scientist like Dr. Sanford excel in science because he shows how much nonsense is thrown about in these debates especially from the materialist/evolutionist side.

    His religious beliefs did not impede his success in science at all. Mencken cannot touch his success, his patents, his publications. He can only growl in dicontent and name calling.

    And therefore creationist like Dr. Sanford stand as a big neon sign to ranters like Dawkins:

    Creationist do good science. Creationist do good science.

    LOL…. now that makes one chuckle. I can just see Dawkins grimacing and guffawing, grrring and whirring in robotic movements and barking: “Warning, Warning , Will Robinson” Masses! Someone does not think like me! Someone does not think like me! Must Indoctrinate… now, Indoctrinate Now! Warning, Warning!

  22. 22
    Michaels7 says:

    Oops, sorry Joel then if I might have overstepped. I tried to show his points were invalid and putdowns.

  23. 23
    Chris Hyland says:

    “Why this large beating-around-the-bush answer? Kaufmann has the same disagreement with Neo-Darwinism as the rest of us. Have you just not read his criticisms?”

    I have, in fact practically every book on the subject I have read recently is critical in similar ways to him. The problem I have when talking about Darwinism is that different people have quite different meanings of the word, and for some definitions I am a Darwinist and for some definitions I am not. Kaufmann and others believe that there are other forces than natural selection that determine the direction of evolution, but they say what those forces are and do not think that they are goal directed. That is the big difference I see between their criticisms and those of ID. They are also not asking for their criticisms to be taught in schools, because they believe they still have more work to do before they convince the scientific community.

    “However, reading the reviews of “The Origins of Order”, it looks like Kauffman is in the “law” camp, a camp that I solidly see as an ID camp.”

    Except that Kaufmann does not think that Intelligence was involved in evolution.

  24. 24
    Michaels7 says:

    Chris, do you mean public schools? University level classes are different and from what I’ve seen most scientist agree much work is yet to be done for ID and do not espouse teaching in public schools of ID. They do advocate open criticism, debate and discussion of evolution. That is far different from advocating ID be taught along side or instead of evolution.

  25. 25
    Chris Hyland says:

    Sorry yes I do mean public schools.

  26. 26
    johnnyb says:

    “but they say what those forces are and do not think that they are goal directed.”

    So you agree that the criticisms of evolution are largely the same. You just don’t like where we are headed. That’s fair enough, but I think that one of the problems in the whole debate is that too many people conflate the criticisms of evolution with the replacement theory.

    “They are also not asking for their criticisms to be taught in schools, because they believe they still have more work to do before they convince the scientific community.”

    Actually, ID’ers agree here in a general fashion. And in fact, when we had a discussion earlier, YOU agreed with us, you just said you didn’t. Most ID’ers don’t want ID as a part of the curriculum for those very same reasons. However, ID’ers think that the current problems, arguments, and criticisms actively being talked about in the scientific community should be open for debate.

    As I said Chris. I continually get the feeling that you actually mostly agree with us, but you just can’t bring yourself to admit it.

  27. 27
    johnnyb says:

    “Let us not forget our beloved friend, John Davison. :=)”

    I must have a REALLY SHORT memory, considering I just recommended his papers to someone the other day, and helped him scan in some of his earlier work for the web.

    I’d lose my head if it weren’t attached.

  28. 28
    johnnyb says:

    By the way — John — I think sometimes you feel ignored. In fact, often times it’s just that there’s nothing to add!

  29. 29
    Chris Hyland says:

    “I continually get the feeling that you actually mostly agree with us, but you just can’t bring yourself to admit it.”

    Probably in some aspects, but I think the core disagreements are still the same, I still think that the major mechanism of adaptive evolution is natural selection, and that anything else I have mentioned is merely and expansion of the modern systhesis as opposed to a replacement theory. But this is the same as in most modern books on evolution, so its not exactly novel, and will probably be uncontrovertial in a few years. And although i could think of some changes that I would like to see in the way evolution is taught, I dont think its a big problem, and much less than the gulf between what I was taught in high-school physiscs and the modern theories.

  30. 30
    johnnyb says:

    “I still think that the major mechanism of adaptive evolution is natural selection, and that anything else I have mentioned is merely and expansion of the modern systhesis as opposed to a replacement theory. But this is the same as in most modern books on evolution, so its not exactly novel, and will probably be uncontrovertial in a few years.”

    But what is the generative mechanism? Is it random mutations, or is it a cell-directed process? Shapiro gives a great talk as to why it is a cell-directed process (part 1, part 2). If becomes accepted that evolution is a cell-directed process, that’s a huge portion of the ID biological argument, most of the rest simply being the origin of life.

    In addition, you said “the mechanism of adaptive evolution”. Many in ID think that there are also non-adaptive forces at play in the major taxonomy jumps (be it interventionism or just actualization of front-loaded information).

    The fact that, as you say, much of this is or will be uncontroversial is exactly what ID has been saying.

    How would you answer the following questions?

    a) Is agency a distinct causal mechanism from chance and necessity (though still being bound by these)?
    b) Is the generative mechanism of evolution primarily: (1) undirected events which happen to the genome, or (2) cell-directed events?
    c) Is the origin of life understandable from a strictly physical/chemical point-of-view?
    d) Are these questions worth discussing?

    These are the core questions that ID asks. The ID answers are yes, cell-directed, no, yes. In fact, I don’t see how someone who answers in such a way to the questions could not consider themselves at least sympathetic to ID, if not fully embracing it. How do you answer those questions?

  31. 31
    Scott says:

    I think it is a primitive notion based on old data that NS drives adaptive mutation. Why would anyone choose to still believe this when it’s based on the faulty Darwinian premise that the cell was a useless blob of protoplasm!? We have new data now. We know that the cell is a liliputian world of dizzying programming code and machinery beyond our wildest imaginations. It seems only logical to me to conclude that everything was pre-programmed and may or may not be taking cues from the environment.

  32. 32
    Chris Hyland says:

    “These are the core questions that ID asks.”

    a) Yes.
    b) (1) Although I am aware that in some cases environmental stresses can increase mutation rates in certain areas of the genome, this appears to be the exception as opposed to the rule. In the case of elements such have transposons which have nonrandom insertion I have seen no evidence that they are ‘directed’ by the cell, although I will listen to those talks when I have time.
    c) Not at the moment. I would certainly like to here some hypothesis based on the opposite assumption.
    d) Yes in the appropriate forums.

    “I think it is a primitive notion based on old data that NS drives adaptive mutation. Why would anyone choose to still believe this when it’s based on the faulty Darwinian premise that the cell was a useless blob of protoplasm!?”

    Im not really that famililar with the old data, so my opinion is based on current understanding of cell biology.

  33. 33
    johnnyb says:

    “Although I am aware that in some cases environmental stresses can increase mutation rates in certain areas of the genome, this appears to be the exception as opposed to the rule”

    Question — is this the exception or the rule in beneficial mutations?

    “Im not really that famililar with the old data, so my opinion is based on current understanding of cell biology.”

    So what recent data leads you to favor the random mutation idea? I think that historically the “random mutation” idea was propped up by an understanding of Luria-Delbruck that was pre-genome. If there is data that supports random mutation being the primary generative engine of change, I’d be interested in hearing it.

    Simply by your answer to #1 I have difficulty seeing how far you could be from ID simpliciter (since ID is primarily a theory of causation), though based on your answer to (b) you obviously have some reservations with regards to ID applied to biology.

  34. 34
    Chris Hyland says:

    “Simply by your answer to #1 I have difficulty seeing how far you could be from ID simpliciter”

    I dont see what that has to do with evolution, other than that it might be possible to detect agency if it was involved.

    “is this the exception or the rule in beneficial mutations?”

    In the case if events like particular genes being mutated, it appears to be the exception from what I have read although the ideas of people such as Lynn Caporale are generally recognised by the scientific community and have been discussed in several books I have read recently. The idea that properties of genomes can facilitate variation has been covered in several popular books recently.

  35. 35
    johnnyb says:

    “I dont see what that has to do with evolution, other than that it might be possible to detect agency if it was involved.”

    Not all of ID has to do with evolution. That’s why I said “ID simpliciter”. For example, here is an ID paper which has nothing at all to do with evolution. ID is primarily the analysis, scientifically, of agency, whether in evolution or just in daily life.

    Likewise, Dembski’s book on The Design Inference has nothing to do with biology, and is simply about detecting instances of agency in the natural world. ID isn’t just about biology and evolution, it’s about causation and recognizing causal distinctions which materialists can’t grant (because if there were causal distinctions, they couldn’t be materialists anymore).

    As you keep pointing out, many people in the scientific community agree generally with ID, but don’t want to. This is why when Caporale says something, people find it interesting, but when Behe says the same thing, people suspect a religious conspiracy to overthrow all of science. Take for instance, this quote from Caporale:

    “A genome’s ability to grow and to explore new organizational structures would be severely constrained, if its options were limited to simple point mutation…most organisms tolerate only relatively low levels of point mutation in a generation. Instead they have evolved mechanisms that generate multiple sequence changes in a single step, allowing them to bypass unselected neutral, and negatively selected, sequences that may lie on point mutation pathways between the current sequence and a more optimal sequence. Indeed, where genomic sequences have been available to provide a window into the evolution of a new gene, the series of steps revealed has been complex.” [emphasis mine]

    That is irreducible complexity right there. But it’s fine as long as you don’t take it as being evidence against materialism, because then you offend the materialistic dogmatists.

  36. 36
    Chris Hyland says:

    “it’s about causation and recognizing causal distinctions which materialists can’t grant (because if there were causal distinctions, they couldn’t be materialists anymore).”

    This goes back to the argument between Ed Brayton and Paul Nelson anout what Keith Miller said. Assuming that the mind is a product of matter, the actions of intelligence can sometimes still be distinguishable from unintelligent natural forces. Im not sure what the problem is here.

    “As you keep pointing out, many people in the scientific community agree generally with ID, but don’t want to.”

    Based on the generally accepted definition of ID from this site, which is that intelligence is the best explanation for many biological systems, I cant see how I’ve said that.

    “That is irreducible complexity right there. But it’s fine as long as you don’t take it as being evidence against materialism, because then you offend the materialistic dogmatists.”

    What people have a problem with is when irreducible complexity is used to argue the system couldnt have evolved without intelligent input. No scientist for several decades I suspect has claimed that all these systems evolved solely through point mutations, and nothing in that paragraph you quoted is claiming intelligence is involved.

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