Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

Don't believe in God? Maybe you will with age

A detail of Michelangelo's The Creation of Adam in the Sistine Chapel.

If you don't believe in God now, you may change your mind later.

Older people are more likely to believe in God, researchers from the University of Chicago's National Opinion Research Center have discovered. Their study, which examined survey data from around the world, suggests that belief in God grows with age, as people approach their twilight years, Reuters reports.

"Looking at differences among age groups, the largest increases in belief in God most likely occur among those 58 years of age and older. This suggests that belief in God is especially likely to increase among the oldest groups, perhaps in response to the increasing anticipation of mortality," the news agency quotes researcher Tom Smith as saying.

Story continues below advertisement

On average, 43 per cent of survey respondents who were 68 years and older said they were certain God exists. Among a younger cohort, aged 27 and under, an average of only 23 per cent said they firmly believed God exists. The data came from 30 countries, including Australia, Japan, the Czech Republic and Norway, surveyed in 1991, 1998 and 2008.

Participants were asked about how their beliefs changed over their lifetimes and about their attitudes toward God.

Mr. Smith noted that while belief in God had decreased over the past two decades, those declines were modest, Reuters reports.

In Canada, even though people's interest in religion has declined since the 1970s, it doesn't necessarily mean they've stopped believing in a higher power. Some statistics show up to 80 per cent of Canadians say they believe in God.

Have your attitudes about whether God exists changed over time?

Report an error Licensing Options
About the Author

Wency Leung is a general assignment reporter for the Life section. Before joining The Globe in early 2010, she has worked as a reporter in Vancouver, Prague, and Phnom Penh. More

Comments are closed

We have closed comments on this story for legal reasons. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.