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).