multiple-choice god

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Speaking of the LA Times, this article on “Multiple-Choice God” references a recent Baylor University study that identifies four basic strains of theism in America, plotted on the axes of belief that a deity is engaged in the world and belief that a deity is angry.

The survey identifies four conceptions of God, which it labels A, B, C and D.

A is the Authoritarian God, worshiped by 31.4% of respondents. This deity is highly involved, responsible for Earthly events such as tsunamis or economic upturns and "capable of meting out punishment to those who are unfaithful or ungodly."

B is the Benevolent God, the choice of 23% of respondents. He also is involved in human affairs but isn't in the smiting business. This God is "mainly a force of positive influence in the world and is less willing to condemn or punish individuals."

C is the Critical God, who "really does not interact with the world." But believers in this God — 16% of the sample — still watch their Ps and Qs because God C "views the current state of the world unfavorably" and will punish evildoers "in another life."

Last but not least is D, the Distant God. Twenty-four percent of respondents endorsed — "embraced" is probably too strong a word — this version of the deity, "a cosmic force which set the laws of nature in motion" but has no interest in human activities.

Finally, there are the atheists, who accounted for 5.2% of respondents. (They aren't dignified with an abbreviation. F for faithless?)

The study, “American Piety in the 21st Century” (1.5MB PDF), is quite interesting. The observation that “Persons aged 18-30 are three times more likely to have no religious affiliation (18.6%) than are persons aged 65 or older (5.4%)” is likely responsible for the increase in “religious nones” from 8% of the general population in 1988 to 14.3% in 2004.

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This page contains a single entry by cognitivedissident published on September 18, 2006 11:22 PM.

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