God Helps with Personal Decisions, Most Americans Say

Most Americans believe God is involved in their everyday lives and concerned with their personal well-being, though the well-educated and higher earners are less likely than their counterparts to believe in such divine intervention, a new study suggests.

Scott Schieman, a sociology professor at the University of Toronto, examined data from two recent national surveys of Americans and their beliefs about God's involvement in their everyday lives.

The results, published in the March issue of the journal Sociology of Religion, suggest these beliefs differ across education and income levels. Past research has suggested other factors involved with our religious beliefs, with one study revealing teachers are more religious than other college grads, and another suggesting women are more likely than men to believe in God.

Here are some highlights from the new findings:

  • 82 percent of participants reported that they depend on God for help and guidance in making decisions.
  • 71 percent said they believe that when good or bad things happen, these occurrences are simply part of God's plan for them.
  • 61 percent indicated they believe God has determined the direction and course of their lives.
  • 32 percent agreed with the statement: "There is no sense in planning a lot because ultimately my fate is in God's hands."

Overall, participants with more education and higher income were less likely to report beliefs in divine intervention. But among the well-educated and higher earners, those who were more involved in religious rituals reported similar levels of beliefs about divine intervention as their less-educated and less financially well-off peers.

"Many of us might assume that people of higher social class standing tend to reject beliefs about divine intervention," Schieman said. "However, my findings indicate that while this is true among those less committed to religious life, it is not the case for people who are more committed to religious participation and rituals."

Live Science Staff
For the science geek in everyone, Live Science offers a fascinating window into the natural and technological world, delivering comprehensive and compelling news and analysis on everything from dinosaur discoveries, archaeological finds and amazing animals to health, innovation and wearable technology. We aim to empower and inspire our readers with the tools needed to understand the world and appreciate its everyday awe.