Why Religion Won’t Go Away
by Paul Gould
We are witnessing a shift away from the secularization (the diminishing influence of religion) of the 19th and 20th century. The 21st century is shaping up to be postsecular. As Jacobsen and Jacobsen say in their book, The American University in a Postsecular Age: “religion will likely exercise a significant role in human affairs for a long time to come. If secularization means that the world is getting a little less religious every day, then we live in a postsecular world.” (p.10)
Why won’t religion go away? Why, even as atheists such as Voltaire, Nietzsche, Dawkins and company proclaim the death of God, is God on a comeback? The Christian vision of reality offers a plausible explanation:
(1) Reality is, at rock bottom, spiritual. The first five words in the Bible set the stage for all that comes after: “In the beginning God created” (Genesis 1:1). And what did God create? The answer is—all reality distinct from Himself. Everything that exists distinct from God owes its existence to God: God is Creator, everything else is creature. Thus, God is sovereign and (as theologians like to say) transcendent—everything depends on God and God doesn’t depend on anything. Further, we learn in Scripture that this Creator God is not absent from the world; rather his presence fills the universe. We live in a God-bathed universe (that is, God is immanent). As Paul proclaims in Acts, “For in him we live and move and having our being” (Acts 17:28).
This means that the most fundamental distinction in all of reality is that of Creator-creature. Everything that is, everything that exists owes its existence to God. And God is spirit. Thus, the most fundamental fact about reality, the fact that conditions all other facts, is spiritual in nature. We can’t scrub out our spirituality like we scrub out grease in a pan…
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