Medium published my new article “Why Have More Americans Stopped Looking for God?”
Belief in God is a strong sign of the perseverance of American religiosity over the years. But a new study found that faith in God has plummeted to 81%, an unprecedented low since 2017 when that percentage was six points higher. How can this significant change be interpreted?
The study conducted by Gallup (a company with vast databases from 1944 that allows it to track the processes of change in America) showed that belief in God faded mainly among the young American population, while among married people, adults, women and those who did not attend college, belief in God was higher. The most notable differences were in political ideology: 72% of Democrats said they believed in God, compared to 92% of Republicans.
Why do liberals believe less and Republicans more? It all depends on education and the impact of one’s environment. Why do adults believe more than young people? Because they have been accustomed to it from early childhood; and why are those who are married more stable in their belief in a higher power? Because believing in God helps them, shields them from volatility, which is good and gives them stability to family life.
If churches and synagogues were once a center of pilgrimage for Americans, today, a multitude of new and challenging worlds can be discovered from anywhere at the push of a button. That seems to be more interesting than an abstract supreme divine power. Nowadays confusion is celebrated and the mind spins.
The biggest question is what is the main cause of fading faith in God among Americans? And the answer lies strongly in social influences from the likes of Elon Musk and his technological initiatives to Mark Zuckerberg and his popular social networks. Every week pours in new innovations and inventions as fruits of the labor of international entrepreneurs and network influencers who revolve around public opinion. Every day sensational news stories fill our eyes, fake or real doesn’t even matter. Every moment is filled with flashes of something to capture our attention. Where is the time to even ponder God and eternity?
If God is somewhere in heaven and we are here, what connection can there be between us, and why should we relate to Him? If once the public used to read the week’s Torah portion or flip through the pages of the Bible, today who has time for that in our crowded schedule? It is more convenient, accessible and fun to surf the web and get instant responses, isn’t it?
If a person does not need God and does not feel the lack of Him, then he or she does not think of Him at all. Only when a person suffers greatly, whether from a serious illness, old age, or any other great suffering, does one begin to even wonder or ask who really runs the world.
In times of distress, even the most secular people find themselves pondering the Upper Force. If death had not peeked around the corner, human beings would not have thought to raise their head and look. By nature, we would prefer to immerse ourselves in the materiality that the world around us has cultivated, to flow with the earthly and familiar, not to hang on to the heavenly and the unknown.
Today’s God is expressed and shaped by the aspirations and dreams in which our lives hang, our future and hopes. The Creator does not describe some supernatural being distant and detached, but rather the next degree to which we must reach in our aspiration to discover a higher knowledge. The Creator is the attribute of love and giving. We are the opposite of this trait, separated from each other, and concentrated in egoistic self-interest, and therefore, we perceive the material world for all its “idols.” But if we make an effort to care for each other, we reveal a positive force, the Supreme Force between us.
The Hebrew word “Creator” (Bo-reh) consists of the words “Come” and “See,” which is a personal invitation to come and experience the spiritual world, to discover the Creator within us. The choice is ours.