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Image of Charles Darwin as an elderly man

 

Pity poor Darwin. So many people are using his bicentenary as a grindstone on which to hone their prejudices.

 
Theos, the public theology think-tank, has tried to separate Darwin from the atheists. To give its report Rescuing Darwin a bit of oomph, it commissioned a survey of what people actually believe, concluding that only a quarter believe evolution is “definitely true” and another quarter “probably true”.
 
But its survey took its tone from “when did you stop beating your wife?”, asking complex and leading questions that may not have elicited the most accurate of answers. Respondents were asked, among other things, if they believed in “atheistic evolution”, defined as “the idea that evolution makes belief in God unnecessary and absurd”. To conclude anything from the answers to such a loaded question is difficult.
 
It’s clear from the results that many respondents must have agreed or strongly agreed with several mutually-incompatible assertions. The results are more an index of their confusions than their beliefs. I think I’d rather read The Other Beagle – a Life of Darwin’s Dog, if only it wasn’t a cod title invented by Private Eye.

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