The Bible has enjoyed a prevalent place in the Western world, though not everyone agrees on its origins, how to interpret its contents — or whether it’s a relevant guide for navigating contemporary society.
Views on the Bible can generally be divided into three camps: those who believe the scriptures should be taken literally, those who revere the Bible as the inspired word of God, but say it shouldn’t all be taken literally and those who dismiss it as ancient fables and stories.
Gallup recently found that an overwhelming 75 percent of the American public believes that the Bible is somehow connected to God. That said, only about 28 percent think the Bible “is the actual word of God and that it should be taken literally.”
Another 47 percent believe that it is the inspired word, but that it shouldn’t all be taken literally. And 21 percent dismiss the book as “ancient fables, legends, history, and precepts written by man.”
These proportions have changed to varying degrees over the past few decades. While the proportion of those who believe the Bible is God’s word and that it should be taken literally has fluctuated between 27 percent and 33 percent since the early 1990s, it was as high as 38 percent in 1976.
As for those who think that the Bible was inspired by God, but that it doesn’t always need to be taken literally, their representation has fluctuated between 45 percent (a low in 1976) and 52 percent (a high in 2003).
The largest growth is among those who say that the Bible is a book of fables. While only 13 percent of the public embraced this worldview in 1976, 21 percent did so in 2014.
Read the full results here.
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