A Tipping Point?
Today I just want to share a couple quick reflections on what I’ve observed since publicly coming out on MSNBC as a freethinker who can no longer affirm the metaphysical claims of Christianity. Certainly some believers have reacted with hostility and judgment. Of course that was to be expected. I didn’t come out for the fun of it. (Although I am puzzled that some Christians apparently don’t think that their omnipotent God is capable of defending himself.)
I have been more surprised, however, by the number of church-going friends and acquaintances who have voiced their own doubts. They’ve been saying things like this: “You know, I just never got the Trinity.” And “It makes no sense to me that the death of Jesus paid a ‘sin debt’ and satisfied the wrath of an angry God.” Several have said they flat out don’t accept most of the core doctrines of orthodox Christianity but somehow find meaning in it anyway. Some have admitted to attending church mainly because of social convention. Maybe skepticism in the pews is more rampant that we suspect.
Of course all of this is only anecdotal evidence, but the responses have made me wonder if this is a small glimpse of a larger social trend away from belief, or at least away from orthodoxy. The most recent U.S. Census showed that people who identify as “none of the above” have been increasing faster than any religious group or denomination, and dramatically so. Are we reaching a tipping point in the acceptance of secular humanism and freethought as a legitimate way to go through life?
On the other hand I still know too many people who feel like they have to keep their non-orthodox views to themselves. They fear that being labeled as an atheist, agnostic, skeptic, or freethinker would jeopardize relationships and possibly even their employment. All this in a nation built on freedom of conscience. Can you imagine how bad things would be in a theocracy? (Yes, I know some of you guys would say that we already live in a semi-theocracy, but I’ll stay out of that debate for now.)