It contains such interesting ideas as these:
"one reason for the decline in traditional religious beliefs in industrial societies is that an increasing sense of technological control over nature diminishes the need for reliance on supernatural powers"
I get this. People can explain things scientifically instead of having to believe a Higher Power was somehow in control. Worshiping and sacrificing in order to appease the gods who controlled the weather or fertility didn't matter so much as technology improved and people could better control some things in their lives.
"increasing material wealth in Western Nations in the 20th century lead to increasing IQ"
This one puzzled me as I couldn't understand the correlation between wealth increasing one's intelligence (I had this wrong visual of someone winning the lottery and immediately adding 20 points to the IQ!) until I went just now to read a bit about IQ on Wikipedia. I had the wrong idea about intelligence quotient (IQ) thinking it was something one was born with instead of considering the variety of factors that can influence it (e.g. nutrition in childhood, having been breastfed, nurture, personality traits, musical training and so forth). So now this statement makes better sense and I can see why and make the jump from increasing material wealth to increasing IQ to atheism.
"a secure life equals a life in which people can free themselves from religion."
This reminds me of why people often say suffering draws them closer to God. When life is going great and everything is falling into place, what use then is there for God? But when your wealth can't buy health and your doctors and medicine fail or when your child is addicted to drugs and you throw up your hands in despair because it seems there is no solution, faith and trust in God is often what we hold onto. There is that need for hope that something can be done, somehow, somewhere by Someone bigger than sickness and addiction.
So what does all this have to do with the next part of Matthew 19?
13 Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them.
14 Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” 15 When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there.
and the parallel passage in Luke
15 People were also bringing babies to Jesus for him to place his hands on them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. 16 But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 17 Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” (Luke 18)
It's just that when I read that article about intelligence leading to atheism verses such as these came to mind.
|Children: examples of the greatest in God's kingdom|
1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2 He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. 3 And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me. (Matt 18)
25 At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. 26 Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do. (Matthew 11)
It made me wonder why Jesus specifically mentioned changing to become like little children, the kingdom of heaven being made up of such like children and his praising God for revealing "these things" to little children instead of the "wise and learned." Did he see that in the future people would have technological advances, more material wealth, secure nations with good armies and they would no longer see any use for God?
Was Jesus encouraging future generations to remember their need for God? If we think this world is all there is to living then I can understand one wanting to live it up, acquire wealth so she can travel and experience all the goodness and thrills of this life. However, what if there is more? What if this life is like a vapor compared to eternity?
The article stated: "As children grow up, they are less likely to agree with statements like 'I believe there is a God' and 'God means a lot to me'."
Were these messages from Jesus concerning children and child-like faith a reminder to us not to forget the awe and wonder of God?
What do you think of the article? What do you think of Jesus' words concerning children that I mentioned in this post? Do you think I should have considered the article and verses separately and I am way off in my thinking by linking them together this way? Please share your thoughts on either or both. Do you think my reasons for why technologically-advanced, wealthy nations have given up on the idea of God make sense? How would you explain it differently? What does Jesus mean when he says we must be like little children to be part of God's kingdom?