Although some recent surveys found that Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code has altered some peoples views of Christianity, a new Gallup poll reveals a long-standing decline in Americans who believe the Bible to be literally true.
According to the survey, about 3 out of 10 Americans continue to profess belief in a literal Bible today, which accounts a 10 percent drop over the past three decades. More than 1,000 adults were asked to describe their view about the Bible with 28 percent responding that the Bible is the "actual Word of God and is to be taken literally."
Poll results saw a 45 to 49 percent increase among those who said the Bible is the inspired Word of God but not everything in it should be taken literally. However, the survey also recorded a larger increase of Americans who said the Bible is an ancient book of fables, legends, history, and moral precepts recorded by man (13 to 19 percent).
Gallup broke down the surveyed sample to subgroups and found that younger people are less likely to profess belief in the Bible, word for word. Results showed 23 percent of Americans aged between 18 and 29 years believe in the actual Word of God compared to 36 percent of the more elderly bunch aged 65 and older. The unlikelihood of believing in the Bible literally also paralleled with education. Only 10 percent of postgraduates said the Bible is the actual Word of God while 39 percent of people with a high school or less education had the same affirmation. Belief in the literal Bible was also highest among those living in the South and lowest in the West.
The young and highly educated were highest with 58 percent in the belief that the Bible was inspired and that not everything is to be taken literally.
Over the last three years, the Scriptures have drawn a lot of attention since the release of The Da Vinci Code. Calling into question the lessons and truths taught by the Church, including the life of Jesus, the novel has put the Bible to the test, not so much for its factualness but how it is perceived by the people. A recent Barna report found that five percent of Americans said they changed any of the beliefs or religious perspectives they had after reading Brown's thriller.
A report conducted by Decima Research for the National Geographic Channel saw higher figures in Canada where nearly one third believe The Da Vinci Code to be true.
Although the Gallup poll was conducted May 8-11, at a time when Brown's novel had sold 60 million copies worldwide and the film version was soon to be released, declining numbers of those professing belief in the Bible as literally true has come as no surprise.