It’s a surprising find, but it’s also true. Americans are giving up on God. A Pew survey reveals that half of the people who have quit going to church no longer believe in God.
Nearly a quarter of the nation no longer attends church at all. This quarter classifies themselves as the “nones.” About half of that group doesn’t even believe in God.
Pew studied this phenomenon in an effort to learn why.
Their results show lack of belief is the leading reason why people stop attending church. The other excuses (they disagree with church doctrine, hypocrisy) are still there, but lack of belief was number one.
The primary reason why people are losing their belief is science.
The finding is astounding. While many scientists find evidence for God in their work, lay people often think that belief and science are incompatible.
A major reason for this is the apparent incongruity between fundamentalist interpretations of Biblical metaphor and widely accepted scientific theory. For example, compelling majorities of the scientific community argue the following points:
– The universe was created with a Big Bang (a theory first proposed by a Jesuit priest).
– The Earth is billions of years old (not 6,000).
-Humans evolved from pre-human ancestors (theory of evolution).
– The planet is warming due to human activity (anthropogenic global warming).
Young people, in particular, are taught these ideas from a young age, and properly so, since the evidence suggests they are facts. The problem is, the few critics of these ideas argue from a basis of biblical evangelical fundamentalism. That is, they insist the Earth was created in a literal six-day span. They suggest global warming is false because God would not use sea level rise to destroy the planet (Genesis 9:13). They deny that humans have evolved at all, claiming that macroevolution does not exist (they misunderstand -or misconstrue evolution, even when they hold degrees in the field!).
There are hypothetical scientific interpretations of evidence which suggest their ideas could have merit, but the preponderance of evidence supports the mainstream scientific theory.
Even the Vatican has embraced human evolution and global warming. But some Catholics remain unaware. Fundamentalists can be vocal and they get attention. However, most youths are sophisticated enough to tell the difference between science and pseudoscience, at least in these cases. They often conclude religion and science are incompatible. It’s an understandable conclusion, even if unreasonable.
They follow this conclusion by seeking scientific evidence for God. The problem is that God is metaphysical and supernatural, not natural. You cannot fit God into a test tube. You cannot measure God like you can temperatures, cosmic distances, and timescales. Nonetheless, they conclude “there is no God” because they cannot even define the units of measurement for their experiment.
So the primary reason why people are leaving church is because they are not being taught that religion and science are compatible.
Science tells us how, but it takes religion to tell us why. This simple fact needs to be preached, taught, and drilled. Until this happens, we will continue to lose our youth to atheism, which can only offer the how, but never the why.