While nearly 90 percent of U.S. adults believe in some kind of “higher power / spiritual force,” only slightly more than half (56 percent) believe that higher power is “God as described in the Bible,” according to a Pew Research Center report released on April 25.
In response to the question, “Do you believe in God or not?” 80 percent of respondents said “yes.” This included 56 percent who said they “believe in God as described in the Bible” and 23 percent who said they “believe in some other higher power / spiritual force.”
A total of 19 percent answered the question “no.” This includes 9 percent who said they do “believe in some higher power / spiritual force” but not the God of the Bible and 10 percent who said they did not “believe in any higher power / spiritual force.”
Self-identified Christians were most likely to express belief in the biblical God (with 80 percent affirmation), followed by Jews (33 percent) and “nones” (17 percent).
Historically black Protestants are the most likely Christian group to do so (92 percent), followed by evangelicals (91 percent), mainline Protestants (72 percent) and Catholics (69 percent).
By comparison, 18 percent of Christians said they believed in a higher power / spiritual force (but not the God of the Bible), while 56 percent of Jews and 53 percent of “nones” affirmed this position.
“The survey questions that mention the Bible do not specify any particular verses or translations, leaving that up to each respondent’s understanding,” Pew explained. “But it is clear from questions elsewhere in the survey that Americans who say they believe in God ‘as described in the Bible’ generally envision an all-powerful, all-knowing, loving deity who determines most or all of what happens in their lives.”
Historically black Protestants (91 percent) were most likely to affirm all three of these divine characteristics followed by evangelicals (87 percent), mainline Protestants (62 percent) and Catholics (61 percent).
Belief that God or a higher power determines what happens was widely held, with 75 percent affirming this view.
Yet, views on the extent of divine determinism varied, with 27 percent saying God determines events “all the time,” 21 percent “most of the time,” 18 percent “some of the time” and 9 percent “hardly ever.”
When asked about divine communication, only 28 percent said they talk to God and God talks to them.
By contrast, 47 percent said they talk to God but God doesn’t talk to them, 15 percent said there is no communication either way, and 1 percent said they don’t talk to God but God talks to them.
The full report is available here.