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Posted by on Dec 18, 2013 in Culture, Religion, Society | 7 comments

Recent Survey on American Beliefs

On December 16, Harris Interactive released the results of a recent survey of American beliefs.

While somewhat frightening, the results are improving. For example, while 36% of US citizens believe in creationism, evolution is up to 47%.

There is still a massively Christian preference in the US.  A majority of US residents have a belief in god (74%), that figure is down from 82% just 4 years ago.  Belief in miracles, heaven, Jesus, the resurrection, the devil, hell, and the virgin birth are all down.  Note that while the percentages are all down, they are still above 50% in all cases.

It gets worse though.  Almost half of the US still believes in ghosts (42%), over a third believe in UFOs (36%) and about 1 in 4 believe in astrology (29%), witches (26%)*, and reincarnation (24%).

So, reality appears to be making some headway in the US. I wonder how much is due to the extremism that is present in our society (and world) and how much is due to education.

In another survey, Gallup asked “How would you rate the honesty and ethical standards of people in X industry?”

Surprisingly (or not so for those that follow the news), clergy is down, a lot.  Eleven percent of respondents rated clergy as low or very low, while only 47$ rated them as high or very high.

Looking at just the high/very high responses, car salespeople, lobbyists, and members of congress all rated in the single digits with car salesmen beating the other two groups.  Local office holders, business executives (I assume this is CEOs, CFOs, etc), newspaper reporters, lawyers, TV reporters, advertisers, and state office holders all had less than a quarter of the respondents rank them high or very high.  Nurses, pharmacists, and grade school teachers ranked the highest of the ones listed.

There seems to be the beginnings of some real backlash against the various groups that have (IMO) historically been against the average person.

__________________________
* I have to assume that this is the wicked witch of the west variety of witches. In many circles, female members of various pagan religions are called witches.

  • http://disnotblog.blogspot.com/ Eugen

    over a third believe in UFOs

    I’m not afraid of UFOs. They always land somewhere in Tennessee and do probing on drunk guys.

    Does the trend of less people believing in God make you happy? Imagine extreme situation where nobody in your nation believed in God and expected of science to answer absolutely
    everything. Can science do that? Would it be better life for your nation?

    • SmilodonsRetreat

      Isn’t it amazing that since the point cameras became ubiquitous in every cell phone, UFO reports have decreased?

      Yes, the trend of fewer people believing in and basing their lives and public policy on imaginary beings makes me happier. Even if god was real, the objective evidence that he does not get involved. So basing public policy on the things he said thousands of years ago is just silly. Besides the fact that people are using this mythical being to promote whatever they want and finding justification for it in the Bible later.

      What questions should science answer that religion “answers” now? How to love your neighbor? I don’t see a single atheist ever calling for the death of the religious, gays, abortion doctors, or anyone else. Yet I see lots of religions doing that very thing, and forming public policy such that gay people are imprisoned or killed.

      How about “thou shalt not murder”? I don’t see any atheists killing their children because of a preventable disease, yet many religions do this.

      How about “thou shalt not lie”? I’m sure that there are atheists who lie, but Christians do so loudly and publicly (like our friend Meyer here). Anything to support their cause. The ends, apparently, justifies the means.

      The common saying is that “Good people do good. Bad people do bad. But to get a good person to do bad, you need religion.” Why can’t good people just be good? Religion, in my experience, does not make bad people into good people. It honestly frightens me when someone uses the argument that god is the only thing keeping them from killing, raping, and stealing. How horrible person do you have to be to think that’s the case?

      Eugen, look at America. Look at the massively religious people that are both running it, reporting on it, and living in it. These are people who don’t care about the people, who think that Jesus was white, that you can beat the gay out of kids, that it’s OK to bully someone because they are gay, that burning a clinic, killing doctors, and preventing women from getting proper (accurate and correct) healthcare is the height of their religion.

      I don’t particularly want to live in that country. Besides, who knows when those types of people in power will declare you (or what you believe) to be wrong and drag you out into the street to be stoned to death. It’s happening in other countries and it could easily happen here.

      I’m not saying that religion is the cause of all of our problems. There are other things going on. But belief in fantasy is a huge problem in this (and every other) country. When people put their god above the person next to them, that’s wrong and it’s a problem.

      • http://disnotblog.blogspot.com/ Eugen

        Thanks for the answers, Ogre.

        Your complaints seem to be mostly about religious extremists. Believe it or not I am not comfortable with them either.

        OTOH, people who are moderate and contemplative of the nature of our
        reality should be accepted by everyone. There are interesting Christian
        mystics, Muslim Sufi and probably my favorite, far East zen masters.

        We are already reaching limits of what science can tell us
        at the limits of physics. I’m not saying religions can give answers
        here, either. I watched couple of lectures recently by brilliant
        physicist Nima Arkani Hamed.He explains why we cannot probe past the
        smallest scale (Planck length ~10^35m). Energy density required to
        probe at that length (if we could supply it) would immediately create a
        black hole so that seems to be the limit to physical knowledge. Math can
        go further but it would be difficult to confirm anything experimentally.

        • SmilodonsRetreat

          The problem with religious extremists is that the religious moderates are not speaking out against them.

          I don’t disagree that the majority of people who are religious are OK. But (and this is the central point), they would be OK whether they were Christin, Muslim, zen masters, or atheists.

          I totally disagree that we are reaching the limits of science. That has been said by almost every single generation about science, technology, and humanity. Yet, every year we go farther. What is slowing down is people’s interest in paying for it. The projects are bigger, the cost is greater, but the potential payoffs are beyond epic.

          • http://disnotblog.blogspot.com/ Eugen

            “…I totally disagree that we are reaching the limits of science…”

            Actually that’s right.

            I just had a thought after watching lectures. It’s pretty shocking to
            realize that there are limits, in this case physics on small scales.

          • SmilodonsRetreat

            Well, I wouldn’t call that a limit on science. I’d call it the limit of everything.

    • https://twitter.com/#!/OffensivAtheist bismarket

      Finland & Estonia already have very few “Believers” & they have excellent education & are doing quite well without any belief in the supernatural. Let me turn that question around & ask “Do YOU think a country is better off believing in the supernatural, can it answer everything/anything?”