Our Search for God

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(3 of 11 in a series)

A second observation about the world we live in is man’s ongoing desire for a relationship with a supreme being.  Man’s belief in a deity crosses all boundaries of culture, education, and time.  The most primitive society has some sense of a “most perfect being” as does the most educated elite.

In 1916, a survey of one thousand prominent American scientists revealed that 42% believed in a personal God.  While the public was appalled at the low percentage, the authors of the survey suggested that as scientific knowledge progressed through the twentieth century the number would soon approach zero.  That conclusion proved incorrect when the study was replicated in 1997 with a new group of science luminaries.  The percentage of “believers” was 39%, not much different then eighty-one years earlier.

Remember the prediction in 1916 was that the number of believing scientists would go down to zero in a direct correlation with an increase in scientific knowledge and discovery.  But the percentage remained roughly the same, a finding that surprised the authors of the new study.  But I doubt it surprised very many theologians.  No amount of education, or lack thereof, changes the fact that man senses something within himself that argues for the existence of God.

As an aside, many respondents to the 1997 survey decried the narrow line of questioning which followed the 1916 survey word for word equating belief with the Evangelical Christian view of God.  Many participants who answered “no” to the narrow line of questions indicated a belief in a supreme being in their written comments.  In essence, not only does the complex and orderly universe we inhabit suggest a creator, but deep inside our own psyche we sense the creator’s presence in our world.