Nietzsche's madman declared in 1882 that God was dead:
"God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us?"Nietzsche has been known ever after for declaring the doom of God. Yet, the madman mourned too soon. Faith continues to persist, despite the greatest efforts of Western civilization to demolish it. The problem is not really a lack of faith (humans are inherently spiritual beings) but the sorts of beliefs that fill the void when the Holy Spirit is absent.
A Gallup poll for the anniversary of Charles Darwin's 200th birthday showed that only 39 percent of Americans "believe in evolution" nearly 150 years after Darwin published On The Origin Of Species. Coincidentally, most Americans - even those who do "believe in evolution" - also believe in some sort of deity.
To be square, "Do you believe in evolution?" is not a very good question to ask, because people can define "evolution" in a number of ways. For instance, natural selection and survival of the fittest are perfectly excellent ideas for explaining why the finches on one island have bigger beaks than the finches on another island. Some people would call the ability to finches to adapt to their environments "evolution." Other persons would define "evolution" as the process by which dinosaurs turned into birds or apes turned into humans. How people answer that question depends on their internalized definition of "evolution." (Perhaps this accounts for the large number of people (36 percent) who responded that they had no opinion one way or the other.)
Despite this weakness, the poll still demonstrates that a significant portion of the US population is either ambivalent or outright antagonistic toward evolution in general. This is despite the fact that children are taught about evolutionary concepts from the time they open their first dinosaur picture books all the way up through their university textbooks. Even among college graduates, who survived years of having professors attempt to beat the faith out of them, a mere 53 percent of those polled said they "believe in evolution."
Of course, the people most prone to say they definitely did not believe in evolution were those who attended church regularly, and those most likely to affirm evolution were those who rarely or never went to church. Education is not as great an issue in this matter as is a person's religious views. And religion is getting to be popular again.
As John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge note in a recent piece for the Fox Forum:
"Today it is secularization theory that is dead rather than religion. Religion continues to flourish in the United States. Megachurches across the country are full to overflowing..."Books with religious themes sell millions upon millions of copies every year, and a mere 15 percent of the US population claim no belief.
That, however, does not mean that Americans are all reading their Bibles and following Christ. The God-shaped hole may exist in the human heart, but Americans often try to fill that hole at the all-you-can-eat religious buffet.
Ivan Petrella offers the fashionable way of dealing with religion in today's world. He argues that religions are not false, but we need to get "progressive about religion." He wants atheists to stop battering religion.
"Billions of people practice religions; in that sense they're true. Billions of people believe in God, in that sense God does exist," Petrella says.That's nonsense, of course. The moon isn't made of green cheese even if billions of people believe it. God exists whether or not anybody believes in Him. But, that's not the point. The point is what Petrella says he wants from progressive Christians:
"From progressive Christians, I'd rescue the commitment to progressive understandings of faith and politics. But I'd reject their reliance on the Bible and Jesus."And that is what the "religious" world wants when it doesn't want Jesus. For those who do not know Christ, who assume that Jesus is just another religious leader in a smorgasbord of equally "true" and valid religions, then it seems perfectly acceptable to ask Christians to get with the values of today's world and stop insisting that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. If Christians are to be progressive, they must only commit to the comfortable parts of their faith, things like caring for their neighbors and forgiving their enemies. In the progressive world, ideas like sin and salvation have to go.
The world doesn't understand, though, that Jesus did not come to Earth to get people to be nice to each other. He came to Earth to save us. And if Christianity is to be powerful through the Holy Spirit in changing lives and in giving life, and filling that God-shaped hole in our innermost person, then it cannot be watered down and progressive. It has to be full of the Spirit of Truth. We have to live it, so that we can be a witness to a world desperate to know the truth, as long as we are able.
In the last chapter of 2 Timothy, Paul writes that people will reject the truth:
"For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables" (2 Timothy 4:3-4).In the last times, when the Beast rules, people will believe in him . They will fall down and worship him (Rev 13:12-15). It wil be a "religious" world. The world religion will simply be a false religion, a fake version of the real thing.
We see a lot of that today, but these times are still full of hope. There may be millions who enjoy getting their ears scratched, but there are millions more still hunting and seeking. Christianity is spreading with a seriousness across Asia and Africa, even (and especially?) in those areas where there is persecution. People are starved for God, seeking to find the One who will cleanse them and heal them, the One who will fill that hole in their hearts with Himself, the One who will give them true life.
God is not dead. He's very much alive, despite all progressive efforts to get rid of Him.
On Darwin’s Birthday, Only 4 in 10 Believe in Evolution - Gallup
Forget Progressive Religion, Be Progressive About Religion - UTNE Reader
God Is Back - FOX Forum