More than half of English secondary school pupils believe that people have souls, according to a new survey.
The majority of those questioned in the survey by Prof Berry Billingsley of Canterbury Christ Church University – 52 per cent – also said they agreed with the statement "I believe that life has an ultimate purpose".
Equal numbers said they believed in God and that they disbelieved, at 45 per cent each.
According to the Yorkshire Post, Prof Billingsley surveyed 670 pupils aged between 14 and 17 across eight English secondary schools, asking them 43 questions about science and religion. The survey found that 54 per cent agree with the statement "I believe humans have souls" – larger than the number who said they believed in God. Of the rest, 24 per cent neither agreed nor disagreed, while 23 per cent disagreed.
Prof Billingsley said the findings may reflect the fact that many people believe there is more to their identity than what they may be being presented with in science lessons.
Her research is being presented at the British Educational Research Association's annual conference at the University of Leeds today.