A Pew survey examining doubt and belief in God has been making the rounds the past few days, with headlines claiming that the generation dubbed “millenials” is fleeing from belief in record numbers. Take this example from Talking Point Memo:
The younger generation is abandoning God in droves.
A new survey by the Pew Research Center finds that belief in the existence of God has dropped 15 points in the last five years among Americans 30 and under.
Pew, which has been studying the trend for 25 years, finds that just 68 percent of millennials in 2012 agree with the statement “I never doubt the existence of God.” That’s down from 76 percent in 2009 and 83 percent in 2007.
But rejecting the notion that you "never doubt the existence of God" doesn't necessarily mean you don't believe in God, as the TPM post, among others, suggests.
Never doubting the existence of God is a strange concept to me, and smacks perhaps of a faith that is still maturing. I remember the feigned controversy that surrounded the revelation that even Mother Theresa struggled to understand how God could permit so much suffering. I enjoyed Karl Rahner’s musings about why God remains hidden, and the doubt that stems from that.
Doubt has been an essential part of my faith since my freshman year of college when I encountered the Bible in a serious manner for the first time. It was also in college where I came across this quote from Thomas Merton:
Faith means doubt. Faith is not the suppression of doubt. It is the overcoming of doubt, and you overcome doubt by going through it. The man of faith who has never experienced doubt is not a man of faith.
Does doubting the existence of God signify an exodus from faith, or is faith bolstered by doubt? Can one doubt and still be a believer? What is your experience with doubt?