Page last updated at 23:54 GMT, Sunday, 12 April 2009 00:54 UK

Most Britons 'believe in heaven'

Tarot cards
Some 15% believe in fortune telling or Tarot

The majority of Britons believe in heaven and life after death, new research suggests.

The survey of 2,060 people showed 55% believe in heaven, while 53% believe in life after death and 70% believe in the human soul.

The study was carried out between October and November last year for the public theology think tank Theos.

It also suggested that nearly four in 10 people, 39%, believe in ghosts and 27% believe in reincarnation.

A further 22% believe in astrology or horoscopes and 15% believe in fortune telling or Tarot.

The think tank said the findings were "especially striking" when compared to the 1950s.

Then only 10% of the public told Gallup that they believed in ghosts and just 2% thought they had seen one.

More sceptical

In 1951, only 7% of people said they believed in predicting the future by cards and 6% by stars.

But the latest research showed an increase in scepticism about certain aspects of the supernatural, the organisation said.

In a 1998 Mori poll, 18% of the public said they believed in fortune telling or tarot, and 38% in astrology. A further 40% said they believed in ghosts, and 15% said that they had personal experience of ghosts.

Theos director Paul Woolley said: "The enlightenment optimism in the ability of science and reason to explain everything ended decades ago.

"The extent of belief will probably surprise people, but the finding is consistent with other research we have undertaken.

"The results indicate that people have a very diverse and unorthodox set of beliefs. Our research may point to a slight increase in scepticism about aspects of the supernatural over the last 10 years."

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