Blinded with Science
By Wendy Wippel
If you’ve noticed a few more empty seats on Sunday mornings don’t chalk them up to college football or fall vacations, or your imagination. They are there. And thanks to courtesy of people that track these kinds of things for a living, we have statistics.
Both the Barna Group and the Hartford Institute for Religion Research—noted a growing trend in American churches. Basically, Americans seem to be losing interest. Church attendance is dropping, and the trend is getting worse. Over the last ten years there has been a steadily increasing flight from our churches.
Dwindling attendance can, in part be attributed to aging congregations, but to the researchers, there was more to the trend than that.
New data in from a 5-year study that looked in depth for a reason for dwindling congregations seem to have uncovered the reason. Dwindling congregations should not be attributed to the dying or disabled elderly, but, rather, to disinterested and disillusioned millennials.
This study zeroed in on young adults (in other words, Millennials), who were regular churchgoers through their teenage years, but then bailed in the years that followed. A group that apparently represents about 60% of American teenagers that grew up in church. The study found no one issue that induced these early church-goers to break with their faith, but it did identify six factors that appeared to be an influence in that group.
There’s the rub. And it’s interesting that the Barna group called their recent book (a five-year project which has morphed into the book) “You Lost Me: Why Young Christians are Leaving Church”. It’s interesting because a book released by Answers in Genesis in 2009 already did that study, basically, and actually got the same answer.
The difference was they entitled their study, “Already Gone”. And our kids, especially if they attend public school, are on the way. But there’s hope.
The Barna group found that turn-offs for 15 year old kids were, the shallowness of the faith presented, judgmental attitudes around sex and sexuality, the perception that doubters were shunned, and the sense that Christianity was too exclusive. And finally, what they called “the tense relationship between Christianity and science.”
The first four, in my opinion, are growing pains. The last is bedrock belief.
The study design for the Answers in Genesis study revealed clearly that really the sole factor that carries churched kids into bible-believing adults is whether or not they have been given the evidence for belief. Whether or not they have been exposed to the many, many solid reasons for belief. And there are many, many reasons. The bedrock truth from every scientific discipline that shows us clearly that there is no real argument between science and scripture—just an ignorance of one or the other or both.
Once in a while you get a gimmie from the other side. Sir Author Keith, a British Biological scientist had this to way a while back:
Evolution is unproved and unprovable. We believe it only because the only alternative is special creation, and that is unthinkable” (Sir Arthur Keith).
Now we know.