From the Pew Research Center’s recent survey where they asked people if they agreed with the statement “I never doubt the existence of God.”
As a Millennial, let me take this opportunity to say WOOOO! The under-30s are kicking ass.
It’s not particularly surprising that the under-30s are more skeptical of God’s existence. We already knew that age group had the highest proportion of “nones” – people with no religious affiliation. But this poll is exciting for two different reasons:
1. It directly measures skepticism of God’s existence rather than religious affiliation. There are lots of people who believe in God, souls, heaven, or new-age woo without affiliating with an organized religion. What percentage of nones aren’t actually skeptical? While this graph doesn’t break it down by religious affiliation, it does show that 32% of Millenials have questioned God’s existence to some extent. They may not all label themselves atheists, and some may still be religiously affiliated – but these are the young people we can reach.
It’s much easier to discuss the veracity and effects of religion with someone who is open to the possibility of being wrong.
2. Skepticism about God is not merely a side effect of age. This is a question I got a lot when the “none” stats came out – are the under-30s less likely to be religiously affiliated just because they’re younger? Did people just affiliate as they became older, and all young people start out looking skeptical of religion?
By the results of this current survey, it doesn’t seem like young automatically equals skeptical of the existence of God. Millenials as of 2012 are age 31 and under. Gen X’s 31 and under point would be 1996, but Gen X seems stable about their beliefs throughout polling. The Millenial generation is in a unique position of questioning religion and the existence of God itself, something we’ve never seen before.
This is why groups like the Secular Student Alliance are so important. Yes, Millenials are our future. The SSA helps train secular leaders who will one day be secular journalists, teachers, humanitarians, and politicians. But more importantly, Millennials are our present. They’re already skeptical and already speaking out. If we want change now and in the future, we need to support the SSA.