Has the World Given Up on God?

By Mark A. Kellner | Posted August 25, 2020

Foreign Affairs, a widely respected magazine aimed at those with diplomatic interest, isn’t usually the place where you’d find a discussion on religion in society. Yet the September/October issue features such an article—and it’s not good news on the pro-God front.

“Growing numbers of people no longer find religion a necessary source of support and meaning in their lives,” writes Ronald F. Inglehart, an emeritus professor of Democracy, Democratization, and Human Rights at the University of Michigan who’s been tracking these trends since the mid-2000s. (The noted exception is in India, with its dominant Bharatiya Janata Party, a Hindu nationalist political party which “seeks to conflate national identity with religious identity.”)

The cause Inglehart attributes to an increased assurance of survival, which happens naturally as countries become more developed: “Starvation, once pervasive, becomes uncommon; life expectancy increases; murder and other forms of violence diminish. And as this level of security rises, people tend to become less religious,” he asserts.

Inglehart also makes a direct connection to “human fertility.” Throughout the majority of human history, religion was used to maintain the population count in a “world of high infant mortality and low life expectancy.”

What with this newfound security, religion is no longer needed, he argues. Consequently, “ideas, practices, and laws concerning gender equality, divorce, abortion, and homosexuality are now changing rapidly” around the world.  

America the Fallen

American Flag

Inglehart says “the most dramatic shift away from religion has taken place” in America: “Even the United States—long cited as proof that an economically advanced society can be strongly religious—has now joined other wealthy countries in moving away from religion.” For 26 years, from 1981 to 2007, the U.S. was “ranked as one of the world’s more religious countries,” but since that time, “the United States has shown the largest move away from religion of any country for which we have data.”

He adds, “For years, the United States had been the key case demonstrating that economic modernization need not produce secularization. By this measure, the United States now ranks as the 11th least religious country for which we have data.”

According to Inglehart, America’s precipitous fall can be traced to “the uncritical embrace of President Donald Trump—a leader who cannot be described as a paragon of Christian virtue—by many prominent evangelicals,” as well as the continuing scandals within the Roman Catholic Church.

So is disaster on the horizon for the land of the free and the home of the brave? Inglehart claims that there is nothing to worry about: “As unexpected as it may seem, countries that are less religious actually tend to be less corrupt and have lower murder rates than more religious ones.”

Furthermore, this won’t mean the end of civility and order: “In early agrarian societies, when most people lived just above the survival level, religion may have been the most effective way to maintain order and cohesion. But modernization has changed the equation. As traditional religiosity declines, an equally strong set of moral norms seems to be emerging to fill the void.”

So, All’s Good, Right?

If affluence and security are on the increase, who needs religious doctrines that merely “reflect their societies’ histories and socioeconomic characteristics” and are, in reality, just a coping mechanism for the poor, the sick, and the weak? 

As Communist Manifesto co-author Karl Marxfamously elucidated: “Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.”

Unfortunately, it does not seem like the nations that lived out Marx’s atheistic communism—the Soviet Union and China—have fared much better, leading to the deaths of at least 100 million people, it was reported in 2017.

Inglehart asserts that this time, it’ll be different: “The evidence suggests that modern societies will not descend into nihilistic chaos without religious faith to bind them.”

But what of the coronavirus pandemic currently sweeping the world? Could that—or other global disasters—take down our coveted “existential security” a few notches? It’s “unlikely,” Inglehart believes. Instead, there will continue a “powerful, long-term, technology-driven trend of growing prosperity and increased life expectancy that is helping push people away from religion.”

The fact of the matter is that there are many counterfeit religions in the world. Some have endless forms and regulations; some have caused mass murder; some have been used as a crutch.

But Amazing Facts International believes that there is one true God and one true religion and that both are found in the Bible

We were created by a loving God who not only wants the best for us here but also longs to share paradise with us for eternity. Whether the poorest beggar on the street or the richest man in the world, we are all in dire need of this God, our Savior Jesus Christ (Luke 5:31, 32; Romans 3:23).

Inglehart’s “prosperity” and “life expectancy” will never solve the real issue—sin. That requires accepting the gift of salvation found in Jesus Christ alone (Isaiah 43:11; Acts 4:12)—and no amount of manmade “moral norms” could ever substitute that.

One former atheist who found this out is Pastor Doug Batchelor, whose testimony explores these same issues.

Another powerful testimony is that of Santosh, a former atheist who finally found Christianity in a journey that proves true religion is infinitely more than a socioeconomic fad.

Inglehart’s article promotes secularism, but that doesn’t explain the people around the world finding faith and fulfillment. See for yourself in Pastor Doug’s latest newsletter, “ New Faith Rising from the Ashes of Atheism.”

Mark Kellner
Mark A. Kellner is a staff writer for Amazing Facts International. He is a veteran journalist whose work has been published in Religion News Service, The Washington Times, and numerous computer magazines.

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