Most Americans believe God is concerned with their personal well-being and is directly involved in their personal affairs, according to new research out of the University of Toronto.

Overall, most people believe that God is highly influential in the events and outcomes in their lives. Specifically:

  • 82 per cent say they depend on God for help and guidance in making decisions;

  • 71 per cent believe that when good or bad things happen, these occurrences are simply part of God's plan for them;

  • 61 per cent believe that God has determined the direction and course of their lives;

  • 32 per cent agree with the statement: "There is no sense in planning a lot because ultimately my fate is in God's hands."

  • Overall, people who have more education and higher income are less likely to report beliefs in divine intervention.

  • However, among the well-educated and higher earners, those who are more involved in religious rituals share similar levels of beliefs about divine intervention as their less-educated and less financially
    well-off peers.

That last statement makes no sense to me. It seems to mean that "people who believe in God and have an education and have money -> believe in God."

For a European looking at America's religious landscape, is there much difference between the USA, Israel and Iran? I don't think science will get totally snuffed out but the science of the Magisterium of Philip Pullman's "His Dark Materials" is not far away.

Round 2

Let me flesh this out a bit. As I was bemused by some this, I read the paper.

Participants were asked: "Even if you might not believe in God, based on your personal understanding, what do you think God is like?" [Don't you just hate questions like that!] Participants were then asked the extent that they agree or disagree with three statements: "God is removed from my personal affairs," "God is concerned with my personal well-being" (reverse-coded), and "God is directly involved in my personal affairs" (reverse-coded).

The main aim was to correlate the relative importance of a person's socio-economic status to their active religious participation and to their belief in the involvement of God in the world. They had two contrasting theories to evaluate. One is the "deprivation–compensation" hypothesis which posits that people of a low SES seek solace in religion to make up for their dismal life. On the other hand the "demythologized beliefs" hypothesis states that high SES people who believe in God would have a more refined set of beliefs that have many of the supernatural myths stripped away from them.

The final results suggest that beliefs in a personal God who acts in the world cuts across SES, and is correlated more with the level of attendance at religious rituals and meetings. The expected dip in supernatural beliefs in high SES individuals only seems to happen with those who do not regularly take part in some form of religious activity, be it social or private.

When looking at those individuals who do not participate in religious activities there seems to be a more noticeable difference in beliefs. Low SES people maintain a belief in God whereas High SES individuals tend not to.

In the end, all this really shows is that socio-economic status is a very poor predictor of beliefs.