Author Topic: Fewer Americans Than Ever Believe the Bible is the Literal Word of God  (Read 300 times)

Online Hydra009 (OP)



Quote
Fewer than one in four Americans (24%) now believe the Bible is "the actual word of God, and is to be taken literally, word for word," similar to the 26% who view it as "a book of fables, legends, history and moral precepts recorded by man."
Quote
Still, while biblical literalism has waned, the vast majority of Americans -- 71% -- continue to view the Bible as a holy document, believing it is at least God-inspired if not God's own words.
Source

An interesting thing about this data is the men are slightly less likely than women to say the Bible is literally true.  Same for whites compared to nonwhites.  And here's a shocker: the more formal education attained, the less likely people were to say that the Bible is literally true.  And finally, younger people are substantially less likely to hold to biblical literalism than older cohorts.

And from the graph, the literalists and skeptics have swapped places - literalist gains have been skeptic losses and vice versa. It looks almost as if literalists have been directly becoming skeptics over the past 30 years.  This swap isn't necessarily from individual people switching sides, though that does happen - but from younger people who otherwise would've become literalists instead becoming skeptics.

Offline Baruch

Skepticism is good.  Now if they will apply it to political slogans ...
« Last Edit: May 17, 2017, 06:01:39 AM by Baruch »
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Offline SGOS


Source

The black line at the top (inspired but not literal) has actually increased, although it's overall change is nothing on the order of the other two categories, with "literal" diving dramatically, and "just myth" rising the same.

My assumption is that the black line feeds off the disaffected literalists, who have enough mental clarity to realize that it can't all be true, but they still like the idea of a god, so they drift to the "inspired" group.  This fits well with modern day spirituality, which may not require the Christian god, or even a monotheistic god, but just some kind of undetectable presence, without a precise and agreed upon purpose.  That kind of god could have inspired the Biblical writers to write, but not with the knowledge base required for a great deal of accuracy.

To further support the idea of drifting from literal to inspired, note that the direction of the black line is the inverse of the green line.  Something appears to happen in 1984 that causes simultaneous but opposite shifts between the two groups.  There is an abrupt increase in literal belief that happens in connection with the same sudden decrease in the "inspired" group.  This happens again around the year 2000 and then a quick succession of reversals around 2005.  It looks like people are jumping from literal to inspired, then changing their minds, in the opposite direction, back and forth like there are influential events occurring at specific periods of the timeline, while the over all drift shows a slower but more steady drift from literal to inspired.

The "Myth" group shows the same inverse relationship to the "literal" group, but even more dramatically. Although, it's easier for me to imagine drift between "literal" to "inspired" than "literal" to "just myth".  Leaping out of literalism to atheism is a much bigger leap, but the charts suggest this happens.

The chart was not easy for me to interpret, which is why it took several days for me to respond.  It's hopeful, that is assuming it's based on logical processes.  If it's just jumping ship willy nilly, it doesn't speak to progress in American thinking skills, which is really a key part of our growth and development.  I don't want people to become atheists because they haven't thought about it logically.  That's no better than being devout Christians because they haven't thought about it.

Never the less, the chart does imply that people are slowly picking up some critical thinking skills.

Offline SGOS

Skepticism is good.  Now if they will apply it to political slogans ...
While there are a lot of similarities between religion and politics, it doesn't seem like there has been a noticeable shift in critical thinking when it comes to government.  Since the enlightenment, religion has had to compete with government for control of the human race.  Perhaps the government is just better at control than the church, which is why it appears that political fervor seems more emotional that religious fervor in recent years.

Offline Baruch

While there are a lot of similarities between religion and politics, it doesn't seem like there has been a noticeable shift in critical thinking when it comes to government.  Since the enlightenment, religion has had to compete with government for control of the human race.  Perhaps the government is just better at control than the church, which is why it appears that political fervor seems more emotional that religious fervor in recent years.

Magical thinking either way.  If we are just good Communists, we will be able to use industrialization to build a equalitarian utopia.  Same thing for the Capitalists ... if you are Calvinist Materialist, your success us guaranteed by the Hidden Hand of Adam Smith .. instead of by Dialectical Materialism.

On the poll .. it may be that the poll takers are asking the question differently over time (implying subtle changes in definition) or that the poll responders are receiving the question differently over time (again implying subtle changes in definition).  My view is that ape men today are the same as they were 1000 years ago.  The technology change isn't progress in human terms.
« Last Edit: May 20, 2017, 12:17:28 PM by Baruch »
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Offline SGOS

On the pole .. it may be that the pole takers are asking the question differently over time (implying subtle changes in definition) or that the pole responders are receiving the question differently over time (again implying subtle changes in definition).  My view is that ape men today are the same as they were 1000 years ago.  The technology change isn't progress in human terms.
Exactly, and I had thought about that too, but I got tired of writing stuff.  I thought my analysis was hard enough to follow without an even bigger wall of text.

Offline Mr.Obvious

Wouldn't it be sad yet funny if it turned out they'd just asked a lot more muslims and hindu's and Jews and that their numbers have actually risen.
E = Mc²

In the end, we are all standing in the dark,
trying to figure out why we are here.
But let us not choose one direction
without proof of where it is headed.

Check your pocket for matches
so we can observe and learn together
as fast friends and relative idiots.

Offline Cavebear

We are the same humans in terms of ability that we were 1000 years ago, 10,000 years ago, and possibly 100,000 years ago.  A million years ago, no.  So there is change.  But that is just evolution in action.  For humans.

Most other animals have not changed much in 100,000 years (without our direct intervention).
Atheist born, atheist bred.  And when I die, atheist dead

Offline Baruch

Wouldn't it be sad yet funny if it turned out they'd just asked a lot more muslims and hindu's and Jews and that their numbers have actually risen.

A lot of the polling during the 2016 election in the US was of that type ... lie with statistics.
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