The Gallup poll, taken May 5-8, also indicates 49 percent of Americans say the Bible is the inspired word of God but should not be taken literally -- down from a high of 51 percent in 2007.
Seventeen percent say the Bible is a book of fables, legends, history and moral precepts, up from 10 percent in 1980 and down from 20 percent in 2001.
Forty-six percent of U.S. adults with a high-school education or less take the Bible literally, compared with 22 percent of Americans with at least some college education, while most Americans with some college education consider the Bible to be the inspired word of God.
Forty-one percent of protestants say the Bible is literally true, two-thirds of Catholics say the Bible to be the inspired word of God, while 63 percent of those without a religious affiliation think the Bible is not the word of God.
Fifty percent of lower-income respondents say the Bible is the actual word of God, 27 percent of middle-income respondents do and 15 percent of high-income respondents do.
The survey of 1,018 U.S. adults has a maximum margin of error of 4 percentage points.