CNN: In 50
Years, will People Still Believe in God?
In US, a Pew Survey shows that there is an increase of people who doubt the existence of God.
2007: 83% never doubted
2012: 68% never doubted
Also discussed, “Playing Devil’s Advocate – Questioning the Existence of God”.
Stephen Hawkings – “There is no God”.
An interesting point mentioned was how many Americans are cultural Christians and Jews, meaning that they do not necessarily believe in the Bible or the Christian teachings, but would identify themselves as Christians and Jews anyway. This may be similar to cultural Buddhists or Taoists in Singapore where one take on either religion simply because one is born into it.
Perhaps this may apply worldwide and have deeper implications as knowledge of the various beliefs and teachings become more readily available.
In the 80s, when Singapore Ministry of Education started a Religious Knowledge (RK) programme in its secondary school (middle school in US), it is later attributed by some to have led to a rise in Buddhism in the 1990 and 2000 census, when Buddhism rose from 27.0% in 1980 to 31.2 (1990) and later 42.5% (2000). 
Could the recent drop to around 33% in 2010 census be due to a decline in interest in religion as a whole? Or is this the after effect of the stop of the RK programme? Buddhism has traditionally not made it mandatory for new Buddhists to attend foundational Dharma classes on Buddhists teachings, so there is a tendency that cultural Buddhists, or as I like to term them ‘form-Buddhists’ by virtue of the forms they fill in, identifying themselves as Buddhists, usually do not know enough about Buddhism to really benefit from its teachings.
Add to the fact that I’ve had devotees who has filed complaints with me about 1) driving instructor who preached to her about his religion for two hours, 2) colleagues who would share their faiths and pressure Buddhists at work and 3) feedback about the press giving imbalanced coverage towards certain religion, to the extent of glorifying them.
Meanwhile, in the past few years, we’ve had at least two to three reported cases of attacks on Buddhism, either through distortion of its teachings or ridiculing it during some religious services. And these are the reported ones.
There is probably no one single factor responsible nor one single solution to solve it all. One area stands out, and it is publicity.
Buddhists who are active, may sometimes feel like that are (too) many talks and classes already, while nominal (form / cultural) Buddhists may feel like Buddhism only exist once or twice a year during Vesak and Ullambana month.
Even if they wish to know more about Buddhism, their parents, from whom they inherited Buddhism, may not be able to share with them what Buddhism is. Consequently, they may be at a loss when it comes to taking that first step to know Buddhism.
We need to publicise our events to the general public. And we need to do it beyond Buddhist society and temple notice boards. We need to publicise outside of Buddhist magazines. And we need to do it now.
Sharing of Dharma. Coming soon.
~ 隨緣 According to conditions.
My motto in life is to put in place those conditions we can.~
2 thoughts on “CNN: In 50 Years, Will People Still Believe in God? And More …”
Shifu, I alway felt that 随缘 has alway been taken out of context for Buddhism. What I learn from dependent originations is that without the conditions like a cake without certain ingredient like yeast, baking powder etc. What is most certain if we do not even think of baking,
where will the cake even come? It does not happen through chance. My 5 cents thought. Even if the cake does not form I had at least plant the seed in my child. When condition arises, let it flourishes. For now can only eat failed cakes.. Mmmm
Indeed Matthew, let’s prepare and put in place those conditions that we can put in place, so that when the timing arrives, we can start baking! 🙂