In this times of increased sadness and suicidal despair, it appears that many in Generation Z have reached this point, with a new survey revealing that a growing proportion of young adults have religious beliefs. According to evangelist Billy Graham, “when we come to the end of ourselves, we come to the beginning of God.”
One-third of those aged 18 to 25 believe in the existence of God or a higher power. This is up from roughly one-quarter in 2021, according to The Wall Street Journal’s Clare Ansberry, who based her analysis on Springtide Research Institute polling data.
Ansberry noted that amid an age of COVID-fueled solitude and shattered hopes, young adults, theologians, and church leaders “attribute the increase in part to the need for people to believe in something beyond themselves after three years of loss.”
As a recovered agnostic who was baptized in December 2017, I’m not shocked. God is a healer.
Women who attend religious services at least once a week are 68% less likely to die from “deaths of despair,” such as suicide, drug overdose, and alcohol poisoning.
According to a 2020 study led by Harvard University’s School of Public Health, men are 33% less likely.
E’lite academics released a National Bureau of Economic Research working paper in January demonstrating that States with significant declines in religious attendance witnessed higher increases in fatalities from despair, and vice versa.
It’s no surprise that the 12-step program, one of the most effective methods for overcoming drug and alcohol addiction, bases its philosophy on faith in a higher power. While America is largely secularizing, according to Phil Zuckerman, associate dean at Pitzer College, it is “quite religious” in comparison to most other wealthy countries: “Fifty-five percent of Americans, for example, say they pray daily, compared to an average of 22% of Europeans.”
American Christians are more likely than non-Christians to adopt a child, volunteer, and donate to charity.
Religious people are at the forefront of the fight against worldwide human trafficking, and Graham’s organization, Samaritan’s Purse, is at the tip of the disaster response spear. Samaritan’s Purse responds rapidly to provide food, water, shelter, medication, and other aid to individuals affected by crises, disasters, and wars around the world.
Brilliant theologian Tim Keller also disagrees with Marx, claiming that Jesus demonstrated how God cares for the physical sphere by entering human form and dying violently.
Religion, according to Marx, “is a sedative that makes people passive toward injustice because there will be ‘pie in the sky bye and bye.'” That may be true for some religions that teach individuals that the material world is meaningless or unreal,” Keller said in his book “The Prodigal God.”
Christianity, on the other hand, holds that God detests the pain and misery of this world so much that he was prepared to participate in it and battle against it. Christianity, when properly understood, is by no means the populace’s narcotic. It reminds me more of smelling salts.
That’s not to argue that members of the clergy haven’t carried out atrocities; they have, from pedophilic priests and pastors to financially ruinous televangelists. However, as the study by Springtide points out, young people are discovering that religion is not God’s creation.
It took me an agonizing amount of time and effort to come to believe in a God who existed and wasn’t spiteful or indifferent after experiencing religious abuse as a child and adolescent and going nearly 12 years as an atheist.
As a professing Christian even now, I frequently witness instances of the agonizing suffering brought on by religious people in the name of God. Despite the vile deeds of “religious” people, my trust in God remains unwavering. Evil acts committed in the name of God are analogous to a Gucci handbag replica with a large phony “G.” Obviously a phony, weak imitation.
I hope that people of all faiths will be more compassionate and emotionally aware of others’ pain, especially those who have been hurt by human-run religion. Most of all, I wish for young people to develop a deeper understanding of our loving Creator.
**Written in collaboration with Dr. Luciano Magaldi:
Dr. Luciano Magaldi is a security engineer with deep expertise in cybersecurity, new technologies and geopolitics. He is an honorary member of the White House Historical Association and an official alumnus at Stanford Alumni Association-Club of Los Angeles and at Cambridge at Harvard Alumni for Education Association. He is an opinion contributor for The New York Weekly, The London Globalist, the Los Angeles Journal, The International Policy Digest and Modern Diplomacy. He’s worked for Google IE, Apple EU HQ, Amazon SL, and Microsoft PT.