God and Man in America

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God and Man in America

A recent Pew Research Center study of more than 4,700 U.S. adults found that 56% of Americans say they believe in God “as described in the Bible.”  One-third of Americans say they believe there is some other “higher power” or “spiritual force” in the universe but that they do not believe in the God of the Bible.  And one-in-ten do not believe in any higher power or spiritual force.  Notably, Pew’s survey has an overall margin of sampling error of plus or minus 2.3 percent.

This confirms that, in the U.S., belief in a deity is common even among the religiously unaffiliated.  The religiously unaffiliated category lumps together all those who identify themselves, religiously, as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular.”  And, this group is often referred to, collectively, as the religious “nones.” Interestingly, 72% of these religious “nones” actually believe in a higher power of some kind, but not routinely in God as described in the Bible.

To understand what Americans really believe Pew examined their answers to a wide range of other questions.  Based on that broad set of questions, they confirmed that those Americans who say they believe in “God as described in the Bible” generally envision an:

  • all-powerful,
  • all-knowing,
  • loving deity,
  • who determines most or all of what happens in their lives.

By contrast, people who say they believe in a “higher power or spiritual force”, but not in the God described in the Bible, are much less likely to believe in a deity who is omnipotent, omniscient, benevolent and active in human affairs.

Overall, 48% of Americans say that God or another higher power directly determines what happens in their lives all or most of the time.  An additional 18% say God or some other higher power determines what happens to them “just some of the time...

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