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- Written by John Draper
- Category: Statistics
- Published: 04 September 2010
- Hits: 128
The questions asked in surveys are often too shallow to get at what people really think about religion. But now a recent survey of Canadians has come up with answers about belief in God, spirituality, credibility of religion, afterlife, whether God is a personal god, does religion cause conflict and integration of religious minorities. The survey was taken between September 2009 and February 2010 and published Sept 3, 2010. It was conducted by the Carleton University Survey Centre with the support of the Association for Canadian Studies.
The big surprise is that only 30% of Canadians "know God really exists and have no doubts". The rest are either atheist, agnostic or believe in a higher power. The whole concept of "higher power" is so vague that it essentially rejects most organized religions. Certainly it rejects Islam and Christian religions. Young people and Quebecers are the least sure that God really exists! However, 45% follow a religion so many Church-goers (religion followers) are not sure there's a god – do they go to Church for tradition or social reasons? [See detailed tables and link to full report below]
But most Canadians are tolerant – only 3.6% say that only one religion has "the Truth" and 74% think that religion has "some truth". But at the same time 74% say that religion "brings conflict" and that "religious people are too intolerant". Despite this, 71% say they respect all religions although 59% feel that members of religious minorities "do not want to integrate into society".
When it comes to their idea of what religion is about, approx half of Canadians see themselves as spiritual, whether or not they follow a religion. Only half believe in life after death plus an amazing 27% believe in re-incarnation. Although 50% believe in heaven, only 32% believe in hell! 50% believe in miracles. It seems that while Canadians may not be very religious, they are still superstitious.
The key belief that is the basis for most religions is the idea of a personal god. Does God care about individual humans? Only 35% think that "God concerns himself with every human being personally". Although this would mean the majority think personal prayer is not listened to, large majorities think that Religion helps people find inner peace, make friends and gain comfort.
The whole thing gives hope that people are turning away from the mumbo-jumbo of organized religion but the barrier seems to be the need to be spiritual and take comfort from traditional beliefs.
A selection of tables from the report are given below. Or you can download the full report of the survey here (Article plus 22 tables of data).
Belief in God
Closest to R's belief in God
|I don't believe in God||7,1%||8,4%||6,5%||6,8%|
|Don't know whether there is a god, don't believe there is a way to find out||11,6%||12,6%||11,2%||11,3%|
|Don't believe in a personal God, but I do believe in a higher Power||20,4%||23,5%||20,7%||17,3%|
|I find myself believing in God some time, but not at others||9,7%||14,3%||8,3%||7,5%|
|While I have doubts, I feel that I do believe in God||19,7%||16,0%||22,5%||19,5%|
|I know God really exists and I have no doubts||30,2%||23,5%||29,6%||36,8%|
2. Spirituality and Religion
Best describes respondents views
|I follow a religion, am a spiritual person||19,7%||20,2%||18,3%||21,1%|
|Follow a religion, am not a spiritual person||25,7%||23,5%||23,7%||30,1%|
|Don't follow a religion, am a spiritual person||22,6%||23,5%||26,0%||17,3%|
|Don't follow a religion, am not a spiritual person||21,6%||24,4%||20,1%||21,1%|
3. Truth in Religion
Closest to Rs own views
|There is very little truth in religion||12,1%||13,4%||14,2%||8,3%|
|There are basic truths in religion||74,3%||74,8%||76,3%||71,4%|
|There is truth only on one religion||3,6%||5,0%||1,8%||4,5%|
4. The Next Life and Miracles
Yes definitely and Probably
|Life after death||53.5%||59.7%||54.5%||46.6%|
|Belief in Reincarnation||26.6%||36.2%||28.4%||15.8%|
|Belief in Heaven||50.4%||56.4%||46.8%||51.1%|
|Belief in Hell||32.3%||35,3%||32.6%||29.3%|
|Belief in Religious Miracles||50.1%||48.8%||51.5%||49.6%|
|Belief in supernatural powers of deceased ancestors||24.9%||33..6%||27.8%||13.5%|
5. Is God with us
|God concerns Himself with every human being personally||34.4%||37.8%||40.6%||38.0%|
|People Can do little to change life||10.7%||6,7%||10.0%||15.0%|
|Life Meaningful Because God Exists||20.2%||16.8%||17.1%||27.0%|
|Religion Helps People Find Inner Peace||75.1%||73.9%||73.4%||78.2%|
|Religion Helps People Make Friends||65.3%||73.1%||60.9%||64.0%|
|Religion helps People Gain Comfort||88.2%||93.3%||84.6%||88.0%|
|Own way of
connecting with God
6. Religion and Conflict
% strongly agree and agree
|Religion brings conflict||73.8%||60.5%||78.1%||80.5%|
|Religious people too intolerant||74.4%||67.2%||76,9%||77.4%|
|Equal rights for religious groups||58.4||58.8||58.5||57.9|
|Respect all religions||71.0||74.0||68.6||71.4|
|Accept person from different religion: marrying a relative.||86.5||90.0||89.3||79.7|
7. The Paradox of Integration of Religious Minorities
|Members of religious minorities should give up their customs and traditions||21.2%||11.7%||18.3%||33.1%|
|Members of religious minorities do not want to integrate into society||58.9%||50.4%||59.2%||66.1%|
|Society is threatened by the influx of non-Christian immigrants||Society has been strengthened by the diversity of religious groups||Society should try harder to accept customs and traditions of minority religious|
|Neither agree nor disagree||29,6%||26,7%||31,0%||40,0%||21,8%||34,3%|