Author Topic: When Americans Say They Believe in God, What Do They Mean?  (Read 2210 times)

When Americans Say They Believe in God, What Do They Mean?
« on: April 26, 2018, 05:28:15 PM »
Generally speaking, I am not surprised by the results of this study. What Americans mean when they say "God" varies considerably and the Religious "Nones" category doesn't mean atheist. The majority of Americans believe in "God as described in the Bible" and 48% say that God or another higher power directly determines what happens in their lives all or most of the time. About 10% of Americans do not believe in God or "any higher power/spiritual force." There is a lot of interesting data that address differences by age, political affiliation, education, religion, etcetera.

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“You are the sky. Everything else – it’s just the weather.”

― Pema Chödrön

Re: When Americans Say They Believe in God, What Do They Mean?
« Reply #1 on: April 26, 2018, 06:29:15 PM »
That's why we always have to ask people what they mean by the word "God" when they come here to preach at us. But, to quote Groucho - "Whatever it is, I'm against it."
« Last Edit: April 26, 2018, 07:11:06 PM by Unbeliever »
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"Over the course of my career as an undercover officer in the C.I.A, I saw Russian intelligence manipulate many people. I never thought I would see the day when an American president would be one of them."
Will Hurd

Re: When Americans Say They Believe in God, What Do They Mean?
« Reply #2 on: April 26, 2018, 06:38:36 PM »
It's more fun to ask them without giving them a choice. Making some folks think for themselves is very, very funny.

Of course, the problem is that most Americans lie about being religious. They're "me too'ers." Whatever is required to be part of the pack they say "me too". You can see in their day-to-day behaviour that they don't follow the words of any good holy man.
We 'new atheists' have a reputation for being militant, but make no mistake  we didn't start this war. If you want to place blame put it on the the religious zealots who have been poisoning the minds of the  young for a long long time."
PZ Myers

Re: When Americans Say They Believe in God, What Do They Mean?
« Reply #3 on: April 26, 2018, 07:09:25 PM »
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Of course, the problem is that most Americans lie about being religious. They're "me too'ers." Whatever is required to be part of the pack they say "me too". You can see in their day-to-day behaviour that they don't follow the words of any good holy man.

Reminds me of an Emo Phillips joke:

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“You are the sky. Everything else – it’s just the weather.”

― Pema Chödrön

Online Baruch

Re: When Americans Say They Believe in God, What Do They Mean?
« Reply #4 on: April 26, 2018, 07:13:41 PM »
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That's why we always have to ask people what they mean by the word "God" when they come here to preach at us. But, to quote Groucho - "Whatever it is, I'm against it."

We have had one atheist Hindu in the time I have been here ... he rejects anthropomorphism, but also rejects materialism.  He was the one guy I wish had stayed around.
שלום

Online Baruch

Re: When Americans Say They Believe in God, What Do They Mean?
« Reply #5 on: April 26, 2018, 07:15:47 PM »
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It's more fun to ask them without giving them a choice. Making some folks think for themselves is very, very funny.

Of course, the problem is that most Americans lie about being religious. They're "me too'ers." Whatever is required to be part of the pack they say "me too". You can see in their day-to-day behaviour that they don't follow the words of any good holy man.

I find it interesting that 20% of Christians don't believe in the Bible god ... Cosmic Christ people/Gnostics perhaps.

It is not surprising that 67% of Jews don't believe in the Bible god.  The remaining 33% are Orthodox of some type.

It is also interesting that Muslims weren't canvased as a distinct entity.
« Last Edit: April 26, 2018, 07:17:29 PM by Baruch »
שלום

Re: When Americans Say They Believe in God, What Do They Mean?
« Reply #6 on: April 26, 2018, 07:38:15 PM »
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It is also interesting that Muslims weren't canvased as a distinct entity.

The survey did not include enough respondents who were Muslim or members of other faiths to be included.

Why?

“You are the sky. Everything else – it’s just the weather.”

― Pema Chödrön

Re: When Americans Say They Believe in God, What Do They Mean?
« Reply #7 on: April 26, 2018, 07:50:31 PM »
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Reminds me of an Emo Phillips joke:
 
Whaling Wall. Gotta use that one next time I'm there.
We 'new atheists' have a reputation for being militant, but make no mistake  we didn't start this war. If you want to place blame put it on the the religious zealots who have been poisoning the minds of the  young for a long long time."
PZ Myers

Online Baruch

Re: When Americans Say They Believe in God, What Do They Mean?
« Reply #8 on: April 26, 2018, 08:32:12 PM »
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Whaling Wall. Gotta use that one next time I'm there.

Yeah, it wasn't Moby Dick who took off Capt Ahab's leg, it was Orthodox Jews, who remembered that Ahab was a bad king of the Northern Kingdom.  I hope Capt Ahab's wife wasn't named Jezebel ;-(
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Offline SGOS

Re: When Americans Say They Believe in God, What Do They Mean?
« Reply #9 on: April 27, 2018, 07:18:06 AM »
This one category perplexes me:

Do you believe in God?
No.
But I do believe in a higher power or spiritual force.

There must be a combination of semantics and other psychological devices working together that I don't understand with this.  I keep thinking their definition of God is that guy in the Bible as described.  OK they don't believe in God-God, but they seem to believe in another god.  It sounds like, "I believe in a god, but not the god."  Do they need to think about that, or do I?  Wouldn't your god by definition be "the god?"

When I attended AA meetings in my small Bible thumping town, I heard fundamentalist Christians say over and over, "I believe in a higher power that I choose to call God."

Even in that group of lemmings (and it's hard to find a cult with more lemmings than an AA group), they seem to think other people could acknowledge another god, while at the same time, professing there could be only one god.  Of course part of that could be nothing more than the mindless babble of "AA speak",  repeating phrases that are fashionable and which identify speakers as knowing the talk and being part of the group.

In the survey group identified as the "higher power" group, they seem to be defining the terms quite differently.  So when the survey asks, "Do you believe in God," why inquire further?   If they asked me, and I said no, would I be expected to believe in some other mystical thing?  Should I say, "But I do believe in the good fairy."?  And why would that be relevant to the survey?

I may have to sort this out on my own.

Online Baruch

Re: When Americans Say They Believe in God, What Do They Mean?
« Reply #10 on: April 27, 2018, 12:58:22 PM »
There isn't just one definition of G-d or gods ... and it isn't one that atheists or agnostics have ;-)  The Intelligentsia are usually wrong.

The stereotype that religious people are Arkansas Southern Baptist snake charmers ... is just a stereotype.  And perhaps insulting to real snake charmers.

I fall into the category of religious but unorthodox (if we assume "orthodox" means what this poll says it means).  And I am more spiritual than religious.

I could be harder on the bigoted stereotyping, if it weren't for actual religious folks who feed the stereotype.
שלום

Re: When Americans Say They Believe in God, What Do They Mean?
« Reply #11 on: April 27, 2018, 02:56:03 PM »
Some peoples' God seems to be more like a guardian angel than the omni-max deity of the Bible. It's hard to argue against the existence of some vague "something out there," but I don't think we're in danger of theocracy from those believers, at least. I think many people seldom think about a god of any kind.
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"Over the course of my career as an undercover officer in the C.I.A, I saw Russian intelligence manipulate many people. I never thought I would see the day when an American president would be one of them."
Will Hurd

Re: When Americans Say They Believe in God, What Do They Mean?
« Reply #12 on: April 27, 2018, 06:51:53 PM »
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Some peoples' God seems to be more like a guardian angel than the omni-max deity of the Bible. It's hard to argue against the existence of some vague "something out there," but I don't think we're in danger of theocracy from those believers, at least. I think many people seldom think about a god of any kind.

The "everything happens for a reason" crowd.
“You are the sky. Everything else – it’s just the weather.”

― Pema Chödrön

Re: When Americans Say They Believe in God, What Do They Mean?
« Reply #13 on: April 27, 2018, 07:34:59 PM »
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The "everything happens for a reason" crowd.
GSO, that crowd is right, too.  The 'reason' is 'because'.
Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent,
Is he able but not willing?
Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able or willing?
Then why call him god?

Re: When Americans Say They Believe in God, What Do They Mean?
« Reply #14 on: April 28, 2018, 04:20:01 AM »
So they don't believe in Eris, the one true god?   Weird. 
Winner of WitchSabrinas Best Advice Award 2012


We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real
tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light. -Plato

 

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