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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.)

  1. Tafacory
    April 14, 2012 at 12:07 am

    This is just my opinion but I believe that America is undergoing a shift from religion to atheism just as Europe did before us. At the very least, the fundamentalism that you and I reject is being marginalized more and more. A couple of weeks ago I read an article that had results from a recent poll. It stated that 80% of Americans believe in some form of universalism. Being from Texas I found that to be absolutely shocking. But these are things we take for granted. We often assume that Christians nation wide are Bible-thumping, God-fearing, homosexual-hating bigots. But that’s not true in the least. It seems that the majority of our country are actually moderates. But the things that stumps me is how we can have such moderate religious adherents yet such conservative political values. Liberal thinking in one should necessarily include liberal thinking in another insofar as I can tell. But who knows? Maybe we’ll see the abolition of religion in a few years or maybe we’ll see the rising up of yet another fundamentalist group. Great post. Looking forward to the future.


  2. Andrew
    April 14, 2012 at 12:56 pm

    People tell pollsters, “Yeah, I believe in God,” but no preacher would dare schedule his Sunday sermon at the same time as the football games.

    There has always been a large number of “unbelievers” in America. The only thing that’s different now is that they are speaking out, and are no longer ignored by the media.

  3. April 14, 2012 at 12:58 pm

    Tafacory,] Thanks so much for taking the time to comment. The poll result you cited is fascinating and reconfirms the sense of a general drift away from Christian orthodoxy. My hunch is that conservative evangelical leaders clearly see what is happening and they are digging in for the last stand against secularism. (For some this is probably seen as a sign of End Times). Thanks for joining the discussion.

  4. adtz
    April 14, 2012 at 4:05 pm

    One of the primary tenets of the Information Age is the concept of customization. We no longer accept ‘one size fits all’. The IPhone app concept and even the general purpose computer are signs of this. We expect to be able to customize things to our needs. Religion has failed to deal with this. Most people are no more uniform in belief than in any other aspect of life. One of the capital mistakes the leaders of the ‘unbeliever’ side of this story could make is to think that there is any more uniformity in unbelief than in belief. As you have said before, we are all on a spectrum here. The more a belief system searches for conformity, the fewer actual believers it has. That’s why the belief leaders in the Middle East are going for political power. They are following the same path Europe followed, probably with the same results. Islam is about 600 years behind Christianity…I shudder to think of the 100 years war with biological and nuclear weapons available — I think we are going to have to come up with a better solution.

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