People in Britain are three times as likely to have strong views on whether or not the country should quit Europe as they are to have a strong belief in God, a survey has revealed.

A little more than a third of respondents to this year’s British Social Attitudes poll, 38 per cent, said they identified as Christian, down from 66 per cent since the annual survey was first carried out in 1983.

Just six per cent of people say they are “very or extremely religious” and 19 per cent say they are ‘absolutely certain of God’s existence’.

By contrast, 74 per cent said they identified strongly with either Leave or Remain in the Brexit debate.

The National Centre for Social Research (NCSR), which carried out the research, said the results were evidence of the steady decline in religion and belief among the British public.

Nancy Kelley, NCSR Deputy Chief Executive, said the change was not simply a private matter for individuals and families but “a trend with profound implications for our social norms as well as our public institutions”.

The Centre, which began measuring trends in beliefs in 1983, said the survey reflected the emergence of ‘leave’ and ‘remain’ as the new fault lines in British politics.

The decline in faith is mirrored by a loss of faith in traditional political parties.

While more people said they had “no confidence at all” in churches and religious organisations (21 per cent) than in Parliament (16 per cent), barely a third (35 per cent) said they identified strongly with a political party, down from 44 per cent in 1987.

Trust in scientific institutions, meanwhile, is very high with university scientists in particular holding the confidence of 85 per cent of the public.

The annual report is based on a survey of more than 3000 people across the UK.

Ms Kelley added: “We can see clearly not only a shift away from religious worldviews, but also the strengthening of confidence in science and technology, which not only permeate our day-to-day lives in practical ways, but also provide an alternative way of interpreting and understanding the world.”

Each successive generation is less likely too identify as religious than the one before it, she said. The survey shows that even if both parents in a family are religious, they have just a 50-50 chance of passing on their faith to their children. Meanwhile the children of secular parents are very likely to remain secular.

Almost two thirds of people agree with the statement that across the world, religions bring about more conflict than peace, Ms Kelley said, while other world views such as scientific rationalism and liberal individualism hold more sway.

“The majority of the public believe that science and technology are a force for good, both now and in the future, and in contrast to faith and religion, feel at ease with science and technology having an influence in both public and private spheres,” she explained.

“As we have become more secular and our lives have become increasingly interwoven with technology, the relative importance we place on science as a way of understanding the world has increased.”

A third key social change identified across more than 30 years of surveys is our increasingly liberal attitude to sexual relations and same sex relationships, the NCSR says.

Two thirds (66%) of Brits see nothing wrong with sex between two adults of the same sex and 74% of those polled said they didn’t see anything wrong with premarital sex, a significant increase from 17% and 42% respectively in 1983 when BSA was first carried out.

Responding to the findings, Andrew Copson, chief executive of non-religion charity Humanists UK, said: “For the third year in a row, the British Social Attitudes survey – the gold standard in reliable data on our society – has shown a majority of Brits are non-religious.

“With these trends set to continue, policy-makers in every field, from education to constitutional law, to health and social care need to wake up to such dramatic social changes, particularly the rise of the non-religious and the decline of Christianity.”