Is Australia a nation of sceptics? Maybe not

Young people expressed the most openness to the non-material (Unsplash/Tim Marshall)

Only 48 per cent of Australians say they believe in ghosts or the possibility they may exist, but 69 per cent say the same for the soul, according to new research. Source: ABC News.

The survey of 1000 people, carried out by McCrindle Research for the Centre for Public Christianity, asked respondents about their openness to the existence of a range of spiritual realities: ghosts, miracles, angels, a higher power/God, the soul, ultimate meaning or purpose in life, and life after death.

The results suggest that, as a nation, we may not be as sceptical as we think we are.

In an interview in 2005, the poet Les Murray was asked how comfortable he felt with being “an eccentric Australian voice, a rural poet speaking for an urban culture, a Roman Catholic speaking for a largely secular people”.

He responded: “I just speak as I am. I am a Catholic and I don’t believe that other people are necessarily secular. I think that intellectuals are mostly secular or are required to pretend that they are. But broader people are very varied …”

This new survey backs up Murray’s intuition.

For example, on the question of miracles: roughly a third of people (31.2 per cent) responded, “I believe this exists”; almost another third (29.1 per cent) said, “I am open to the possibility that this exists”. Some opted for “unsure” or “unlikely”, but only 13.8 per cent were willing to say they did not believe there’s any such thing as a miracle.

Surprisingly, perhaps, it was the youngest age group — 18-26-year-olds — who expressed the most openness to the non-material: 49 per cent said they believe in the soul, and 48 per cent in life after death (in both cases, another 28 per cent were open to the possibility).


We asked Australians if they believe in God or the supernatural. Here’s what they said (By Natasha Moore, ABC News)

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