This is pretty astonishing, via Christian Post:
Around six in 10 Americans do not believe that human life is inherently “sacred,” though more than two-thirds believe human beings are “basically good,” new data suggests.
The recently launched Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University released a report on Tuesday examining how Americans value human life.
Data for the report came from a survey conducted in January of 2,000 adult respondents in the United States, 1,000 of whom were contacted by telephone and 1,000 reached by online questionnaires. The data has a margin of error of 2 percentage points.
Among respondents, only 39% said they agreed with the statement: “human life is sacred.”
The word “sacred” is defined by the researchers as “having unconditional, intrinsic worth.”
Many respondents who identified as religious were more likely than the total sample to believe that human life is sacred. For example, 60% of evangelical and born-again Christian respondents agreed that life is sacred.
Among other respondent groups, 46% of Pentecostals, 45% of mainline Protestants, and 43% of Roman Catholics agreed that human life is sacred.
Meanwhile, 12% of respondents said they believe people are only “material substance – biological machines.” Another 12% said that believe humans are “part of the mind of the universe.”
While most did not believe life was sacred, 69% of respondents concluded that people were “basically good.”
From the press release:
Seven out of ten adults (69%) believe that “people are basically good.” In fact, that perspective is so pervasive that a majority of every population subgroup examined adopted that view, ranging from just over half to more than three-quarters of those groups.
And yet, this is a significant decline from 30 years ago, when research by Dr. George Barna, who also directed the AWVI 2020, discovered that 83% of U.S. adults believed that people are basically good. The perception that people are good is most frequently based on feelings rather than facts and often reflects their self-view. There is also a smaller proportion of adults who defend the goodness of people based upon spiritual reasons, believing that human beings are basically good because they are all created in the image of God, have the ability to discern right from wrong, and have value in God’s eyes.
The biggest shock of the survey, though, may have been discovering that most Americans now believe that human life has no intrinsic or absolute value.
While the most common reply to the question about the value of life was the 39% who said “human life is sacred,” more than six out of ten adults could not bring themselves to perceive life as sacred. Instead, a substantially larger share of the population combined to offer views such as “life is what you make it, but it has no absolute value” (37%); “life does not attain its full value until we reach our highest point of evolution and expression” (11%); or other, less popular points of view that concurred that life has no infinite, unconditional value.
One out of ten adults admitted they did not know how to appraise the value of human life. Only a handful of subgroups – all of which were conservative, deeply religious segments – were populated by a majority who construed human life to be “sacred.” Those groups were adults with a biblical worldview (93%); adults who attend an evangelical church (60%); born-again Christians (60%); political conservatives (57%); people 50 or older (53%); and Republicans (53%).
Barna suggested that the solution is not to have more or different laws but to invest in more effective human development. “You cannot change the hearts of people by outlawing racism. You will not create peace by passing laws and forcing compliance. Efforts to facilitate economic equality through resource redistribution have never successfully resulted in the expected or desired outcomes.
“From a biblical perspective, the problem is that we have a sin nature, pure and simple. We can deny it, but it still exists. Every society can benefit from specific systemic changes, present-day America included. But any systemic changes designed to transform the culture will be short-lived and of limited impact unless the hearts and minds of the people who populate that system are transformed first.
“Logically, given that a person’s worldview is largely in place by the age of 13 and then is refined and expanded during a person’s teens and twenties, focusing on the moral development of young people and college students will be an effective, lasting strategy,” Barna continued. “Raising our future leaders to experience and understand love, compassion, mercy, truth, and goodness will make a massive difference.” “It’s not popular to admit, but our baseline problem is rebellion against goodness and holiness, driven by our arrogance and selfishness. Our problem is spiritual rather than political or economic,” Barna said.
“Given the cultural challenges we are facing today, our best strategy is to collectively turn to God, humble ourselves before Him, earnestly seek His love and forgiveness, and follow His wisdom and guidance.”