Newly released data from pollster George Barna confirms that most Americans do not believe in an absolute difference between right and wrong.
The analysis of results from the American Worldview Inventory 2021, a representative sampling of 2,000 U.S. adults from the Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University, shows that 54% of the survey’s participants embrace the postmodern idea that all truth is subjective and there are no moral absolutes.
“We’re just at a place in our country’s history now where that’s the default view. Most people would say all truth is subjective and there’s no kind of objective truth based on an external standard. They would say they’re the standard that determines what truth is,” Mr. Barna said Wednesday.
Mr. Barna, the center’s research director, told The Washington Times the findings reflect ongoing sociocultural and political trends toward an emerging “nontraditional moral order in America” in which people no longer care about what’s true or false.
“If I decide it’s in my best interests to lie to you, I’ll do it. Interpersonal deception will become more common and we’ll have lower levels of trust toward other people, making it harder to have relationships because we’ll no longer trust that what other people tell us is real,” he said.
Mr. Barna said this increased skepticism about people’s truthfulness in relationships will make long-term commitments, especially in marriages, increasingly more difficult for Americans.
“It tears apart society by making us, in essence, a bunch of savages who look out for ourselves without turning to any higher principles to solve disagreements, point us in the right direction or give us any sense of moral purpose. When you take absolute moral truth out of the equation, we’re no different from the cavemen,” he said.
The survey, which sampled 1,000 people by telephone and 1,000 people online questionnaires in February, found that 88% of respondents said they fashion a unique philosophy of life from the personally appealing parts of multiple worldviews.
Mr. Barna, who founded the evangelical Christian polling firm The Barna Group in 1984, said this makes syncretism the most dominant worldview guiding the decisions of Americans today.
“If there’s no absolute moral truth when the government is telling me this is the right thing to do, I’m going to automatically question it because a bunch of yahoos in Washington put it together. Because everything is based on my needs and my feelings, I may choose to ignore the law and feel no remorse about that because I have to take care of myself,” he said.
The next most dominant worldviews in the survey were biblical theism and moralistic therapeutic deism, with postmodernism and secular humanism tied after that as the life philosophies that Americans most often rely upon in making choices.
The survey additionally reported that 39% of respondents said “human life has no intrinsic value,” 29% expressed “their commitment to getting even with those who wrong them” rather than forgiving and 28% said “they treat people based on their current feelings and circumstances.”
This week’s data analysis represents the eighth and final report from the study, following earlier news releases on topics like Marxism and Christianity.
On Oct. 6, The Times reported a prior set of findings that showed an increasing number of Americans, especially millennials, embracing Marxist views such as the rejection of private property.
“We try to put it out in bite-sized pieces so people don’t get overwhelmed,” Mr. Barna said.
The second annual American Worldview Inventory had an estimated maximum sampling error of approximately plus or minus 2 percentage points, based on the 95% confidence interval.