Study: Only 20% of Americans Say the Bible Is the “Literal Word of God”

Do we at Answers in Genesis believe that all of the Bible is the literal Word of God?

by Ken Ham on July 21, 2022
Featured in Ken Ham Blog
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How should we view the Bible? We at Answers in Genesis believe “the 66 books of the Bible are the unique, written Word of God. The Bible is divinely inspired, inerrant, infallible, supremely authoritative, and sufficient in everything it teaches. Its assertions are factually true in all the original autographs. Its authority is not limited to spiritual, religious, or redemptive themes but includes its assertions in such fields as history and science” (this is from our Statement of Faith). But does this mean we understand the Bible as “the literal word of God”?

The Bible is written in a variety of genres (e.g., history, poetry, parable, prophecy, epistle) and should be interpreted according to genre in a historical-grammatical sense.

That depends on what you mean by “the literal word of God.” If you mean that the Bible is actually the very words of God, then, yes, the Bible is “the literal word of God.” But if by that you mean that we are always to interpret the Bible in a literal sense, then no. As I say to people, we need to take the Bible naturally, according to the type of literature, the grammar, etc. The Bible is written in a variety of genres (e.g., history, poetry, parable, prophecy, epistle) and should be interpreted according to genre in a historical-grammatical sense.

So why do I bring all of this up? Well, a new study from Gallup was recently released that states,

[A] record-low 20% of Americans now say the Bible is the literal word of God, down from 24% the last time the question was asked in 2017, and half of what it was at its high points in 1980 and 1984.

They got the above data by asking this question in the survey:

Which of the following statements comes closest to describing your views about the Bible?

  • Actual word of God, to be taken literally;
  • Inspired by God, not all to be taken literally;
  • Fables, history, moral precepts recorded by man.
This is an important point to note: poorly worded survey questions skew research results.

This is a poorly worded question because while the Bible is the actual Word of God, not all of it should be taken literally (assuming they mean interpreted in a woodenly literal fashion). This is an important point to note: poorly worded survey questions skew research results. But let’s put that aside now and consider the rest of the data from the study:

Meanwhile, a new high of 29% say the Bible is a collection of “fables, legends, history and moral precepts recorded by man.” This marks the first time significantly more Americans have viewed the Bible as not divinely inspired than as the literal word of God. The largest percentage, 49%, choose the middle alternative [inspired by God, not all to be taken literally], roughly in line with where it has been in previous years.

According to this poll, 1 in 3 American adults see the Bible as just a collection of man-made stories and writings that may, or may not, have any value (and, when the results are filtered for those who identify as Christian, that number is 16%!). Given how secular our culture is, this is not surprising. And that’s why apologetics is so important.

Because they don’t view the Bible correctly, they refuse to listen to what it says regarding their sin condition and the only solution to that problem, the Savior Jesus Christ.

Many people in our culture don’t view Scripture as the inerrant Word of God—true and uniquely authoritative in everything it contains and foundational to a proper worldview. Because they don’t view the Bible correctly, they refuse to listen to what it says regarding their sin condition and the only solution to that problem, the Savior Jesus Christ. Often if we want people to listen to us when it comes to the gospel, or other issues such as homosexuality, abortion, or gender, we must first show them why we have confidence in the truth of God’s Word. (Sadly, a lot of leaders and people in the church take man’s ideas, such as evolution and millions of years, and use them to change and reinterpret the Word of God. They also are increasingly doing this in the area of LGBT, etc., where they are taking man’s beliefs and reinterpreting and changing the Word of God. No! We take God at his Word and judge beliefs against God’s Word, not take man’s word and judge God’s Word against it.)

But apologetics isn’t just for unbelievers! Christians live in this world and are exposed to and have doubts and questions—they need answers for why they can trust the Bible! We can’t just assume Christians know why the Bible can be trusted (and trusted as more than just vaguely inspired by God), why it is authoritative, and why it is foundational to our thinking. We must teach them in our homes and in our churches to think correctly about Scripture.

That’s what Answers in Genesis is passionate about and why we exist! And that’s why our emphasis has always been on producing resources to equip Christians to believe, defend, and proclaim the truth of God’s Word and the gospel message. I thought I’d take this opportunity to highlight just a few of the best-selling resources we offer to help equip you, your family, and your church:

  • The New Answers Books & Flood of Evidence: These resources include detailed answers to 160 of today’s top attacks on the truth of God’s Word. These are all questions and accusations used to undermine God’s Word that your children, grandkids, friends, and neighbors are going to hear to try to get them not to believe the Bible. You need to equip your church and family with these answers.
    • How do we know there is a God?
    • Where did Cain get his wife?
    • What about the so-called races?
    • Dinosaurs and human fossils?
    • What about life in outer space?
  • Answers for Kids: This is an apologetics series of books written for middle school or younger. This series deals with the most-asked questions that children ask. It can be used for family devotions or even as a mini curriculum for your younger kids. This is a great resource for church libraries!
  • Quick Answers to Social Issues: This book was written by Bryan Osborne, one of our younger dynamic speakers. He knows how to give quick, succinct answers to the issues of today. This book is good for teenagers or adults and helps them to be able to give quick answers to the social issues of abortion, gender, gay “marriage,” and many more.
  • Quick Answers to Tough Questions: This book is also written by Bryan and gives quick answers to questions about the Bible, Genesis, creation/evolution, and more. These answers are not as detailed as those given in The New Answers Books, but, rather, are quick, summary answers to enable you to quickly discuss the topic with others, answer questions, and defend what you believe.
  • The Lie: This book, after the Bible, is the most foundational book for our ministry. It explains the central message of the ministry, which is that the battle over Genesis is really about biblical authority. And this resource is also a challenge to the church not to compromise God's Word in Genesis, because when you add evolution and millions of years into the Bible, you're undermining Biblical authority. This book also covers all the core doctrines found in Genesis. It’s a great resource for helping young people and adults understand how to think foundationally, starting with God’s Word.
  • Glass House: This resource refutes the classic arguments for evolution and millions of years that are taught in public schools and colleges. Evolution is considered a rock-solid truth among secular scientists, but when you begin looking at the evidence and asking simple questions, you find their conclusions to be just fragile assumptions, unproven myths, and outright misconceptions. This book contains twenty-seven questions with answers that refute the concept of evolution and millions of years. I believe every college and high school student needs to read this book.

Of course, these are just a handful of the resources we offer—you’ll also want to check out Answers Bible Curriculum for Sunday School or for Homeschool, Answers VBS, and Answers magazine. You can see all of our faith-building resources at AnswersBookstore.com.

Get More Answers on Answers News

This item was discussed yesterday on Answers News with cohosts Roger Patterson, Dr. Kaia Kloster, and Bryan Osborne. Answers News is our twice-weekly news program filmed here at the Creation Museum and broadcast on my Facebook page and the Answers in Genesis Facebook page. We also covered the following topics:

  • Church of England says there’s no official definition of a woman.
  • Did the Webb telescope reveal a glittering landscape of star birth?
  • Is the fossil record “right” on human evolution?
  • And more!

Watch the entire episode of Answers News for July 20, 2022.

Be sure to join us each Monday and Wednesday at 2 p.m. (ET) on my Facebook page or the Answers in Genesis Facebook page for Answers News. You won’t want to miss this unique news program that gives science and culture news from a distinctly biblical and Christian perspective.

Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying,
Ken

This item was written with the assistance of AiG’s research team.

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