Rejecting Darwinian Evolution: The Effects of Education, Church Tradition, and Individual Theological Stance Among UK Churchgoers
A sample of 2232 committed churchgoers from a range of churches in the UK completed a questionnaire that included a measure of rejection of Darwinian evolution. Respondents with undergraduate or postgraduate qualifications had slightly lower odds of rejecting evolution than those without degrees, but whether qualifications were in non-biological science, biology or theology made little difference to the likelihood of rejection. Those who attended Anglican or Methodist (AM) churches were much less likely to reject evolution than those who attended Evangelical or Pentecostal (EP) churches, but the effect of education on reducing rejection was similar in both groups. Individual theological conservatism was strongly associated with rejection, but whereas liberals showed declining rejection with increased education, there was no such effect for conservatives. Frequent church attendance and Bible reading both predicted rejection, and the effect of Bible reading was most pronounced among AM churchgoers. Higher education of any kind may reduce the likelihood of rejection of evolution among many UK churchgoers, but theological conservatives from any tradition will tend to maintain their belief that Darwinian evolution does not explain the origin of species whatever their educational experience.
KeywordsChurchgoers Conservatism Cultural cognition Education Evolution
We thank those who took part in this study, and the Biblical Creation Trust for supporting some of the costs of this project.
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