The Rise of Atheism

By Deane Barker tags: faith

USA Today reports on a Gallup poll which confirms what I already knew: religion is really dying off. Consider:

  • 67% of respondents think that religious influence is declining in the U.S.

  • This number was higher among people who regularly attend church: 74%

  • Only 53% of respondents hold that religion “can answer all or most of today’s problems”

  • 28% say that religion is “largely old-fashioned and out of date.”

The Internet has given rise to a huge atheistic revival. Atheists used to kind of hide out on the fringe, but now they’re “out and proud” and trying to recruit. They used to just be content with quietly thinking religious people were fools, but now they’re actively trying to convince and convert. Religion, they hold, is no longer harmless – it is contributing to the decline of civilization and must be eradicated.

There’s a term for it – “evangelical atheism.” Soon, I wonder if we’ll have atheist missionaries traveling to remote parts of the world trying to get indigenous people to drop their religious beliefs in favor of, well, no belief at all.

And, it’s worth mentioning, that this is their right. It’s an opposing viewpoint, and they have just as much right to promote their cause, recruit for it, and defend it as anyone else.

What I find interesting in the Christian reaction to atheism is the fear of non-belief. As Christians, we’re fine with Muslims and Hindus and such because we’ve seen this before. But someone who believes in nothing? That throws a lot of Christians for a loop. We’re prepared for people who believe in something different, but where do we even start with something who rejects all belief? We’re often quite threatened by it. The existence of an atheist doesn’t just call into question our beliefs – it indicts the very concept of belief.

There’s a longer post in me about why I am a Christian. Suffice it to say that I’ve been through a crucible of sorts with atheism. It’s a logically seductive proposition, for sure. However, I have just as many questions with it and see just as many flaws in it as an atheist does with Christianity. I came out of this crisis of faith as a stronger Christian than when I went in.

But that’s a post for another day.

(If you’re an atheist tempted to comment here, please read the post carefully before starting a fire. I really doubt I’ve written anything here that you’d disagree with.)

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