According to today’s Telegraph
Nearly two thirds of teenagers don’t believe in God, according to a study by Penguin books.
It also emerged six out of ten 10 children (59 per cent) believe that religion “has a negative influence on the world”.
The survey also shows that half of teenagers have never prayed and 16 per cent have never been to church.
This hardly comes as a surprise given other surveys which have come out in the past (for example, this one). All the same, I’d like to make a few comments…
As always, I’d want to take this with a pinch of salt. I just don’t believe that fifty percent of people have never prayed. They may not have said formal prayers or prayed in Church, but I’m willing to bet that a large proportion have called out to some divinity or power to help them at times of stress. Of course it isn’t cool to admit that.
The issue about religion being harmful is one that Christians do need to be responding to. It’s amazing how after fifty years of Hitler, Stalin Pol Pot and Kim Jong Il, wars are blamed on religious people. Yes, Christians are not blameless, but next to the atheists of the last fifty or sixty years we come out pretty good – yet we are losing the argument in the public square.
Lastly, (and to steal from NT Wright) I wonder which God these teenagers don’t believe in. I suspect that they don’t believe in some old man in the sky with a beard who is looking down waiting to disapprove of things. Well, I don’t believe in a God like that either. The tragedy is that these people have not had the opportunity to believe or disbelieve in the true Biblical God. It’s not so much a case of not believing in God, it’s never having heard about him that is the problem.