Resource: God | What the world thinks of God - BBC Poll
What the world thinks of God - BBC Poll
What the World Thinks of God was a BBC TV programme that set out to examine how much belief there is in the world, and how belief in God affects the world in which we live. The BBC commissioned a poll to support the programme, the results of which are available in graphical form on screen and also as a downloadable pdf from this weblink. Ten thousand people were questioned. The countries polled were the US, UK, Israel, India, South Korea, Indonesia, Nigeria, Russia, Mexico and Lebanon. The interviews were carried out in January 2004.
These statistics provide a useful insight into people’s beliefs, the reasons for them and the impact beliefs have on behaviour. They also indicate to students that while belief in God and participation in religious practice may be rather low in the UK, the picture in many other parts of the world is significantly different - which provides a useful perspective to underpin discussion. Responses to seven questions are represented graphically:
1) I don’t believe in God, but I do believe in a higher power.
2) My God is the only true God.
3) I regularly attend an organised religious service.
4) Belief in God/Higher power makes for a better human being.
5) I pray regularly.
6) I would die for God / my beliefs.
7) The world would be a more peaceful place is people didn’t believe in God.
a) Provide students with access to the data (online, or on paper). Ask them to focus on one or two questions. In each they should identify something surprising 9to them) and something expected. Can they give reasons for their choices? Compare the BBC data with the 2001 UK census data (See http://www.statistics.gov.uk/census).
What is similar and what is different? What reasons might explain what they notice?
b) Ask students to work in small groups to devise a short questionnaire focusing on question 1 of the BBC poll: ‘I don’t believe in God, but I do believe in a higher power.’ What do people mean by ‘God’ and ‘higher power’? Can they identify whether people see God as personal, impersonal, immanent, transcendent, creator sustainer etc? Each group asks the questions of 10 peers and 10 adults. When combined with the results from the rest of the class, what do they notice?
For more ideas:
Developing Secondary RE: Questions about God, ed Rosemary Rivett, is a 32-page book of classroom activities focusing on: believing in God; the problem of evil and suffering; God and gender; How religions describe God (Christianity, Judaism, Islam and Sikhism); the Design Argument; religious experience; Buddhist perspectives . This publication is available online from RE Today; further details are available here.