Nearly three in 10 Americans believe the Bible is the literal word of God, according to the latest Gallup poll of U.S. religious beliefs.
Fully 28 percent of 1,028 survey respondents said they believe “the Bible is the actual word of God and is to be taken literally, word for word.” This is a marked decrease from 35 years ago, when 40 percent of respondents answered similarly, and near the all-time lows recorded in 2001 and 2009.
Nearly half of those surveyed– 47 percent– agreed with the statement, “the Bible is the inspired word of God but not everything in it should be taken literally.” A combined 75 percent of respondents believe the Bible is at least in some way the word of God.
The latest Gallup poll on U.S. religiosity closely follows the release of another survey by the same company that found 42 percent of Americans believe God created human beings in their modern form some time in the last 10,000 years.
That poll found a close correlation between age, education level and church attendance and likelihood to believe demonstrably false religious-based notions of how long humans have existed and how they came to be.
Unsurprisingly, respondents who regularly attend church were much more likely to believe that divine creation explains human existence. Fully 69 percent of those who attend church weekly said they agreed with the statement, “God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years of so.” Only 32 percent of those who seldom or never attend church agreed with the statement.
While only 13 percent of respondents who did not graduate high school said they believed in evolution, 41 percent of college graduates said they believed humans evolved independent of any God.
Among respondents age 65 or older, half said God created humans within the past 10,000 years. But only 28 percent of those under age 30 agreed.
The survey also found a direct link between respondents’ familiarity with evolution and acceptance of the scientific theory. Among those with little or no familiarity with the theory, 21 percent said humans evolved without God, while 57 percent said God created humans within the past 10,000 years. But among those who said they were “very familiar” with evolution, a nearly identical percentage said humans evolved independently of any divine creation (34 percent) and that humans were created by God (33 percent).