Do you believe in witches?

What do we believe in?

The latest Harris interactive poll asks this very question. Some findings:

1. 82 percent of Americans believe in God (unchanged since 2005).

2. Large majorities believe in miracles (79%), heaven (75), angels (74), that Jesus is God or the son of God (72), the resurrection (70), the survival of the soul after death (69), hell (62), the devil (also 62 — makes sense), and the virgin birth (60).

3. Large minorities also go for ghosts (41), UFOs (35), witches (31), astrology (29) and reincarnation (21). (Witches? Nothing really jumped out at me as particularly surprising until…witches. A third of Americans believe in witches?)

4. 42% believe (Harris’ word, not mine) in Darwin’s theory of evolution, and 39% in creationism.

5. 16% of “born again Christians” believe in evolution, compared to 43% of Catholics and 30% of other Protestants. (These numbers strike me as low. I wonder if the respondents felt that they had to choose between evolution and faith.)

6. Here’s a funky finding that doesn’t speak well for biblical literacy (or the state of education in general): 53% believe that the Old Testament is the “word of God,” but only 23% believe that the Torah is the “word of God.” Okay.

7. 70% of Americans describe themselves as religious (29% very, 49 somewhat).

8. 25% of Americans say they attend church at least once a week (born again Christians, 50%; Catholics, 30; other Protestants, 34).

The full results should be available “here”: by tomorrow.

Gary Stern

Gary Stern covered education in the Lower Hudson Valley for several years during the early 1990s. Now's he back on the beat. He believes that schools are one of the main reasons that people live around here and that educational issues -- from curriculum to financing -- are among the most challenging things that journalists can write about. He continues to be amazed by the complexity of educational jargon. Gary got his B.A. at SUNY Buffalo and his M.A. from the University of Missouri Journalism School (where his master's thesis was about the best ways to cover education). He lives in White Plains with his wife and two sons, who attend public schools.