Global Survey Finds 51% Think One Can Be Good Without God, Especially Those in Wealthier Nations

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WASHINGTON — A global survey conducted by the Washington-based Pew Research Center finds that 51% of participants believe that one can be good without God. The research also suggests that those in wealthier and more “educated” nations are more apt to think people are fine without the Divine.

“What is the connection between belief in God and morality? And how important are God and prayer in people’s lives? Pew Research Center posed these questions to 38,426 people in 34 countries in 2019,” the outlet announced on Monday.

Across the six continents, 45% agreed with the statement, “Belief in God is necessary to be moral and have good values.” 51% disagreed.

However, 61% of those same respondents agreed with the statement, “God plays an important role in my life” and 53% agreed that “[p]rayer plays an important role in my life.”

The Pew Research Center highlighted the outcomes in Europe, which had a notably low agreement rate.

“In the eight Western European publics surveyed, a median of just 22% say belief in God is necessary to be moral, while in the six Eastern European nations studied, a median of 33% share the same view,” it advised.

Percentages varied from country to country, with Greece topping out at 53% connecting God with good morals and Bulgaria close behind at 50%. Only 9% of Swedes, 14% of Chezchs and 15% of Frenchmen agreed that belief in God is necessary to be moral.

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However, it wasn’t only Europe that gave cause for concern. Only 26% agreed with the statement of those polled in Canada, and 44% agreed in America. 39% of those in Japan concurred while only 19% of Australian respondents agreed that one must believe in God to be good.

Contrastingly, nearly everyone — 96% — polled in Indonesia and the Philippines agreed that there is a connection between God and morality, and 95% and 93% in Kenya and Nigeria agreed with the statement. 84% of South Africans also agreed. Tunisia, Turkey and Lebanon similarly had higher rates, with 84%, 75% and 72% respectively.

“Overall, respondents in nations with lower gross domestic product are more likely to say that belief in God is necessary to be moral and have good values,” the Pew Research Center found. “In other words, there is an inverse relationship between GDP per capita and the percentage of the public that draws this connection between belief in God and morality.”

“For example, in Kenya, which has the lowest GDP per capita of all 34 nations included in this analysis ($4,509 in 2019) 95% of respondents express the view that belief in God is integral to being moral,” it explained. “By contrast, only 9% of respondents in Sweden — which has one of the highest GDP per capita of the nations surveyed ($55,815 in 2019) — say belief in God is necessary to be moral.”

“This pattern is consistent with prior research that has found that Europeans tend to be less religious than people in many other parts of the world,” the Center outlined.

It also found a connection between education and the response of participants, although not always.

“In most European and North American countries surveyed, individuals with more education are less likely to say that belief in God is necessary to be moral,” the Pew Research Center advised. “This pattern closely tracks the connection between income levels and the way people answer this question, because there is a significant correlation between educational attainment and earnings.”

“In 24 out of the 34 countries surveyed, respondents with higher levels of education are significantly less likely to say belief in God is necessary to be moral. There are no significant differences among the other 10 countries included in the survey.”

And while the majority of those polled worldwide claimed that God is important to them, the figures were lower in European nations.

“[T]he European countries in the study tend to have much smaller shares who say religion is either very or somewhat important in their lives, including 22% of adults in Sweden, 23% in the Czech Republic, 33% in France and 39% in both the Netherlands and Hungary,” the Pew Research Center noted.

“In multiple European nations, pluralities say religion is ‘not at all’ important in their lives,” it continued. “This is the case in the Czech Republic, France, the Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom, where adults are more likely to say religion is not at all important in their lives than to choose any other answer option.”

Answers seemed to again reflect that the richer the nation, the less it turned to God.

“Nine-in-ten or more respondents in all the emerging economies surveyed (except for Ukraine) say that God plays an important role in their lives. By contrast, less than half of respondents in 11 of the economically advanced countries surveyed consider God to be important in life,” the Pew Research Center said. “Similarly, while a median of 41% across these advanced economies say that prayer is an important part of daily life, 96% of those in emerging economies say that it is.”

View the complete results of the global study in full here. 

In Revelation 3:17-19, Jesus said, “Because thou sayest, ‘I am rich and increased with goods and have need of nothing,’ and knowest not that thou art wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, I counsel thee to buy of Me gold tried in the fire that thou mayest be rich, and white raiment that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness does not appear, and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve that thou mayest see.”

“As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Be zealous, therefore, and repent.”

Editor’s Note: Those of various religions and no religion alike were polled by Pew Research Center. A respondent’s agreement that “belief in God is necessary to be moral” does not mean that they follow the One True God (Isaiah 45:5, 1 Timothy 2:5) but could refer to adherents of any theistic religion. Therefore, followers of Christ would be even fewer if the study were further dissected. 

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