I can’t help but thinking of Snidley Whiplash when I read stories of the decline and impending demise of religion in America. The rise of the so-called “nones” has made big news, and I can’t help but think of journalists writing their stories as they as they twirl their mustaches in wicked glee (women can always use a fake mustache).
Secular cultural elites and intellectuals in the West have dreamed of a post-religious thoroughly secular society since the so called Enlightenment, and now they think they’re close to finally getting it. But like Whiplash, they always have and always will end up disappointed.
The latest story on this theme comes from CNN’s Belief Blog with a title the Snidelys of the world would love: Poll: America losing its religion:
More than three in four of Americans say religion is losing its influence in the United States, according to a new survey, the highest such percentage in more than 40 years.
So we have to go back to the early 1970s to see a time when Americans felt so pessimistic about religion in America. You would think after 40 plus years religion would be dead already, but that isn’t the case, not even close. Interestingly, the same number of Americans do not think this is a good thing: “A nearly identical percentage says that trend bodes ill for the country,” which doesn’t bode well for the secularists. The ambivalence of the American people is seemingly almost schizophrenic:
According to the Gallup survey released Wednesday, 77% of Americans say religion is losing its influence. Since 1957, when the question was first asked, Americans’ perception of religion’s power has never been lower.
According to the poll, 75% of Americans said the country would be better off if it were more religious.
This is a fascinating but predictable result of the perception making power of our cultural elite, primarily through media, education and entertainment. People in these professions are overwhelmingly secular and many are hostile to religion, especially to conservative Christianity. What they produce can influence the plausibility structures of Americans, but it cannot change the fundamental moral nature human beings were created with.
What appears to be true (plausibility structure) to most Americans is that religion is waning. Why would this be so? Well, mainly because they are told it ad nauseam. When Americans hear news stories week in and week out that proclaim religion in America is on its last legs, what are they supposed to think? When Americans are entertained by an industry that thinks religion is an alien force, what do you think their views will be?
The now widely proclaimed (on the right) low information voters’ views are determined by the culture they ingest and the culture they swim in, and it is the enemies of religion that patrol those waters, so it is quite predictable we see such poll results. But unlike the “new atheists” and secular ideologues who see only harm coming from religion, most American know that religion has a mostly salutary effect on society, just like America’s founders knew it did. In fact, despite their own religious views almost every man involved in the founding of America believed that religion was indispensible to a self-governing republic. And that religion was of course the Christian religion.
The vast majority of Americans, and human beings the world over, know that reality isn’t self generating or self creating, that their existence, and the existence of the world and the universe and everything in it is not just an amazing coincidence; or as the Apostle Paul put it in the first chapter of Romans:
For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
This is why religion, despite what the polls ostensibly tell us, will never die. That which is “clearly seen” can never be hidden, no matter the sophistries, no matter the will of those who think they would be like God, knowing good and evil (Genesis 3).