I read yesterday that the Pew Forum found in a recent survey that 68% of Millenials state that they have never doubted the existence of God. Well, it is good news that close to 2/3 of the age group can say this. It is troubling though that this is a 15% drop in five years. (http://www.people-press.org/2012/06/04/section-6-religion-and-social-values/) Why the drop?
Well, I suppose one could say that the Millenials are now living on their own or in college. Perhaps their thinking has “matured” or they have struggled with real issues that they had been shielded from as children and youth. The problem with that is that this hasn’t happened with previous generations.
I tend to think that it is the result of an extreme individualism that is prevalent. The thought is that religion is something that you keep to yourself. This creates a problem, religion that is not shared or celebrated isn’t religion and is not life sustaining. It quickly dies.
I recall hearing Cardinal Timothy Dolan in a conversation with a Jewish Rabbi, state that throughout history God has always dealt with us as a people, not individuals. Jesus’ own words come to mind from Matthew’s Gospel: “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Mt 18:20) The ancient Greek philosophers also held that the human person is a social being, we need others to survive and to flourish.
This is why everything the Catholic Church does is somehow connected to the community. It isn’t to sustain an institution, it is to sustain life and help us in growing in our awareness as children of God and our friendship with God. There is an individual component, we need to take time to be alone with God and ourselves. There are even some benefits to the American concern about privacy. The concern is without others, our focus can become me, and I can replace God as my ultimate destiny. The only possible outcome is, well, death. What God offers us goes beyond the limits of humanity.
Here is a video from Fr. Robert Barron about the larger question, why believe in God?