Only 3% of Britons believe that Jesus Christ will return to earth before 2050, according to a YouGov poll reissued in connection with the general release in the UK this Friday of the film Never Let Me Go, which tackles the controversial topic of cloning. The prophecy of His return is otherwise known as the Second Coming, Second Advent or Parousia.
The survey was actually conducted on 12-13 August 2010, among a representative sample of 1,865 adults aged 18 and over, interviewed online. Respondents were shown a random selection of 20 predictions of things which might happen in the next 40 years, from a total list of 40 scenarios. The data tables are available at:
The Second Coming of Christ was the prediction thought to be least likely to come true, with 84% saying that it would probably or definitely not happen by 2050 and 13% uncertain. The 3% of people confident that Jesus would return to earth in this timeframe ranged from 1% in Scotland to 5% in London and Southern England.
The next most implausible scenarios were that: most car owners would own flying cars within 40 years, believed by 8%; an asteroid would hit earth, causing massive loss of life (12%); and the death penalty would be reintroduced into Britain (15%).
At the other end of the spectrum, three-quarters or more were convinced that, by 2050, the world would face an energy crisis, the earth would get warmer, a woman would become prime minister, and most Britons would have to work into their 70s before retiring.
The only comparator survey which I can find of the general population of Great Britain was conducted by Gallup in November 1999. Asked whether Christ would return to earth one day for a Second Coming, 25% agreed that He would, including 30% of women and of those aged 45-64, 32% of semi-skilled and unskilled manual workers, and 37% of the over-65s.
In the United States, by contrast, 41% of adults thought that Christ definitely or probably would return to earth before 2050, according to a Pew Research Center and Smithsonian magazine study in April 2010, with 46% certain He would not and 13% expressing no views.
An earlier Pew poll in July 2006 found that 79% of American Christians believed in the Second Coming, albeit only 20% that He would return to earth in their lifetime.
One other prediction of potential interest to BRIN readers was included in last August’s YouGov investigation. Just 15% considered it likely that we would make contact with alien life by 2050, 71% saying that it definitely or probably would not happen. Men (20%) and Liberal Democrat voters (25%) were most open to the possibility.
At the same time, 47% thought there was a chance that we would discover evidence of life elsewhere in the universe during the next 40 years.