Tag Archive: Atheism

No Matter How You “Spin” the Numbers, American Christian Church in Trouble

rise of the nones

The Pew Research Center released a report today that shows that American Christian churches continue to face member indifference and attendance loss:

Perhaps the most striking trend in American religion in recent years has been the growing percentage of adults who do not identify with a religious group. And the vast majority of these religious “nones” (78%) say they were raised as a member of a particular religion before shedding their religious identity in adulthood.

As part of a new survey connected to our broader Religious Landscape Study, we asked these people to explain, in their own words, why they no longer identify with a religious group. This resulted in hundreds of different responses (after all, everyone’s religious experience is a bit different), but many of them shared one of a few common themes.

About half of current religious “nones” who were raised in a religion (49%) indicate that a lack of belief led them to move away from religion. This includes many respondents who mention “science” as the reason they do not believe in religious teachings, including one who said “I’m a scientist now, and I don’t believe in miracles.” Others reference “common sense,” “logic” or a “lack of evidence” – or simply say they do not believe in God.

But there are other reasons people give for leaving behind their childhood religion. One-in-five express an opposition to organized religion in general. This share includes some who do not like the hierarchical nature of religious groups, several people who think religion is too much like a business and others who mention clergy sexual abuse scandals as reasons for their stance.

One-in-ten religious “nones” who say they were raised with a religious affiliation are now classified as “inactive” religiously. These people may hold certain religious beliefs, but they are not currently taking part in religious practices. And most of them simply say they don’t go to church or engage in other religious rituals, while others say they are too busy for religion.

Religious “nones” are by no means monolithic. They can be broken down into three broad subgroups: self-identified atheists, those who call themselves agnostic and people who describe their religion as “nothing in particular.” Given these different outlooks, it is not surprising that there are major gaps among these three groups when it comes to why they left their childhood religion behind. An overwhelming majority of atheists who were raised in a religion (82%) say they simply do not believe, but this is true of a smaller share of agnostics (63%) and only 37% of those in the “nothing in particular” category.

What do you think American Christianity will look like in 2030? Please leave your thoughts in the comment section.

why people stop believing

reasons why people are unaffiliated

 

Songs of Sacrilege: From God’s Perspective by Bo Burnham

bo burnham

This is the one hundred and thirty-fifth installment in the Songs of Sacrilege series. This is a series that I would like readers to help me with. If you know of a song that is irreverent towards religion, makes fun of religion, pokes fun at sincerely held religious beliefs, or challenges the firmly held religious beliefs of others, please send me an email.

Today’s Song of Sacrilege is From God’s Perspective by Bo Burnham.

Video Link

Lyrics

[Bo Burnham]
Um…there’s things I don’t want to be miss construed my act I feel off and on. I don’t wish you leave in my shell, thinking that I think I know better than people, or that I think I am better then people in general. Okay, I will put it up there. This is a song from the perspective of God

[Verse 1]
The books you think I wrote are way too thick
Who needs a thousand metaphors to figure out you shouldn’t be a dick
And I don’t watch you when you sleep
Surprisingly I don’t use my omnipotence to be a fucking creep
[Hook 1]
You’re not going to heaven
Why the fuck did you think I’d ever kick it with you
None of you are going to heaven
There’s a trillion aliens cooler than you

[Bridge 1]
You shouldn’t abstain from rape just because you think that I want you to
You shouldn’t rape because rape is a fucked up thing to do
(It’s pretty obvious just don’t fucking rape people
I didn’t think I had to write that one down for you.)

[Verse 2]
I don’t think masturbation is obscene
It’s absolutely natural and the weirdest fucking thing I’ve ever seen
You make my job a living hell
I sent gays to fix overpopulation
Boy, did that go well

[Hook 2]
You’re not going to heaven
Eat a thousand crackers, sing a million hymns
None of you are going to heaven
You’re not my children, you’re a bad game of Sims

[Bridge 2]
You shouldn’t abstain from pork just cause you think that I want you to
You can eat pork, because why the fuck would I give a shit?
(I created the universe you think I’m drawing the line at the fucking deli aisle?)

[Verse 3]
You argue and you bicker and you fight
Atheists and Catholics
Jews and Hindus argue day and night
Over what they think is true
But no one entertains the thought
That maybe God does not believe in you

[Hook 3]
You pray so badly for heaven
Knowing any day might be the day that you die
But maybe life on earth could be heaven
Doesn’t just the thought of it make it worth the try?

[Bridge 4]
My love’s the type of thing that you have to earn
And when you earn it you won’t need it
My love’s the type of thing that you have to earn
And when you earn it you won’t need it

I’m not going to give you love just cause I know that you want me to
If you want love then the love is gonna come from you
Thank you very much

Christians Say the Darnedest Things: Atheists are a Foolish, Sad, and Predictable Lot

atheist lifestyles

What a foolish, sad, and predictable lot. They [atheists] appear almost like a new species of humanity, a strange mutation. And like most mutations, they present a harmful, not helpful, distortion. They begin with the assumption of naturalism and, wonders of wonders, they always conclude with naturalism. They cannot find God because their philosophy allows none to exist, having excluded Him by definition. They seem not to understand that apart from their baseless assumption, their arguments ring hollow to the rest of us. The book of Ecclesiastes, while speaking in another vein, gives an excellent description of their folly. “This also is vanity and a striving after wind (4:4).

They do not see — nor do they want to see — that to begin with God gives at least a viable base for making an argument. On the other hand, to begin without Him brings with it a necessary inconsistency and gives the lie (or doubt) to everything. One cannot present a valid argument for truth, a logical argument for reason, a moral argument for good and bad.  And baseless arguments are usually — and should be — considered fallacious.

Really now. is it not a bit frustrating? You [atheists] surely want to discredit my contentions. But as I have shown, you have none of the raw material from which to formulate a counter-argument. To answer me, you will need to employ reason in an effort to establish truth. But I have shown that these belong to God, and that you cannot logically use them without dismissing your atheism. You might want to challenge my arguments as unfair, but then you would be arguing on the basis of a moral structure to which your system gives no access. And even science cannot come to your rescue since it depends upon truth and reason under the guidance of morality. But even with all of this, we may have no power to stop your dissent since consistency has never been a part of your repertoire.

As I close, I ask that you recall the horizon line. True seeking requires that you do not limit yourself to the cramped valley of physicalism. Remember that the central issue is atheism against theism. Understand also that it is an artificial sham to pit evolution against creationism or an old earth against a young one. Discover the right key. Only theism is congruous with nature as we know and experience it. Atheism is consistent with nothing, including itself.

Here’s the final word: Either you must admit the fact of God or acknowledge that you have taken a completely baseless and, therefore, defenseless position.

— The Fatal Flaw by Jerry Garloch, pages 152-154

You can purchase The Fatal Flaw here.

Boo Hoo: A Christian Complains About the Songs of Sacrilege Series

christian outrage

The Songs of Sacrilege series features songs that are irreverent towards religion, make fun of religion, poke fun at sincerely held religious beliefs, or challenge the firmly held religious beliefs of others. Evidently, at least one Christian finds this series offensive.

inappropriate sacrilege

Inappropriate? Yeah, that’s kind of the point. Christians whining about it lets me know that the series is doing what I intended it to — giving the godless and liberal Christians a laugh and irritating the heaven out of God’s chosen ones.

Why Christians Bombard Evangelicals-Turned-Atheists with Repetitive Words

jesus knocking on doorInsanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

— Albert Einstein

As an outspoken atheist and writer, I frequently come in contact with Christians who think they have a duty to express their opinions about my past and present life and what awaits me after I die. Couched in Bible verses and regurgitated religious verbiage, their pronouncements are little more gnats flying around my head on a warm summer day. Irritating, to be sure, but nothing that can’t be dispatched with a quick swat of snark or reason. On days that I am in too much pain to snarkily respond, I allow Christian drones to aimlessly buzz around my head, knowing that if I ignore them they will soon move on. On rare occasions, I unsheathe my sword and spend time cutting to shreds Evangelical presuppositions, proof-texting, and sermonizing. What remains the same, regardless of the level on my response, are the repetitive arguments and statements used  by Evangelicals to express their dislike/hatred of something I have written or said.

Come November, it will be eight years since I darkened the doors of a church; eight years since I wrote the infamous letter, Dear Family, Friends, and Former Parishioners, and let everyone know that I no longer considered myself a Christian; eight years of being inundated with emails, blog comments, and social media comments from Christians determined to show me the error of my ways. It’s been years now since a Christian has said something related to my deconversion or past life that I have not heard countless times before. After several thousand or more God wants me to tell you __________ emails and comments, I now just shake my head or laugh when I receive such things.

Occasionally, when I need a bit of humorous levity, I will respond, knowing that most Evangelicals interlocutors aren’t really interested in what I have to say. I have long since concluded that many Christian zealots love to hear themselves talk. Such people aren’t really interested in my spiritual state as much as they are reinforcing their own beliefs. My story — 50 years in the Christian church, 25 years as a pastor, and now an atheist — is disconcerting and troubling for many people. If someone such as myself can fall away, then so can they. So, when reading my story, they attack the me instead of wrestling with their own fears, doubts, and cognitive dissonance. This is why several former parishioners have told me that they can no longer talk to me. These people, who once called me pastor, preacher, and friend, find my current godless state so troubling that it causes them psychological pain. Instead of investigating their pain or examining their own beliefs, these former friends choose to end our relationship. (And I am fine with that.)

Several days ago, a woman who was a teenager in one of the churches I pastored in the 1980s messaged me, thanking me for sending her a link to some old pictures I had posted a year ago on Facebook. (Her father is the focus of the post Dear Friend.) Evidently, my message ended up in her spam folder and she did not find it until this week. This woman, now in her forties, made no attempt to talk to me about family or any of the other commonalities we humans share. Instead, she said, WHAT HAPPENED TO YOU? Immediately, my mind went back to the days when this woman was a rebellious, haughty, mouthy teenager — a constant pain in her parents’ asses. I envisioned her with head thrown back, curling her face into a snarl, saying, WHAT HAPPENED TO YOU? I did not respond to her, choosing not to waste time responding to someone who really isn’t interested in what I have to say.

Last year, my  two remaining Christian friends ran into a man I have known since the early 1970s. (I believe he is ten or so years younger than I am. I was mainly friends with his oldest brother and parents.) After trading pleasantries with my friends, this man said, CAN YOU BELIEVE WHAT HAPPENED TO BRUCE? I am sure he heard about my deconversion from his parents. After receiving news of me leaving Christianity, his mother had sent me a blistering letter that suggested in no uncertain terms that I was under the control of Satan. A year or so later, I received an apology from the mother (a rare occurrence). While she could not comprehend how I could ever walk/run away from Jesus, she did accept the fact that nothing she could say would likely change my mind. People who know me well know that I am a man of deep convictions and intellectual acumen. They also know that I am rarely swayed by circumstance or emotion. When confronted with the possibility that I could be wrong, I tend to study the heaven out of the issue. I want to KNOW, so blissful ignorance or “faithing it” is not an option for me.

Just today, my doctor told me that my heart is skipping every fourth beat and that I might have an “atrial whisper.” He ordered an EKG and told me to me wait as he consulted with a cardiologist. He smiled and asked me if I had something to read. I laughed, and pointed to my iPhone. Having been my doctor for 20 years, he knows that I tend to study the life out of things. By the time he had punched in the phone number of the cardiologist, I was on Web MD and Wikipedia looking up “atrial flutter” and other related heart/health issues (more on this later). This illustrates perfectly how I tend to go after challenges to my beliefs or understanding. When I don’t “know” something, I make it my mission to increase my knowledge. Intellectual laziness, not ignorance is the problem. Despite health problems that increasingly rob me of the physical and mental wherewithal to learn and write, I am still driven to know more today than I did yesterday. This is why people who are close to me know that I rarely speak on a matter before knowing the facts. (I am not suggesting that I can’t be wrong or act irrationally. I can. Just ask Polly.)

Earlier today, a Christian woman (a friend of a friend) left the following Facebook comment:

I’m sorry that you have lost your contact with God. He’s still there, if you are interested. You may have stopped believing, but he hasn’t stopped existing or loving you. May God bless you. We have exchanged comments in the past and I don’t want to re-open that debate. This post just struck me as being very sad and empty, so I wanted to give a bit of encouragement. That’s all.

Here’s a woman who is incapable of understanding any other way of life but her own. For her, Jesus is the be-all and the end-all, the reason for getting up in the morning. As she looks at my life through her Bible glasses, all she sees is sadness and emptiness. She can not comprehend a good life, an honorable life, a blessed life, and a life of meaning and purpose without knowing Jesus as Lord and Savior. For her, my life does not compute. If she really cared about me as a person, she would trawl the depths of my story, and having done so she would then know that telling me, I’m sorry that you have lost your contact with God. He’s still there, if you are interested. You may have stopped believing, but he hasn’t stopped existing or loving you, will not elicit the desired response and will likely be viewed by me as the words of yet another tone-deaf Christian.

Christians need to understand that I am immune to their words. I have reached a point that I rarely respond to their comments, sermons, or attacks. I prefer to spend my time writing, chasing perfect photographs, or hanging out with Polly. if I sense a Christian sincerely wants to “know” then I will send them a few links to blog posts that I think will answer their questions. Sadly, few of these people bother to read the suggested posts. No need, right? They know what they know, even if what they know is dead wrong.

A better use of time for Christian zealots would be to seek out those who have no understanding of Evangelical belief and practice. Ignorance is the fertile ground of Christian Fundamentalism. Why tell someone the gospel twice before everyone has heard the gospel once, right? Well, I have heard it and preached it thousands of times, and when Christians continue to spew the same intellectually vacuous arguments and attempt to emotionally manipulate me, I don’t hear a word they are saying. Their lips are moving, but I ain’t listening.

I know that nothing I have written here will ward off garlic-immune Evangelicals who believe they have a God-given duty to put in a good word for Jesus. Until such people can dare to fathom the possibility of being wrong, there is nothing I can say or do that will change their minds. Only unrequited doubt will put them on the path to intellectual freedom. As long as their minds are shackled to God, Jesus, and the Bible they will continue to view me as an enemy that must be vanquished. Little do they know that they are tilting at windmills.

True Detective: Russ Cohle Shares His View of Religion

russ cohle

Season one of HBO’s hit series True Detective featured two detectives: Russ Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) and Marty Hart (Woody Harrelson). What follows is a clip from the show in which Cohle and Hart discuss religion and morality. It’s a classic! Make sure you share it with all your Evangelical friends and family.

Warning! Video contains cursing.

Video Link