Over the summer we’ve had some new polls come out on the existence of God and other spiritual matters. And as we all know, whatever a poll says is something you can take to the bank.
If by chance you missed the surveys, well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but things aren’t looking good for the Creator.
The first poll was done by Gallup and found that belief in God has hit a new low: Seventy-four percent now accept His existence, 16% less than what was recorded in 2001.
But wait, it only goes downhill from there.
The second poll from the University of Chicago says that less than half of Americans (49.6%) believe in God with “no doubts.” The rest of the responses were spread among those who were agnostic, atheistic, believed in a higher power of some kind, and believed with doubts.
My favorite group was those who “believe sometimes” (5.4%). Believe “sometimes”? If you want to know what flips their switch on and off like I do, alas, the survey doesn’t say.
The prince of darkness posted even worse numbers than God in the Gallup poll with only 58% saying they believed in an actual devil.
I’m sure I don’t have to spell things out for you with respect to where things are headed, do I? Once a full majority eschews the idea of God’s existence, then, by the unalterable laws of the universe, God will not exist.
And with God out of the picture, people will then do only one thing: worship something else.
Polls, of course, are notoriously bad at representing actual truth. What the majority of people think oftentimes conflicts with true reality.
But then that’s how truth works, doesn’t it? We get things wrong all the time and our errors don’t swap out the “really real” as Francis Schaeffer called truth. Sit 100 students down in a math class, give them a problem to solve, and if 99 arrive at the wrong answer and only 1 gets it right, the laws of mathematics don’t change to favor the majority.
Getting an incorrect result in math is one thing but getting it wrong where God is concerned is a different matter entirely because, whether you believe it or not (pun intended), everyone will worship something. And as history has shown time and again, we excel at loving the wrong things.
The French theologian Louis Auguste Sabatier was spot on in declaring humankind “incurably religious,” something called out in a different way by John Calvin who described our desire to worship as being brought on by the “sensus divinitatis” — the “sense of divinity/deity” that’s imparted to us through being made in the image of God.
While this bent is in all of us, its aim is often askew. The most common swing-and-a-miss is worshipping ourselves, which is why Voltaire wrote, “If God has made us in his image, we have returned him the favor.”
That we do this was even acknowledged by the IRS years ago when it declared secular humanism a religion. Of course, those disavowing the idea of supernatural things balk at being thought of as religious and/or worshipping something, but they are and do.
C. S. Lewis reminds us that praise and worship flow from us in many directions: “The world rings with praise — lovers praising their mistresses, readers their favorite poet, walkers praising the countryside, players praising their favorite game. I had not noticed either that just as men spontaneously praise whatever they value, so they spontaneously urge us to join them in praising it: ‘Isn’t she lovely? Wasn’t it glorious? Don’t you think that magnificent?’ The Psalmists in telling everyone to praise God are doing what all men do when they speak of what they care about.”
Those actions seem tame enough, but Scripture is clear that when the elevator is taken down to the ground floor of an unbelieving heart, the lights go completely out where true worship is concerned. And we’ve no excuse for it.
Paul says we know God exists on our Floor Number 1 because “that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse" (Rom. 1:19–20).
The Bible says that the Gallup and Chicago polls should register 100% for acknowledging God’s existence, however, our condition is one where, “even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man [hello Voltaire!] and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures” (Rom. 1:21–23).
In other words, we should worship God, but if we don’t, we’ll end up worshipping something else.
French philosopher and social activist Simone Vey realized this and wrote, “One has only the choice between God and idolatry. There is no other possibility. For the faculty of worship is in us, and it is either directed somewhere into this world, or into another.”
So, while the polls say the worship of God is on the decline, they are oblivious to the fact that the worship of other things is rising, with the rate of people worshipping always remaining constant at 100%. And what’s God's reaction to such polls and false worship? Does He see it as bad news He didn’t expect?
“He who sits in the heavens laughs, the Lord scoffs at them” (Ps 2:4).
Don’t let that be you. Trust me, that’s laughter aimed in your direction you never want to hear.
Robin Schumacher is an accomplished software executive and Christian apologist who has written many articles, authored and contributed to several Christian books, appeared on nationally syndicated radio programs, and presented at apologetic events. He holds a BS in Business, Master's in Christian apologetics and a Ph.D. in New Testament. His latest book is, A Confident Faith: Winning people to Christ with the apologetics of the Apostle Paul.