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The BBC's Alex Kirby
"Not even many church leaders accept the divine creation of the world"
 real 28k

Richard Harries, Bishop of Oxford
"Christianity offers a symbolic realism"
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Monday, 27 December, 1999, 12:52 GMT
Church leaders question Creation theory

The Creation Michaelangelo's The Creation adorns the Sistine Chapel roof

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

A study by BBC Radio 4's Today programme provided a snapshot view of the state of Christian faith at the end of the 20th Century, and revealed the majority doubt the Virgin Birth.

Questionnaires were sent to 1,000 public figures including religious leaders, leading politicians, newspaper editors, scientists and head teachers.

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?
Not surprisingly perhaps, the most sceptical responses came from scientists with only one believing in the act of Creation and the majority answering "No" to nearly all the questions.

Politicians also seem unconvinced by many traditional Christian teachings with less than one quarter believing Adam and Eve existed.

The most revealing answers however, came from members of the clergy. HAVE YOUR SAY Of the 103 church leaders who took part in the survey - including Church of England and Catholic bishops and Methodist ministers - only three said they believed in the literal, Biblical, version of the Creation in which God created the world in six days.

Virgin Birth 'not accepted'

Asked whether they believed that Adam and Eve really existed, only 13 of the church leaders said yes, with 80 saying no.

Nor was the Virgin Birth universally accepted, with nearly one in four saying they did not believe in it.

The majority, however, believed in the Resurrection and that God was able to influence events on Earth, and nearly all the churchmen believed the Ten Commandments were still applicable.

Other questions asked whether there would be a Second Coming, whether there was free will in Heaven and whether purgatory exists.

'God can influence events'

Among the 270 teachers who responded to the survey, a narrow majority believed in the Resurrection and that God can influence events on Earth.

About one in five believed in purgatory and 106 believed there was an actual Heaven.

Judging by the percentage of questionnaires returned completed compared to those sent, the most apathetic group were politicians.

Members of the Labour, Conservative, and Liberal Democrat benches were all quizzed but only about a quarter responded.

Of all the other groups - including newspaper editors - the figure was closer to half.

What do you think about the results of the survey?

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See also:
13 Jul 99 |  UK
The vicars who don't believe in God
15 Jul 99 |  UK
Church brings back heresy trials

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