CADRE Comments

A Rational Look at Christianity; Basing Reason in Truth

In his What Americans Really Believe, Rodney Stark has a chapter entitled The Godless Revolution That Never Happened. He notes several earlier predictions of the demise of religion and rise of atheism. Thomas Woolston, 1670-1731, thought religion would disappear by 1900. Voltaire, 1694-178, gave religion another fifty years. Though religion endured, the expectation of its imminent demise persisted. Other influential thinkers including Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, Max Weber, and Émile Durkheim, all shared a similar view of declining religious belief.

In the 1960s, Anthony F.C. Wallace stated in a leading undergraduate anthropology textbook, "The evolutionary future of religion and in supernatural forces that affect nature without obeying nature's laws will erode and become only an interesting memory . . . belief in supernatural powers is doomed to die out, all over the world, as a result of he increasing adequacy and diffusion of scientific knowledge . . . the process in inevitable." Also in the '60s, sociologist Peter Berger stated, that by "the 21st century, religious beliefs are likely to be found only in small sects, huddled together to resist a worldwide secular culture . . . the predicament of the believer is increasingly like that of a Tibetan astrologer on a prolonged visit to an American university." Finally, the April 1966 issue of Time famously asked, "Is God Dead?" on its cover.

With a new wave of atheist best sellers, some skeptics may be getting heir hopes up again. Perhaps the end may not be as imminent as they had hoped, but surely there has been a steady growth of atheistic enlightenment as societies have become more educated and rational. Secularization, after all, must be inevitable.

What do the polls tells us? Stark offers the numbers from leading polling organizations since 1944, for those who do not believe in God:

4% -- 1944 (Gallup)
6% -- 1947 (Gallup)
3% -- 1964 (American Piety)
3% -- 1994 (GSS)
4% -- 2005 (Baylor/Gallup)
4% -- 2007 (Baylor/Gallup)

The number of atheists in the United States appears to be unchanged for at least 63 years, despite advances in science and secularization.

Ah, you might say, but I have read that the number of the non-religious, no religion, or irreligious has grown. This may be right, but does not tell us much about the growth of atheism. Stark notes that these numbers have climbed from 7 to 12% over the same time period, with the steepest uptick occurring during the 1990s.

There is, no doubt, some overlap. Obviously, most atheists are going to also agree that they have "No Religion" or are "Non-Religious." But most of those who answer No Religion or something similar do in fact believe in God or a higher cosmic power. 40% believed Jesus was the Son of God or a messenger of God. Half believe in angels, more than half pray, and almost half believe in ghosts. As it turns out, "What 'no religion' seems to mean to most who gives this response is that they reject conventional religions, but not supernaturalism of more exotic sorts--two thirds of them can be classified as New Agers." Stark, Chap. 17, What Americans Really Believe.

Atheism is not the foreseeable future.

19 comments:

I wouldn't be surprised if even some Christians would answer that they were not religious, because so many emphatically state that they are not religious, rather they have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

I would be surprised if religion ever died out since, as Hebrews 11:1 puts it "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.", it would seem to require admitting that what your senses detect is not the complete sum of all that is.

To me Woolsten and Voltaire can be forgiven for their errors. It would be reasonable to conclude that in a new age of reduced repressiveness from the church people thinking freely will reject superstition generally.

The science of evolution though is helpful in explaining why humans don't necessarily follow the rational path. See for instance here:

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20126941.700-born-believers-how-your-brain-creates-god.html?full=true

I tend to think that while you may be right with regards to the fact that people aren't identifying themselves as atheists, so many more people these days are what Christians call "functional atheists." Kind of going to church on Sunday but acting like it is all irrelevant Monday through Saturday. For instance James White just yesterday was talking about the "collapse of the West into secular socialism" and "wishy washy churchianitiy." I think these things are on the rise. Christianity is less relevant today. It's watered down. So it has diminished in that sense.

The Pew study that looked at the breakdown of religion in America in 2007, was a a major study they placed the level of atheism in America at 1.6%.

Many figures upwards of 12 are floating about and used by atheists. But that includes 9% who say they may believe in a transcendent power of supreme being of some kind, but don't like organized religion, specifically are angry at Christianity or for some other reason are not self defined as "religious."

Here's my page on Doxa of inflated atheist numbers:

Atheist Inflation

Mike
I wouldn't be surprised if even some Christians would answer that they were not religious, because so many emphatically state that they are not religious, rather they have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

but we can factor them out if we distinguish between atheist proper and "non religious people."

are you a proper atheist?




I would be surprised if religion ever died out since, as Hebrews 11:1 puts it "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.", it would seem to require admitting that what your senses detect is not the complete sum of all that is.


Not likely since it has a genetic component.

Hey Christ. I like this post. I would like to use it on Doxa as the intro to my page on stats.

You mind? I'll give credit to you of course.

"are you a proper atheist?"

Yes. I don't believe in supernatural of any kind. I do believe, however, that there are things that we do not understand.

"Not likely since it has a genetic component."

It's not likely that religion won't die out? So, you are saying it is likely that religion will die out? I'm confused.

Joe,

Of course.

Mike,

If there are things we do not understand, how do you rule out that some of the things we label supernatural are not real?

I don't, I just accept that we do not understand them. Perhaps we will discover what causes them some day. Currently I don't have a burning desire to attribute them to anything. Of course, some claims of a supernatural nature, I would hope few in religious instances, are falsified.

It's not likely that religion won't die out? So, you are saying it is likely that religion will die out? I'm confused.


why would I say "not likely" if I mean it is likely? Yes I mean it is not likely it will die out.

Ok, that's exactly what I said.

I said "I would be surprised if religion ever died out..."

And you said "Not likely" so I thought you were saying that my statement was not likely.

sorry. actually it was agreement. But that's not interesting so I decided to make it interesting by creation confusion.;-)

Well then, you did quite well. ;-)

JL,

I read the Doxa piece you linked. And the idea about why atheists aren't content to be right need to express themselves through numbers shows that the historical narrative is persistent. It's their deliverance and paradise all in one.

I've noted before how atheist tend to look through history for sorts of "proto-atheists". Thomas Jefferson can be forgiven for beliefs because he lived before the 20th-century, but because he didn't believe in the miracles or deity of Jesus, he was almost like them. However, full-blown atheism existed in Jefferson's day.


Atheism is not the foreseeable future.


I agree. I've never had the confidence some atheists have expressed that belief in the supernatural is dying out.

The irrationality of the human species is persistent. As you say, those who've rejected the traditional religious beliefs of our culture tend mostly to move on to New Age beliefs instead of rationalism or an embrace of critical thinking.

"If there are things we do not understand, how do you rule out that some of the things we label supernatural are not real?"

Because they are logically contradictory.

" However, full-blown atheism existed in Jefferson's day."

You mean like Thomas Paine... Jefferson's best friend?

"I agree. I've never had the confidence some atheists have expressed that belief in the supernatural is dying out."

How about in Europe and the rest of the first world? The US is an abberation.

"The irrationality of the human species is persistent. As you say, those who've rejected the traditional religious beliefs of our culture tend mostly to move on to New Age beliefs instead of rationalism or an embrace of critical thinking."

Except that New Agers aren't any more prevalent in Europe than the US.

I have always found it ironic that the atheists like to claim the slave owning Jefferson, who liked to have sex with his slave by the way, as one of their own!

This article is inappropriately cherry-picking, by focusing on "Atheism", and dismissing "none/non-religious/no-religion". And ignoring "How important is your religion to you" surveys.

This is a standard apologetic tactic. To direct the reader to the a priori conclusion.

Antichrist is the adversary of Christ; an adversary really, a friend pretendedly: So then, Antichrist is one that is against Christ; one that is for Christ, and one that is contrary to him: (And this is that mystery of iniquity (2 Thess 2:7). Against him in deed ; for him in word , and contrary to him in practice . Antichrist is so proud as to go before Christ; so humble as to pretend to come after him, and so audacious as to say that himself is he . Antichrist will cry up Christ; Antichrist will cry down Christ: Antichrist will proclaim that himself is one above Christ. Antichrist is the man of sin , the son of perdition; a beast, [that] hath two horns like a lamb, but speaks as a dragon (Rev 13:11).


Christ is the Son of God; Antichrist is the son of Hell.

Christ is holy, meek, and forbearing: Antichrist is wicked, outrageous, and exacting.

Christ seeketh the good of the soul: Antichrist seeks his own avarice and revenge.

Christ is content to rule by his word: Antichrist saith, The word is not sufficient.

Christ preferreth his Father's will above heaven and earth: Antichrist preferreth himself and his traditions above all that is written, or that is called God, or worshiped.

Christ has given us such laws and rules as are helpful and healthful to the soul: Antichrist seeketh to abuse those rules to our hurt and destruction.

Antichrist may be considered either more particularly, or more generally. 1. More particularly: And so there are many Antichrists (1 John 2:18). 2. More generally: And so the many maketh but one great Antichrist, one man of sin, one enemy, one great whore, one son of perdition (2 Thess 2:3; Rev 19:2).

Once we come to understand God’s omnipotence in a rational and scientific way we are led to consciously and personally acknowledge our close and intimate relationship with God. We then want to know how we can cooperate with God in this process of developing and becoming a heavenly person. And that’s when we begin our relationship with God as the Divine Psychologist. This is the central purpose for studying theistic psychology."The love of Christ controls and urges and impels us, because we are of the opinion and conviction that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, so that all those who live might live no longer to and for themselves, but to and for Him Who died and was raised again for their sake. Consequently, from now on we estimate and regard no one from a human point of view." (2 Corinthians 5:14-16a)
It is absolutely necessary that we develop this potential in us before we pass into the afterlife. When we are resuscitated, the kind of life we have is determined by the idea we have of God, for all other ideas depend on this chief idea. If we can tolerate and acquire rational ideas of God, we can find a way to our heaven, and exist there forever. If we cannot tolerate rational ideas of God, our consciousness automatically sinks down into the lower levels where the natural mind is, with its sensuous concepts and corporeal images obtained through the physical body. Instead of being able to let go of all ideas based on time, space, number, quantity, we hang to them, and we reject the rational ideas.

read it all, and some,

Use of Content

The contents of this blog may be reproduced or forwarded via e-mail without change and in its entirety for non-commercial purposes without prior permission from the Christian CADRE provided that the copyright information is included. We would appreciate notification of the use of our content. Please e-mail us at christiancadre@yahoo.com.