If we’re to believe the hype, we live in an increasingly secular society that is losing its religion. Atheism is on the rise and less and less people have a belief in God. But is that really what’s going on?
From the Washington Post comes an article titled Most Americans Believe in Higher Power, Poll Finds.
It’s a fascinating look at the beliefs of Americans. I would guess that an Australian survey would yield similar results.
The poll took its results from interviews with 36 000 adults. While it shows that around 80% of people believe in miracles the percentage was even higher for those believing in God.
The study detailed Americans’ deep and broad religiosity, finding that 92 per cent believes in God or a universal spirit — including one in five of those who call themselves atheists. More than half of Americans polled pray at least once a day.
It’s interesting that 20% of people who claim some kind of belief in God or some kind of universal spirit call themselves atheists. I’m assuming that they aren’t rejecting the idea of God, rather they’re rejecting society’s understanding of who God is. This highlights the fact that the belief in God quoted in the survey isn’t necessarily a belief in the God of the Bible.
A belief in God or a higher spirit is pervasive. Even Americans who describe themselves as atheist or agnostic have a robust sense of a higher power: Twenty-one percent of those who describe themselves as atheists expressed a belief in God or a universal spirit, and more than half of those who call themselves agnostic expressed a similar conviction.
Smith said some people may identify with the term atheist or agnostic without fully understanding the definition, or they have a negative view of organized religion, even though they believe in God.
Many of the people surveyed believed in the power of prayer with many claiming to have experienced its power.
“I can’t remember any prayer that I have prayed that has not been answered,” said Helen Catchings, 62, of Vienna. God cured her of stuttering and gave her the resources for her home-care business, she said. And she said she has seen members of her church cured of cancer, brain tumours and other illnesses through prayer, baffling doctors. “I give Him all the credit,” Catchings said.
My regular Wednesday morning guest on 98.5 Sonshine FM is Ross Clifford who is the Principal of Morling College in New South Wales and current President of the Baptist Union of Australia. Each week we chat about a range of issues relating to spirituality and belief.
Today we discussed the survey and its implications. We also took a look at whether it really matters who we believe God to be. Is it good enough to believe in the God of our own understanding? Does it make a difference which path we take to God? You can listen to what Ross had to say by clicking the play button on the audio player at the bottom of this post.
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