Australian belief in higher and other powers

The Fairfax broadsheets yesterday ran the results of an ACNielsen survey on Australian religious beliefs, along with views on astrology, ESP, UFOs and witches (a somewhat provocative collection of topics).

Just over two-thirds of us believe in God or a ‘universal spirit’, while 24% do not and 6% aren’t sure. The number of non-believers exceeds the census finding of 19% of us with ‘no religion’. While the ‘not stated’ census category (it’s an optional question) presumably hides atheists and agnostics, the Nielsen survey reports that 11% are non-believers who consider themselves ‘culturally Christian’. The ‘no religion’ response in the census is only a rough proxy for the number of non-believers.

A quarter of Christians believe that the Bible is literally true, while half the believers of other religions see their major text as literally true. Belief in miracles (63%) is stronger than belief in Heaven (56%) or – conveniently, for the nation’s sinners – Hell (38%).

Among non-religious beliefs in the survey, the most popular is ‘psychic powers such as ESP’ (49%), beating astrology on 41% and UFOs on 34%. Sadly for witches, only 22% of us believe they exist.

On evolution, 23% believe the biblical creationist account, 32% the God of Design view (‘the notion that humans developed over millions of years in process guided by God), and presumably the rest are Darwinists.

The most significant demographic variables were gender (women are much stronger believers than men) and age (older believe more than the young).

6 Responses to “Australian belief in higher and other powers

  • 1
    Rationalist
    December 20th, 2009 11:50

    The 2011 (?) census data on this will be curious.

  • 2
    Andrew Norton » Blog Archive » Religion’s political influence (or lack thereof)
    December 20th, 2009 12:08

    […] « Australian belief in higher and other powers […]

  • 3
    M
    December 21st, 2009 06:58

    So with the non-religious beliefs does that mean that there are people who believe in God and Astrology simultaneously?

    Would also suggest that only 45% believe in Darwinian Evolution. Which means there are plenty of believers in god who believe he played no part in creation/evolution.

  • 4
    Andrew Norton
    December 21st, 2009 07:55

    M – Yes.

    “41 per cent Christians seem hardly more likely (44 per cent) than the rest of us to put their faith in the stars. Here is one belief where our enthusiasm far outstrips Americans….only 25 per cent of the US population believes in horoscopes. Christians (23 per cent) are yet more sceptical.”

  • 5
    caf
    December 21st, 2009 08:50

    What does it mean to “believe in” UFOs or witches? It is a clearly demonstrable fact that some Flying Objects may go Unidentified, and that some people self-describe as “witches”.

    So I would say that both UFOs and witches certainly exist, although I do not believe that we’ve been visited by space aliens; or that witches possess any supernatural powers.

  • 6
    Andrew Norton » Blog Archive » The public’s view of religion and politics
    December 26th, 2009 13:41

    […] the Fairfax broadsheets turn from the religious beliefs of Australians to how they see the relationship between religion and […]