Religious or not, many Americans see a creator’s hand

Human life and a complex universe are powerful indicators of creation, Americans say. In a survey of 1,000 Americans, LifeWay Research found almost 8 in 10 (79 percent) believe the existence of human life means someone created it, while 72 percent think the organization of the universe shows a creator’s design. Photo courtesy of LifeWay Research

Human life and a complex universe are powerful indicators of creation, Americans say. In a survey of 1,000 Americans, LifeWay Research found almost 8 in 10 (79 percent) believe the existence of human life means someone created it, while 72 percent think the organization of the universe shows a creator’s design. Photo courtesy of LifeWay Research

*by Cathy Lynn Grossman

(RNS) You don’t have to believe in God or identify with any religion to see a creator’s hand in human life and morality, suggests a new survey.

LifeWay Research’s overall finding — that most Americans believe there is a creator who designed the universe and defines human morality — is not surprising. After all, 3 in 4 U.S. adults identify with a religious denomination.

The surprise is that so many people who don’t identify with a religion — so-called nones — agree.

The survey of 1,000 U.S. adults found that most Americans — 72 percent overall and 46 percent of nones — agree that: “Since the universe has organization, I think there is a creator who designed it.” This view is most strongly held by evangelicals and by older adults.

And most Americans — 79 percent overall, and 43 percent of nones — say they agree that “The fact that we exist means someone created us.”

READ: Evangelicals and scientists are closer than many realize

The phone survey was conducted Sept. 26-Oct. 5, 2014. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points for overall findings.

The survey language was framed by classic Christian “apologetics” — the term for arguments for belief. Mary Jo Sharp, assistant professor of apologetics at Houston Baptist University, said in LifeWay’s news release, “The infinitesimal odds that life arose by blind chance is a formidable argument” for a creator.

But when people were asked about how ideas of right and wrong were established, the numbers slid somewhat: 66 percent overall, and 33 percent of nones, agree that “Since people have morality, I think there is a creator who defines morality.”

“The moral argument has less sway here, perhaps because of our changing views on what is and is not moral,” said Ed Stetzer, executive director of Nashville-based LifeWay Research.

However, he said, overall the case for a creator appears strong: “People of faith have always thought that there were hints of the divine all around us, thinking that ‘all hearts have a God-shaped hole in them.’ ”

The news here, Stetzer said, is that “nonreligious people believe the same at a surprisingly high rate. This points to the possibility of a lot of conversations — if Christians would just have those conversations — telling people about the creator that they see in creation.”

The problem with that, said Stetzer, who also specializes in fostering outreach and missions, is “Christians love evangelism, as long as someone else is doing it. So, the openness is there. The question is if the conversation will be started.”

*Cathy Lynn Grossman is a senior national correspondent for Religion News Service, specializing in stories drawn from research and statistics on religion, spirituality and ethics, and manager for social media.

Religion News Service

RNS is owned by Religion News LLC, a non-profit, limited liability corporation based at the University of Missouri School of Journalism. Its mission is to provide in-depth, non-sectarian coverage of religion, spirituality and ideas.

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The United Methodist Reporter wants to encourage lively conversation about The United Methodist Church and our articles in the belief that Christian conversation (what Wesley would call conferencing) is a means of grace. While we support passionate debate, we cannot allow language that demeans or demonizes others, and we reserve the right to delete any comment we believe to be harmful or inappropriate. We encourage all to remember that we are all broken and in need of Christ's grace, and that we all see through the glass darkly until that time we when reach full perfection in love. May your speech here be tempered with love, and reflection of the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. After all, "There is no law against things like this." (Galatians 5:22-23)
 
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