Tuesday, December 07, 2004

The Shape of Things

Here's an article from this week's Newsweek about the religious beliefs of Americans. Let me put up some of the highlights:

  • 79% of Americans believe that Jesus Christ was born of the Virgin Mary, without a human father
  • 67% say they believe that the entire story of Christmas is historically accurate
  • 55% of those polled say every word of the Bible is literally accurate (versus 38% who do not believe this)
  • 93% believe Jesus existed, and 82% believe he was God or the Son of God
  • 52% believe Jesus will return (versus 21% who don't), and 15% believe Jesus will return in their own lifetime (versus 47% who don't)
  • 62% believe that creationism should be taught alongside of evolution (versus 26% who don't)
  • The clincher: 43% believe that creationism should be taught instead of evolution (versus 40% who don't)

This astounds me, truth be told. I just really can't understand how most of these beliefs can be held. Personally, I believe that Jesus existed, sure. But I think that much of the Bible is allegorical. But how can so many more believe that the Bible is literally true than those who don't? How can so many more people believe Jesus will return than don't? How can more people think that creationism is more biologically valid than evolution?