Britain is entering an "age of irrationality" caused by the rise of fundamental religion, creationism and the fad for unproven alternative medicine, according to one of the world’s leading science writers.

Dr Simon Singh, author of the best-seller Big Bang, said he believed the economy would start to decline because of the lack of interest in science in this country compared to emerging economies such as India.

Dr Singh, said: "We are entering an age of irrationality. I can go into a chemist and buy a homoeopathic remedy that’s never been proven to work. We seem to be going back to a dark age of voodoo and witchcraft."

He added: "A recent example of Britain’s growing anti-science culture is the rise of intelligent design in a few of our schools."

The trend away from science and towards irrationality had to be addressed for the sake of the economy, Dr Singh said. "I think the UK could rapidly go down the drain because economies thrive by having innovative pioneers, creative people," he said.