The results of a newly-released Pew Forum poll show that the U.S. is fast becoming a vast soup of metaphysical gibberish. CBS News reports on it:

When it comes to religion, many Americans like the mix-and-match, build-your-own approach.

Large numbers attend services of traditions other than their own and blend Christianity with Eastern and New Age beliefs, a survey finds.

The report Wednesday from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life also shows tremendous growth over the past three decades in the number of Americans who say they have had a religious or mystical experience.

This trend is offset by the fact that these same Americans who are having more religious or mystical experiences, are increasingly unable to understand them:

Though the U.S. is an overwhelmingly Christian country, significant minorities say they hold beliefs of the sort found at Buddhist temples or New Age bookstores. Twenty-four percent of those surveyed overall and 22 percent of Christians say they believe in reincarnation, the idea that people will be reborn in this world again and again.

As for the significant numbers who visit more than one place of worship, it’s not just an occasional visit while on vacation or for special events like weddings and funerals.

One-third of Americans say they regularly or occasionally attend religious services at more than one place. One-quarter say they sometimes attend services of a faith different from their own.

I used to be concerned about fundamentalists and religionists whose ferocity of belief in specific packages of dogma — and who by definition refuse to negotiate on any of it — were the biggest religious problem in the US. Now I’m no longer sure about that. A significant number of Americans are playing “metaphysical draw poker,” exchanging components of belief almost at random, with no attempt at any kind of cohesion. This means one is dealing not only with people who may not really comprehend the beliefs they claim to hold, but they may just change them, making it impossible, at any given moment, to know what it is they believe.

I don’t see this as much of an improvement.

More information on this poll by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life can be found on their Web site.

Update: Robert T. Carroll of the Skeptic’s Dictionary has even more to say about the results of this poll.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments are closed.