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Monday, 3 January, 2000, 11:08 GMT
Questioning Creation theory - Your reaction

The majority of leading public figures including church leaders and politicians do not believe in the Biblical version of the Creation, according to a BBC survey.

Selection of questions
Do you believe in the act of Creation?
Do you believe in the virgin birth?
Do you believe Adam and Eve existed?
Do you believe in a place called Heaven?
Are all the Ten Commandments applicable today?
Questionnaires were sent to 1,000 public figures including religious leaders, leading politicians, newspaper editors, scientists and head teachers.

Unsurprisingly, most scientists offered sceptical answers, with more revealing responses coming from members of the clergy.

This is what BBC News Online users thought of the survey.

The church has a problem with thier story, they have to keep changing it to keep up with reality.
Curtis Peters, UK

I find it amusing to note that a number of Americans in this article are singing the praises of "rational" Brits who support evolution versus Creationism. Personally I think evolution is a puerile fantasy and a gross insult to man's intelligence. Meanwhile the Bible employs special terminology so as to convey profound spiritual truths. These could only be explained in the past by resort to allegorical constructs as they were entirely new concepts to our unsophisticated ancestors and they were so deep. Creation is patently only symbolic and when accepted in this way becomes fully intelligible. The "six" days is simply a way of pointing out that there is order and purpose in God's method and levels and stages of spiritual refinement - and so on. As for those who say there is no God I would ask them how an entity defined to be entirely spiritual (John 4:24), and therefore unknowable through our physical sense faculties, can be scientifically proven not to exist? Unless we can disprove Him the assumption that He does exist cannot be scientifically invalidated.
Simon Cameron, UK

I find it quite funny to believe that 'God' created us. If he created only one man and one woman to start with, then I find it hard to believe that the human race could have reproduced any further for there would have been brother/sister relation to the children born to the first couple and later no kind of marital relation could have further been possible. Anyway, I leave it to the 'God' himself to answer this riddle.
Balaji T V, India

One of the biggest changes since the French Revolution is the separation between church and state. And the separation between religion and science. So-called "Creation Science" is an effort to turn back the clock. Even when I was a student in a catholic school in 1961 I learned that the creation stories in the Bible had to be understood as a metaphor, and *not* a scientific theory. I have a hard time understanding fundamentalists in *any* religion.
Erik Van Thienen, Belgium

I believe in the creationism of man as stated in the Bible. God is the creator of the universe..not some big bang theory.
Judi Richardson, USA

It is truly unfortunate that so many clergy with a responsibility to lead their flocks to spiritual enlightenment have themselves lost the way. It is equally unfortunate that many scientists responsible for ferreting out the nature of the universe have strayed afield into unfounded metaphysical pronouncements. From the vast scale of cosmology to the nano scale of quantum mechanics and the dynamic progress of life sciences in between, the manifestations of design in the universe have never been clearer. Eventually this should lead to greater respect for the designer.
Dr. Ide P. Trotter, USA

To believe in the Creation theory today, you need to be capable of ignoring the whole world outside you. In each individual case, that's no problem: whoever wants to avoid reality may only harm himself and, possibly, his immediate neighbours. The problem is that the most powerful country in today's world - the USA - has an absolute majority of its population believing in the most obvious implausibility of our time - the Creation theory. And in the poll-driven politics, these people do matter and being stubborn and intolerant in their ignorance they may produce politicians who will harm not only their immediate neighbours...
Vladimir Segal, USA

Does God exist? Perhaps but, even that does not conflict wit the theory of evolution.
Rick T., U.S.

"By my works shall ye know me." The creation story is, of necessity, in very figurative language. A scientific approach to creation through cosmology and biology leads to an interpretation of the Genesis account of creation which is ever more meaningful. The better our science and the more sophisticated our theology the less the apparent conflict.
Ken Simmonds, South Africa

Does ether exist? Ask any scientist in the 19th century, and the answer might well be "Yes". But, scientific progress and the search of truth today makes it an unreasonable discussion. Similarly, God creating man in 6 days shouldn't be a debate any longer. The latest BIG debate in this issue was - Is Darwin correct or was Lamarck correct? Darwin won the case .. big time!
Dhiman, India

I'm pleased that the clergy have shown such a healthy dose of scepticism about a literal translation of the Bible. Much of the Old Testament was written several thousand years ago when the knowledge of science was minuscule and to provide answers to fundamental issues they resorted to myths or fiction. The gospels, with their story of the Virgin birth, were written more than one hundred years after Jesus lived and in the intervening generations it is almost inevitable that exaggeration crept in. If nothing else, this survey has given me some faith in the pragmatism of some of the clergy.
John McLean, Switzerland

The theory of creationism is about as credible as any of the other deranged mumbo-jumbo to be found in Genesis or any of the other books of the bible. When are people going to stop deluding themselves with various bogus religious texts? They are all founded in superstition and ignorance. Remember, it was the church that for centuries resisted the idea of the solar system and propagated belief in witchcraft and sorcery. I believe that those people who are zealous in their religious ideals are moral cowards who cling to dogma, prejudice and orthodoxy as it absolves them from the inconvenience of having to think for themselves.
Mark Robinson, England

How dare these idiots call themselves Christians. I don't know what they are leaders of, but it certainly has nothing to do with Jesus Christ or his body and church.
Victoria, USA

I am a Catholic and also a scientist. Personally I cannot see any conflict between my faith and science. To me evolution is far better indicative of God's powers than Him disobeying his own natural laws for an arbitrary period (why a week?) The old argument of evolution being against the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics is a fallacy because the world isn't a closed system like a lot of creationist minds are.
J Geldart, UK

We all have truths, are mine the same as yours?
John Atkins, Singapore

To have implicit belief in the Holy Bible can be said to have gullibility! This does not mean that I believe (or indeed dis-believe) in God. All I am saying is that Darwin showed the way we came and it has been proved over the years. What the Holy Bible says is written in parables - hence the book therein so called! I explain things to my young children in a type of parable so why should not the word of God be in a similar form? Read any book on electrical/electronic theory and you will find it hard to believe but if you have very expensive equipment then it can be proved. To the average person, electrical/electronic theory has to be similar to the Holy Bible and just believed without question.
Nobby C, UK

It's nice to see there is at least somewhere in the world where rationality takes precedence over religious lunacy. Wouldn't it be nice if America were more like the British in that regard!
Michael Nash, USA

I think those clergy men of that opinion should be named and publicly defend their heresy. Either you believe or you don't.
Ed, UK

I believe that if we don't start paying attention to what's happening around us, we will not be able to see the Biblical prophecy that is taking place and has already taken place.
Mandy N., USA

All creation theories are created equal; why would any single one have a particular validity? Anything that cannot be disproved carries very little weight in this reality.
Michael Volker, USA

The quest for truth by an ancient Mediterranean civilisation, as told in the bible, is now superseded by today's religion - science. The theory of evolution is a more plausible explanation of life than the fairytale of creation. I look forward to the day when the frontiers of human knowledge are extended to explain what happened in the nanosecond before the big bang.
Mohansingh, India

It appals me that anyone at the beginning of the 21st century could possibly believe such absurd constructs brought about by a literal interpretation of the Bible.
Bernice Roust, UK

I think any educated theologian knows that the Bible is about principles and about symbolic ways of describing these. No one ever claimed that the Christian religion is a science. Whether God created the earth in seven days or whether each of these seven days is meant to represent billions of years is insignificant. Also, whether God created an amoeba that evolved to form other creatures by His grace or whether he created different species is also insignificant. Fact is the earth is a magnificent system... Many things just work and scientists still cannot always explain why. To our knowledge there is no other place in the universe with so much life. This in itself is already a miracle. As for the Ten Commandments... Well, as I remember Christ replaced these with only two, and that is all that counts.
Vivien Cooksley, Austria-Cyprus

If I go to see an attorney, I expect him to believe in the law. If I go to see a doctor, I expect her to believe in the medicine she prescribes and in the unlikely event I go to see a priest/vicar, I expect him to believe in god along with all the trimmings that go with the faith. It seems slightly absurd to me that a vicar would deny the "truth" of the bible ... even though, personally, I find it incredulous that there is anybody left, in this day and age, that can believe in any of it.
Mark M. Newdick, USA/UK

There may be hope for humanity yet. The time of superstition is just about over. How anyone could believe in this illogical mysticism is beyond me. As is clearly shown here, the onset of a good education will dispel the fear of the dark. The humanity doesn't need fictional deities; it needs to believe in itself as a whole. We'll be the better for it.
Kalle Helenius, Finland

I think that this survey must not be taken as a proof that the people do not believe in God! No one should interpret The Bible literally! Thus someone might think that only carrying a big wooden cross around is enough to be saved! The Bible may seem obsolete to a contemporary (wo)man, but, like many non-Christian religions claim, the problem is NOT in the Bible, but in the Christians!
Neven, Croatia

Church officials historically shape God in their image and spin Gods' words to conform to prelates' truths. Perhaps of greater concern is lack of explanation if literal or allegorical accounts of creation, Adam and Eve, the serpent, etc are rejected. In other words, what do these sceptics have to offer us? Why their office, why churches, what basis for the humanistic doctrines they embrace?
Jim Skeese, Stow,OH USA

I can only hope that similar or better results would be obtained here in Australia. It just goes to show that we still have a long way to go before we finally shake off our old superstitions and start working on getting rid of our new ones.
Tony Eales, Australia

This only proves that you don't have to know what God says or thinks to be in any position on earth, knowledge of God's word is obviously not of high priority to any of those surveyed.
Brian Winn, USA

I believe the Bible to be God's Word so this doesn't surprise me. Jesus warned of just such conditions when He questioned whether He would find any faith left when He returns. Just one more prophecy being fulfilled by those who don't have faith.
Marsha Itro, USA

I believe the answer is an unequivocal YES, regarding the creation, Adam and Eve, Virgin Birth, the Resurrection, and The Ten Commandments are very much relevant today! If these church leaders do not believe this, then what in the world are they preaching about? If they do not believe it, GET OUT! I do not go to church to hear useless opinions like that, but to hear the true word of GOD!
Charles P. Marrical, USA

This is not a surprise. Most clergy that I know do not accept the literal account of creation. Rather, while we certainly believe in the intelligent design of the universe. We believe that the creation myth tells us more about who WE are and who GOD is and what our relationship with each other and with God should be, than it tells us anything about the literal HOW of creation.
Rev. Gregory S. Neal, USA

An observation: If God had the compassion and power as eloquently described in the "Book", why would he allow his masterpiece of humanity to exist in such a largely desperate and secular state. For instance, it takes a strange sense of humour to allow the slaughter by natural forces of 30,000 innocent Venezuelans. The majority of intelligent, educated, moral and sensible human beings do not deny the possibility of God's existence. We simply question whether we wish to know Him.
Mark Burchell, USA

To me creation is obviously the work of God nothing this complicated could happen by accident or from a few fragments colliding together. The bible is the word of God and as such contains the truth of the world. Faith is about belief without proof; it is about hope, peace, love, caring for others - surely this is to be encouraged in this ravaged world of ours.
Janice Johnson, New Zealand

The religion of evolution has very successfully forced its belief system upon the unsuspecting masses. Just one quick look at the creation will speak to us of incredible design beyond are ability to even grasp. Anyone who does not come to this conclusion is irrational.
Jim Robertson, USA

After reading the results of this poll, I wish I lived in England rather than in the United States. A country that increasingly appears to determined to reject science (and the constitutional separation of Church and State) in a desperate effort to reassert the infantile sectarian fantasies of its conservative Christian population. I do not exaggerate here. A growing number of states and nearly all of the presidential candidates support the teaching of "Creationism" alongside evolution or the removal of evolution from the public school curriculum. My question, of course, is this: Why not teach ALL of the world's creation myths? After all, Biblically based "Creationism" is "just a theory" as well, isn't it?
Charles Hammond Jr., USA

I believe of the creation of the man. God created everything in six days why because we are talking about a god that is so powerful that he can do anything in a moment. When god speaks things happen.
Saul Luzunaris, USA

If most of the clergy surveyed do not believe in these basic points of the Christian faith why do they remain in the church?
John Gifford, USA

Evolution is a theory, even though many scientists would present it as fact. You need faith to believe in it, as well as being a convenient way to dismiss God. God's creative ways are far better than an explosion into existence, which has so many unanswered questions, i.e. the 2nd Law of thermodynamics (entities degrading into a lower state of order and energy). Evolution needs this to run in reverse, because for them this law would apply at all times. God can create when and how he decides, as he even made the laws of physics. God created the whole world and universe!
Max, UK

When religion is beaten out of an entire nation's minds generation after generation the Communist way, the best you can say in favour of Creation is that the possibility of it cannot be completely ruled out. That's what I say; it could have been either this or Darwin's way, we don't know for sure.
Andrej, Russia

A sad commentary but predictable. It is readily apparent why GB has lost the moral leadership that propelled it to greatness in the last century. It is also apparent why your churches are empty. Without faith, you might just as well convert them to bingo halls or antique barns for if the church leaders don't preach Christ then there is absolutely no reason to listen to them at all. As for evolution vs. creation, both are theories but many aspects of evolution have been disproved or re-written due to new evidence while creation has never been proven wrong. Think about it.
Randall De Garis, Canada

The fact that a vast majority of church leaders don't believe the Bibles description of creation or other miracles is not surprising. Unfortunately, if that part of the Bible is not true then neither is the rest of it. If they are true to their beliefs they should resign from their positions in the Christian church and identify with another belief system.
Charles E. Venable, USA

Quite encouraging, perhaps someday we will all be able to live in the same world then?
Simon, Britain

It is a sad commentary on the condition of the "Christian" church when those religious leaders, who are paid quite handsomely, depart from the very book that empowers their existence. I call it shameful and God I'm sure will call it even worse!
M. Prentice, USA

Simply put, does God exist? If you say yes, then you must believe in all that the bible says.
Andy W, Canada

These results show that some religious leaders are capable of original thought and understanding the world around us instead of slavishly following, frankly childish and fatuous religious creation myths. Thank God for reason!
Tim Abernethy, England

An overdue survey with refreshingly honest views - thank 'god' for the BBC! Religion remains the one subject that defies any logical discussion amongst otherwise rational people.
Janet Barr, USA

Only the terminally gullible would believe in the story of the creation literally!
Ed Bayley, English (USA)

I'm no religious guru, but didn't the discovery of dinosaurs disprove the theory of creation a long time ago?
Jordan, USA

The Bible must be seen in the light of allegory and illustration by symbols. Human consciousness has now evolved and The Bible has to be seen in a different light. However its eternal message for the mankind remains unchanged
Ravi Ram, United Kingdom

No wonder the world is in such sad shape and people are so confused. If the church leaders don't believe Gods word, how will their congregations?
Linda, USA

It is hardly surprising that the church is so weak and has so little influence on society when a large number of its leaders do not believe.
Dave Skinner, Germany

I think it is a sad statement to the spiritual wellbeing of many flocks under the Church guidance. If major church leaders cannot even accept on faith that which is written, then how can they teach their flocks how to have faith
Norm Sullivan, USA

It just goes to prove that people have lost their faith. They think that if they cannot see, smell, hear, taste or touch something, it doesn't exist. Maybe that is the reason he made us with lungs, so we needed AIR, something they could not smell, hear, feel, taste or touch. It Just exists. It is heartbreaking to know that even the church leaders have lost their faith.
Kim, USA

This explains the fall of western culture.
Carl Garbe, USA

This result is not surprising. The Bible states that false teachers will increase in number as time runs down. You either believe the Bible is the inspired, inerrant Word of God or you do not. A true Christian believes it all. It can be no other way. There are two roads to travel, one narrow which leads to Heaven and one wide which leads to Hell, it appears most in your survey have chosen poorly.
Jerry Herberger, United States

It is indeed sad and disturbing to hear that these people have lost the truth
Larry Gardner, USA

I find your survey believable and quite reassuring. In the US the Christian Right, which would seem to take all this literally, has an alarming and disproportional influence in our society. It is gratifying to think that a more rational world view may predominate.
Jeffrey M. Irving, USA

Considering all the contradictions in the Bible, I personally am surprised there are any believers left on earth at all. But I guess most of the public can be tricked into believing anything some smooth talker wants them to believe as was the case with most tyrants as well as our current leaders. I do hope some day we all wake up to the hype.
William H. Russell, USA

The people who answered NO to your question are those who Know not of God. And I can truly say they would not know God if they were to meet him walking down the street. I also do not find your survey surprising, because the Bible say it will be this way in the End Times.
Donnie L. Parks, United States of America

I find it very disturbing that that many clergy responded negatively to these questions. These are the people that are supposed to know the Bible better than anyone and yet their answers say otherwise. The theory of evolution has so many holes in it only a fool would really believe it. Maybe a good follow up question would be do you really believe what you preach or are you just doing this for the pay?
George Mendonca, USA

Religion is the dogma we make of our beliefs. Get stuck in dogma, and you discard all learning to move your education.
Stewart, USA

I think that the scriptures are correct when they tell us that in the last days fools will put their trust in science rather than God. I think the truth will be very clear real soon
Mike Piper, USA

Don't you think it strange that a majority can believe in Christ's resurrection but refuse to believe that God could create the world in six days or that Christ was born of a virgin?
Hal Williams, USA

A sad state of affairs. If the truth of creation had not been "humanised" in the first place, every believer in God would know that the earth is millions of years old, just as the BIBLE says. Just look up the word "replenish" in the dictionary. (Gen.1:28) The same Hebrew word as "fill" in verse 22. The Bible is truly His Word to us.
Suzan McMurray, USA

Try asking these questions to some southern Baptist ministers in the USA and you would get a dramatically different result.
James Felber, USA

I find it quite distressing that the church leaders, above all, do not believe in events explicitly and plainly stated countless times, in the Book they are entrusted to teach and preach to their congregations. I find it alarming, yet sad that church leaders doubt or question any part of the Bible: God's Word. Why would only some of His Word be truth, while other parts are 'fiction'? I'm sure God did not tell Abraham to write about Adam and Eve for entertaining bedtime literature, nor would He mislead or lie about a virgin birth. If church leaders are men of God, why interject teachings of man, whilst preaching only "some" of the Bible. It's all or nothing.
Jessi, USA

Just goes to show that the majority of 'State' Church Leaders are not Christians at all. And of course scientists - unless they are very brave - won't accept any theory unless they can prove it in their own labs.
Alister Hill, USA/UK

A sad testimony to people's lack of belief, faith and acceptance of the greatest gift that one could receive. Life and the opportunity to accept God's grace. They are basically denying their own existence. Everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion, but there is only one truth. That truth is the word of God, without compromise.
Phil Peikes, USA

I think it is a sad statement to the spiritual wellbeing of many flocks under the Church guidance. If major church leaders cannot even accept on faith that which is written, then how can they teach their flocks how to have faith? As the tribulation draws near, the people of the world are in for a rude awakening, and if faith cannot be maintained in times when the trials are not so great, then during that trying time the faith will be like a candle in a hurricane...easily snuffed out. These so called religious leaders have sold out their flock, their King and their God.
Norm Sullivan, USA

I believe this survey reveals a real tragedy that surpasses those of Shakespeare. I fear for the future of the U.K. History has revealed that those nations that reject and forget God will fade away and fall into social decay. The fabric of their society will wear thin and order and justice will fade away. How foolish for a nation or a people to forget the source of their strength and greatness!
Timothy J. Escobar, USA

The survey results are symptomatic of the decline of Western cultural values. Although I am a Christian, there is no cognitive dissonance in believing in process of evolution - in fact, such biological processes as well as the exploration of the heavens through astronomy only reveal the glory and the structure of Life and of matter. Both should be studied with all the capacity at our disposal. Christians should not "check their brains" at the church door. A fish must use its fins, a bird its wings. Humans must use their minds. The Creator probably expects no less from us. Merry CHRISTmas to all!
Kevin Clanton, USA

I am shocked that even the elect have doubt about creation and the virgin birth. If that's the case what is the foundation of our faith? Are they being hypocrites? Jesus himself said when he returned would he find faith on the earth? I think there will be none. I am confused.
Melvin L. Brown, USA

There exists a wide chasm between the beliefs of the leadership of many, if not all, mainline denominations and the leaders of the evangelical denominations of the Christian faith. This is evidenced by the panoply of and focuses on social programs that are in direct contradiction to God's word as it is recorded in the Bible.
Bob Walker, USA

These results are reflective of a world society that has lost its' faith. We need to see it to believe it today. Yet God asks us to have faith. To believe before we see.
Mike McMunn, USA

As an evolutionary scientist from Scotland working in the US, it is heartening to see that the UK is not lapsing into the fundamentalist views that have allowed the follies that have occurred in Kansas and Oklahoma, with respect to the teaching of the evolutionary aspects of biology.
Alistair McGowan, USA

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See also:
27 Dec 99 |  UK
Church leaders question Creation theory

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