Why Are There Still Atheists?

It is a wonder that there are atheists.  It is hard to be out of sight of a church steeple in any town in the United States.  That visual advertising is everywhere. 

Children by the millions are carted off to Sunday School every week.  Presidents of the United States end every speech with “God bless you.  God bless America.”  For many Christians, to be an atheist is just not normal.  There  is something wrong with you.

Yet, atheism remains a permanent part of our culture.  And, the number appears to be growing while that of Christians is not.  What has gone wrong?

To me, it is that the society has become more inclined to think for itself while most of Christianity prefers that people do not.  Clergy are called “preachers” because they preach.

Why are people are less likely to accept and adopt the mandates of authorities? Is it the computer, the smaller more permissive family, the broader number of choices in everything from breakfast foods to TV channels, the change from a rural to an urban society?  Whatever the cause, the Christian leadership needs to find a way to connect to an anti-authority  society. 

I don’t see much adjustment to the new circumstances.  Instead, the faith likes to repeat its old message: This faith is about sin and the punishment for it.  You were born a no good sinner.  To redeem yourself, do as we say.

That is why there are still atheists.

Avatar of Jon Lindgren

About Jon Lindgren

I am a former President of the Red River Freethinkers in Fargo, ND, a retired NDSU economics professor and was Mayor of Fargo for 16 years. There is more about me at Wikipedia.com.
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41 Responses to Why Are There Still Atheists?

  1. Wanna B Sure says:

    Jon; Your; “To redeem yourself, you must accept what we tell you”. (With special emphasis on -”To redeem yourself”. Herein lies the error of understanding in Atheism, and sad to say, even in a mild form in some of the most postmodern Christian sects. Again, your world view prevents you from understanding, yet while enforcing your defiance.

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      Wanna 12:51 Let me guess what you mean: I should have written, “To receive forgiveness, you must accept what we tell you.”???

      • Wanna B Sure says:

        Nope!

        • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

          Wanna 2:47 So, would you say I’m wrong that people do not want to accept authority like they used to?

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            The userpation, distortion, misuse, and misunderstanding of authority, via defiance .

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            I should have put that in the form of a question. Feel free to choose the answer that makes you feel good and authorative.

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            Wanna 1:50 In all due respect, I think your answer reflects the very problem most of Christianity faces. That is, the problem is with the customer, not the vender. The creed of capitalism is, “the customer is always right”. In the world of Christian dogma, the customer is always wrong “..distortion, misuse, and misunderstanding of authority, via defiance.” The old schoolmarm technique of shaking a fingure at the child does not work like it used to.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Jon; There goes your world view, run amuck again. More distorted defiance.

  2. entech says:

    More to the point why are there still Christians? Why are there either? This is only one hypothesis out of the many possible.
    David.

    • Wanna B Sure says:

      A direct quote ; Nero AD 65

      • Wanna B Sure says:

        Oops ! ! CE not AD. Wouldn’t want to be offensive or insensitive. Sorry

      • entech says:

        Lost me on that one. Please explain.
        David

        • entech says:

          The Nero bit I mean. I fully understand the sarcasm of the insensitivity.
          David

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            David; Some of the Roman emperorers including Nero systematically attempted to rid Rome of Christianity. The Caesars considered themselves to be “a God”, and/or their standards (flags), and didn’t want their subjects to acknowlege a “God” other than themselves. AKA Caesaropapism If the Christians wouldn’t “bow down to Caeser” as a God, and would only acknowlege Jesus, they were put in prison, killed, tortured, etc. Some claim that some were fed to the lions in the coliseum, but the documentation on that is sparse.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            PS Regarding ceasaropapism; Even as late as NAZI controll in Germany, If one refused to “seig heil” to Hitler, or to his standards, one could be and was whisked off to the concentration camps. He damanded absolute compliance. Really no difference. Just saw that on the History Channel.

        • Wanna B Sure says:

          CE=common era—-Ad=anno deium (Year of our Lord). Both designate the same time frame.
          As also in BCE=before common era—-BC=Before Christ. Both again designate the same time frame.
          BC, and AD was most commonly used from 14th century? forward, until the last 100 yr? Now, archeologists, Jews, etc use BCE and CE pretty much exclusively tue to the relationship of the Christ. Hope that helps. There may be a variation of understanding on the applications of “BCE and CE, but what I gave you are approximations.

          • entech says:

            Perhaps then you could explain what happened to year zero if we go from -1 to +1. Is it Julian or Gregorian, perhaps the Hebrew dating from the creation, the Muslim calendar from whenever.
            Just shows that the confusion arises because, like many other things, the calendar was designed by man.

            Rome etc. is all about control and power and it could be secular or religious, religious organisations are not above asserting themselves.
            David

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            I really don’t care.

          • entech says:

            Looking at that again I seem to recall from my schooldays that AD was anno domini, but like you I don’t really care and we don’t need too much pedantic nonsense.
            David

  3. In case anyone is interested…. NOBODY can “redeem themselves” in Christianity. It has already been done and it is free gift to anyone who accepts it.
    But an Atheist would not know that; Athiests “dis” scripture without knowing what it really says…ALL OF IT..and not just chosen bits and pieces from what I refer to as “smorgasbord” scripture selection. Pick that which pleases you and do not study any of the rest of it. SAD.

    • Avatar of seaofstories seaofstories says:

      As a young Catholic I was continually impressed with the knowledge of non-belivers when it came to the contents of the good book. It took me a while to get over my Catholic guilt and ascribe this particular short coming to the institution responsible for educating me in these matters rather than myself.

    • Avatar of Grandma Grandma says:

      But — that’s what so many Christians do!

  4. PS Scripture tells why there are athiests but I do not like to “cast my pearls……..”
    (Matt 7:6 )

    It is in scripture plain as the nose on your face.
    For anyone who cares to look it up here are two places:

    discussions of rebellion:
    Romans 1-starting at verse 18 and continuing to the end of the first chapter
    Also in 2 Timothy beginning at chapter 3

    • Wanna B Sure says:

      I’ve been wondering how Jon got to being where he is. After long consideration, the most likely scenario goes like this: Little Jon was always defiant and agrumentative as a child. He refused to eat his parsnips, even though that was the only thing at the time. Little Jon however was good at figures, but that exacting science did not fit his style. His mommy, knowing his quirks suggested that he should study economics. There he could use math, yet twist that exacting science to fit any of the various philosophies of economics. Little Jon rebelled at absolutes, and economics was just perfect for him, plus that gave him the opportunity to disagree with just everyone around him, and back it up with facts, no matter how distorted they may be. Knowing that liers figure, and figures lie, Jon enjoyed that, and made a life’s mission out of confusion, and denial. He happily would spend his final years in proseletyzing his world view to others.

    • Avatar of seaofstories seaofstories says:

      Quoting scripture at people who you acknowledge don’t put much stock in it is not a winning tactic. There’s a job for you in the Bishop’s marketing department.

      • Wanna B Sure says:

        Sea; What then is your position of an Atheist selectively using Scripture out of context as an argumentative tool against Christianity? Although I haven’t seen this done here that I can remember, I have seen this done quite often on other web-sites.

        • Avatar of seaofstories seaofstories says:

          If the idea in doing it is to illustrate that your opponent is also selectively reading the text then I think it’s a powerful debating tool. Using such tactics to illustrate that the Word is not quite as black and white as some would like it to be is fair. No one has a monopoly on the text and anyone who claims to should be met with suspicion.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            especially if one side of the discussion completly denies the validity of any Scripture. Kind of like going to a gunfight with a knife. A very slick way of attempting to disarm the opponent.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Your complaint is why I very very seldom quote Scripture. It is generally useless with those who deny it. It is however impossible to eliminate it entirely because some of the common phrases in our language have their basis in Hebrasisms or Scripture.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Yes, it is handy to be selectively biased.

        • Avatar of seaofstories seaofstories says:

          I’d also say that there are loads of athiests who appreciate religious texts of all sorts as literature. Many see them as great pieces of literature. Pieces of literature. Useful, valuable, instructive texts. Just not the divine word of anyone or anything.

          When it comes to the good book you don’t have throw the baby out with the bathwater. You can reject the idea that its divinely inspired yet still derive value from its words. And, yes, construct arguements from it and about it.

  5. Avatar of billybones billybones says:

    ok, so i have a question that i have wanted to ask for a long time. Perhaps Mr. Lindgren would indulge me, as he seems willing to indulge discussion, which is all to absent on either side of the question. Are there absolutes, or is right and wrong relative?

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      billybones 9:09 Thanks for commenting. If you are convicted of 1st Degree murder, it’s a crime, absolutely. Same for raping a child. Those things don’t seem to ever change. Now, I’ve written about how “sin” has changed. The sins that were important in my childhood, working in farm fields on Sunday and playing cards, have changed. They are no longer “sins”.

  6. Avatar of billybones billybones says:

    Just clarifying then, you don’t subscribe to moral relativism. That is, you believe that there are moral absolutes irregardless of whether you come at it from an atheist standpoint or a religious stand point, right? What I am getting at is that you as an atheist and i as a believer, probably van, on the basis of morality, find some things that we consider absolute, and share common ground.

  7. Avatar of billybones billybones says:

    ah yes, I made use of a “nonstandard” word…which is not correct english. Mea Culprit.

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