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What Americans mean when they say they believe in God

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Posted at 6:15 PM, Apr 25, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-25 20:15:38-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- A just-released poll from the Pew Research Center shows America's religious landscape in more dimensions with some simple follow up questions:

Question 1: Do you believe in God? If "yes" go to Question 2. If "no" go to Question 3.

Question 2: Do you picture God as portrayed in the Bible, or do you picture more of a higher power/spiritual force?

Question 3: Do you believe in a higher power or spiritual force?

The answer to question one showed that 80 percent of Americans say they do believe in God and 19 percent say they do not, but the follow up questions show a different underlying reality.

Fifty-six percent of Americans say they believe in God as portrayed in the Bible.

Thirty-three percent believe in a higher power or spiritual force, with 23 percent of these "believers" coming from those who answered "yes" to the original question and the rest coming from those who answered "no."

Gregory Smith, Associate Director of Research at the Pew Research Center, says as they asked further questions, they discovered that those who believe in a Biblical God and those who believe in a spiritual force have far different perspectives on how God interacts with the world.

"People who say they believe in God as described in the Bible go on to tell us they believe in an active and involved and knowledgeable and loving and powerful God at much higher rates than people who express belief in some kind of higher power but not the Biblical God," Smith said.

If you'd like to read Pew's original research, find it here.