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Are we seeing the end of religion?

Are we seeing the end of religion? August 6, 2014

Dear Rabbi, I just saw this survey that shows religion is in steep decline in the United States with over 80% of Americans saying religion mattered to them in 1962 while less than 60% say it matters to them today. Is this the end of religion in America?

No, I don’t think so. Human beings are innately religious. I don’t think that changes. What changes are the religions that help us articulate that innate religiosity.

When I say human beings are innately religious I mean that it is our nature to take the raw facts of our existence and spin them into stories that give us a sense of purpose, meaning, and worth. Religions grows out of these stories and become the keeper of their respective story.

Over time, however, the story can become stale, and when it does it no longer carries meaning for us. When this happens the religion linked to it becomes shallow, and people seek out other stories to satisfy their need for meaning, purpose, and worth.

I think this is what is happening today. The stories many religions promote are too shallow and the gods that oftentimes come with these stories is too small. But I trust that we will (are?) creating new stories and new gods, and these will help us make meaning and find purpose. Whether they will also create new religions or whether established religions will simply adopt a new story remains to be seen.


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