Monday, April 18, 2016

Why Do Christians Become Atheists?

            If we have had our “questioning-God” moments in our own life, we can most surely empathize with those who convert to Atheism. Atheism is disbelief or lack of belief in God, a minority of atheists do believe in a universal spirit or god.

            On the other hand, if our [Christian] life has been hunky-dory and comfortable thus far, we would be surprised, shocked, and even judgmental at those converting to Atheism. But the fact of the matter is that we ought to empathize with those who convert.

            Today’s younger generation is more resistant to Christianity. 70-80% of young non-Christians believe that Christianity is judgmental, hypocritical and old-fashioned.1

            Why do people convert to Atheism?

            Notable author and columnist Larry Taunton, based on a research conducted in the USA, lists seven characteristics of those who have become atheists: 2

            1. They had attended church.

            2. The mission and message of their churches was vague.

            3. They felt their churches offered superficial answers to life's difficult questions.

            4. They expressed their respect for those ministers who took the Bible seriously.

            5. Ages 14-17 were decisive.

            6. The decision to embrace unbelief was often an emotional one.

            7. The internet factored heavily into their conversion to atheism.

            Moreover, proselytes or those who convert to atheism think that Big Bang Theory and the Theory of Evolution adequately explains the origin of the universe and life, respectively. Hence, they see no need for God.

            Then there are those who believe that science offers all answers to their questions. Scientism is a view that any belief should be scientifically proven. If it cannot be scientifically proven, then it should not be believed. So Scientism posits science as the sole source of knowledge and truth.

            But Scientism is not all encompassing. Scientism does not permeate into all domains e.g. how would science determine morality e.g. whether torturing a little child is right or wrong?

            Scientism is also self-refuting. Scientism argues that any proposition, if it cannot be proven by science, should be discarded. But this very proposition i.e. any proposition that which cannot be proven by science should be discarded, cannot be proven scientifically. Therefore, scientism is self-refuting. So we do not need to believe in Scientism.   

            Best selling author Nancy Pearcey considers the unanswered intellectual questions as a great motivating factor for people to abandon Christianity. Churches should take the blame for this occurrence.

            Churches, Pearcey reckons, are good at establishing an emotional commitment but fail to satisfy the young Christians intellectually. Although apologetics resources are freely available on the internet, churches continue to neglect these resources.3

            People are confounded when they try to understand certain aspects of the Biblical narrative such as God killing people or the concept of hell, the virgin birth of Christ, hatred towards homosexuality etc. Since reasonable answers are not forthcoming from the local church the migration towards atheism continues.

            But there is another side of the coin to this predicament. Some people do not want to hear the good answers. It is not that any amount of good answers convinces these people but that these people do not want to be convinced. They consciously reject the perfectly reasonable answers to the biblical conundrums.

            Why do people not want to be convinced by reasonable answers to the difficult questions?  

            Quite a few people embrace Atheism because of emotional reasons such as an untimely death of a loved one, abuse, childhood scars etc. But they would not openly cite these reasons as cause for their conversion; instead they would cite intellectual reasons as cause, since citing intellectual reasons elevates them in their society. These emotional reasons remain unattended and unresolved in their lives plunging them deeper into the realms of warfare against God.

            BBC hosts an article that cites more reasons for people choosing Atheism. The reasons are: 4        

            Lack of evidence

            God is unnecessary

            Arguments for God aren't convincing

            The problem of evil

            Science and the history of thought

            God is meaningless

            God is a psychological factor

            God is a social function

            Karl Marx's criticisms of religion

            God is not apparent

            Christian scholars have debunked every reason to more than adequately claim that Christianity is true. If Christianity is true, then Atheism is false. If Atheism is false, then none need believe in Atheism.

            Consider this from another perspective. What does Christianity offer that Atheism does not? Here are a few salient features of Christianity that demonstrate God’s power upon those who believe HIM.

            First, the salvation (deliverance) offered by the Lord Jesus Christ, who died for the sins of mankind, is the most realistic and practical solution. All we need to do is to believe in Christ, love HIM for what HE has done for us, and obey HIM all through the days of our lives. No amount of good work that we may do will fetch us salvation, for we cannot be perfect in this life.

            Second, God offers hope and justice to every Christian – a hope that I will blissfully coexist with God in heaven unto eternity. I know that God will annihilate evil and judge men for what they have done. Hence justice would be upheld, especially to those who did not receive it in this time and age.

            Third, God offers joy to every Christian. I am joyful, for I am wonderfully made in the image of the living God and that I am not alone but God lives in me to help me through life’s painful situations. This joy is neither predicated nor is an entailment of my material possessions, but this joy is a fruit of my spiritual connection with God.

            Lastly, God offers me peace. God overwhelms me with HIS peace especially when I am in distress. This peace transcends human understanding.  

            In a nutshell, God redeems me and offers me hope, justice, joy and peace! These intangible essentials are not linked to our earthly success but God offers it to everyone who believes in HIM, for these are necessary for the successful sustenance of our life.

            In contrast, what does Atheism offer?

            Significantly, some secular thinkers have even reasoned that Atheism is nothing but a farce. Here are the words of one such secular thinker, “I was in fact rather a staunch atheist myself. I tried to be respectful but in private often railed against the “silly” people with their “sky god fairy-tales.” Pretty standard stuff really, the funny thing, the funniest thing is that all throughout this time, decades of life. I was both completely ignorant of the fact that my beliefs themselves were the product of cultural indoctrination of a rather crude variety.. At that stage I also believed that all religious beliefs were the result of indoctrination and that having avoided that my atheism was the natural and correct human response to life on earth.

            Eventually I realised that Atheism, was rather flawed in its confident claim to know that there is no god. It occurred to me that it would be almost impossible to prove or know that there is no god.

            The point about the death of Atheism is not that the existence of god has been proven, the point is that the existence of non-material interactions of many kinds has been proven. The existence of the world beyond the visible physical material world has been proven in dozens if not thousands of ways.”5

            Atheism isolates man by disengaging God from him. An atheist would be lonely. He would be free to act on his own selfish and imperfect counsel or be dependent on the imperfect, selfish and corrupt counsel of fellow men. Atheism neither posits salvation nor offers an eternal hope, joy and peace.

            Atheism is firmly anchored in the temporal and the tentative now. Atheism reduces our life to a mere social activity thereby robbing us of a fascinating and a life changing communion with God. Atheism robs man of the hope and joy of expecting an eternal life post our death.

            In a nutshell, Atheism is a dark phenomenon, for it dumps man into a greater darkness.

            What could we as Christians do when we see fellow Christians embrace unbelief?

            Here’s a very simple thought. If we are in the domain of those abandoning Christianity to Atheism, then we could love and pray for them and offer ourselves as an ever-available option for any discussions or prayers.

            May we be able to present the reason for the hope that we have in Christ. May those who have abandoned God realize God’s presence and offer their lives to Christ. Amen.

Endnotes:

Websites were last accessed on 18th April 2016.

1 http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/watchman-on-the-wall/46618-why-are-so-many-christians-turning-into-atheists

2 http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/06/listening-to-young-atheists-lessons-for-a-stronger-christianity/276584/

3 http://www.christianpost.com/news/young-christians-spiritually-failing-in-real-world-because-youth-groups-depend-too-much-on-emotional-high-says-nancy-pearcey-cp-interview-1-2-137420/

4 http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/atheism/beliefs/reasons_1.shtml#h10


5 https://crimesofempire.com/tag/reductive-materialism/

6 comments:

Unknown said...

What a load of bollox. How would you know if torturing a child or anyone is wrong. If you don't have the human reason to figure that out for yourself sir ,- I pity you.
This is why religion is full of misogynists and murderers. They just blindly follow a book which says the earth is the centre of the universe and the sun revolves around it. Bible and Koran both say this.

Raj Richard said...

Dear....,

Thank you for reading the article and taking time off to post your response.

This is what I had said, "Scientism does not permeate into all domains e.g. how would science determine morality e.g. whether torturing a little child is right or wrong?"

I know that killing or torturing anyone is a heinous crime because none but God, the creator of life, can corrupt the sanctity of life and wellness of life. The Bible teaches me this truth as well as my common sense.

My point is that science cannot determine morality. If you disagree, then you need to enlighten me as to how science determines morality.

Atheists have killed more people in the history of the world than anyone else. This is not to say that all atheists are bad people. But I am merely laying a fact straight.

Thank you for interacting. God bless.

MattEmersinho said...

I'd be a bit dubious that atheists have killed more people than anyone else. There weren't too many atheists until a couple of centuries ago so pretty much all killings before then would have been carried out by theists. In the past century, there have been mass killings by atheists - Pol Pot and Stalin come to mind - but I would argue that they were killing in the name of other ideologies; that they were atheists isn't their defining feature. In the same century, the definitely non-atheist Nazis killed quite a few people too (remember that the Wehrmacht had 'God With Us' on their belt buckles).

You might be right about science not being able to provide a justification for morality. I'm not sure about that at the moment so I'm reading quite a bit on the subject. I definitely wouldn't go to the Bible as a source of morality though unless I ditched the whole of the Old Testament. Despite the occasional 'thou shalt not kill', it's full of stories of God ordering genocide and rape as a tool of war. It's quite the opposite of moral.

Thanks for listening.
Matt

Raj Richard said...

Dear Matt,

Thank you for reading the article and sharing your thoughts.

If you read the history of atheism, then you would then know that atheism was existent much before the last two centuries as you have claimed in your response. Diagoras of Melos (5th century BCE) is often mentioned as one of the first atheists.

Once again, if you examine the philosophies of the atheist killers of 20th century, you would see how they were influenced by Nietzsche. Nietzsche was by no stretch of imagination a theist!

Reg. why God killed people in OT....please read this..."http://rajkumarrichard.blogspot.in/2014/12/why-did-god-kill-25-million-people-in.html"

I have also critiqued atheism here...http://rajkumarrichard.blogspot.in/2015/12/church-of-satan-proves-atheism-is-evil.html

Thank you and God bless

Pastor Tim White said...

I applaud the article for trying to understand the thinking of a group of people who each have unique thoughts and systems of belief that some would call atheism. I am the pastor of an evangelical church called Washington Cathedral in Redmond Washington and we love atheist. We encourage them to come to church and I have attended the secular humanists meetings which is a group of good hearted atheists who really dislike religion in particular evangelical Christians. I have even led a memorial service for their past president - a life time friend. As a science major in my undergraduate program at a University I discovered that science is not a philosophy and that the scientist do not exist. Except in the sheltered world of one sided conversations in Christian fortresses. As I hope you know the great philosopher and self avowed atheist Bertrand Russell had a series of lectures in New York which has become a book it is entitled why I am not a Christian. I am sorry none of the reasons listed in this article are part of that book but they are good reasons that I could find common ground with. Every point made in this well written article deserves a thorough discussion. Bertrand Russell's main point is that he does not like the Christian concept of kindness. According to him it is dishonest, manipulative and shallow. I encourage you to read the book. Which is interesting in that Bertrand Russell was kind when he saved Wittgenstein from prison of war camp at the close of WW1 and championed his PhD even though most people thought Wittgenstein was insane. Of course Wittgenstein's insights into epistemology are genius. I encourage everyone to read The twilight of Atheism by Alister McGrath and of course anything else he has written. He is insightful in the counter enlightenment discussion which impacts this debate much more insightfully than can be seen by the cannon balls being lobbed at one another from their fortress of Christianity with little insight into the thoughtfulness of a religion which thinks that science is a religion. This very dichotomy creates the wasteland of productive discussion and the collapse of cultural pop Christianity.

Raj Richard said...

Pastor Tim,

My sincere apologies for the delayed response.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts and your kind words of encouragement. I pray that your ministry among the atheists would grow and yield fruit for the glory of our dear Lord Jesus Christ.

I will make it a point to read "The Twilight of Atheism." Thank you for suggesting it to me.

Thanks again,