About nine in 10 Americans say they believe in God, but the belief in God show declines from previous decades, according to a Gallup poll.
Belief in God, regardless of how the question is phrased to Americans, is down from levels in past decades.
These results are based on several different questions that Gallup has used over the years to ask Americans about their belief in God. The latest results come from surveys conducted May 4-8 and June 14-23.
Not too surprising. Atheism has been on the rise for decades. But belief in God has remained in many circles even if adherence to any religion has fallen. There has been an increasing “none” category for years, many of whom don’t disbelieve in God, just don’t believe in any particular religion or sometimes any particular God/gods. It’s the whole, spirituality without religion segment of the population.
What I would be interested in seeing is what percentage of Americans believe in a personal god vs deistic god with time. I know many friends who stopped believing in any organized religion and instead believed in a deistic god.
By deistic do you mean belief in a God who doesn’t interact with the world?
I’d imagine many would frame their belief as such but not necessarily classify it as deistic. That and many who have ceased believing in organized religion still believe in a personal God who works in the world, just not in the presentation of said God in the framework of any of the major religions.
Deistic god is a god that does not interact with the world. Essentially, God set the universe in motion, set all the universal constants, and then let the universe run according to his laws without interacting with us.
That’s what I figured, was just clarifying. I would have to disagree that most of the “none of the above’s” would say they have a deistic view of God if you asked them. Now many of them may have that view but not know it’s deistic, but that’s a different issue. Deism is not a well publicized or known school of religious thought in modern times.
That said I still think many more of the none of the aboves who believe, have more “personal” views on God, but just not as part of an organized religion. And I’d imagine there are a good number who don’t know what they specifically believe, be it deistic or theistic/personal. Just that they believe in God/gods.
All of it is part of the increasing non-religious spirituality that has been on the rise in the US.
Which begs another question, I wonder how that compares with other parts of the world? Does or did Europe for example have a phase where people stopped following a major religion, and yet retained a belief in God/gods? Or did they simply leave organized religion for the increasingly common atheism in Europe? Or is this religious/spiritual without religion phenomena a primarily American trait?
There is an increasing reliance on proofs being necessary in today’s world. In our instant access society where you can find an answer to just about anything within minutes, the elusive ‘God’ question, which ultimately requires someone to have faith in something because the answer isn’t found within minutes, isn’t all that appealing to today’s generation.
I am happy to inform you of the wonderful truth that we can know with certainty, here on earth, the existence of God as well as key attributes He possesses. Please give this article by James Kidd of Catholic Answers a read - catholic.com/magazine/articles/a-proof-of-the-existence-of-god
Also, I would like to quote the treatment of this matter given by Frank J. Sheed in his Theology for Beginners - “Bernard Shaw tells of asking a priest, “Who made God?” The priest, says Shaw, was thunderstruck, his faith shattered. Whether he committed suicide or merely left the Church Shaw does not tell. But the whole thing is ridiculous. Every student of philosophy has heard the question, and they all know that there must be a being which did not need to be made. If nothing existed except receivers of existence, where would the existence come from? In order that anything may exist, there must be a being which simply has it. God can confer existence upon all other beings, precisely because he has it in his own right. It is his nature to exist. God does not have to receive existence, because he is existence.”
We see that, given the fact that we exist, God has to exist, as we have received existence (we had a beginning, we are not eternal; we are finite, not infinite).
To further clarify, I will quote Karlo Broussard, Catholic Answers apologist -
“It is true that we all participate in the act of being, but such participation is understood in the sense that we are dependent at every moment we exist on that being that is pure act. We each have an act of being - that by which we are actual. But because that act of being is non-essential for us, as well as other finite beings, it is dependent on a cause outside ourselves. That dependency terminates in a being that is pure act, i.e., God. In that sense, we participate in the act of being - it does not belong to us by nature.”
“Can you exclude “three sided figure” from the essence of a triangle? No! So, whatever feature cannot be excluded from the essence of a thing belongs to it by nature.
Can you exclude existence from the essence of a tree? In other words, can you think of the tree outside as a tree and exclude its existence at the same time? I think you can. In fact, you could cut the tree down and burn it, but yet still think of it as a tree. In this case it would transition from real being to cognitional being and the essence of a tree would not be affected. Since we can exclude existence from the essence of the tree outside, then it follows existence does not belong to it essentially.
Perhaps an easier way to see this is the fact that the tree’s nonexistence is a real possibility. It doesn’t exist necessarily. If it doesn’t exist necessarily, then it follows existence doesn’t belong to its nature.”
“…it requires a cause outside ourselves. If that cause’s act of being is distinct from its essence, then it too would require a cause, and we’re off to an regress. So, the question is, “Can such a series of causes go on infinitely without a cause whose act of being is not distinct from its essence?” The answer is no. Obviously, that requires some argumentation. So here you go: edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2010/08/edwards-on-infinite-causal-series.html
The bottom line is our act of being is ultimately due to a cause whose essence is identical to being, namely being itself. Keep in mind that intermediate causes of the act of being are only for argument sake. There are arguments that can be employed to show that God is not only the ultimate cause of being, but the direct cause of being. For that, check out the newest July-August edition of Catholic Answers magazine. I have an article in there on this very topic.”
This is a point of argument that I tend to have with the “New Atheists,” who somewhat agree with your narrative.
Is it that the American and Western populations of atheists are suddenly booming?
Or do we just have a number of people simply “coming out of the closet” so to speak?
ie: Has it simply become more socially-acceptable to admit one’s lack of belief?
Heck, even what gets classified as “atheist” tends to be this rather wide gamut of people who might rightly be subdivided into categories like “Pantheist” or “Deist” or the “None” category which you spoke of…
Furthermore, not only can we have an absolutely certain knowledge of God existence through human reason, but we can likewise have a perfect certitude of His Divine Revelation and of the fact that the Catholic religion is true. For this, I would very much encourage you to click on the three links I have in my signature below, entitled “Faith”, “Truth”, and “Lourdes”. When clicking on the “Faith” link, scroll down to the heading that says “the motives of credibility”. God has not left us in the dark - He has revealed Himself, and given us definitive and certain signs of His revelation, particularly verifiable miracles, which are not merely historically testified to in the case of Jesus of Nazareth (that wouldn’t be so perfectly certain, as history is not as precise a science as others), but have occurred throughout Church history, particularly at the shrine of Lourdes, where doctors have been confirming the supernatural character of the cures for over 100 years. Please check out those links, as well as the Catholic Encyclopedia article, “Miracle”. God bless you!
That’s a fair point. I mean I think that may be why people find appeal in the one growing segment of Christianity in the west, the non-denominational churches. Going to their services they do still have that underlying “God” question, but they also provide answers to other questions quite readily and are very active in using the bible as proof of those answers. If you’re inclined to always want answers out of your faith on a regular and ready basis that ties into your life, those kinds of churches can have some appeal.