In 2015 the Pew Research Center found that the ranks of the “non-religious” in America have grown by 19 million since 2007. For many in academia, this was no surprise. In 1996, anthropologist and psychologist Anthony Wallace wrote his New York Times bestselling book, titled Religion: An Anthropological View. In this book he theorized that as the modern era grew increasingly aware of scientific realities, and as men grew increasingly intellectual, secularism would soon beat out religion. He stated, “The evolutionary future of religion is extinction. Belief in supernatural beings and supernatural forces that that affect nature without obeying nature’s laws will erode and become only an interesting historical memory.”
In a recent study published by The Journal of Evolutionary Psychological Science, titled “The Future of Secularism: A Biologically Informed Theory Supplemented with Cross-Cultural Evidence,” researchers found that there has actually been a slowdown in secularism. Why, you may ask? Simply put, secularists are less likely to have babies than those of a religious group. They stated,
“Overall, for members of most established religions, the extent to which they were religious was positively correlated with the fertility of their parents. If one combines this finding with the extensive evidence reviewed in the introduction that both religiosity and fertility are substantially influenced by genes, one can deduce that over the long term, secularization is not likely to replace the popularity of religion. Instead, over the long term, we predict that the most religious ‘shall inherit the earth,’ so to speak. This is especially so for the most fertile religious groups—Islam.”
In short, scholars found that the prediction that social scientists have made for over a century now is very false. While there is a great increase of secularist/scientific thinking apart from religious affiliation in America and the United Kingdom, this trend has been slowing considerably as generations of secularists have passed away without any children.
Family is pivotal to culture and civilization. As seen in this research, it is within the family that cultural trends, religious preoccupations, and philosophical points of view can change in the passing of the torch from one generation to the next. Barna reported a steady decrease in Americans that self-identify as Christian from Elders (88%) to Boomers (85%) to Gen-xers (78%) and finally Millennials (67%). So it is critical for Christians to realize that, to change the culture, we must first start in our own families.
The family has been the central unit of all cultural civilization since the creation of man. God created the family specifically for the purpose of propelling the extension of the kingdom through the centuries of this earth. Take for instance Abraham and the lineage that came after him. The Lord created a covenant with Abraham in which the blessing of the Lord would be placed upon Abraham and continue through his descendants (Gen 15:6, 17:7). This blessing of salvation was not meant to stop within the line of Abraham, but continued through those who place their faith in the one who came from the family of Abraham—Jesus Christ (Rom 9:6–8). God also specifically instructs parents that their responsibility is to “train up a child in the way he should go” (Proverbs 22:6).
God intends for us to live in such a way that we can impact those closest to us. For the most part, Christians today seek to change the culture and to shift the tides of the rising secularism in the United States. However, many Christians become so infatuated in doing something big for Christ that they lose sight of God’s first earthly means of cultural revival: the family. In a Christian society infatuated in doing something big for Christ, it will be those who are faithful in the small things that will have the biggest impact on culture. So do you want to change the world? Start small—with your own family.