Saturday, April 30, 2011

Most people believe in God, international poll finds

A new survey shows that 51 per cent of people in the world believe in God. Only 18 per cent don’t and 17 per cent are undecided.

More than 18,000 people from 23 countries participated in the poll conducted by global research company, Ipsos Social Research Institute.

The poll also found that 51 per cent believe that there is an afterlife while 23 per cent believe they will just "cease to exist". Around a quarter (26 per cent) say they do not know what will happen after death.

Bobby Duffy, managing director of Ipsos, told Reuters, "It may seem to many that we live in a secular world but this survey shows just how important spiritual life is to so many global citizens with half saying they believe in a spiritual being and the same proportion in an afterlife of some sort or other.

"The other really interesting thing is that such a large proportion of the remaining people are just not sure there is a spiritual explanation either for how they got here or what happens after they die."

According to the survey, “definitive belief in a God or Supreme Being" is highest in Indonesia (93 per cent) and Turkey (91 per cent), followed by Brazil (84 per cent), South Africa (83 per cent) and Mexico (78 per cent).

Those most likely to believe in “many Gods or Supreme Beings” live in India (24 per cent), China (14 per cent) and Russia (10 per cent).

People who don’t believe in God or a Supreme Being(s) are most likely to live in France (39 per cent), Sweden (37 per cent), Belgium (36 per cent), Great Britain (34 per cent), Japan (33 per cent) and Germany (31 per cent).

When it comes to “the sweet hereafter-or not…” category, ultimately half of the global population believe there is a form of afterlife. More than half of the people in Indonesia, South Africa, and Turkey believe in heaven or hell as opposed to the United States and Brazil, where less than 40 per cent hold the same beliefs.

Forty percent of respondents from Mexico believe in the afterlife but not heaven or hell.
Overall, nearly a quarter do not believe in a heaven or hell.

Belief in reincarnation is highest in Hungary where 13 per cent say “you are ultimately reincarnated”. 

The belief is also popular in Brazil, Mexico, Japan, Argentina and Australia.

People who say they “don’t know what happens” after death are mostly located in Europe and Asia. 

Meanwhile, countries where people are most likely to believe they will cease to exist after death are South Korea with 40 per cent, Spain with 40 per cent, France with 39 per cent, Japan with 37 per cent and Belgium with 35 per cent saying so.

When it comes to the afterlife, Duffy stated, “There is a belief on one side (in a Supreme Being) but there is a lot of uncertainty on the other.

"The nature of these questions and issues is that in many cases they are unknowable. But it reminds us that it is the case with many people around the world."

In other findings, the survey revealed that 41 per cent believe in human evolution, 28 per cent believe in creationism and 31 per cent are uncertain of what to believe in.

Creationism, or the belief that human beings were in fact created by a spiritual force such as God, is strongest in Saudi Arabia (75 per cent), Turkey (60 per cent), Indonesia (57 per cent), and South Africa (56 per cent).

Belief in evolution, or that the origin of man came from evolving from other species such as apes, is popular in Sweden, Germany, China, Belgium and Japan with over 60 percent of the population in each of the mentioned countries holding such belief.

The participating countries for the online survey were Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and the United States of America.