Announcement Next week I am on vacation as I prepare for the Cultural Event of the year. There will be no new posts: there may be classic reposts.
Here’s a picture Gallup did, asking about “Americans’ Belief in Five Spiritual Entities“. If you can swallow your retching instinct over the awful term “spiritual entities”, please keep reading.
There is a plus-or-minus associated with this, as in all surveys. Some due to certain modeling assumptions, some due to who was willing to answer, and a lot because of interpretation of what the words mean, which isn’t constant.
For instance, Gallup estimates 74% of adults now “believe in God,” down from 90% only two decades earlier. These numbers might even be true, and assuming they are, God-the-word is not so simple. The lady who watches that show with the hectoring ugly women who prattle on about celebrities (I forget the name and refuse to look it up) has in mind something quite different about “God” than the lady who leads the church’s Rosary hour. Yet both will say they “believe”.
Even inside the Church, there are those who would have you snyodally lean forward with great synodilicity and accept the synodolic, warm ministrations along your Synodal Path. It’s very clear what these fellows believe. Just as it’s equally certain their meaning of God might not match your own.
So if we’re trying to guess how Gallup’s numbers relate to the number of little-o orthodox Christians, something closer, and surely a number even smaller, than the percent claiming belief in the devil is closer than belief in God.
As proof of that, Catholics enjoyed hearing this passage from Matthew last Sunday (partial quotation):
Jesus proposed another parable to the crowds, saying: “The kingdom of heaven may be likened
to a man who sowed good seed in his field. While everyone was asleep his enemy came and sowed weeds all through the wheat, and then went off. When the crop grew and bore fruit, the weeds appeared as well. The slaves of the householder came to him and said, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where have the weeds come from?’
He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’
His slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’
He replied, ‘No, if you pull up the weeds you might uproot the wheat along with them. Let them grow together until harvest; then at harvest time I will say to the harvesters, “First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning; but gather the wheat into my barn.”‘”…
Then, dismissing the crowds, [Jesus] went into the house. His disciples approached him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.”
He said in reply, “He who sows good seed is the Son of Man, the field is the world, the good seed the children of the kingdom. The weeds are the children of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.
Just as weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age.
The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all who cause others to sin and all evildoers. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.”
Mighty clear words, those. A plain person takes them plainly. A simple man, relying on the premise the Church has transmitted these words faithfully, draws from this passage the obvious conclusion that God exists, Heavan exists, angels exist, Satan exists, and Hell exists. This is little-o orthodoxy.
It takes an academic, relying on entirely different premises, and using arguments miles long, to interpret the words as meaning either salvation is universal—yes, even Hitler—or that because there is a Hell, there can exist no loving God. Recall an academic is kind of Expert, indeed, ne plus ultra example of the breed.
There are still ambiguities in definitions in using “the devil”, naturally. Like how those who take the “left hand path” surely believe in the devil, or Church of Satan fedora LARPers, folks who are definitely not Christian. And there are is a wide gap from belief in any of these things to relevance in any practical situation. So the real number must be less than 58%. Before considering all those other standard plus or minuses.
Gallup says “Americans’ beliefs regarding God, angels, heaven, hell and the devil have also fallen by double digits since 2001”. Anyway, none of this means people have stopped believing in spirituality, magic, which they surely have not.
This isn’t, by itself, much of a post, or even startling news. But there are some implications which are less obvious we’ll explore tomorrow.
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