According to researchers, 68 percent of Millennials (my generation, or people born after 1981), said they “never doubt the existence of God,” a 15 point drop since 2007.
The Internet is wondering if Millennials are losing their faith, but I don’t think that’s what the research is saying.
Asked in another way, the question could be stated “have you ever doubted God’s existence?”
Even my most faithful friends would say they had doubted God’s existence at one time in their life.
Many of history’s most famous spiritual leaders report a “dark night of the soul,” a feeling that God is absent. Mother Teresa wrote letters to church leaders for years wondering why she couldn’t feel God as she worked with the poor in Calcutta.
“Doubt isn’t the opposite of faith; it is an element of faith,” said theologian Paul Tillich.
I actually find the research heartening. It means that when a stranger calls and asks my generation a series of questions, many of us are honest and courageous enough to admit that we don’t have it all figured out. It means that we are searching.
The Bible is filled with stories of people who struggle with the idea of God, His goodness and His plans. Abraham, Sarah, Job, Moses, Jacob, David, Mary and “doubting” Thomas, to name a few.
The cool thing is, God answers all of them.
Probably the most popular verse in the book of Jeremiah is 29:11, where God tells the Israelites that He has a plan to prosper them, but what God says in verse 13 is far more exciting.
“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
Spirituality is complicated. I expect the number of Millennials who report doubting the existence of God at one point in their lives will go up as we get older, either because they will experience it for the first time or they won’t be afraid to admit it.
Doubt, and being honest about it, is part of growing up.