That’s the question I’m asking after reading physicist Marcelo Gleiser’s post published last week at 13.7. Pointing to the problems with creationism and the fact that that belief in evolution decreases as church attendance increases, he asks, “Why do so many have trouble believing in evolution?”
But that question can be turned around: Why do so many have trouble believing in God? It’s a fair question, you know, and the answer is not obvious.
But one thing is: God, it seems, is slipping through our fingers. You can’t spend a day in the religion sector of the blogosphere without hearing about newly-minted atheists, deeply ambivalent leavers of church, apatheists who can’t bring themselves to care, and even de-baptisms. The ranks of unbelievers seem to increase every month.
QUIZ: Why do so many people have trouble believing in God?
1. Because science has proven that God is ontologically equivalent to the tooth fairy. Duh.
2. There is no trouble. The blogosphere is not the real world.
3. Because the self-appointed representatives of God who say hateful things or drive Bentleys are more conspicuous than religious people who don’t, and sensible people don’t want to be associated with those clowns in any way whatsoever.
4. Because it’s simpler to say that, good or bad, God is just a Feuerbachian projection of human nature. Christians like MLK and Dorothy Day notwithstanding, God is a head game that needs to be shut down, and the sooner the better.
5. Because your average person would rather be god herself. And, as Walker Percy observed, if there is anything more offensive than the suggestion of the existence of God, it is the existence of two gods.
6. Because Hobbes’ vision of humanity’s natural condition is right: life is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short. Any God worth the name wouldn’t let things be this way.
7. Because even asking the God question adds to suffering. Everyone should follow Buddha’s lead and get on with problems — like suffering itself — that can actually be solved.
8. Because we are coming of age as a species. We’re not Bronze-Age goat herders anymore, sure, but old habits die hard. The letting-go of religion is as necessary as the letting-go of mama’s skirt, and more painful. So you can expect people to let go of God, and for some to make a lot of noise as they do.
9. Because the end of the world is near, and that’s when unbelief spikes.
10. Because Barth was right: God in Christ is the great question mark that is set against us. The sparks fly upward at the mere mention of God. This is a rule.
11. Because it’s a lot easier to worry about my mortgage and Georgia Tech’s miserable season than to get mired in all that God nonsense. Besides, science has pretty much disproved God, right? I mean, hasn’t it?