People believe some truly weird things, and yet even while believing, end up doing something different. My classical example of this concerns those that truly believed that Obama is the Anti-Christ. Now what makes that last one truly weird is as follows:
- A poll revealed that 13% of the US at the time of the poll believed Obama to be the antichrist
- They also happened to ask those taking part in that poll, and discovered that 5% of that 13% voted for Obama …
- Let me spell that out … there were people we truly believed that Obama was indeed the anti-christ and happily voted for him
So yes, people can indeed embrace weird ideas, and yet not actually act on them.
Well, we have a new example of something rather like this for you.
Gallup in the US has an annual Values and Beliefs polls, and the numbers from this year revealed that 75% of Americans think the Bible is the word of a God, literally or otherwise .. (then again perhaps the real problem is that they don’t actually think).
They have in fact also broken down the data a bit, and by doing so something very odd has surfaced.
There is a rather surprising group of people: Non-Christians who said that the Bible was the literal word of God. As pointed out by the Friendly Atheist, a rather obvious question quite naturally springs to mind …
Indeed yes … people who truly believe the bible to be the actual word of god and should be taken literally, and yet at the same time identify themselves as “non-Christian”.
Ah, but Non-Christian means other religions … right?
Yes, this is indeed the immediate conclusion that I went for on this at first, but it turns out that I was wrong.
It is of course be tempting to conclude that these non-Christian literalists are simply people who hold other religious beliefs (Muslims, Hindus, etc…), and so deeply respect and believe it to be all literally true, but no, it is just not that at all.
It is such an odd finding that people have been digging into it and finding out …
For the most part, we’re talking about the “nones.” The cohort of religiously unaffiliated has grown sharply in recent years. It has been the hot topic among religion reporters, researchers, evangelists, and others, all of whom have been eager to note that the “nones” rarely identify as agnostic or atheistic, and often believe in God, pray, and attend church. More than four out of five non-Christian literalists are “nones” (81%). About 10 percent are Jewish. The remaining 9 percent identify with other non-Christian religions.
But then there are also a few things that do not perhaps surprise …
Non-Christian literalists are also significantly less educated than Americans overall. More than two-thirds have only a high school education or less
This is some ways almost feels like the discovery of life within some extreme environment where nobody thought life was previously possible, for example an archaea thriving in 113 and 252 °F, and so now we also find that religious belief is firmly rooted in the minds of some nones where we assumed that was no religious belief.
It’s not a small number
If you extrapolate from the poll we are in fact talking about 7 million people in the US.
So what is going on here?
I have no solid data, and so I’m simply speculating a bit here.
It might perhaps be explained by people abandoning formal religious beliefs for rather practical reasons, for example Catholics who abandon the church due to the corruption and scandals, or evangelicals who abandon the formality of attending a church due to the rather obviously fraudulent practises that are now openly criticised, and yet deep down inside they perhaps still do believe, and so they only reject the social and formal organised manifestations of religion.
Then again there is another possibility that should also be considered – the format and structure of the poll itself was seriously flawed and this demographic does not actually exist.
Personally I suspect the former – there is a rising tide of people who still truly believe, yet have at the same time rejected all forms of formal organised religion, perhaps due to the truly abhorrent and shocking behaviour of some organised religions and their on-going willingness to still try and cover it all up and protect known child molesters. This is perhaps something we can all understand.