Jim Davis' and Michael Graham's The Great Dechurching: Who's Leaving, Why are They Going, and What Will it Take to Bring Them Back? is an insider's look at why so many people in the United States—40 million in the last 25 years—have stopped attending church. In this article, Vern Loomis argues that, much to the chagrin of religious pollsters, declining belief in religious doctrines is at least one of the major factors driving this exodus. Loomis raises a lot of important questions that, when one reads between the lines, suggest this alternative perspective of what might be compelling the exodus.
Christian psychologists and psychiatrists have taken Christianity by storm with a seemingly unending supply of therapy, seminars, and books offering a variety of cures for those that suffer from low self-esteem. These healers set out to heal that damaged sense of self-worth, yet they seem not to acknowledge that biblical Christian doctrine, itself, is likely a contributing factor to the very problem which they set out to cure. In this article, Hertzler looks at what both humanism and Christianity have to offer in terms of self-esteem.
The resurrection of Jesus is a fundamental belief to Christians. But nonbelievers have to reconcile the fact that any resurrection occurrence would break the laws of biology with the fact that very early Christians had unshakeable beliefs that Jesus had risen from the dead. Two possibilities exist for those with a naturalistic worldview. Was the Resurrection a hoax to which they all subscribed, or did they genuinely believe in its reality? In this essay, Robert Shaw addresses this question with his characteristic sagacity.
A probable idea of the "historical" Jesus is that he was a working man who propounded traditional Jewish values, adapted to his belief that the end of the world was near. Jesus left no writings, so those who regarded themselves as his followers were able to modify his supposed precepts, and their ideas about his nature and significance, to suit their needs and circumstances. The question arises: if Jesus-as-he-really-was could in fact be reconstituted now and were shown the character, effects, and history of the religion that regards him as its founder, what would be his reaction? In this essay, Michael D. Reynolds demonstrates why Jesus would be horrified, disgusted, despairing, and angry.
The long-foreseen Secular Age is arriving at a gallop. Survey after survey finds snowballing increases of Americans who say their religion is "none." The 2017 American Family Survey found that "nones" have climbed past one-third of U.S. adults—the highest ratio yet tallied. These churchless people have become the nation's largest faith category.
In this largely autobiographical account of why he is now an apostate, James McCartney reflects on the difference between a mere skeptic and former believer who undergoes a kind of deconversion over time. McCartney recounts how his first school teacher, his diligence at Presbyterian Sunday School, and a poem by Robert Burns led him to reject the doctrines of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, and those of other churches like it.
America is now losing religion faster than any other nation. American churches lost 20% of their members in the past two decades. Two-thirds of teens raised in church drop out in their twenties. Southern Baptists lost two million members since 2005. Mainline Protestantism is fading to a shadow. Meanwhile, churchless Americans began soaring in the 1990s and climbed past one-fourth of the population. They tend to hold compassionate social views and have become a powerhouse in "Left Coast" politics. If they continue rising as a progressive political force, America will be a better place for it.
Most people (whether they are religious or not) either assume or were taught that the Israelites were, and had always been, monotheistic: that they believed in only one God and thus worshiped Yahweh only. Is this idea based on truth, tradition, or maybe assumption? In this paper, Jason Gibson attempts to uncover the truth—a truth that most people are unaware of, and one that, were it common knowledge, could signal the end of all of the Abrahamic religions. Were the ancient Israelites henotheistic? If acknowledged, the answer could change the world as we know it.
The Bible has long been lauded as a moral guidebook for humankind. In this article, Robert Shaw asks whether the Bible offers any guidance to help us deal with the more complex issues that we face in the modern era. At a time when many minds are focused on the forthcoming US presidential election, Shaw also considers whether the Bible gives any counsel as to how countries should be governed, and what types of political leaders are biblically preferred.
In this article, Floyd Wells provides a legal challenge to the indictment of mankind by the Abrahamic religions, which hold that we will all come back as zombies at the end of the world to stand trial for our misdeeds. Using logic and reason, as well as national and international law, Wells attacks the basic premise that mankind is guilty due to an infraction committed by the first generation of humans in the Garden of Eden. What results is a legal brief to be litigated on Judgment Day in the unlikely event that such a day should ever arrive, a showdown in which humans hold the moral high ground.
An embellished and creatively written history of the origins and development of a Canaanite tribe underlies Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. None of the myriad of documents from ancient Egypt ever mention hundreds of thousands of foreign slaves leaving following a series of catastrophes, for example, nor has any archaeological evidence of the movement of a supposed half a million refugees from the Sinai peninsula ever been uncovered. Nevertheless, the Jesus of the Gospels seems to concur with this erroneous version of history, affirming the Genesis creation myth, the existence of the mythological Noah and Abraham, and the historicity of Moses' exodus, among other things. The Qur'an and Islamic exegesis subscribe to the historicity of such people and events no less. The arbitrary selection of Yahweh—the Canaanite god of metallurgy—from the vast Canaanite pantheon of gods over 2,500 years ago has had a profound effect on the belief systems of billions of people who have lived since.
One common expression of religiosity by candidates for government office in the United States is a statement that Judeo-Christian values are foundational for American society and government. Unfortunately, no one has the idea or the courage to ask candidates what they mean by "Judeo-Christian values." In this essay Michael D. Reynolds attempts to determine what this phrase might mean.
In "Why I Am Not a Christian (and Am an Atheist... and Antitheist)," David W. Smith first provides his basic reasons for rejecting Christianity, then his reasons for rejecting religion in general. In their place he offers a modified Apostle's Creed.
Trinitarianism has had a long and colorful history, and belief in the concept was once rigorously enforced. Yet it seems to attract little critical attention today. An analysis of its tenets, however, does not withstand scrutiny.
"Banished from Eden" is the story of my efforts to find religious answers to the brutal murder of my son. It's an in-depth emotional and intellectual journey from my struggles to reconcile religion with reality to my rejection of religion as an answer to anything.
"Oh, My God!" is a humorous anecdote involving a door-to-door Bible-thumper and a former minister.
Anyone who has ever bumped into a theist has probably heard of the supposed miracles that come about through prayer, faith, and devotion to a particular deity. Miracles are important to the believer because they, in the theist’s mind, help to prove the reality of the supernatural. That is, if miracles can occur today then they certainly could have happened in the 1st century. Still, this belief in the magical, as a method to justify faith in a deity which cannot be proved to exist, has and does persist in our culture. This article examines "miracle" workers, namely faith healers and exorcists, who have used religion to scam millions of people out of money.
Jesus is presented by Christians as the greatest moral teacher, as "God made man," yet some of his alleged teachings are so highly objectionable that it would take a warped mind to consider them "good."
The conventional notion about the character of Jesus is that he was an extraordinary person: unique, grand, captivating, a paragon of virtue, and a teacher of concepts that all human beings should use to govern their lives. But is this true? The biographical material shows that Jesus was not a peace-maker, did not offer socially useful ideas other than being charitable, possessed no ethical concepts more advanced than those of his society, and did not have original thoughts. The evidence does not prove that he was charismatic. The prevalent notions that Jesus was the perfect human being, a great teacher, or the perfect moralist are constructs created because of the belief that he was divine.
The home-schooled son of a pastor tells us about his Christian upbringing and eventual deconversion.
What authority can we trust to provide good answers to life's big questions? For questions about the physical world--how it got here, how it works, where we came from--the discoveries of science give us honest and reliable answers. But science does not claim to know the answers to moral and social issues, which are of utmost importance because they determine how well we can live together. Religions do claim to have the answers in this area, but how good are their teachings? A careful look at moral issues addressed by religions can tell us a lot, and maybe even provide a guide to validating our own moral choices.
Richard Smith had been a lifelong Christian until he underwent an unexpected deconversion in 2011 at the age of 54. "From the Outside" explains his reasoning. As one of our reviewers commented: "Comprehensive in its coverage, has emotional impact, and is meaningful in its intent. Welcome to the sane world of atheism."
The April 9, 2012 issue of Newsweek International contains a refreshingly honest jeremiad about the degenerate state of American Christianity ("The forgotten Jesus") written by Andrew Sullivan, a confessed Christian. Mr. Sullivan does not ascribe his and other persons' "thirst for God" to indoctrination. Instead, he attributes it to three questions, which he calls "the profoundest human questions" and describes as "pressing and mysterious": What happens to us after death? How did humanity come to be on this remote blue speck of a planet? Why does the universe exist rather than nothing? The purpose of this essay is to answer, or provide sources of answers to, these questions.
This article charges the Revelation of John to be among the most hateful and heartless books ever written, which, if it does not negate the "gospels" of God's Love, then exposes what is really meant by the words "For God so Loved the World."
In spite of its popularity, the traditional Christian doctrine of heaven and hell is riddled with problems. It implies that God is cruel, unjust, and evil, and it contradicts fundamental Christian doctrines. One does not need to dig very deep to uncover these problems.
A humorous, irreverent and succinct look at the (inexplicable?) history of Christianity.
Conspiracy theorists learn to compartmentalize their beliefs, to swaddle their worldview in self-perpetuating delusions, to think in terms of loose associations, and to mistake coincidences for revelations, from the example of religious faith. The Christian belief system is evidently motivated by the most colossal conspiracy theory ever to have been imagined and swallowed whole by great masses of gullible humanity.
While Christianity professes belief in the existence of one god, the careful observer will find that Christianity actually presents us with three gods: the Tribal God, the Cerebral God, and the Absentee Landlord God. Additionally, because each of these three gods corresponds with a different stage in the development of human consciousness, with each stage representing a different conception of deity and the nature of the world, these three gods are ultimately irreconcilable, forming an "Irreconcilable Trinity."
The Bible portrays God's moral judgments and punishments in many instances as arbitrary and inconsistent, holding people accountable for rules they may not be aware of. The Bible's treatment of incest is only one example of the Scripture's inconsistent moral judgments. Gay Christians and every other demographic should eschew wasting time reconciling their ideas about morality to such an arbitrary and inconsistent standard.
Christians today denounce atrocities committed by their religious forebears during the Inquisition and Crusades. President Bush calls Islam a "religion of peace," despite the murder of American innocents on 9/11 in the name of Allah. Violence in the name of religion is often portrayed as the purview of psychopaths who twist the divine word of God to suit their own destructive purposes. But is religious violence a problem of people, or a problem of scripture?