Many debates within Christian theology revolve around the the origins of the Bible, who wrote it, the nature of its authority, and its relationship to the Divine. According to a Gallup poll conducted in May, a solid twenty-eight percent of Americans believe that the Bible is the literal word of God and should be interpreted accordingly.
That's a 3% decrease since 2007, when about 1/3 of the United States answered that they believed the Bible was the actual word of God. However, in the late 1970s, 38% to 40% of Americans told Gallup that they believed in the Bible as God's word.
Today, 47% of Americans consider the Bible to be "the inspired word of God- but not everything in it should be taken literally."
According to Gallup, the aggregate figure means that in America "a combined 75% believe the Bible is in some way connected to God."
21% of Americans consider the Bible to be "an ancient book of fables, legends, history, and moral precepts recorded by man." That percentage has only been so high once in the history of the survey- just before 2009.
Gallup asked some follow-up questions in a split-sample poll to further investigate the beliefs of people who believe in the Bible as God's word. By providing two potential responses which included the supposition that the Bible is God's actual word, researched determined that out of those who believe in the Bible as God's word, 44% believe that it should be taken literally, word for word, while 56% believe that multiple interpretations are possible.
Based on Gallup's 2013 aggregate poll for religion, 76% of America identifies as Christian.
However, the Bible is considered an important text in some other Abrahamic religions, most notably Judaism and Islam. Accordingly, Gallup analyzed poll results based on whether respondents identified as Christian or non-Christian. They found that 6% of non-Christians believe that the Bible should be interpreted literally as the actual word of God, and 21% considered it the actual word of God with multiple possible interpretations. 19% said they believed it to be inspired by God, while 51% said it was an ancient book of precepts.
Over time, the tendency to take the Bible literally is waning, though it's still a strong source of guidance for a large percentage of the country, concludes Gallup.
The survey was conducted via telephone between May 8-11, 2014, with a random sample of 1,028 adults aged 18 or over from all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia. The margin of sampling error is ±5 percentage points.