Although nearly three-quarters of Australians believe in the existence of God, less than half of them accept the central tenets of the Christian faith, a new survey has found.
    According to the Sydney Morning Herald, 74 per cent of respondents say they believe in God. But only 43 per cent agreed that the resurrection of Christ from the dead was an actual historical event.
    Fewer still (42 per cent) accept the divinity of Jesus.
    Just over one-half of Australians (53 per cent) believe that heaven exists. But only 33 per cent say there is a devil and 32 per cent believe in the existence of hell.
    The Australian Community Survey was conducted last year as a joint project of Edith Cowan University in Perth and the National Church Life Survey in Sydney. It questioned 8,500 people across the country.
    The survey also found that nearly a quarter of Australians (23 per cent) say they attend church at Easter. Of these, 35 per cent go to church only occasionally while 65 per cent attend at least monthly.
    "It is clear from this survey that the religious dimension is still alive and well in the lives of many Australians," said Professor Alan Black, director of the Centre for Social Research at Edith Cowan University.
    Mr John Bellamy of the National Church Life Survey agrees. He says the notion that secularisation has seen the end of religion is false and that "these figures show that we're not at the end of a process where people have given up religious beliefs".
    Mr Bellamy points out, for instance, that only 21 per cent of respondents disagreed with the proposition that Christ rose from the dead. Another 36 per cent were at least open to the possibility that it may have happened.
    The figures, said Mr Bellamy, also show that people pick and choose what they are prepared to believe.
    "There are people out there who haven't taken up the whole [Christian] package," he said. "They're prepared to believe in positive aspects - such as belief in God and belief in the existence of heaven - but in some people's belief system there's no room for negative beliefs such as the existence of hell."

30/03/99 1:40:48 / Sydney Morning Herald


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