Insight on the News
Religion in America
● The Gallup Poll organization has published a comprehensive survey entitled “Religion in America, 1975.” The survey indicates that the steady decline in church attendance seems to have leveled off during the past three years. Today about four out of every ten Americans attend church during an average week. But the survey also shows that the majority of Americans (56 percent) still feel that ‘religion is losing influence.’ The number believing that religion does not have the answer to today’s problems is rising sharply.
Hope is often expressed that a ‘religious awakening’ is taking place in America. Among those polled, some expressed serious doubts about this. One 54-year-old educator said: “The fervor of the sects, of the Jesus freaks, . . . and other groups is, in my opinion, simply the last throes of a mortally wounded Christian church.” A university professor commented: “America is awake to its materialistic problems, not to any spiritual demands—it is her stomach that bothers her, not her soul.”
Interestingly, Bible reading increased slightly; 63 percent said that they had done some home Bible reading in the past year.
Origin of the Universe
● Astronomers’ theories on the origin of the universe vary. For a while the “steady state” theory was popular. It held that matter is in a constant process of being formed and destroyed, and that the universe is and always has been essentially as we now see it. That view was replaced in popularity by the “big bang” theory. According to it, the universe began with a giant fireball that exploded. The bits of matter flew out into space and eventually formed the stars and planets, and these are supposedly still flying away from the explosion’s center.
Recently, however, Los Angeles physicist Allen D. Allen, at the annual meeting of the American Physical Society, said that those believing this theory ‘would have to do so as an act of faith—just as they would if it were a religious rather than a scientific theory.’ Why so? Not just because the theory seems inconsistent with certain astronomical observations. The main reason, he says, is ‘because no theoretical answer to the question could be demonstrable,’ that is, there is no way to demonstrate its validity. Obviously, stupendous power was involved in the origin of the universe, but as physicist Allen acknowledges: “Where the energy came from we don’t know.”
The Bible states in clear terms: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Gen. 1:1) Those putting faith in that statement have far greater basis for their belief than those who place their faith in the shifting theories of men.
Polygamy for Christians?
● Under the heading “Polygamy Is African Way of Life,” the Lagos, Nigeria, “Sunday Times” published an article by priest N. S. S. Iwe. Calling for a progressive church, he said that “the church must strive as a matter of policy and practice, never to infuse old wine into new bottles.” This reverses Jesus’ more logical statement about not putting ‘new wine into old bottles’ (ancient bottles were of skin and became dried and hardened with age, hence unable to expand with the new wine). (Matt. 9:17) Though not explaining this reversal, the priest did show he felt the church should adapt its teachings to local cultures. Regarding polygamy in Africa, he said: “Polygamy as a significant aspect of our culture cannot be condemned without hearing. The concept of . . . polygamy deserves a thorough study and examination by Christianity for it is one of the honest concepts and institutions of our culture.”
Nineteen hundred years ago, Christ Jesus said that God originally purposed for a man and his wife, just the two, to be “one flesh,” with no one else properly coming in between. (Matt. 19:4-6) Paul, an apostle of Christ, said that men serving in responsible positions in the Christian congregation should each be a “husband of one wife,” as examples for all the flock. (1 Tim. 3:1, 2, 12) Yet, not only Catholic, but also many Protestant churches allow polygamy in their African congregations. Evidently the Bible’s teaching is viewed as “old wine” unsuited for their “new bottles.”