Hey! Randy

Four Quarters but NO Whole

Posted by heyrandy on January 27, 2011

America’s Four Gods Paul Froese and Christopher Bader, Oxford University Press, 2010. 258 p., index, end notes, bibliography.

Using the method so beloved by social scientists, the survey, the authors try to tell how Americans feel about God, or god. The feeling and beliefs are mixed. No surprise here. In fact, the book is predictable. I could have told the authors much of what they discovered in their survey.

The survey is the Baylor Religion Survey. (You can see it online at thearda.com.) The survey has 400 questions. One can wonder what kind of enthusiasm¬†the respondents had by the end of the process. The authors do not say. The authors do reproduce some of the survey in an appendix. I found some of the questions questionable. “Even if you do not believe in God, based on your personal understanding, what do you think God is like?

6. Angered by human sin
Strongly agree, Agree, Undecided, Disagree, Strongly Disagree. (p 162) This is absurd. Consider re-framing the question thusly: Even if you do not believe in unicorns, based upon your personal experience, how easy are they to ride?

The entire idea of four Gods is equally stupid. The survey almost necessitates the division of the respondents into these categories of the Authoritative God, the Benevolent God, the Critical God, and the Distant God. Atheists are the fifth category: the Non-God. Okay, I made up the fifth god. It escapes the authors’ understanding that God is all of these. The survey does not allow for any multifaceted view of God. As presented in the book, God is flat. There is no God outside of the authors’ boxes.

The end notes are the MLA style. Given the value of the book, the end note fit well.


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