Study: Fewer Americans Believe in Biblical Literalism

Study: Fewer Americans Believe in Biblical Literalism

A new study found that most Americans believe the Bible is divinely inspired, but fewer than ever are taking its word literally.

According to the study, 26 percent believe the Bible’s best description is that it is a “book of fables, legends, history and more precepts recorded by man.”

Only 24 percent believe that the Bible is the “actual word of God” and is to be taken literally, “word for word.”

However, the study did find that 71 percent of Americans still believe that the Bible is divinely inspired.

Joseph Hartropp writes in a column for, that the study shows that many are starting to take the Bible “more seriously.”

“Rather than selling out to cultural values, many Christians have found Scripture to be too holy, inspired and complex to be merely taken 'word for word,’” he said.

“For example, do the psalms portray the 'actual word of God'? They clearly give human voices, offering profound insight into human spiritual experiences. They teach the Church how to sing. They're certainly inspired by God and have authority, but they're more complex than a simple compendium of divine dictation.”

Hartropp also said that the study is more hopeful than it may seem.

“Even in a country that may not be as 'Christian' as it once was, 71 percent of people still see the Bible as inspired inspiration,” he said. “Language, as the Bible shows, has its limits in explaining divine action. What's clear is that across most of America, people still want the word.”


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Publication date: May 17, 2017