How religious are we?

This poll surprised even me; a taste:
Seventy-nine percent of Americans believe that, as the Bible says, Jesus Christ was born of the Virgin Mary, without a human father, according to a new NEWSWEEK poll on beliefs about Jesus.

Sixty-seven percent say they believe that the entire story of Christmas—the Virgin Birth, the angelic proclamation to the shepherds, the Star of Bethlehem and the Wise Men from the East—is historically accurate. Twenty-four percent of Americans believe the story of Christmas is a theological invention written to affirm faith in Jesus Christ, the poll shows. In general, say 55 percent of those polled, every word of the Bible is literally accurate. Thirty-eight percent do not believe that about the Bible.[emphasis added]


At 1:31 AM, Blogger The General said...


Thanks for pointing out this poll. This is definitely scary. I've spoken to several people I work with who have at times revealed their literal belief in the Genesis account of the bible. My wife's sister (who is a rabid born-again) has constantly been trying to convert us, to save our souls; once she told us (without batting an eye) about a woman from the bible who lived to be 400 years old! I barely restrained myself from laughing.

But seriously, this is a very dangerous trend we are seeing; these people used to be the object of scorn and ridicule. That they are now regarded with some measure of respect is disheartening. The current battle in various schools over teaching Creationism (or Intelligent Design) alongside evolution is just one manifestation of how rotten the culture is becoming.

At 10:21 AM, Blogger Gideon said...

There are times when religious people really are a complete mystery to me. I became an atheist long before I became an Objectivist. Basically, I learned science and thought to myself that "there is no God in these equations." I had already been secular.

In a sense I am not completely surprised by this poll. Conservatives have been insisting for some time that this country is and was very religious (they have been claiming this as something to be proud of!) and they really have not been lying statistically. Nevertheless, for someone who does not live or deal with many religious people on a regular basis it is quite shocking to think that so many people believe in complete nonsense.

The real question, with respect to Peikoff's DIM Hypothesis predictions is the trend. I would love to see a graph over the last 100 years at 5 year intervals that maps how these percentages changed. If I would have to guess I would say there was a slow but steady secularizing trend culminating in the 60s and 70s. In the late 70s and and early 80s I would think we start to see a religious reaction culminating and getting a strong boost with September 11. The secularizing trend was strongest in the cities and weakest outside them. But this is but an educated guess.

Nevertheless, if such a trend is real, what does the future hold? I tend to agree with Dr. Peikoff. The secular side (barring an Objectivist takeover) will not be able stop the religious trend, having reached utter bankruptcy with its D1 and D2 type ideas. People will more and more be drawn to religion. But what kind of religion and what will this mean for everyday life and how long do we have? I have no real answer to these questions. In the meanwhile we're facing a religious enemy abroad and most of the remnants of the secular side are undermining the fight against it, rather than supporting it.

Let's just hope we get strong enough, quickly enough so that people have access to better ideas and Objectivism becomes a serious influence within the culture before the possibility of cultural change is eliminated.

At 3:48 PM, Blogger Johnny said...

I've often wondered, how small is your god if he can't create a universe that already has a history thereby satisfying creation and evolution. My God is very very big indeed. I suppose 55% of Americans live in Red states, eh?

At 4:07 PM, Blogger John Stark said...

Johnny, I thought the same thing when I was 12. I don't say that to be insulting, per se, I honestly did try to reconcile the obvious faith of most of the people in my life with scientific evidence. I figured that my doubts must have been my own misunderstanding because all of these adults didn't seem to have a problem with it. But within a couple years, I became less naive and realized that what is, is. The supernatural doesn't exist because only reality exists.

At 10:41 AM, Anonymous Brenda said...

King James decided to try to stop bickering and took all the bibles in the land. Then he and his partners rewrote a bible to satisfy everyones' christian beliefs and called it the King James Bible. It didn't work. I believe the bible is full of parables to make us understand what God wants from us. There are too many people out there that take everything literally - "oh I have to do this that way because that's what jesus did in verse such and such" - thinking people take the bible for what it is - suggestions on how to live a good life. Treat people the way you want to be treated, don't steal from people or call them names and spread lies about them. Don't kill the innocent - yes it does say that in the bible - I could go on and on.

At 10:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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