If we had our “questioning God” moments in our life, we would empathize with those who convert to Atheism. 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. The fact of the matter is that we ought to empathize with those who convert. But we would empathize only if we understand their reasons to convert.
Why do people convert to Atheism?
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
Author and columnist Larry Taunton, based on a research conducted in the USA, lists seven characteristics of those who have become atheists: 2
- They had attended church.
- The mission and message of their churches was vague.
- They felt their churches offered superficial answers to life’s difficult questions.
- They expressed their respect for those ministers who took the Bible seriously.
- Ages 14-17 were decisive.
- The decision to embrace unbelief was often an emotional one.
- The internet factored heavily into their conversion to atheism.
Moreover, proselytes to atheism think that Big Bang Theory and the Theory of Evolution adequately explain 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? Whether for example 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 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.
Bestselling 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
Some Christians are confounded when they try to understand certain complicated 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 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 causes, perhaps because 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.
An article in BBC cites more reasons for people choosing Atheism: 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 in a way that more than adequately demonstrates Christianity’s truthfulness. If Christianity is true, Atheism is false. If Atheism is false, none need to 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 upon 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 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”…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 realized 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 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, a dark phenomenon, relegates man into greater darkness.
What could we do when fellow Christians embrace unbelief?
If we are in the domain of those abandoning Christianity to Atheism, 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.
Websites were last accessed on 18th April 2016.
This article was originally published at http://rajkumarrichard.blogspot.in/2016/04/why-do-christians-become-atheists.html