Young people seem to be leaving the church in fairly large numbers. This trend was first noticed in a 2011 Barna Group study that was published in the book You Lost Me: Why Young Christians are Leaving Church and Rethinking, by Barna president David Kinnaman.
In the study, Kinnaman found that:
One of the reasons young adults feel disconnected from church or from faith is the tension they feel between Christianity and science. The most common of the perceptions in this arena is “Christians are too confident they know all the answers” (35%). Three out of ten young adults with a Christian background feel that “churches are out of step with the scientific world we live in” (29%). Another one-quarter embrace the perception that “Christianity is anti-science” (25%). And nearly the same proportion (23%) said they have “been turned off by the creation-versus-evolution debate.” Furthermore, the research shows that many science-minded young Christians are struggling to find ways of staying faithful to their beliefs and to their professional calling in science-related industries.
Kinnaman found that young people see the church as “antagonistic to science.”
Many children today are finally getting a positive scientific education and are bringing this knowledge to church with them and are finding that churches are not equipped to answer them or simply dismiss them.
Since the studies release, many progressive religious leaders have blamed groups such as Answers in Genesis, the operators of the Creation Museum and the Ark Encounter which is currently being constructed.
Now four years after the studies release, Ken Ham, Answers in Genesis’ CEO is going on the defense and claiming his group and others like it are not to blame for the youth’s exodus from the church.
“Now, why do these young people who left the church think that Christianity is ‘anti-science’ or ‘out of step with the scientific world we live in’? Is it because they were taught apologetics by Answers in Genesis or another creation ministry? No! It’s because they weren’t taught apologetics at all!” says Ham in a blog post.
Ham believes that churches are not doing enough to counter scientific findings, citing that “the book shows that 52% of the young people surveyed aspired to work in a science-related career but only 1% of the surveyed young people said that their youth pastor or youth worker had addressed ‘issues of science in the past year.'”
He, of course, thinks pastors that do not discuss science is a bad thing, but perhaps it is because these pastors understand that science and religion are often in conflict and that their religion is ill-equipped to answer such questions and that religious questions are best answered in church while science questions are best dealt with in schools or science labs.
While blaming educational institutions for failing to understand the difference between “historical” and “observable” science, two terms invented by creationists that do not exist in the scientific community, he goes on to blame parents for putting their children in secular public schools.
Today’s generation is indoctrinated from a young age to believe in evolution and millions of years through the secular media and the public school system (85–90% of students from church homes attend public schools). They are telling our young people that they cannot trust the Bible because science has proven it false. It is these people who are driving youth away from the Christian faith because they aren’t getting solid answers from their churches and parents.
The problem Ham faces is simple; his beliefs are now fringe. Even though polls suggest otherwise and we often hear “nearly 50 percent of Americans believe in creationism,” the truth is not as simple.
According to the most recent Gallup poll on this issue, 31 percent think God used evolution, 19 percent think God was absent from evolution, and a whopping 42 percent think God created humans in the past 10,000 years. This seems pretty clear, right?
Not so fast he says.
Adopting more restrictive definitions yields surprising data about Young Earth creationism. Only 8 percent of respondents affirmed YEC views with certainty (8)! These views are that God created Adam and Eve “directly and miraculously,” the days of creation are literal, and that all humans descended from Adam and Eve.
What this actually helps us understand is that many people respond to these questions because they are simply not sure or do not understand the creation versus evolution debate and often are just parroting what they hear from friends or church leaders.
Lehmann goes on to argue for better polling questions to help us understand people’s views on such subjects.
From what we do know, yes, Ken Ham and his organization and others like it are fairly responsible for the exodus of young people from the church because they are anti-science.
Ham does not believe he is, he believes creationism is pro-science, but he is simply wrong. Creationists do not question science, they deny it. They do not test scientific findings, they reject them.
It is actually scientists themselves who question scientific findings on a daily basis. Questioning science is one of the foundations of the scientific method. Evolution, for example, is constantly being questioned and challenged and the fact it always passes such inquiry is one of the reasons the theory has held up over the decades and continues to become stronger.
Young people understand this. They are taught how science works and contrary to Ham’s beliefs, they are not taught that it disproves the Bible. These teens and young adults are figuring this out on their own. They are questioning life and asking the questions their holy books or church leaders are attempting to answer and realizing scientific findings are more believable or are simply better explanations.
So, thank you, Ken. You just might be making the world a better place by driving a younger generation away from religious institutions that wish to stifle the educational growth of our young people.
The crazier you get, the further away everyone wants to be.
[Image: YouTube screen capture]