When belief in God isn’t necessarily a good thing

I began watching Chris Yaw’s interview with Diana Butler Bass on ChurchNext.tv last week. I found it intriguing (though I still have not listened to the conclusion).

Early in the conversation, Dr. Bass noted that the percentage of Americans who claim a belief in God is down and dropping further.  She cited a study that reported this amazing (to me) point: the percentage of Americans under 40 who claim a belief in God is below 50%.

My first response was that this could be a good thing.

In polls past, belief in God always rated north of 99%, according to my memory.  For the 30 years I have been attempting to follow Jesus, this has always struck me as misleading.  It turns my attention to James, who wrote that “even the demons believe.” (James 2:19)

In other words, belief that there is a God and $3 will get you a cup of coffee.

How many of the 99% who claimed (in the past) to believe in God would have claimed that such belief made any difference in their lives?  Of those who did, would their friends and neighbors have concurred?

For years, claiming belief in God has been, in the US, a cultural thing to do.  Whether or not said God was worshiped, sought after prayed to, or otherwise taken notice of was irrelevant to the questions – or at least to the answerer.

If less people are (now) claiming to believe in God, perhaps they are, at least in this way, being more honest with themselves and with us.

I happen to believe that people being honest with themselves is a good thing, across the board.

Could a decrease in belief in God be a good thing for reasons other than increased honesty with oneself?  I think so, and will tackle that tomorrow.


2 thoughts on “When belief in God isn’t necessarily a good thing

  1. I’m dubious of the less than 50% figure.

    I know the people under 40 that I’m around are NOT a typical sample, but I can say that a large percentage of these college students report belief in god.

    • I hear you; part of the difference, they discussed, is the degree to which pollsters now go that they didn’t, say, 50 years ago. Hence the category “spiritual not religious.”

      You and I also live in the Bible Belt, which I imagine accounts for some difference.

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