50 years later, TIME’s famous “Is God Dead?” cover story is still relevant.
It’s been fifty years since TIME magazine posed their now famous question, and used a black cover with bold, red typeface to do it. “Is God Dead?” asked the April 8, 1966 cover of the iconic news weekly.
While the authors of the article merely raised the question without judgement, the notion sent shockwaves through American society. Church-going and other religious folks found the edition blasphemous, while atheists and other secularists though organized religion had finally run its course, reports Philip Goldberg for The Huffington Post.
But as David Masci and Gregory A. Smith reporting for Pew Research Center suggest, even fifty years ago, perhaps God wasn’t dying, but the traditional patriarch-in-the-clouds of Western tradition was fading away.
— Sam Jacobs (@sampjacobs) April 7, 2016
The 2014 Religious Landscape Study (by the aforementioned Pew Research Center) supports this conclusion. According to the results, 89 percent of Americans believed in “God or a universal spirit” in 2014, down from 92 percent in 2007. Over the same time span, belief “in God with absolute certainty” dropped from 71 percent to 63 percent.
Interesting to note is that the Religious Landscape Study also shows that while during that same seven-year period, the number of Americans who are “religiously unaffiliated” grew from 16 percent to 23 percent, 61 percent of those “nones” still report a belief in God or a universal spirit.
The 1960s was a great decade to ask this question. This more-peaceful, and highly-educated generation of thinkers was not afraid to question even the mightiest of authorities. Also, technology had made it possible for the West to learn more about the culture, traditions and teachings of the East.
While the question “Is God Dead?” riled up the interested extremes of the religious and secular groups in the 60s, it seems that fifty years later, as the Religion Landscape Study reveals, many Americans are wrestling with the notion and identity of God.
- Pew Research Center – Is God Dead? No, but belief has declined slightly
- Pew Research Center – U.S. Becoming Less Religious
- Valley Beit Midrash
- Huffington Post