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Wednesday 3 September 2014

Fewer of us believe in God, but we do worship lucky numbers

Conor Sweeneyin Brussels

Published 12/07/2005 | 00:11

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RELIGIOUS faith is declining in Ireland, but superstition is still strong.

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Only 73pc of Irish people now believe in God but more than half of us believe in lucky numbers, according to a new survey.

However, the Eurobarometer poll shows that, while Ireland can no longer be perceived as the most Catholic country in Europe, many people here still retain Catholic values - being strongly anti-abortion, for instance.

The survey, conducted earlier this year, found that the 73pc belief in a God puts us in seventh place in a league of European faith.

In Malta, where Catholicism is the state religion, 95pc of the population say they believe in God. The next most believing countries are Cyprus, Greece, Portugal, Poland and Italy.

But few Irish people go so far as to declare themselves complete non-believers, with just 4pc adamant that they do not believe is any "spirit, God or life force".

In France, a nominally Catholic country with a strong secular tradition, a third of people share this view - the same proportion as those who say they do believe.

Across the EU as a whole, 52pc of people say they believe in God, a further 27pc hold some spiritual views, while only 18pc do not and a further 3pc don't know. The largely Muslim country of Turkey was also surveyed and 95pc of respondents there said they believed in God.

Describing it as a "commonly known superstition," the survey also asked people if they believed certain numbers were lucky for certain specific people.

It found that 51pc of the Irish believe in luck, while 23pc do not. In France, 28pc believe in luck, nearly as many as those who believe in God.

However, 73pc of Irish people thought it "very important" to protect the dignity of any unborn life. This is well above the EU average, where 53pc described it as "very important".

Yet only 33pc of Irish people said stem cell research should never be used. The research involves the destruction of a tiny cell, which some scientists argue could lead to cures for many diseases, such as Alzheimer's. Pro-life activists argue that this comes at the price of destroying human life at a very early stage.

A much higher proportion - 59pc - said there were some circumstances in which they would back the research.

General suspicion about genetically modified foods remains prevalent across the EU, with 54pc of all Europeans declaring it "dangerous". This rises to 88pc in Cyprus and as low as 30pc in the Netherlands, with Ireland just below the EU average at 50pc.

Bucking the trend, Irish people have more faith than most in the job-creation aspects of new technology.

In fact, Ireland is ranked first when it comes to belief in the positive impact of technological advances. Although a slim majority in Ireland dispute this assertion, our attitude is still far more positive than in most states, with the French at the other extreme of public opinion.

While 35pc of Irish people think that computers and factory automation will create more jobs than they eliminate, 39pc disagree.

Among the French, where the jobless rate is more than double Ireland's figure, just 12pc believe technology will have a positive impact on jobs.

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