Poll: Over Ninety Percent of Americans Still Believe in God
According to the results of a Gallup poll published last Friday, 9 in 10 Americans say “yes” when asked the basic question “Do you believe in God?” These findings were based on a survey conducted 5-8 May 2011. Though significant changes have occurred in the fabric of our society over the past 6-1/2 decades, our belief in God, based on responses to the aforementioned basic question, has remained relatively stable.
Of course, in polls such as these, the results can be significantly influenced by the way the question is asked. For instance, in the same survey, a slightly different question was also asked: “Do you believe in God or a universal spirit?” This question introduces an alternative idea of deity. This question was made a part of the survey beginning in 1976. The percentage of those answering “yes” to this question remained fairly constant at 94% through 1994, and was at 91% in the May 2011 version of the survey.
But the percentage of Americans who believe in God drops as other options are introduced. For instance, here is one of the questions in the recent survey: “Which of the following statements comes closest to your belief about God—you believe in God, you don’t believe in God, but you do believe in a universal spirit or higher power, or you don’t believe in either?” This question is a far cry from the basic question “Do you believe in God?” The result is that when Americans are given the option to express doubts about their belief in God, the percentage of them who still say they believe in God drops to the 70% to 80% range, according to the survey.
Based on the results of the survey, not all Americans who say they believe in God are certain about their belief in God. Moreover, nothing in the survey is aimed at defining “God.” According to Gallup, 1 in 10 Americans say they have no formal religious identity. So who or what influences their concept of God? For some Americans, their idea of God may be in the form of an inanimate object. Hence, based on the Gallup poll, most Americans still believe in God, but for some or many of them, we might be surprised to find out who or what their god is.