Statistics


Personal experience is valuable and powerful, but it is of little value for determining the truth or what reality is like for other people. Personal experience is anecdotal in nature. We may know what we experienced, but how could we know that others have experienced the same? Even if we found three people who shared our experience, at best, we could conclude that four people have experienced what we have. We can’t simply extrapolate from our experience that everyone else has the same experience/perspective as we do. We can’t just assume that our experience is representative of other people’s experiences.

To know how widespread and representative our experience/perspective is, we need more than anecdotal data – we need hard data. Polling and statistics serve this purpose. They seek to determine how common certain experiences and perspectives are in the general population. I can’t tell you how many times I have felt that my experience was common, only to find out from polling data that it isn’t; or how many times I have believed some X to be uncommon in society, only to find out that it was quite common (or vice-versa).

We should not place our personal experience above the facts when determining the truth. Personal experience is a factor, but it’s just one factor. If my personal experience leads me to believe that X is true, but the data shows that X is not true, then I need to correct my perception. My experience is still my experience, but I need to recognize that my experience is not necessarily the norm and should not be used to color my perception of reality. Perceptions should be based on facts, not anecdotal experiences.

P.S. As a public service announcement, for the sake of all mankind, please don’t use the phrase “lived experience.” Adding “lived” before “experience” adds no additional meaningful. It’s like saying “sufficient enough.” Every experience is a lived experience because the dead do not have experiences. ‘Nuf said.

Some good news! The Guttmacher Institute just released their abortion data from 2013-4.  The number of abortions fell below one million for the first time in 2013 (958,700), and dropped again in 2014 (926,200).  The last time they were this low was in 1975, just a couple of years after Roe. 

The abortion rate has also continued to decline from 29 p/1000 women (aged 15-44) in 1980, to 14.6 p/1000 women in 2014.  This is the lowest it has been since 1973.

While there are many factors that contribute to this decline (better contraception practices, pro-life legislation making it more difficult to obtain an abortion), one of them is most certainly the pro-life message of equal protection for all human beings.  We have a lot more work to do to make abortion a matter for the history books, but I’ll rejoice over each step along the way.

doubtThe sociological data is clear: Christianity is on the decline in the United States.  The decline is not limited to one “type” of Christianity (though it is more drastic in some than others), nor is it limited to a particular race, gender, or age.  It is pervasive, but the most significant loss of faith is occurring in the Millennial generation.  Only 56% of Millennials identify as Christians.[1]  Larry Barnett of The Next Generation Project (TNGP) sought to discover the cause.[2]

Using three large representative data sources[3], he discovered that doubt is the major reason people are abandoning their Christian faith.  Christians who report having little or no doubt regarding the truth of Christianity are the most likely to be confessing Christians, regardless of age.  Millennial non-doubters are just as likely as all other generations of non-doubters to be confessing Christians.  Those who harbor significant doubts about the truth of Christianity, however, are more likely to abandon their Christian faith.  Age is a significant factor among the doubters, with Millennial doubters being much more likely to abandon Christianity than older Christians.

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teenpregrates1280The Guttmacher Institute released the latest data for teen (age 15-19) pregnancy and abortion rates (for the year 2011).  Teen abortion and pregnancy rates have dropped to their lowest point in 40 years.  Here’s a summary of the data:

  • Pregnancies: 553,000 pregnancies (52.4 pregnancies p/ 1,000 teens – approximate 5%), which is 23% lower than 2008 (68.2 pregnancies p/ 1,000 teens). If we consider just 15-17 year old teens, the pregnancy rate is just 26.7.
  • Births:3 births p/ 1,000 teens (down from 40.2 in 2008)
  • Abortions:5 abortions per 1,000 teens (down from 18.1 in 2008). This is a 69% drop from the peak rate of 44.0 in 1988. The overall percentage of pregnancies that end in abortion dropped from 46% in 1985 to 31% in 2007, and remained the same in 2011.  So while the abortion rate dropped since 2007, the percentage of abortions is the same because the pregnancy rate has dropped since 2007.

This is welcome news!  You can read the full report here.

declineEarlier this month the Guttmacher Institute released the latest abortion figures (for 2011), which revealed that the number of abortions in this country have once again began to decline despite the continued growth in population.  In 2011, there were 1.06 million abortions – a 13% decline from 2008.  The 2011 abortion rate also declined 13% from 2008, with 16.9 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15-44.  Compare this to the 1981 peak of 29.3 abortions per 1,000 women.

There has also been a big shift in the way women procure abortions.  In 2008, 17% of all abortions were performed via chemicals (such as RU-486).  As of 2011, that number increased to 23%.

There are also fewer abortion providers (4% fewer than 2008) and abortion clinics (1% fewer than 2008).

See Abortion Incidence and Service Availability in the United States, 2011 for details.

EFCIn 2011, the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC) Youth and Young Adult Ministry Roundtable commissioned a survey of 2,049 Canadian adults age 18-34 who attended church as a child on a weekly basis to see how many were still active members of the Christian church. They found that:

  • Only 1/3 were still attending church on a regular basis
  • 1/3 no longer identify as Christian
  • The primary reasons cited for abandoning the church were hypocrisy, judgmentalism, exclusivity, and failure.

We must do better at living out our faith, and preparing our young people with good theology and apologetics.

The details are contained in Hemorrhaging Faith: Why and When Canadian Young Adults are Leaving, Staying and Returning to Church. It costs $15 to download, so I didn’t download it. But if any of my readers want to do so, and wish to share some additional details or insights of the report, I welcome you to do so.

See http://hemorrhagingfaith.com/ for more information.

A new Harris Poll confirms that Christian beliefs are on the decline in this country.  There is a greater need for apologetic engagement with culture than ever before.
HT: CNS News

religion_check_boxOver at Uncommon Descent, vjtorley reports on a recent survey of 996 adults conducted between October 17-18, 2013 regarding American religious beliefs.  Some of the more notable findings include:

  • 3 out of 4 adults believe in God: 76% believe in God, 14% don’t believe in God, and 10% are not sure.
  • Young adults aged 18-29 are the least likely to believe in God.  Only 63% believe in God.  A full 25% don’t believe in God, and 12% are not sure, for a total of 37% God doubters/deniers.  That’s 2 out of 5!  Compare this to other age groups:
    • 30-44 = 14% atheist
    • 45-64 = 9% atheist
    • 65+ = 6% atheist

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The Heritage Foundation did a study that discovered children raised in a home with married parents are 82% less likely to face poverty.  Only 7% of children living in homes that fall below the poverty line were living with married parents. – Salvo Magazine, Issue 23, Winter 2012, p. 20.

If we truly want to fight poverty, then let’s promote marriage!

In March of this year, China’s health ministry released abortion data.  Approximately 13 million abortions are performed in China every year.  That’s 25 abortions every minute!  They estimate that since 1971, ~325 million abortions have been performed.  That’s the population of the United States.  Tragic!

Barna Research Group reports that the number of American adults who view the Bible as “just…a book of stories and teachings written by men” has increased from 10% in 2011 to 17% in 2013.  That’s a significant increase in just two years.

Read the entire report here.

STIsFrom the Huffington Post:

According to new government reports, there are nearly 20 million new cases of sexually transmitted infections each year in this country.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that nearly half of these new infections occur in people between ages 15 and 24.

Researchers also found that there are 110,197,000 cases of STIs in total in the United States right now, including those occurring in people who newly contracted an infection and those who have been living with an infection. Young people between ages 15 and 24 make up more than 20 percent of the overall cases of both new and established infections.

Let me get this straight:

  • There is one sexually transmitted infection for every three people in the United States.
  • There are 20 million new infections each year
  • This costs us $15,600,000,000 annually

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the birth rate has declined to 63.2 children per 1,000 women, the lowest in national history.  Birth rates are declining for those in lower age-brackets, but not surprisingly, increasing for women aged 35-44.  Unwed mothers account for 40.7% of all births.  Not good.

If you are like me, you thought reading books was becoming passe.  Reading books is what people did in the old days before television and all of the various forms of entertainment we have today ruined people’s desire to read.  Apparently that’s not the case.  Book-reading is more popular than ever, perhaps due to increased education and the internet. It would be interesting to see how these figures break down based on age.  I would still venture to say that teenagers read less today than they did in days past, but hey, I could be wrong about that too.

 

HT: Scot McKnight

The Barna Research Group has released a report containing six reasons young people leave church after age 15.  This report is a summary of a book by David Kinnaman, president of Barna Group.  You Lost Me: Why Young Christians are Leaving Church and Rethinking Church is based on eight national studies of teens who disengage from the Christian church/faith.  Kinnaman discovered that the six major reasons teens leave church can be summarized under the following umbrellas (3 out of 5 teens disengage from the Christian church/faith for one or more of these reasons):

  • “Reason #1 – Churches seem overprotective.
  • Reason #2 – Teens’ and twentysomethings’ experience of Christianity is shallow.
  • Reason #3 – Churches come across as antagonistic to science.
  • Reason #4 – Young Christians’ church experiences related to sexuality are often simplistic, judgmental.
  • Reason #5 – They wrestle with the exclusive nature of Christianity.
  • Reason #6 – The church feels unfriendly to those who doubt.”

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That was the headline of the Daily Mail.  While I am fully aware that not all conservative Christian teens practice abstinence, I was stunned at the idea that there is virtually no difference in the rates of premarital sex between Christians and non-Christians.  According to Relevant magazine, a 2009 study revealed that 80% of evangelicals between 18-29 years of age had sex, compared to 88% of their peers.

Do you find this statistic shocking?  Do you have reason to doubt the validity of these findings?  Assuming the stats are accurate, I’m not too surprised myself.  In a sex-crazed culture like our own, it takes a lot of moral fortitude to abstain from sex before marriage.  And when you couple that with a culture that discourages young adults from marriage until their late 20s or early 30s, it’s no wonder so many young Evangelicals are succumbing to this sin.

UPDATE: Kevin DeYoung provides some good reasons to trust the accuracy of this report.

Gallup just released a new poll on abortion.  Historically, more Americans have identified themselves as “pro-choice” than “pro-life.”  This trend reversed in 2009.  For example, last year 47% of American adults identified themselves as “pro-life,” and 45% identified themselves as “pro-choice.”  The new poll indicates that the tables have reversed themselves again.  Now a slight majority self-identify with the pro-choice label (49% vs 45%).

While labels are helpful in gauging public opinion, people have different understandings of what “pro-life” and “pro-choice” mean.  For example, someone could understand these terms to refer to one’s position on the legality of abortion, in which case a person who is personally opposed to all abortion but thinks people should have the legal right to an abortion may identify as “pro-choice.”  The real test of Americans’ views on abortion comes to light when more specific questions are asked.  For example, when asked whether abortion is morally wrong, 51% agreed while only 39% disagreed.  This confirms that many adopting the pro-choice label do so as a reflection of their political views related to abortion, not their moral views.

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That is the finding of the Public Religion Research Institute.  Not only do Catholics support same-sex marriage in higher numbers than other religious groups, but they even support same-sex marriage in higher numbers than the non-religious (even though the percentage of support for SSM is higher among the non-religious than Catholics–56% vs. 42%–since there are more Catholics than non-religious Americans, the actual number of Catholics who support SSM is higher than the number of non-religious citizens who support SSM).

According to PRRI: (more…)

The most recent polling data from the Pew Research Center has found that support same-sex marriage has risen to 45%, up from 42% last year.  Opposition currently stands at 46%.  As you can see from the chart, support for same-sex marriage has steadily increased, and opposition has steadily decreased since 1996.  It doesn’t take a prophet to predict that unless social conservatives start making a persuasive case in the public square real quick, those who oppose same-sex marriage will be in the minority within two years.  In some parts of the country (Northeast, West), this has already happened.

Support for abortion rights has also risen back to 2008 levels, after a substantial dip in 2009 (47% in 2009, 54% now).  I have a feeling the dip in 2009 was due to some sort of sampling error.  It seems too unlikely to me that public opinion would change so fast, and then change back just as quickly.

One of the distinct features of the canonical gospels is the amount of geographical and temporal details they contain.  They do not just tell you the things Jesus said and did, but they tell you where and when He did them.  This is in stark contrast to many of the Gnostic gospels such as The Gospel of Thomas which provide few (if any) details regarding geography and time.

I have spent a lot of time in the past six months studying and comparing the four Gospels.  In the course of my studies, I noticed that certain evangelists seem to provide more geographical and temporal markers than other evangelists, so I thought it would be interesting to catalogue all of the geographical and temporal markers in the Gospels to determine who provided the most detail.

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