The Philippines, a predominantly Catholic nation, was found to have the highest percentage (84 percent) of people who ‘know God really exists and … have no doubts about it,’ and the lowest percentage (less than one percent) of people who said they ‘don’t believe in God’ at all.
The report, titled ‘Beliefs about God across Time and Countries,’ analyzes 30 countries based on surveys from the International Social Survey Programme conducted as far back as 1991 and as recently as 2008. The survey’s findings do not include Middle Eastern countries where a Muslim majority exists.
Those surveyed were asked a number of questions to help researchers measure their collective belief in God. First, they asked a question to determine whether those surveyed were atheists, agnostics, deists, waivers (those who believe in God only some of the time), weak believers (those who believe but have doubts) or strong believers. They were also asked how their belief has changed during their lifetime, and whether or not they believed in a God “who concerns himself with every human being personally.”
“While there is a modest, general shift away from belief in God, there is enormous variation across countries in the level of believers, atheists, and intermediate groups,” the report states.
Among all the nations mentioned in the report, atheism is highest in former East Germany, where 52 percent of people don’t believe in God. Smith indicates in his analysis that ‘countries with high atheism (and low strong belief) tend to be ex-Socialist states and countries in northwest Europe. Countries with low atheism and high strong belief tend to be Catholic societies, especially in the developing world, plus the United States, Israel, and Orthodox Cyprus.’
Among Americans, 81 percent say they have always believed in God, compared to just 37 percent in Great Britain, 25 percent in Japan and 13 percent in former East Germany.
Sixty-one percent of Americans said they know God exists, while three percent identified themselves as nonbelievers.
In Japan, only nine percent of the Japanese people said they don’t believe in God, yet only four percent said they know God exists – the lowest out of all the countries surveyed. People from Japan were more likely to indicate that they fell somewhere in the middle, and they either believed in God some of the time or said they were agnostic. CP