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Posted by on Jun 6, 2014 in Religion | 15 comments

Twenty-Eight Percent Of Americans Believe Bible Is The Literal Word Of God

Gallup Bible Word of God

I recently cited a Gallup poll which showed that 42 percent of Americans believe in creationism. With that in mind, I imagine it is a good thing that a lower number, 28 percent, believe that the Bible is the literal word of God. Gallup reports that this is below the 38 percent to 40 percent seen in the late 1970s, and near the all-time lows of 27 percent seen in 2001 and 2009. However, “half of Americans continue to say the Bible is the inspired word of God, not to be taken literally — meaning a combined 75% believe the Bible is in some way connected to God.” Gallup also found that 21 percent see the Bible as “ancient fables, legends, history, and precepts written by man.” While discouragingly low, at least this is up from only 13 percent in 1976.

Originally posted at Liberal Values

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  • sheknows

    Hi Ron. Interesting article. Don’t remember that poll where 42% believed in creationism. Anyway, as horrifying as that is..the bright spot is that in THIS poll less than a third took the bible literally.

    That is weird. Almost half polled thought the world was created only 6k years ago, but only a third polled took it literally.

    I See a problem there and probably explains why I don’t put any stock in polls. In order for almost half to believe in creationism, they would have to take it literally wouldn’t they?? which is what the whole creationist belief is founded on. So obviously they polled a whole other group, that if asked about creationism would probably have lowered that 42%.

    Anyway…I guess it’s good news…maybe.

  • Presumably there are people who don’t take the entire bible literally but believe enough of it to believe in creationism.

  • slamfu

    I wonder how many of that 42% also think the the bible was originally written in the Queen’s English. I wonder if you presented it to them in its original language, if they’d still feel it was sacred, or foreign and un-American.

    Lol, the idea of taking anything written so long ago, translated through so many languages, even English to English over the centuries, as the pure unvarnished word of God, just further convinces me that if you want to get people to do things, you need to include a plan to trick the massive part of the population that is gullible and/or stupid.

  • slamfu

    I bet the Democratic political operatives are just kicking themselves for not finding out a way to bamboozle these voters into being on their side first. Hats off, GOP. Well played.

  • Marsman

    It would be fun to administer a bible knowledge test to these people. My suspicion is that many give the answer out of a sense of solidarity to the ideas of their peers, friends, and family rather than a firm conviction that one can live in the desert on a diet of honey and locusts. To Jews and Muslims of the past, the wide-spread illiteracy of the Christian faithful was astounding. Martin Luther did change this, but I believe the the Catholic church, the largest denomination, does not emphasize textual study by the laity.
    Personal anecdote: I recently encountered someone in my neighbor pushing a stroller. In a brief conversation they told me the child was named Jason. I was making polite chit-chat and asked how they chose the name. They told me they wanted a biblical name because they are very religious. I told them that I did not recall a biblical Jason, but they assured me. I did not tell them that Jason was a famous thief.

  • Marsman,

    It appears that a thief who is mentioned in the bible is preferable to even the most virtuous and honest man who received no biblical mention.

    Even though these people say they take the bible literally, I’m sure there are many biblical passages they are unaware of, and likely a false belief in other teachings which they mistakenly think are in the bible.

  • sheknows

    Slamfu….LOL…and as Monty Python said : ” Blessed are the cheesemakers”.

  • DR. CLARISSA PINKOLA ESTÉS, Managing Editor of TMV, and Columnist

    i dont know, i tend to discount polls that never asked me or anyone I know, their opinion. lol. I think re science based evidence, the words “of Americans,” implying all Americans, makes the poll already lean into sci fi, rather than just ‘fi’. I do know that some, operative word some, believe every word of Colbert also… lol. Or Stewart. Or Rush. Or Hill.

    Seriously tho, if one were to take every word of latest bible version as fact, [and throughout the centuries, there have been MANY different books of the bible embraced, disgraced and lost] there are so many contradictions across all, not to mention poetry and songs and kill histories and war amongst tribal groups, etc., that one could not without turning into a pretzel make one smooth ideology of them. So many of us who move in that spirit, just choose ten commandments and some also strive for imatatio Cristi, as goals. But then, ethics which is moral in a sense, but not religious, also chooses much of what is found in 10 C’s and striving for love too.

  • They do have polling down to a science, picking samples which are representative of the entire country. In election polling there is an ultimate test–seeing how close they come to the actual result. We don’t have such a test here, but even if this poll is off by five percent, it wouldn’t really matter.

    My bet is that most of those who take the bible literally are unaware of all its contradictions. They could claim that only their version of the bible is the literal word of god and accurate, but that still wouldn’t explain all the internal contradictions. It is probably more accurate to say that these are people who follow religious leaders blindly as opposed to having read the bible and then follow it word for word.

    The 10 commandments contain some items which would make sense in a non-religious ethical code, but other commandments only pertain to religion, such as having no other gods, not taking god’s name in vane, or keeping the sabbath day holy.

  • I agree that the vast majority of those endorsing the belief that the Bible is the literal, inerrant word of God have probably not read it very carefully and are parroting what they have been taught is proper.

    “Ancient fables, legends, history, and precepts written by man” gets my vote and I don’t think that description diminishes the text at all. I see the Bible as many things, one of which is a sincere attempt by an ancient tribe to describe its spiritual journey.

  • DR. CLARISSA PINKOLA ESTÉS, Managing Editor of TMV, and Columnist

    ” I see the Bible as many things, one of which is a sincere attempt by an ancient tribe to describe its spiritual journey.”

    that is beautiful/ thank you BB.

    And RC, your remark on some persons following other persons holding themselves out as being ‘bible’, is I think, right on. We’ve had some good articles at TMV about the puzzle of televangeling persons who appear, as some say, to ‘shout bible, or yell bible, or proselytize bible, or screech bible,’ but their living in the sense of being a humble and holy person filled with love, behind the scenes, is…

  • JSpencer

    I find that 28% figure very disturbing. Guess I’ll just stop thinking about it. If I’ve discovered anything in life it’s that people will believe whatever they want to – regardless of whether it has any foundation in reality or not.

  • Sicod

    Sadly, people who take the BIble as literal inerant truth have not critically read up through Genesis 3. In Genesis 1 man is made after the animals. In Genesis 2-3 (written by a different Biblical author) animals are made after man to potentially be his helpers, a clear contradiction to any literal reading.

  • slamfu


    If I’ve discovered anything in life it’s that people will believe whatever they want to

    Man you got that right. Scientology is my favorite example. In the 20th century, a sci-fi writer can come up with a new one about space aliens for god’s sake, and it takes off and becomes a big time religion. People just have a hole in them waiting to be filled.

  • Momzworld

    “Ancient fables, legends, history, and precepts written by man” gets my vote and I don’t think that description diminishes the text at all”

    That says it best for me, too, BB.

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