It’s the old, “There are no atheists in fox holes,” thing.
Between Gallup’s May 2008 and May 2011 polls, disbelief in the Bible had declined by 5 points (22 percent to 17 percent), while unemployment, as measured by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, had climbed 3.7 points (5.4 percent to 9.1 percent). The maximum margin of error in Gallup’s poll on the Bible, Gallup says, is plus-or-minus 4 points. So the 5-point decline in disbelief in the Bible that the poll has shown over the last three years is larger than the poll’s margin of error.
The February 2001 poll, which like the May 2008 poll showed belief in the Bible at a low of 76 percent, was conducted about seven months before the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
The next Gallup poll on the Bible, which came in December 2002 (more than a year after the 9/11 attacks), showed that overall belief in the Bible had rebounded to 82 percent. At that time, only 15 percent said they believed the Bible was just a book of fables, legends, history and moral precepts. Between February 2001 and December 2002, unemployment had also climbed from 4.2 percent to 6.0 percent.
This isn’t surprising. When society feels threatened, when hardships loom, people tend to turn to faith. The solace of religion, congregation and fellowship. Uncertainty breeds a desire for certainty, and many look for that in religion.
It’s a perfectly natural and, though I myself am not a believer, largely healthy thing.