The Church struggles to stay informed and relevant on the issues and answering today’s challenges. In October 2023, the Survey Center on American Life and the Associated Press/NORC released new data revealing the attitudes and beliefs of our friends and neighbors. If the Church is going to lead people to faith in God, we need to know what they believe. Jesus knew the teachings of Judaism and the beliefs of the Romans, and we must follow His example.
Here are some results of the recent surveys:
1) 44% of Americans have “hardly any confidence” in organized religion.
2) 29% of Americans believe evolution is the best explanation for the origin of life on Earth.
3) 38% believe humans and other living things have evolved over time due to processes guided by God or a higher power.
4) 31% believe humans and other living things have evolved over time, and God or a higher power had no role in this process.
5) 12% believe humans and other living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time.
6) 49% believe scientists generally believe the universe was created in a single, violent event, often called the “Big Bang.”
The problem with surveys is that words like “evolution” are not defined. If “Naturalism” were used instead of “evolution,” the numbers would be different. Confusing “evolution” and “creation” is another source of problems with surveys. Evolution deals with the changes in things already created. It does not attempt to explain the creation of space, time, matter/energy, or anything spiritual.
It is interesting to see surveys like these and compare them to similar ones from past years. You don’t wear a hockey uniform to play baseball, and you can’t reach people today based on what people believed in the 20th century. God’s Word does not change and is a rock-solid guide for life, but young people today are radically different from last century. Answering today’s challenges requires meeting people where they are and not depending on methods that worked in the past.
— John N. Clayton © 2023
References: The American Perspectives Survey was conducted between May 16 and 24, 2023. The AP/NORC data was in The Week for October 20, 2023, on page 17.