Barna: Most Americans Create a “Customized Worldview”

by Ken Ham on September 26, 2022
Featured in Ken Ham Blog

Seven out of 10 US adults call themselves “Christians” and yet only 6 in 100 (6%) actually have a biblical worldview. So, what do the rest of Americans believe? Well, according to research from the Cultural Research Center, there are “seven major worldviews that Americans are most influenced by: biblical theism, Eastern mysticism, Marxism, moralistic therapeutic deism, nihilism, postmodernism and secular humanism”—but that’s just the beginning of the story!

During a recent address for the Family Research Council (whose president is speaking at our upcoming Answers for Pastors conference), pollster George Barna shared that “most Americans blend their beliefs to create ‘a customized worldview.’”

In other words, the dominant worldview in America (and really the West) today is syncretism; a little of this and a little of that, blended into a worldview that’s custom-made by each person.

In other words, the dominant worldview in America (and really the West) today is syncretism; a little of this and a little of that, blended into a worldview that’s custom-made by each person. With such a worldview there’s no ultimate authority—“truth” is determined by whatever seems right to each person. And sadly, this isn’t unique to just those outside the church. Actually, Christians (like many church leaders and Christian academics) hold to a form of syncretism when they blend millions of years and other evolutionary ideas into the book of Genesis. It’s really taking man’s pagan religion of our age that attempts to explain the universe without God (by natural processes) and meshing it with Scripture.

Ligonier Ministries recently released their biennial “State of Theology” survey and the results are a mess! They found that “Evangelicals” hold to a host of beliefs that are far from Scripture. Consider:

  • 56% believe that “God accepts the worship of all religions, including Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.”
  • Nearly half believe “God learns and adapts to different circumstances” (i.e., God changes).
  • 70% “strongly agree” that “Jesus is the first and greatest being created by God” (a heresy long condemned by the church!).
  • 38% see Jesus as “a great teacher, but he was not God.”
  • 60% say “The Holy Spirit is a force but is not a personal being.” (Between this answer and the previous one, we see a denial of the Trinity—even though, earlier in the survey, 97% agree that “There is one true God in three persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit”; clearly, people are very confused about doctrine and theology and don’t really know what they believe!)
  • 27% think “The Holy Spirit can tell me to do something which is forbidden in the Bible” and yet 94% agree that “The Bible has the authority to tell us what we must do.”
  • 57% believe “Everyone sins a little, but most people are good by nature” and 65% think “Everyone is born innocent in the eyes of God.”
  • 37% agree that “Religious belief is a matter of personal opinion; it is not about objective truth.”

There were some biblical teachings accepted by the majority such as hell is real, Jesus will return in judgment, sex outside of “traditional” marriage is sin, abortion is sin, and “only those who trust in Jesus Christ alone as their Savior receive God’s free gift of eternal salvation” (and yet, as we saw above, half of the people who affirm that statement say that God accepts the worship of other religions!). And over half strongly disagreed with the statement that “modern science disproves the Bible” as well as “gender identity is a matter of choice.”

Now, 99% of the “Evangelical” survey respondents said, “The Bible is the highest authority for what I believe.” But, based on their answers, they either 1) don’t really believe that (or really know what that means) or 2) they don’t have a clue what the Bible really teaches!

This survey reveals that what Christians believe is a mess. They hold to contradictory beliefs about a variety of things from who God is and what his nature is, to how they should view the Bible, to how people are saved. It’s a syncretistic mix of Christianity and the thinking of our culture.

Why does all this matter? Well, as Barna explained in his presentation:

Your worldview is the filter that you use to see and understand and experience and respond to the world around you. Because your worldview enables you to make sense of the world, you need a worldview just to get through every day . . .

In fact, every single decision that you make, and you make hundreds of them if not thousands of decisions every single day—every one of those flows through your worldview. The choices that you make are a result of what you believe, as described by your worldview.

How you see the world has consequences for what you do, what you value, and what you pass along to the next generation.

Worldview matters! How you see the world has consequences for what you do, what you value, and what you pass along to the next generation. A worldview that isn’t firmly anchored to the truth of God’s Word is ultimately going to shift and change with the ideas that prevail in our culture. Such a Christian can’t be salt and light. It’s like what Jesus described in Matthew:

You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. (Matthew 5:13)

And, like I wrote above, what you believe—what shapes and forms your worldview—will determine what you pass along to your children (and even grandchildren). And Barna pointed to research that found only 2%—two percent—of US parents with children under the age of 13 have a biblical worldview! He added,

Why does that matter? . . . Because you can't give what you don't have. And here we have 98 out of every 100 parents in America who cannot give their children a biblical worldview because they don't have one.

How heartbreaking! That’s why we’re seeing such secularism and godlessness among Gen Z and the generation coming up after them. They’ve never been taught the things of the Lord because their parents can’t pass along what they don’t possess, even if they want to!

There’s absolutely no replacement for time spent in God’s Word! It’s there that he leads us into truth.

These statistics are very sobering. But it’s not too late! You can develop a Christian worldview and pass it along to your children. But it starts with one key thing: read your Bible. The way to have a “customized worldview”—made up of whatever you “feel” is truth and works for you—is to be ignorant of the Word of God. If you want to honor the Lord in your thinking and have a worldview that accurately looks at the world around you, you must get into God’s Word—all of it, from Genesis to Revelation. And there’s absolutely no replacement for time spent in God’s Word! It’s there that he leads us into truth.

Don’t wait until the New Year to start a Bible reading plan. Pick up your Bible today and commit to reading it. Now, of course, all you need to do that is to have a Bible (or a free Bible app on your phone). But if you’d like some resources to help you grow further in your knowledge of God’s Word, I encourage you to consider resources we’ve developed to help families and individuals know, believe, defend, and proclaim God’s Word. Consider:

  • Creation to Babel: A Commentary for Families. This lay-level commentary is designed to help you go deep into the foundational chapters of the Bible: Genesis 1–11. The mix of Bible exposition, theology, doctrine, and apologetics, along with a gospel emphasis, will really help you and your children lay the foundation for a truly biblical worldview. It’s an easy-to-understand commentary for the family—use it for family devotions (yes, it has a devotional aspect as well).
  • The 10-Minute Bible Journey. This is a devotional overview of the whole Bible to help you catch the grand narrative of Scripture and see how everything in Scripture fits together chronologically. With just 10 minute reads, this is great for around the breakfast or dinner table.
  • Answers Bible Curriculum. These detailed lessons will take you through the whole Bible in chronological order, emphasizing biblical authority and apologetics while teaching about the nature and attributes of God, Christian doctrine, and Christ from Genesis onward. This is a wonderful resource for challenging the whole family to think biblically (and we have a version that’s a homeschool curriculum as well).

Help overcome biblical illiteracy in the church!

You can find these resources, and many others, at

Get More Answers on Answers News

This item was discussed today on Answers News with cohosts Dr. Georgia Purdom, Patricia Engler, and Rob Webb. Answers News is our weekly news program filmed live before a studio audience here at the Creation Museum and broadcast on my Facebook page and the Answers in Genesis Facebook page. We also covered the following topics:

  • Did mammals live alongside the dinosaurs?
  • Fossilized . . . vomit?
  • Good news for parents’ rights in Virginia.
  • And more!

Watch the entire episode of Answers News for September 26, 2022.

Be sure to join us each Monday 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,

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

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