|US and Catholic Countries Score Highest for Belief in God|
|Living - The Dialogue|
|TS-Si News Service|
|Monday, 23 April 2012 02:00|
Chicago, IL, USA. The depth of belief in God differs vastly among nations, but there is one constant belief is higher among older people, regardless of where they live.
International surveys show that national differences range from 94 percent of people in the Philippines (who said they always believed in God), compared to only 13 percent in the former East Germany.
The data came from 30 countries in which surveys about belief in God have been taken at least twice, in some cases, since 1991. Researchers asked questions to determine people's range of beliefs, from atheism to strong belief in God; their changing beliefs over their lifetime; and their attitude toward the notion that God is concerned with individuals.
The General Social Survey (GSS), of the social science research organization NORC at the University of Chicago, reported on a comprehensive, international study of belief in God.
The surveys were taken in 1991, 1998 and 2008, and included these countries: Australia, Austria, Chile, Cyprus, Czech Rep, Denmark, France, Germany (East), Germany (West), Great Britain, Hungary, Ireland, Israel , Italy, Japan, Latvia, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Norway, The Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States.
The text includes information from the International Social Survey Programme (ISSP), a consortium of the world's leading opinion survey organizations.
Tom W. Smith, the GSS director, wrote the report.Belief in God Varies Widely Across Nations and Cultures
Countries with the strongest belief in God tended to be Catholic societies, especially in the developing world, such as the Philippines. The people of the United States stood out for their high in belief in God among developed countries with large Protestant populations. Competition among denominations may account for that interest in religion, Smith said.
The surveys found:
"Belief in God has decreased in most countries, but the declines are quite modest especially when calculated on a per annum basis," Smith said.
The Constant: Belief in God Grows With Age
Belief is highest among older adults. On average, 43 percent of those aged 68 and older are certain that God exists, compared with 23 percent of those 27 and younger, according to the report.
"Looking at differences among age groups, the largest increases in belief in God most often occur among those 58 years of age and older. This suggests that belief in God is especially likely to increase among the oldest groups, perhaps in response to the increasing anticipation of mortality," Smith said.
He noted that the higher level of belief was not simply a cohort effect, in which people carry forward attitudes shaped in younger years. In the United States, for instance, 54 percent of people younger than 28 said they were certain of God's existence, compared with 66 percent of the people 68 and older.
In countries with low overall belief in God, the difference in belief between age groups is also strong. In France, for example, 8 percent of younger people said they were certain that God exists, compared with 26 percent of the people 68 and older. In Austria, 8 percent of the younger generation said they were certain in their belief, while 32 percent of people 68 and older were confident of God's existence.
CitationBeliefs About God Across Time and Countries. Tom W. Smith. NORC at the University of Chicago 18 April 2012. Report for the International Social Survey Programme (ISSP) and GESIS.
This paper focuses on one central, but relatively neglected, aspect of secularization and religious change, belief in God (Kay, 1997; Norris and Inglehart, 2012; Smith, 2009; Ziebertz, 2002). The International Social Survey Programme (ISSP) has asked three questions focusing on belief in God (Appendix 1). The first covers six levels of belief which can be characterized as 1) atheists, 2) agnostics, 3) deists, 4) waivers, 5) weak believers, and 6) strong believers. The second question asks about changes in belief in God over the life course and consists of consistent atheists, current atheists – but former believers, current believers – but former atheists, and consistent believers. The third question is an agree/disagree item asking about belief in a personal God (i.e., “a God who concerns himself with every human being personally”).
The ISSP Religion studies covered 18 countries in 1991 (counting East and West Germany and Northern Ireland and Great Britain separately), 33 countries in 1998, and 42 countries in 2008. This paper analysis the 30 countries that were in at least two of the three ISSP rounds and appear in the 1991-2008 merged ISSP Religion file created by GESIS.
|Last Updated on Sunday, 22 April 2012 21:05|