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Most of us have heard the numbers by now. Thirty percent of the generation born in the '80s and '90s check the box labeled "none" when asked about their religious affiliation. A top reason they disengage from faith is their perception that faith and science inevitably conflict.

Notre Dame sociologist Christian Smith has conducted the most substantial study of emerging adults and published the results for 18–23 year olds in his book Souls in Transition. His findings offer a stark challenge to the church:

  • Is it true that "the teachings of science and religion often ultimately conflict"? More than two thirds of Smith's respondents agreed.
  • Would they say, "My views on religion have been strengthened by discoveries of science"? Well more than half (57 percent) disagreed.

I'm in the minority on both counts. Because I believe Jesus is Lord of all, I'm committed to grasping and celebrating the beautiful intricacy of the created order (which, according to Psalm 19, declares God's glory). So, if science can truly uncover truth about the world, we should embrace those discoveries. Our faith might be challenged, but more often, I've discovered, it is enhanced. Indeed, one reason I came to love studying science, after being a lifelong student of literature and theology, is the amazing way scientific discoveries strengthen my faith.

But while I used to suspect that my fascination with science was something best kept out of the pulpit, I've realized that I actually have a great deal of company—especially among those young adults who have found the church door marked "Exit."

In You Lost Me: Why Young Christians Are Leaving the Church, David ...

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March 2014

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