Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Religious and Other Beliefs of Americans

I thought that during this "joyous" time of the year with the holidays approaching, that I throw in a piece of coal into the celebration by bringing some depressing statistics (just call me the Grinch that is trying to ruin Christmas).

This Harris poll was just recently published, and a follow up to its earlier similar poll in 2005. It asked about the beliefs (religious or otherwise) of Americans. Here are some of the interesting results:

* 82 percent of adult Americans believe in God – unchanged since the question was last asked in 2005;
* Large majorities of the public believe in miracles (79%), heaven (75%), angels (74%), that Jesus is God or the son of God (72%), the resurrection of Jesus (70%), the survival of the soul after death (69%), hell (62%), the devil (62%), and the virgin birth (Jesus born of Mary) (60%);
* Roughly equal numbers – both minorities - believe in Darwin’s theory of evolution (42%) and creationism (39%);
* Sizeable minorities believe in ghosts (41%), UFOs (35%), witches (31%), astrology (29%) and reincarnation (21%);
* While many of these numbers for people who hold these beliefs are the same or little changed from 2005, the overall trend is upwards with slightly more people believing in miracles, angels and witches than did so two years ago.

So, compare that with the survey on science literacy of the public that was conducted by the National Academies, and you now have a very clear idea of the kind of public you are dealing with as far as science is concerned. Just something to think about during the festive season.



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