24 October 2007

Taking Bible Stories Literally

Oh boy, a new Barna survey is out!

This one is trying to find out if Americans still believe those cute Bible stories they were taught as kids. And, not too surprisingly, most (about 2/3) still do.

Here are the "six renowned Bible stories ... offered to adults for their consideration," along with the overall percentage who believed the story was “literally true, meaning it happened exactly as described in the Bible”:

1) Jesus rising from the dead (75%)

2) Daniel and the lion den (65%)

3) Moses parting the Red Sea (64%)

4) David and Goliath (63%)

5) Peter walking on water (60%)

6) The six-day creation story (60%)

From the survey, the Barna group concluded that "these and other Bible stories inspire people to believe that their personal trust in that powerful God is warranted. Although some people may dismiss such writings as fairy tales for children, the data indicate that the typical American has adopted these accounts as the foundation of a valued faith in God."

Okay. But what I'd like to know is this: Why did Barna choose these six stories for the survey?

I suspect that there are two reasons:

1) They are the stories that most people are familiar with.

2) They are stories that most people can stomach.

The stories are familiar not because most people have read them, but because they were read to them when they were children (and very few have read them since). The text and illustrations made it all seem so appealing, comforting, and certain. They were included in the Barna survey because when it comes to religion, familiarity breeds, not contempt, but acceptance and belief. And belief was what the Barna survey was trying to find.


Robert said...

It is rather sad to know people still take these stories literally....

Unknown said...

Well, of course. They kept us kids in ignorance. I finally found about other stories after I *gasp* started reading the bible instead of they stuff they happen to skip over.

Though, I guess they figured that coming out and admitting the story about god purposefully hardening their hearts would enhance my knowledge and not be the start of my conversion away from christianity.