Global Poll: Most Believe in God, Afterlife

A new survey shows that 51 percent of people in the world believe in God. Only 18 percent don’t and 17 percent are undecided.

More than 18,000 people participated in the London-based poll in 23 countries conducted by global research company, Ipsos Social Research Institute.

The Ipsos/Reuters poll also found that 51 percent believe that there is an afterlife while 23 percent believe they will just "cease to exist." Around a quarter (26 percent) simply don’t know what will happen after death.

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Bobby Duffy, managing director of Ipsos, told Reuters, "It may seem to many that we live in a secular world but this survey shows just how important spiritual life is to so many global citizens with half saying they believe in a spiritual being and the same proportion in an afterlife of some sort or other.”

"The other really interesting thing is that such a large proportion of the remaining people are just not sure there is a spiritual explanation either for how they got here or what happens after they die."

According to the survey, “definitive belief in a God or Supreme Being" is highest in Indonesia (93 percent) and Turkey (91 percent), followed by Brazil (84 percent), South Africa (83 percent) and Mexico (78 percent). Those most likely to believe in “many Gods or Supreme Beings” live in India (24 percent), China (14 percent) and Russia (10 percent).

People who don’t believe in God or a Supreme Being(s) are most likely to live in France (39 percent), Sweden (37 percent), Belgium (36 percent), Great Britain (34 percent), Japan (33 percent) and Germany (31 percent).

When it comes to “the sweet hereafter-or not…” category, ultimately half of the global population believe there is a form of afterlife. More than half of the people in Indonesia, South Africa, and Turkey believe in heaven or hell as opposed to the United States and Brazil, where less than 40 percent hold the same beliefs.

Forty percent of respondents from Mexico believe in the afterlife but not heaven or hell.

Overall, nearly a quarter do not believe in a heaven or hell.

Belief in reincarnation is highest in Hungary where 13 percent say “you are ultimately reincarnated.” The belief is also popular in Brazil, Mexico, Japan, Argentina and Australia.

People who say they “don’t know what happens” after death are mostly located in Europe and Asia. Meanwhile, countries where people are most likely to believe they will cease to exist after death are South Korea with 40 percent, Spain with 40 percent, France with 39 percent, Japan with 37 percent and Belgium with 35 percent saying so.

When it comes to the afterlife, Duffy stated, “There is a belief on one side (in a Supreme Being) but there is a lot of uncertainty on the other.”

"The nature of these questions and issues is that in many cases they are unknowable. But it reminds us that it is the case with many people around the world."

In other findings, the survey revealed that 41 percent believe in human evolution, 28 percent believe in creationism and 31 are uncertain of what to believe in.

Creationism, or the belief that human beings were in fact created by a spiritual force such as the God, is strongest in Saudi Arabia (75 percent), Turkey (60 percent), Indonesia (57 percent), and South Africa (56 percent).

Belief in evolution, or that the origin of man came from evolving from other species such as apes, is popular in Sweden, Germany, China, Belgium and Japan with over 60 percent of the population in each of the mentioned countries holding such belief.

The participating countries for the online survey were Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and the United States of America.

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