58% of U.S. Adults "Absolutely Certain" There is God, Down from 66% in 2003

A new Harris Poll in October finds that 42% of all U.S. adults say they are not "absolutely certain" there is a God, including 15% who are "somewhat certain," 11% who think there is probably no God and 16% who are not sure.

Three years ago, in an identical survey in 2003, 79% of adults said they believed in God and 66% said they were absolutely certain that there is a God. In this new survey, those numbers have declined to 73% and 58% respectively.

Differences between different religious groups: Not everyone who describes themselves as Christian or Jewish believes in God. Indeed, only 76% of Protestants, 64% of Catholics, and only 30% of Jews say they are "absolutely certain" there is a God. However, most Christians who describe themselves as "Born Again" (93%) are absolutely certain there is a God.

Differences between different demographic groups: Demographic groups that are more likely to say they are absolutely certain that there is a God include:

  • People in all age groups 40 and over (63% of those ages 40 to 49, 65% of those ages 50 to 64 and 65% of those ages 65 and over) compared to people in age groups under 40 (45% of those ages 18 to 24, 43% of those ages 25 to 29 and 54% of those ages 30 to 39);
  • Women (62%) slightly more than men (54%);
  • African Americans (71%) compared to Hispanics (61%) and Whites (57%);
  • Republicans (73%) more than Democrats (54%) or Independents (51%);
  • People with no college education (62%) or who have some college education (57%) compared to college graduates (50%) and those with post-graduate degrees (53%).

Is God male or female? The public is almost equally divided between those who think of God as male (36%) and "neither male nor female" (37%), with 10% saying "both male and female." Only 1% percent thinks of God as a female.

Does God have a human form? A substantial plurality of the public (41%) thinks of God as "a spirit or power that can take on human form but is not inherently human." Just over one-quarter (27%) thinks of God as a "spirit or power that does not take on human form," while only 9% of adults think of God as being "like a human being with a face, body, arms, legs, eyes, etc."

How much control does God have over events on earth? Less than one-third of all adults (29%) believe that God "controls what happens on Earth". A plurality (44%) believes that God "observes but does not control what happens on Earth."

Do Jews, Christians and Muslims worship the same God? About half (51%) of all adults, including a majority of Catholics (63%), believe that Jews, Christians and Muslims all worship the same God. One-third (32%) believes they do not and 16% are not sure. On this question, as on the others, the views of Born Again Christians are different – a 54% majority believes they do not worship the same God and only 34% believe they do.

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