What is your conception of God? This graph represents just some of the findings from the Pew Forum Report released earlier this week.
Christianity Today has some comments of course.
But the most amusing observation I have come across so far is from Atheists. It seems that those who don't believe in God don't believe in babies either. I am restraining myself from making some natural selection jokes.
2 thoughts on “Pew Forum Results”
First of all it surprises me that people in evangelical churches (13%) believe that God is an impersonal force (HUH???).
Secondly, how can there be 6% of atheists believe in a personal God? Huh? Is this just their image of, or belief in?
Even if it just an image it’s interesting to note that the % of agnostics is higher for the image of personal God.
Isaiah, you have touched on why results like this should always be taken with a grain of salt.
Firstly, the correlation between stated religious affiliation and actual religious belief is rarely 1:1. Sometimes the results indicate little more than preferred funeral arrangements. How many people might be in evangelical churches for sociological reasons more than theological ones? How many people in the general population really understand the nuances between atheism and agnosticism or even atheism and pantheism? I have, for instance, come across many people who mistakenly identify Buddhism as an atheistic philosophy. Personally I am interested in what people actually believe to what they call themselves.
Secondly, the questions themselves can skew the data. Statisticitians don’t seem to have caught up the the fact that many people have a consumerist approach to religion and may identify with more than one. Asking people to choose one can mask split level Christianity, syncretism and folk religion. Also, take note of how many of the questions are grounded in Christian, and even evangelical assumptions. I could well imagine Buddhists and Hindus shaking their heads at some of these questions about scripture. Is trust in the literalness of scripture a good measure at how serious a Hindu takes his religion? I think not.
And what does one mean by a personal God anyway. I think it is fair to say a folk Hindu, a trinitarian Christian and a Mormon mean VERY different things by it.
Nevertheless, I do find these surveys interesting.