Network theory of deconversion part 2: Why aren't there more nonbelievers?

The population of nonbelievers - atheists, agnostics, "nonreligious", etc. - has doubled in the United States in the last decade, but we still make up a very small percentage of the population. We are in fact the fastest growing "religious" group in the U.S., which I take as a very encouraging sign. The internet has allowed religious people to break free from an insular existence and be exposed to more counter-arguments, and judging by the numbers, it's clear who's winning on the intellectual battlefield.

Yet the overwhelming majority of U.S. citizens still claim as their own some set of religious beliefs, which tend to be overwhelmingly Christian. We're home to small pockets of Buddhists, Jews, Muslims, Wiccans, and (ugh) Scientologists, but for the most part the U.S. is a predominately Christian nation.

In conversations with fellow apostates, we've always had one thing in common: we all were, at one time, very devout. We were heavily involved in the church, and to one degree or another studied theology, philosophy, and had seemingly supernatural experiences.

But the reality is that such devout believers make up a similarly small portion of the faithful. Most people, even those who regularly attend church, simply do not know that much about Christian theology. They haven't studied Christian apologists like C.S. Lewis or William Lane Craig, and they certainly haven't given much mind to the philosophical counter-arguments. They haven't learned about how the Bible was put together - copies of copies of copies, filled with errors and contradictions. They haven't studied much if any mainstream science, or given much thought to the theological implications of evolution or cosmology. Most of them haven't even read the Bible, save for the pockets of feel-good scriptures that make for inspiring sermons or placating devotionals. Few are even aware of the divinely commanded genocide, misogyny, slavery, and brutality of the biblical God.

Considering how few believers even ponder such things, and acknowledging that losing one's faith is not a matter of a single issue but a network of outlooks that must be challenged and dismantled, it's no wonder that religion is still thriving. In fact given all that, it's actually pretty remarkable how much ground secular ideology has gained in the last decade. It's for that reason that I think we have to make our voices heard. The coercive, dangerous and divisive influence of irrational thinking will never be eroded into insignificance unless those of us who reject it refuse to shy away from speaking boldly, from challenging religious claims to truth, and from mocking dangerous and ridiculous behavior done in the name of a non-existent god. Organize in your community. Start a group on Facebook to connect with other freethinkers, and post links to secular and scientific articles on your personal page.  Engage believers in friendly but vigorous dialogue when you are given the chance. Educate yourself, and direct your believer friends to those resources. We can make this world a better place if we're diligent and patient.

Comments

  1. I call this the tapestry or web of lies. If you engage one issue to a lock, the Christian will simply change the subject to another to keep the defense up. This is fairly easy, due to the way all of it is interconnected.

    Trying to maintain a friendly dialogue is extremely difficult and exhausting, yet the Christian will keep up hostility while making accusations of hostility. It doesn't help when they are shouting at you at hello.

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  2. You should try arguing with this Christian philosopher I'm dealing with. When asking about O.T. acts of genocide, he says stuff like, "you have to consider what genre it's in" or "theres some evidence that you can take it as allegory" or "it was simply hyperbole, when god said to kill them all. Just like people who are watching a football game might tend to say." And, he throws out the term Progressive Revelation as his ultimate argument. God slowly revealed more of himself and the people became less "backward". People of their immoral nature couldn't possibly contend with the absolute morality that is god. He states that they probably had to be dealt with severely because that was the only way to get through to them. He feels like any of those explanations is plausible. Anyway, he places the blame on people and not on god...

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