Samples of Catholic religious objects—The Holy Bible, a Crucifix, and a Rosary. (Wikimedia)
Samples of Catholic religious objects—The Holy Bible, a Crucifix, and a Rosary. Wikimedia

A Folio Society survey has revealed that Britons believe the Bible is the most valuable book for humanity, while Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species came in close second place.

Of the 2,044 British adults surveyed, 37% named the Bible as the book of most significance for the modern world, while Darwin's masterpiece came in second with 35%.

"The first question I had was whether the similar figure for Darwin and the Bible does show a continuing polarisation between the realms of science and religion, or whether in fact it reveals a more balanced approach to ideas for the modern reader," said Tom Walker, editorial director at The Folio Society.

"They are the two ideas which have clashed in the 20th century – this shows, I think, that we can take understanding from both of them. The Qur'an is probably relatively recent to many UK people's top 10 because of the impact of global debates around Islam".

The survey gave the respondents a list of 30 books, which range from religious texts to scientific books to political allegories, which they were then asked to choose three titles.

Despite the Bible topping the list, scientific and mathematical texts dominated the top ten books voted most valuable to humanity".

Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time came in third with 17%, while Einstein's seminal Relativity took 15% of the vote.

Political allegories Nineteen Eighty-Four scored 14% and To Kill a Mockingbird 10%.

Isaac Newton's book on the laws of classical mechanics Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica took 12% of the vote, while James Watson's account of the discovery of DNA, The Double Helix, took 6%.

Islam's religious text, the Qur'an, was named by 9% of respondents.

Top 10 books Voted Most Valuable to Humanity

  1. The Bible (37%)
  2. On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection by Charles Darwin (35%)
  3. A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking (17%)
  4. Relativity: The Special and General Theory by Albert Einstein (15%)
  5. Nineteen-Eighty-Four by George Orwell (14%)
  6. Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica by Isaac Newton (12%)
  7. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (10%)
  8. The Qur'an (9%)
  9. An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith (7%)
  10. The Double Helix: A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA by James Watson (6%)

Source: Folio Society's survey