Thursday, January 01, 2009

What People Believe

Newly released results from The Harris Poll® show that a very large majority of the American public believe in God, miracles, the survival of the soul after death, the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the virgin birth. But what may be surprising is that substantial minorities believe in ghosts, UFOs, witches, astrology, and the belief that they themselves were once other people. Overall, more people believe in the devil, hell and angels than believe in Darwin's theory of evolution.

Some of the findings in this new Harris Poll include:

* Eighty percent of adult Americans believe in God — unchanged since the last time the question was asked in 2005. Large majorities of the public believe in miracles (75%), heaven (73%), angels (71%), that Jesus is God or the Son of God (71%), the resurrection of Jesus (70%), the survival of the soul after death (68%), hell (62%) the virgin birth of Jesus born to Mary (61%) and the devil (59%).

* Slightly more people — although both are minorities — believe in Darwin's theory of evolution (47%) than in creationism (40%).

* Sizeable minorities believe in ghosts (44%), UFOs (36%), witches (31%), astrology (31%), and reincarnation (24%).

Interestingly, slender majorities of all adults believe that all or most of the Old Testament (55%) and the New Testament (54%) are the "Word of God." However, only about a third of all adults (37% and 36%) believe that all of these texts are the word of God. Only 26 percent of all adults believe that the Torah is the word of God, even though it is the same as the first five books of the Old Testament.

Regarding religiosity and religious practice, less than a quarter of Americans describe themselves as "very religious." However, a large majority (68%) describe themselves as either very (23%) or somewhat (45%) religious. A quarter (27%) of adults say that they attend church once a week or more, compared with 36 percent who say they attend less than once a year or never (18% each).

This nationwide survey of 2,126 U.S. adults was conducted online between November 10 and 17, 2008, by Harris Interactive.

(from FotF's Pastor's Weekly Briefing)

1 comment:

Tom Gilson said...

What makes this especially interesting is that the group that believes in paranormal phenomena is not (by and large) the group that believes in Jesus Christ. This is based on the recent Baylor study of What Americans Really Believe. As reported here, it is the non-theists who are the most credulous regarding ghosts, astrology, etc.