Via Phersu, a fascinating little set of polling results on religious beliefs in different countries, conducted in the early 1990s. Every country polled, except Poland, had higher levels of belief in evolution than did the United States. Oddly, the lowest after Poland was Russia, where however belief in the traditional staples of Christian theology --- Heaven and Hell, Satan and miracles, etc. --- was also very low. (The Bolsheviks, I guess, were more successful at up-rooting old beliefs than at implanting new ones.) Of course, this is not to say that the popular level of understanding of evolution is very high; Phersu complains that in France, natural selection only slowly displacing Lamarckism and Teilhardian teleogy (a long-standing complaint).
One thing which strikes me is that more people apparently believe (or is it faith?) in God than in the afterlife. I can't decide what I find more plausible: that the question was poorly worded, and these are people who believe in bodily resurrection for the Last Judgment, but not a disembodied afterlife in the meanwhile; or that many people believe in God, the maker of all things visible and invisible, yet nonetheless have no hope for a life to come.
Posted at December 18, 2004 00:56 | permanent link