Poll: Americans' Belief in God Is Strong--But Declining

December 17, 2013 - 10:50 AM
Sistine chapel

Michelangelo's masterpiece on the ceiling of the Vatican's Sistine Chapel.

(CNSNews.com) - A new Harris Poll finds that a strong majority (74 percent) of U.S. adults say they believe in God, but that's down from the 82 percent who expressed such a belief in earlier years.

Belief in miracles, heaven and other religious teachings also declined in the latest poll, as follows:

--72 percent believe in miracles, down from 79 percent in 2005;

--68 percent believe in heaven, down from 75 percent;

--68 percent believe that Jesus is God or the Son of God, down from 72 percent;

--65 percent believes in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, down from 70 percent;

--64 percent believe in the survival of the soul after death, down from 69 percent;

--58 percent believe in the devil and hell, down from 62 percent;

--57 percent believe in the Virgin birth, down from 60 percent.

The same poll also found that belief in Darwin's theory of evolution increased to 47 percent, up from 42 percent in 2005.

And it shows that 42% of Americans believe in ghosts (especially younger people), 36% each believe in creationism and UFOs, 29% believe in astrology, 26% believe in witches and 24% believe in reincarnation – that they were once another person.

Other findings:

-- Absolute certainty that there is a God is down vs. 10 years ago (54 percent vs. 66 percent in 2003).

-- Outside of specific religious samples, the groups most likely to be absolutely certain there is a God include blacks (70%), Republicans (65%), older Americans (62%), Baby Boomers (60%), Southerners (61%) and Midwesterners (58%), and those with a high school education or less (60%).

-- There continues to be no consensus as to whether God is a man or a woman. Nearly 4 in 10 Americans (39%) think God is male, while only 1% of U.S. adults believe God is female. However, notable minorities believe God is neither male nor female (31%) or both male and female (10%).

-- 19 percent of Americans describe themselves are "very" religious, with an additional four in ten (40%) describing themselves as "somewhat" religious (down from 49% in 2007). Nearly one-fourth of Americans (23%) identify themselves as "not at all" religious – a figure that has nearly doubled since 2007, when it was at 12%.

The Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between Nov. 13-18, 2013 among 2,250 adults, ages 18 and older.