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As Church Membership Slumps Ominously, Time for a Return of the God Hypothesis

Photo credit: BriYYZ from Toronto, Canada [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

I find this ominous. From Gallup, with new polling data out this week:

Americans’ membership in houses of worship continued to decline last year, dropping below 50% for the first time in Gallup’s eight-decade trend. In 2020, 47% of Americans said they belonged to a church, synagogue or mosque, down from 50% in 2018 and 70% in 1999.

No one can say what this will mean in a country whose foundations have leaned so heavily on Christian faith. It can’t mean anything good. So Stephen Meyer’s new book, Return of the God Hypothesis, could not be more timely. Writing at The Federalist, with Easter falling on Sunday, the Discovery Institute philosopher of science reflects:

This week, traditional Jews and Christians celebrate special acts of God in human history. Yet, polling data now show that an increasing number of young people, including those from religious homes, doubt even the existence of God.

Moreover, polls probing such young “religiously unaffiliated agnostics and atheists” have found that science — or at least the claims of putative spokesmen for science — have played an outsized role in cementing disaffection with religious belief. In one, more than two-thirds of self-described atheists, and one-third of agnostics, affirm “the findings of science make the existence of God less probable.”

It’s not hard to see how many people might have acquired this impression. Since 2006 popular “new atheist” writers — Richard Dawkins, Victor Stenger, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, Daniel Dennett, Stephen Hawking, Bill Nye, and Lawrence Krauss — have published a series of best-selling books arguing that science renders religious belief implausible. According to Dawkins and others, Darwinian evolution, in particular, establishes that “The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose … nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.”

But does science actually support this strictly materialistic vision of reality? In fact, three major scientific discoveries during the last century contradict the expectations of scientific atheists (or materialists) and point instead in a distinctly theistic direction.

Read the rest at The Federalist.

Especially if you have a friend or family member who doubts that religious belief is rational, or that it’s in keeping with the best science, Return of the God Hypothesis could well be an urgently needed gift. As Nobel Prize-winning physicist Brian Josephson says of Meyer’s work, “This book makes it clear that far from being an unscientific claim, intelligent design is valid science.” Find more endorsements from senior scientists here. It’s out now from HarperOne.