A recent Gallup poll on Americans' views of the Bible got fairly broad media attention, though it wasn't entirely clear what made the poll newsworthy. Was it that "Most Americans see the Bible as the Word of God"? Hard to see the news there—that's been true for as long as Gallup has been asking the question, and it remains true of 75 percent of the country.
But New York Times columnist Charles Blow still said he was "shocked and fascinated" by the religious literalism found by the poll. "What worries me is that some Americans seem to live in a world where facts can't exist," he wrote.
Others noted the poll's uptick in those who say, "The Bible is an ancient book of fables, legends, history, and moral precepts recorded by man." The 21 percent of Americans who agreed with the statement is up from 17 percent in 2011, but matches the number from 2008 (and all of that falls within the poll's 4% margin of error).
"The 21% viewing the Bible in secular terms nearly matches the combined 22% who identify with another religion or no religion," the Gallup release said. But further down, in discussing a new way the polling firm is starting to ask its Bible questions, it noted that only half of non-Christians agreed with the description of the Bible as "an ancient book of fables."
And then came something truly "shocking and fascinating": 11 percent of non-Christians say the Bible "is the actual word of God and is to be taken literally, word for word."
Before we get to this strange group of people who think the Bible is the literal word of God but don't identify as Christians, we need to take a closer look at the ...1