According to a growing concensus of philosophers, intellectuals, and scholars, atheism is on the way out. Alister McGrath, writing in Christianity Today, tells us why. There are two main reasons. First, is the increasing willingness in the scientific community to accept some sort of “intelligent design” behind the ordering of the universe. The second is that atheism has lost its moral high ground. Throughout the the 20th century, atheism was responsible for just as many deaths as religious fervor (“godless Communism” and all that). Furthermore, it has shown the ability to produce just as many nutballs as religion can. Indeed, one of Freud’s arguments against religion was that it harms psychological development, but that argument is undermined by the eccentricities and atrocities created by atheism over the past 100 years.
But the news is not all good however. The turn from atheism has not resulted in a turn to biblical Christianity. Instead, the in thing now is a vague “spiritual but not religious” spirituality, which the authors rightly call a return to paganism. People want a harmless, preceptless faith rather than organized religion. It’s a step up from atheism, but not a signficant one. C. S. Lewis addresses this kind of spirituality in The Screwtape Letters. Screwtape instructs his student to encourage vague spirituality or moderation in pursuit of religion in his patient, because it may satisfy the spiritual longings inside of the man without addressing any real problems. I guess Wormwood is still hard at work.
UPDATE: As Josh Claybourn rightly points out, the UPI story was not based on actual polls of religious thought, but on impressions of where that thought is headed by those in the academic field. Siemon-Netto relies very heavily on the McGrath article (see link) and other sympathetic sources, so a grain of salt is most likely called for