Student - February 5, 2009

ONE IN THREE OF US DOUBTS DARWIN

Students and staff of Wageningen UR are more sceptical about the theory of evolution than the average Dutch person. Thirty eight percent of those working and studying at Wageningen UR think that life on earth cannot be entirely explained by genetic variation and natural selection.

This is the result of a survey by Resource of two hundred staff and four hundred students, asking them about their views on Darwinism. The response was 91percent. Not all the respondents who had doubts about evolution theory were creationists: 28 percent of them believed that the source of life is a creator. This discrepancy may be explained by ‘somethingism’: the belief that although there is no traditional God, there must be ‘something’ beyond what we know.

An earlier large-scale survey of Darwinism in Europe and the US (Science, 2006) established that 22 percent of the Dutch do not believe in evolution theory. That an academic community such as Wageningen should be more sceptical about Darwin than the nation as a whole is remarkable. After all, evolution is a scientific theory, whereas creationism is a religious belief. Half of the Wageningen community seems to be tolerant towards creationists: 48 percent thinks it should be allowed a role in academic education and research.

Next week, on the two hundredth anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth, a special Darwin edition of Resource will look at the position of Darwinism today. Amongst other things, there will be a fuller report on the survey results, interviews and analyses.

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