- Odd News
More than 33 million U.K. citizens believe in extraterrestrial life, compared to just over 27 million -- less than half the country -- who believe in God.
That's the result of an online survey of 1,359 adults who were asked a variety of questions ranging from belief in alien visits to Earth, suspicions of UFO cover-ups, belief in extraterrestrials vs. belief in God, and whether or not men actually landed on the moon.
The survey, conducted by Opinion Matters, revealed the following statistics among those surveyed:
While the survey was conducted as part of a tie-in with a new video game, "XCOM: Enemy Unknown," it was a legitimate sampling of opinions that can be taken to represent the population of the U.K., according to the agency that conducted the survey.
"Yes, it has been done with an independent panel through a bonafide research company," said Karen Brooks, managing director of Opinion Matters, a well-known market research agency that created the survey.
"Surveys can be done face-to-face, over the telephone and online. This one was a U.K. adult sample, which is quite broad, and doing it online is a quick, effective way of getting to that audience," she continued. "We make sure that all of the questions are compliant from a research perspective."
But some are skeptical of the results, including Alistair Macdonald-Radcliff, an Anglican priest and director general of the World Dialogue Council, a group that promotes better relations between the West and Islamic cultures.
"Having done a certain amount of work with statistics on religion, I am inherently skeptical about what these statistics tell you, and particularly if there's a narrow, selective base. Something with about 1,000 people does set off alarm bells," Macdonald-Radcliff told HuffPost.
"I really do think the failure to define what they're asking people to believe here is a fairly critical failure for the survey," Macdonald-Radcliff said. "Because you've already set out quite a variety of possibilities as to what they might or might not suppose UFOs to be. I certainly think sliding extraterrestrial and UFO together is a particularly messy thing to do."
Macdonald-Radcliff suggested that people are "less inclined to be participants in traditional churches," which might represent a shift of general beliefs that they have about God and extraterrestrials.
"There may be some correlation there," he noted. "But I have to say the actual hard data has yet to be found. There may be a relationship between people becoming more credulous in UFOs and less credulous in traditional religion."
The results of the survey are not surprising to Nick Pope, a former U.K. Ministry of Defense UFO investigator. "It's important to bear in mind that people who believe in alien life don't necessarily think it's visiting us," Pope said in an email to HuffPost.
"The recent upsurge in the discovery of extra-solar planets may be a factor here; as we close in on 'shadow Earths,' people are more likely to think that if Earth isn't unique, neither is life," he added.
Pope also noted that many of the doubts people might have about religion or about extraterrestrial life are rooted in a similar problem: lack of hard evidence.
"In the case of religion, we have only faith -- faith based on some ancient texts where, despite the claims, no divine origin can be proven," Pope said. "Even where people claim to have had a first-hand experience, why should we believe accounts of miracles and visions any more or less than UFO sightings or claims of alien abduction?"