by Michael J. Klassen
Two days ago I drove to a Barnes and Noble bookstore to meet a friend at a Starbucks coffee shop. Because I arrived a little early, I decided to walk through the store—a rare treat because I buy most of my books online.
Browsing through the place, I couldn’t help noticing the many volumes on display attacking religion. Authors like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens claim that humanity suffers from a “God delusion,” and that “God is not great.”
Is it just me, or does it seem like atheism is on the rise?
Interestingly enough, a few years ago I ran across a study indicating that the number of atheists in America has remained the same for quite some time. However, in recent years, they’ve garnered a little more air time. In my opinion, the more publicity they receive, the more adherents they’ll win.
Are we in trouble?
Recently, Oxford University released the findings of a three-year mega-study on the prevalence of religion around the world. The nonsectarian project incorporated 40 different studies conducted by dozens of researchers. People surveyed hailed from countries around the world—China to Poland to America to Micronesia and beyond.
Perusing CNN.com, I ran across an online article reporting on the study:
“We tend to see purpose in the world,” Oxford University professor Roger Trigg commented on Thursday. “We see agency. We think that something is there even if you can’t see it. … All this tends to build up to a religious way of thinking.”
Around the globe, regardless of race or location, people instinctively believe in a creator who governs world affairs and gives purpose to our everyday lives. This is a universal phenomenon.
“Children in particular found it very easy to think in religious ways” Trigg reported in the CNN article. Nevertheless, the study discovered that adults also jumped first for explanations that implied an unseen agent at work in the world.
I won’t go into detail about proving God’s existence, but suffice it to say, long ago Anselm of Canterbury theorized that because people can envision a God, he must really exist. Looks like Anselm’s theory might actually be fact.
“There is quite a drive to think that religion is private,” Tripp said, arguing that such a belief is wrong. “It isn’t just a quirky interest of a few, it’s basic human nature. This shows that it’s much more universal, prevalent, and deep-rooted. It’s got to be reckoned with. You can’t just pretend it isn’t there.”
If you fear for the future of Christianity, don’t.
To quote Mark Twain: “The rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”
Michael serves as co-pastor of The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado.