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92% of Americans believe in God or a universal spirit...is this good?

Think Christianly: 92% of Americans believe in God or a universal spirit...is this good?

Monday, June 23, 2008

92% of Americans believe in God or a universal spirit...is this good?

Is belief in God alive and well in the US? Maybe. How's that for an answer? (and, according to the LA times, in CA not so much ;). The good thing is, people are talking about God and "the spiritual." So getting into a "spiritual conversation" is much easier today and provides us some opportunities to share the good news of Jesus Christ. The problem is that it is not clear which God, or if people are talking about anyone outside of themselves, or one that can be experienced by someone else. For example, is it possible for me to experience your God? Pluralism meets the privatization of religion.

(from LA Times article) "Americans overwhelmingly believe in God and consider religion an important part of their lives, even as many shun weekly worship services, according to a national survey released today that also found great diversity in religious beliefs and practices. Ninety-two percent of those interviewed for the U.S. Religious Landscape Survey said they believe in the existence of God or a universal spirit, and 58% said they pray privately every day.

But California, like other states along the country's two coasts, resisted the prevailing national tendencies. Californians are less likely than other Americans to consider religion "very important" in their lives or to be "absolutely certain" in their belief in God.
Californians pray less than others in many parts of the country. They are less inclined to take the word of God literally. And they are ready to embrace "more than one true way" of interpreting their religious teachings."
(read more).

This article provides plenty of food for thought...though I just want to highlight one phrase, because it sounds so 'tolerant' and 'inclusive'. It's just too bad its incoherent and self-contradictory. Look at this phrase:

"And they are ready to embrace "more than one true way" of interpreting their religious teachings."

This boils down to "true for you but not for me." But is this statement true for both of us? Either Jesus is not the Messiah (Judaism), is the Messiah (Christianity), or was a prophet, but not the last prophet (Islam). But all three of these can't be 'true' at the same time.

I think people are ready to move beyond simplistic slogans and engage their doubts and honest questions. I think that is why Timothy Keller's The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism is so popular right now (#87 on Amazon). It is a thoughtful book written by a thoughtful Christian (BTW - that isn't an oxymoron), and if you want to explore God and the possibility of one true God - this may be a good place to start. Or you may be a Christian with doubts you are too afriad to make known, this may be a safe place for you to question as well. You can visit his website at http://www.thereasonforgod.com/
Just wanted to add a link to this article too...can an atheist be certian about belief in God? ;), Some U.S. atheists seem to be confused, Pew survey shows

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6 Comments:

Blogger Barry said...

I don't think it boils down to "true for you but not for me." I think that some of these people just have honest questions that the conservative form of Christianity isn't answering. And the younger generation is leaving it in droves because with all its proclamation of whats wrong, it is hard to determine what is right.
I've read a few reactions to this study from conservative guys and one of them even sharply defined what an evangelical was, just so that everyone knew that some of these professing evangelicals, were not, in fact, evangelical because they dont believe the same thing as this guy does.
Isn't it possible that this is just an admission of what they don't know, instead of what they do? Could it not be seen as a sign of humility to say "I do not have all the facts"?
I think there is more to this than a simple relativistic view. I think some of these people are more genuinely seeking God than we might know.

June 26, 2008 at 2:04 AM  
Blogger Jonathan Morrow said...

Barry, thanks for commenting. I haven't given my two cents of analysis yet on this (when I have time, I will post something else). I think you are right that there is more to it than relativism - that is just one of the factors of how the privitization of all religions have manifested itself.

I agree the church is known today largley more for what we are against than what we are for and that needs to change. and we are not doing students and the emerging generation justice to the tough questions they are asking (inside and outside the church). that is why I am passioante about thinking well and helping others think well about the faith. Truth is there to be discovered, and the Bible does make truth claims, but we need to maintain a posture of humility.

BTW - which posts on this have you read? Thanks again for stopping by.

June 26, 2008 at 11:16 AM  
Blogger Barry said...

Ok, I looked everywhere for the exact article I read and I finally found it. Its different from yours on California but it has similar content. It comes from the Pew Forum, same sort of research, your article just highlights California. My bad, thought they were the same.
I also think I mixed up Dobson's remarks on Obama with remarks made about this survey. In the article some guy named Roger Oldham made a remark about who is and isn't evangelical. Thought it was Dobson.
On a sidenote, I see you like International Justice Mission. I went to a benefit dinner they had in Nashville in the fall last year. Love those guys.
I also see you like Willard. Again, a big fan. I just bought his book Divine Conspiracy. Plan to read it soon.

June 26, 2008 at 4:11 PM  
Blogger Barry said...

Oh yeah, already posted that about Willard...

June 26, 2008 at 4:12 PM  
Blogger Barry said...

Here's the article:
http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5h8ftb8lipCc_XqwfUp0PLhdQGYTwD91FSUQ00

June 26, 2008 at 4:15 PM  
Blogger Jonathan Morrow said...

Thanks....I will look at those....enjoy Willard!! (feel free to leave a post with any cool insights you discover)

June 27, 2008 at 2:54 PM  

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