DIVINE INTERVENTION? NEW RESEARCH LOOKS AT BELIEFS ABOUT GOD’S INFLUENCE IN EVERYDAY
TORONTO, ON – Most Americans believe God is concerned with their personal well-being
and is directly involved in their personal affairs, according to new research out of
the University of Toronto.
Using data from two recent national surveys of Americans, UofT Sociology Professor
Scott Schieman examined peoples’ beliefs about God’s involvement and influence in
everyday life. His research discovers new patterns about these beliefs and the ways
they differ across education and income levels.
Schieman’s study, published in the March issue of the journal Sociology of Religion,
also highlights the following findings:
Overall, most people believe that God is highly influential in the events and
outcomes in their lives. Specifically:
* 82 per cent say they depend on God for help and guidance in making decisions;
* 71 per cent believe that when good or bad things happen, these occurrences
are simply part of God’s plan for them;
* 61 per cent believe that God has determined the direction and course of
* 32 per cent agree with the statement: "There is no sense in planning a lot
because ultimately my fate is in God’s hands."
* Overall, people who have more education and higher income are less likely
to report beliefs in divine intervention.
* However, among the well-educated and higher earners, those who are more
involved in religious rituals share similar levels of beliefs about divine
intervention as their less-educated and less financially well-off peers.
According to Schieman: "Many of us might assume that people of higher social class
standing tend to reject beliefs about divine intervention. 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
He adds: "This study extends sociological inquiry into the ways that people of
different social strata think about God’s influence in everyday life. Given the
frequency of God talk in American culture, especially in some areas of political
discourse, this is an increasingly important area for researchers to document,
describe, and interpret."