The Barna Group recently ran a study commissioned by the American Bible Society to find out what Americans really think about the Bible.
While much of the report shows that the Bible is still a “cultural force” in that we all own one (I own about 19 myself) and many find it sacred, one bit of information is particularly striking:
The number of people who are “antagonistic” toward the Bible — that is to say, the number of people who think of it as a book of myths — is at an all-time high, nearly doubling from just two years ago!
The biggest jump of any group are those American adults who are antagonistic to the Bible, meaning they believe the Bible to just be a book of stories and teachings written by men, and they rarely or never read the Bible. That group stood at one in ten adults (10%) in 2011. In 2013, their ranks have grown to 17% of all U.S. adults.
What does the sharp increase mean? The Barna Group’s president, David Kinnaman, explained it this way:
The middle ground related to the Bible seems to be disappearing. The decrease of Bible-neutral and Bible-friendly people and the increase of Bible-antagonists suggest that more people are picking a side. It echoes the rise of religiously unaffiliated Americans — these changes are perhaps less about the decline in belief and more about there being less cultural baggage to identifying as skeptical or disbelieving.
Or maybe — just maybe — more people are realizing that the Bible is an occasionally decent reference book mixed in with a whole lot of anti-scientific, anti-women, anti-gay, dishonest nonsense that we’re better off ignoring altogether.