Football players point heavenward after scoring touchdowns or making great tackles. Grammy winners thank God for their success. Police officers wear Saint Christopher medallions when on patrol. Millions of people flock to churches and synagogues and temples each weekend for prayer, meditation, and praise.
Is this odd behavior—even a bit outdated for modern society? Some think so. What’s all the hoopla? With science and technology increasing our life expectancies and providing more control over what once was deemed “destiny,” it seems to matter less and less if God exists or not.
In fact, who really cares?
A Timeless Need
And yet so much in society still points in that direction. In my own job as a newspaper reporter, I come in contact with hundreds of people from all walks of life, all belief systems, all socio-economic backgrounds. Countless times I have seen true tragedy—from fires to floods to fatal car crashes—and in the majority of these instances, the survivors reveal a belief in God.
Part of this may be simply human nature. It seems that deep within our human fabric there is a need or desire for there to exist a higher being, a creator who oversees all, considers all, and takes appropriate action on our behalf.
This desire dates back to the earliest peoples who walked the earth. All major societies—from the ancient Egyptians to the Babylonians to the Meso-Persian Empire to the biblical Israelites—were structured around a core set of religious beliefs. In most cases, these beliefs permeated all aspects of corporate and individual life.
Today’s societies are not all that different. Though Muslims operate under a different set of principles than Buddhists do, both still live in accord with the structures and codes of a centralized belief system. A quick Google search of any major American city shows a diverse choice of churches to pick from—and that’s just Christian churches alone.
With so many options available to us, I think it’s safe to say that the majority of people are interested in or invested in—to put it another way, they care about—the existence of a higher power or powers. In fact, today, only approximately 7 percent of the world population identifies themselves as atheist or agnostic.1 Many people around the world are searching for God, wish to live in some type of relationship with God, or believe they have already found God.
The search for truth, the force of the intellect and will, the pursuit of love, the untiring struggle to find some kind of meaning to life—these human endeavors seem almost inherent. They cross time, culture, and geography.
Could they, in part, indicate that human existence is born from a higher consciousness, the result of a divine design that surpasses chance? Even science, as far as it has come in explaining the world around us, doesn’t have all the answers. The definite, true answers to many of our basic inquiries remain enshrouded in mist and uncertainty: Why am I here? What is my purpose?
So who cares if there’s a God? I think we all do—on varying levels—at least in the sense that we care what that would mean for our lives. For if God does exist, his presence and nature could very well affect us all. From the most fervent congregation member to the most adamant man of science, we all must at least consider God’s existence when trying to answer the great questions of life.
If there is no higher purpose, why am I here? If God exists, then what is his will for my life? If God doesn’t exist, where do I turn for direction? Does it matter? Does God think some things are good to do and others are bad? If God is real and good, why does he allow bad things to happen? If God isn’t real and there is nothing beyond this world, why do so many people feel empty and hopeless no matter what they attain on earth? What happens when I die?
Whether or not you actually believe in God, the very nature of life—the answers to the above questions and more—is reason enough to care if there is a God out there.
- Phil Zuckerman, PhD, “How Many Atheists Are There?" Psychology Today, October 20, 2015, https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-secular-life/201510/how-many-atheists-are-there.
- Photo Credit: VikaSuh / Shutterstock.com.