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Three in Five Adults Are Absolutely Certain There Is a God

By: for Harris Interactive on Jan. 28, 2010

A recent Harris Poll found that 82% of American adults believe in God. However, when asked how certain they were, only 59% are “absolutely certain” that there is a God, and another 15% say they are somewhat certain.


This is one of the findings of The Harris Poll of 2,303 adults surveyed online between November 2 and 11, 2009 by Harris Interactive.


This Harris Poll finds that the groups that are most likely to be absolutely certain there is a God are born-again Christians (87%), Protestants generally (76%), Republicans (72%), people in the South (69%), blacks (67%), and women (66%).


Those who are most likely to be either absolutely or somewhat certain there is no God, or to be unsure, are Jews (34%), people aged 25-29 (43%) and 30-39 (35%), college graduates (36%), post-graduates (34%), men (33%), and people on the coasts – 33% in the East, and 34% in the West.


There is no consensus on whether God is a man or a woman. Just over a third of all adults (38%) think he is a man, while less than 1% believes she is a woman. However, many people believe God is neither male nor female (34%) or both male and female (11%).


Surprisingly perhaps, more women (44%) than men (32%) believe God is a man.


There is also no consensus on how much control, if any, God has over what happens on Earth.


A 43% plurality believes that God observes but does not control what happens on Earth. Thirty percent believe that God controls what happens, and this includes most (59%) born-again Christians.


Other research has shown that when replying to a question administered impersonally by a computer, people are less likely to say they believe in God, or attend Church services, when they really do not. It is generally believed that surveys conducted by live interviewers tend to exaggerate the numbers of people who report the socially desirable, or less embarrassing, behavior, and that the replies given to an online survey such as this, are more honest and therefore more accurate.

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