Great News:Those With No Religion Fastest-Growing Tradition!

March 9, 2009 at 1:14 pm 46 comments

…. According to a New Survey

This is being reported in numerous news agencies. Here is a link for the report itself: http://www.americanreligionsurvey-aris.org/

This survey had 54,461 respondents and was conducted over 10 months.  So it’s not one of those worthless, “barely 1000 surveyed with one afternoon’s phone calling” polls.

Some highlights:

  • Summing up those who said of the existence of God “There is no such thing”, “There is no way to know”, “I’m not sure”, & “There is a higher power but not a personal god” gives as 24.4% of all respondents!  Of course there is the downside that there are still 69.5% who said, “There is definitely a personal God”.  But that first number is a vast improvement over what was seen 15+ years ago.
  • Those who identify themselves religiously as “none” amounted to 15% of respondents. Up from 8.2% in 1990!
  • 27% do not expect a religious funeral at their death.

There’s still a long way to go, but this is great progress.  I would like to hope that it’s a sign of increasing sense and honesty among people, but I’m NOT that optimistic (naïve?).

:D – LeoPardus

Entry filed under: LeoPardus. Tags: , , .

My journey into and, later, out of Christianity (Born Again) The Golden Rule challenge to Christians

46 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Weemaryanne  |  March 9, 2009 at 7:38 pm

    You’re not necessarily over-optimistic about this, Leo.

    Remember that “increasing sense and honesty” would produce essentially the same results as “tired of lying, equivocating, making excuses, making stuff up, and/or simply not knowing what I’m talking about.”

  • 2. exrelayman  |  March 10, 2009 at 12:33 pm

    Thanks for this info Leo. If you consider: 1) how many Christian sites you reach compared to how many skeptic sites when you do a web search for ‘Bible Origins’ or ‘failed prophecy’, 2) how many Christian meeting places there are compared to meeting places for skeptics, 3) how many radio and TV broadcasts Christians have compared to skeptics, and 4) how much indoctrination occurs at impressionable young ages, faith (irony intended) in the continuation of that trend seems reasonable considering how much progress has occurred in the face of those disadvantages.

  • 3. Luke  |  March 10, 2009 at 10:37 pm

    interesting.. and here i’m reading from the Pew Forum that the Millenial generation members are going to church faster than Generation X did.

    thanks for providing this link. i’m using it in my church and human sciences course here at the seminary. useful information!

  • 4. Gabzooks  |  March 11, 2009 at 4:35 pm

    LeoPardus (and others),
    This is not a question to spark debate or veiled with any type of agenda. This question does come, however, from someone who does profess to be a follower and disciple of Jesus Christ; even after reading this sites many posts. (All of that I mention in order to make it clear that I’m coming to you open handed and transparent in this one little question I have for ya.)

    I am curious to know [in the many de-conversion stories I've heard/read, not many detail the nature of their 'private lives' during that season (however prolonged)]: Might there be an association between being “trapped” in a particular activity (possibly labeled “sin”), not feeling able to be set free (or not wanting to) … and subsequently de-conversion began in order to remain in a given way of living (whether as a willful participant or a relunctant slave)?… Therefore, the de-conversion was possibly an attempt to appease the conscience of the activity they were (willingly or reluctantly) a part of…
    Does any of that make sense?

    Reason I’m asking is because two of my close friends (over the course of my life) who de-converted, both did so in the midst of non-submission to Jesus’ commands. For different reasons (one b/c he wanted to get free, but seemingly could not; the other b/c she wanted to keep living the increasingly decadent lifestyle) both de-converted … and are now living adamantly against Christianity. BUT interestingly, neither of them seem to remember that the (main, or at least, one among many) reason for their original fleeing was due to their activities in ‘sin’. Now, in retrospect, they seem to only think of their de-conversion in terms of ‘enlightenment’, ‘freedom’, ‘seeking the truth’, etc. … all seemingly ‘high roads’. But frankly, as their good friend, I remember those seasons quite differently.

    Might this be the case for others, even though they may not remember that season (of initial de-conversion) in that way now. Just a thought. Just curious.
    Thanks for responding, whoever takes the time.

  • 5. Quester  |  March 11, 2009 at 4:56 pm

    Gabzooks,

    Before I answer your questions, I’d like to ask some of my own- just to make certain I understand you clearly.

    From your point of view, as a follower and disciple of Jesus Christ, is it possible for anyone to not struggle with temptation or fall into sin? Moreover, if it is possible, does it happen? Do you know any person, disciple of Christ or not, who can answer Jesus’ challenge and throw the first stone?

  • 6. Gabzooks  |  March 11, 2009 at 5:01 pm

    If I understand your questions clearly:
    (1) Everyone indeed is tempted, does struggle with sin, and subsequently fall into sin at times.
    But a new question arises regarding “to continue or give way to a pattern or lifestyle of sin”
    (2) Noone can throw the first stone. But someone can be genuinely burdened for someone else ‘caught’ in sin. And that concern and burden can be a sincere one–free from judgment and condemnation of them.

  • 7. Gabzooks  |  March 11, 2009 at 5:04 pm

    rather … “Noone SHOULD throw the first stone.” [I suppose, someone could do it, but they should not]

  • 8. LeoPardus  |  March 11, 2009 at 5:22 pm

    Gabzooks:

    It is certainly possible for someone to be involved in a persistent “lifestyle of sin” and have that be a driving force for them to leave the faith. (I can recall one friend at least for whom this is decidedly the case.)

    That said, it isn’t the only driver for leaving the faith. It’s just one possible.

    Some really can and do leave the faith because they can’t find sensible answers to bothersome doubts or questions.
    Some see things like the fact that prayer isn’t answered, or lives aren’t changed in any consistent way.
    Some are hurt badly by those in the church.

    There are many reasons. Some involve personal lives, emotions, sin, etc. Others involve new learning, doubts, new perspectives, etc. And most of us could honestly admit to our de-conversion involving elements of several classes of “catalysts”.

  • 9. Gabzooks  |  March 11, 2009 at 5:45 pm

    I understand, and appreciate all your comments.
    I understand that there can be many catalysts involved.

    However, I guess the thing that I’m getting at is that: it seems, for some (if not many) who have de-converted, there could be an (unintentional, subconscious, or perhaps intentional) “glossing over” and “re-interpretation” of the events and setting that led to the de-conversion … often, it seems, giving it the most ‘noble’ and ‘high-road’ descriptions … when perhaps, other, more base, reasons have been either forgotten or purposefully ‘lost in translation.’

  • 10. Gabzooks  |  March 11, 2009 at 5:45 pm

    Sorry, I messed up on the attempt at italics html

  • 11. Quester  |  March 11, 2009 at 6:26 pm

    In the Christian worldview, there are none without sin. I was a Christian, capable of introspection and honest with myself, and thus I struggled my inability to avoid sins of commission and omission. Even after I realized that the laws of the bible (especially as interpreted by Jesus) are such that no one can possibly avoid sinning by commission or omission, I struggled. But you seem to be asking if I (or any of us) deconverted so that we could continue to sin. In my case, the answer is no. I was a pastor who was trying to share the good news with my congregations, but found no coherent or consistently good news in scripture or creation which I could share. When I realized that there is no clear revelation of God’s will or purpose, I looked again and saw no clear evidence of God’s existence. This soon led to my unintentional- and completely undesired- deconversion.

    I hope this helps, but I am left wondering- if I had rejected Christianity because I chose to follow a “sinful lifestyle”, then later found that Christianity was inconsistent, incoherent, and based on the man-made depictions of a non-existent god, would this make anything different from your point of view?

  • 12. LeoPardus  |  March 11, 2009 at 6:48 pm

    Gabzooks:

    There’s a post in the archives called, “Convenient categories: Why Christians believe de-cons leave the faith”. Basically Christians have some need to pigeonhole ex-believers into these categories in order to make themselves feel comfortable and safe in their faith. You’re trying to shoehorn us all into some form of categories 3, 17-19, 23-26, 35.

    What you’re not willing to do is consider that we might have been real believers who simply came up against evidence we could not shake. That we might have been totally honest, rather then secretly or openly sinful.

    In all honesty we do understand where you’re coming from. Many of us did the same rationalizing about others who left the faith when we were still totally in it.

    Try thinking about this, it might help. Look at us now. Are we indulging in “sin” more often or openly than before? Nope. Really. So far as I know, none of us, since leaving the faith, has left our spouse, gotten into adultery, become alcoholic, developed a drug habit, stolen, become pathologic liars, started cussing like sailors, etc. In fact many of us have found it easier to not sin now that the pressure is off. *You don’t fixate on something and it doesn’t trip you up so much.*

    Yours is a pretty common pigeon holing effort, but it doesn’t hold up across a broad spectrum.

  • 13. Gabzooks  |  March 11, 2009 at 7:02 pm

    Quester and LeoPardus,

    Respectfully, I think there was a bit of ‘reading in’ to what I posted. I was simply asking if, for some (note: ‘some’), might this (what I presented above) be the case.

    If I misrepresented my post by inferring ‘all’ and ‘every’ de-convert must fit this construct, I apologize. That was not my intent.

    As you mentioned earlier, Quester, I know many have many different ‘catalysts’. I was simply asking might this be the case for some; and if so, might it be easy (and, perhaps, convenient) to forget the ‘real’ reason(s) for de-converting only to find a more descriptive, and, perhaps, palatable explanation years later.

    I’ve, at least, objectively ‘seen’ this in my two friends. Not sure about everyone or anyone else on this board.

    Quester, I recognize your desire to not be ‘pigion-holed’ or ‘shoe-horned’ into a position… wasn’t attempting to do that for you. But unless you can speak for every de-convert, particularly my two friends (of whom, I went through those tough years with them [tough for them and me]), then maybe I would ask you for the same courtesy you asked of me–namely, please do not pigeon-hole or shoe-horn me into your view of ‘all’ Christan inquirers of de-converts. Please just read my questions as they’re written.

    Thanks much for the dialogue!

  • 14. Anonymous  |  March 11, 2009 at 7:09 pm

    well children are taught evolution in highschool. I know many young atheists and many young christians that are lost in materialism and their own ego. Both sides could be alittle wrong in some aspects. Making badges is kinda creepy though, but meeting places and discussing science would be marvalous. Maybe you might study something other then just evolution(prejudice remark). Actually there are various philosphies on the verge of becoming science. Metaphysics is a very advanced philosphy with alot of very interesting prospects. Just thought i would throw that out there, evolutionary theory has holes and it wouldnt disprove God just more of the bible.

  • 15. LeoPardus  |  March 11, 2009 at 7:17 pm

    Gabzooks:

    Yes. You did say, “some”. I would say then that I agreed with that in post #8.

  • 16. Gabzooks  |  March 11, 2009 at 7:26 pm

    LeoPardus,
    I understand that you agree with ‘some’ could de-convert for the aforementioned reason.
    But the second part of my question was the possibility that someone in that situation might ‘gloss-over’ the original reason as they look back on their history … only to now detail their testimony in a completely different light. One that seems a bit more sophisticated than mere moral reasons.

    Is that possible?
    (I’m sure I’m not making myself clear)

  • 17. Jeffrey  |  March 11, 2009 at 8:02 pm

    There absolutely was sin in my life for the several months before I deconverted, and more of it than before or after. I was getting drunk (that’s 4-5 drinks) with friends or alone about once or twice a week. I checked out choice pictures on the internet on a nearly daily basis, and I stopped trying to stop. This is arguably revisionism, but I would have preferred judgment to Cosmic Indifference. My church/bible study attendance rate was down to 50% from my the 90% for the rest of my life. My private Bible reading had all but stopped, because I was upset by the problems in the text whenever I tried. I was reading plenty of theology blogs and Christian books (for instance, the Pursuit of God, and C. S. Lewis’s books – not Left Behind crap.) I made a conscience decision to stop sharing my faith because I knew I had nothing to share. This isn’t the profile of a scoundrel, but it compares unfavorably with many or most Christians. (Btw – I’m a math student, and while my numbers aren’t precise, they are meant to be literal.)

    But wanting to sin or be free from guilt isn’t why I deconverted. Especially when I looked at where I was before deconverting and asked how I got there. Depending on who defines “Christian” my biggest step out was when I learned the case for evolution while trying to train myself in evangelism. It isn’t pride to try to be ready to give a defense. A willingness to change my mind is, in fact, the opposite of pride. The step correlated with a time of comparably little sin in my life.

    I didn’t (and don’t) think Christianity is necessarily incompatible with evolution. But it wasn’t evolution so much that got to me, as the loss of fellowship that accompanied it. Depending on if I was “out of the closet” in the crowd I was in, either I was viewed with suspicion, or I felt like I was hiding my true self. If theistic evolution is correct, then YEC is a conspiracy theory that I was right to stand up against. If YEC is correct, then there is nothing wrong with the way my ideas were not received.

    So sitting in my apartment, drunk, and while skipping BIble study, I asked myself how I got there. I got there because I trained myself in evangelism and became an evolutionist. I tried to stand up to the false doctrine of YEC and I lost my sense of community (moving from KS to NJ was part of it too.) God didn’t lead me to a new home, although I searched desperately. I tried to read through the NT for the year, and got hung up on Matthew 1-3 – not that I gave up on day one, for the first time, I looked up the OT verse every time Matthew talked about a “prophecy.” If you haven’t tried this one, it makes for a horrible experience. I searched online for answers and e-mailed some Christian websites’ authors for answers.

    But I was down to me, my fading perception of a relationship with God, the Bible, and my search for a new Christian home. In this context, apologetic answers can seem really lame. In this sense, I didn’t think my way out of faith. I lucked into circumstances that sped up the process tremendously.

    I had grown into a non-inerrantist, theistic evolutionist, “pan-millennialist”, Armenian, and an evidentialist. After having moved across the country, the new church/Bible study I was in was mostly YEC, pre-trib, Calvinist, and presuppositional. As I’m sure you can tell, I’m highly opinionated, and cared very deeply about theological correctness – and yet I came and kept my mouth shut. That’s how badly I needed the Christian fellowship I didn’t have. If you know people like me, you will understand just how hard this was.

    In many ways, my blog is the hyperactivity of a restrained mind finally set free. 10+ months, and the freedom to think about the Bible and say exactly what I conclude still seems new and fresh.

    So while increased sin was part of the final step in the process, I think it was a symptom of the growing pains caused by slowly learning that Christianity isn’t true, and trying to be a part of a community that realized before me that I was slowly learning Christianity isn’t true.

  • 18. SnugglyBuffalo  |  March 11, 2009 at 8:02 pm

    I’d certainly say it’s possible, Gabzooks. But really, is there any way you can know for certain? Isn’t it also possible that they had some sin they were struggling with at the same time as their de-conversion, and you are attributing more significance to their sin and its role in their de-conversion than there really was? This question of re-interpreting the past swings both ways. Really, our memories are pretty dynamic; I’d bet for most people their memories are far more inaccurate than they would expect.

    If I had to guess, I’d bet there’s a bit of unintentional reinterpretation going on by both you and your friends.

  • 19. orDover  |  March 11, 2009 at 8:21 pm

    Gabzooks,

    You’ve received several answers. In particular, from LeoPardus, when he wrote, “What you’re not willing to do is consider that we might have been real believers who simply came up against evidence we could not shake. That we might have been totally honest, rather then secretly or openly sinful.” Why is that not enough?

    I understand you are attempting to be gracious here, but you are quite stubbornly insisting that you have the ability to judge the motives of others, or that you have the ability to understand their mental lives better than they understand them themselves, by asserting that you think you have an idea of what is going on insides their heads.

    Of course it is possible that some people they just wanted to sin, de-converted, and then psychologically repressed that desire, hiding it from themselves, and using a veneer of rationality and critical thinking to cover their lust for sin. But here’s the problem: if any of us actually did that, would we admit it? No, because we would not be ABLE to. If it is a repressed memory, it is a repressed memory. That’s that. How could I suddenly realize that which I kept hidden from myself for so long?

    As others have suggested, one way we might solve this puzzle is to look at our pre and post de-conversion selves and see if we have changed, or become more sinful. I can honestly say that my habits and personality did not change in the big picture.

    We can add another layer of complexity to this problem by considering the fact that what many Christians consider sin, an atheist or agnostic would not consider a sin. Once a de-convert has altered their worldview, they might no longer feel inhibited, but that DOES NOT mean that they de-converted in order to be uninhibited. It’s just one of the many side-effects of establishing a new moral system. For example, when I was a Christian I didn’t have sex, even though I had one or two serious relationships. After I de-converted, I had sex with my boyfriend. Not directly after, but maybe a year or so after, when our relationship developed to the point where I wanted to begin a physical relationship. Suffice it to say there was a large gap of time. Not to mention the fact that my de-conversion was an agonizing introspective process that took several years to complete itself, not a sudden “Oh hey, I’m not a Christian anymore!”

    So you could look at my life and say that I only de-converted because I wanted to have sex. If that was really the case then I should have de-converted sooner, because I can tell you, I really wanted to have sex with my earlier boyfriends. That being said, I wasn’t overcome by my desires. I was perfectly able to keep them in check, I did not struggle with them mentally, and I did not wish to alter them. In fact, I was proud of my morality and my ability to abstain.

    So why did I start having sex after I de-converted? Because I no longer saw it as an immoral thing. I had no reason to abstain anymore. But I didn’t de-convert so that I could do it, and you’re just going to have to trust me on that. You can look at my story and say that it seems to you like I just wanted to partake in sin, but stop for a second and consider the condescension and conceit that would display. You would essentially be saying that you, with your infinite wisdom and deep knowledge of my personality, understand my inner life, my thoughts, and my emotions better than I do. I don’t think you want to do that.

  • 20. Quester  |  March 11, 2009 at 9:11 pm

    Gabzooks,

    Quester, I recognize your desire to not be ‘pigion-holed’ or ’shoe-horned’ into a position… wasn’t attempting to do that for you. But unless you can speak for every de-convert, particularly my two friends (of whom, I went through those tough years with them [tough for them and me]), then maybe I would ask you for the same courtesy you asked of me–namely, please do not pigeon-hole or shoe-horn me into your view of ‘all’ Christan inquirers of de-converts. Please just read my questions as they’re written.

    I’m confused. What did I say that sounded like I was trying to pigeon-hole you? I answered your questions, and asked clarifying questions of my own. I’ve re-read my words and don’t understand your problem with them. Are you certain you’re responding to what I said?

  • 21. LeoPardus  |  March 12, 2009 at 10:33 am

    Gabzooks:

    the possibility that someone in that situation might ‘gloss-over’ the original reason as they look back on their history

    This is definitely possible. I’m sure that if I knew enough about the personal life and philosophical development of a lot of de-converts, I would find some who were heavily in sin, left the faith at least in part because of that, and now have “scrubbed” their de-testimony.

    I couldn’t begin to guess how common/rare that is, but I’m sure it happens.

  • 22. LeoPardus  |  March 12, 2009 at 10:43 am

    All:

    I don’t think Gabzooks is trying to paint de-converts broadly as “you all were in sin; that’s why you left the faith; now you’re “scrubbing” your history”.

    I could be wrong, but he has said that he acknowledges that such a “scrubbing” may be uncommon, and he is just wondering if we think it’s a real possibility. And to be sure, it is possible.

    And we must credit that so far, he’s a whiff of kindly, fresh air, after the likes of Yurka and Joe have polluted the atmosphere.

    Gabzooks:
    I’ll take you as sincere. And I think you have a real possibility in what you’re wondering about. Don’t belabor the point too far though, or it will start to look like you’re trying to paint with a broad brush.

    If you’re curious about the many reasons people leave the faith, look in the archives for any article with the word “reasons” in the title.

  • 23. BigHouse  |  March 12, 2009 at 11:13 am

    I agree with Leo’s assessment of Gabzooks’ posts so far. I am curious, however, as to what the point of such a revelation is.

    There are many motivations to de-convert as there are many motivations to fix oneself a ham sandwich. Even given this, how do we know that Gabzooks assessments of his friends’ rationales for de-converting or accurate? and if they are accurate, what would Gabzooks intend to do about?

    I’ll be watching the thread with interest…

  • 24. SnugglyBuffalo  |  March 12, 2009 at 12:30 pm

    I certainly don’t doubt Gabzooks’ sincerity. I think the issue came when he said “for some (if not many)” – that “if not many” starts to hint at him extrapolating from his experience with his friends a bit further than he should.

    Combine that with the fact that this comes almost straight out of the convenient categories, and I can see why people would get a bit defensive here.

    But as I said before, I wouldn’t be in the least bit surprised to learn that Gabzooks is giving more significance to the ‘sin’ his friends were in during their deconversions than it really deserves, and that simultaneously his friends are downplaying the role their ‘sin’ had.

  • 25. Quester  |  March 12, 2009 at 12:53 pm

    I’m just trying to figure out why it matters. Yes, it can be unhelpful for a person to end up at the right conclusion for the wrong reasons, but if better reasons are found what need is there to hold onto the old ones?

  • 26. SnugglyBuffalo  |  March 12, 2009 at 1:05 pm

    Quester, I would say it matters for the sake of integrity. If the main reason these people de-converted was because they didn’t want to give up their “sinful” lifestyles, they should admit that. If they now hold other reasons for not returning to faith, that’s great; and while I agree that there’s no reason to hold on to the old, poor reasons for leaving, there’s also no reason to lie about them, to others or yourself.

  • 27. BigHouse  |  March 12, 2009 at 1:34 pm

    while I agree that there’s no reason to hold on to the old, poor reasons for leaving, there’s also no reason to lie about them, to others or yourself.

    And this is the crux of the matter related to Gabzooks “story”. We are relying on him to provide the color for what his friends’ rationales were/are. His biases could be infecting them quite a bit, how would we know?

  • 28. orDover  |  March 12, 2009 at 1:40 pm

    I think the most complicated issue, as I mentioned above, is that a de-converted Christian will have a different moral system than they adopted before. The fact of the matter is that no longer adhering to religion changes your outlook in almost every way, including changing what you consider to be moral and immoral. A Christian could see a de-converted friend participating in behavior they, as a Christian, consider immoral, and very easily conclude that their friend just wanted to live a life of sin. It’s a chicken and egg question. Which came first, the changed moral system or the desire to change the moral system? It would be impossible to tell from the outside.

  • 29. SnugglyBuffalo  |  March 12, 2009 at 3:38 pm

    I totally agree, BigHouse. I’m just giving Gabzooks the benefit of the doubt: if the story really is how he tells it, then yes, I think his friends should own up to their original reasons while still holding to their newer, more rational reasons for continuing to reject the faith.

    However, I also agree (and have stated as much a couple times already) that his perception of what happened is probably no more accurate than that of his friends.

    I have to wonder what Gabzooks ultimate goal is with this discussion. Some people may de-convert for the reasons you state – so what? If they find more rational reasons to stay away from religion, what difference does it make why they originally de-converted? I think it’s better to be honest, obviously, but it’s not like you’re going to force that on them, and again you can’t even be completely certain that you’re not also mis-remembering the past.

  • 30. orDover  |  March 12, 2009 at 5:26 pm

    I have to wonder what Gabzooks ultimate goal is with this discussion. Some people may de-convert for the reasons you state – so what? If they find more rational reasons to stay away from religion, what difference does it make why they originally de-converted?

    I think that the goal is to have de-conversion align with the Biblical notion of selfish men rebelling against God. We’ve talked before about how Christians seem to have a desire to rationalize the actions of apostates. The first line of reasoning is usually to say, “You were never a Christian to begin with.” The second is usually to say, “You’re just rebelling against God because of your selfish desire to be the ruler of your own life. You don’t want to submit to God.” They are both reasons found in the Bible for de-converts and atheists. If those are the reasons people leave the faith or don’t believe in God, then it makes it seem as if the Bible is true, and reinforces the Christian’s belief in its words.

  • 31. SuperHappyJen  |  March 13, 2009 at 8:23 am

    Great discussion. As someone who never de-converted (I have always been an atheist), I must add that for those outside Christianity, it’s fairly obvious that the bible, taken literally, is a complete fabrication. As a child I assumed these stories were just fables and was surprised to learn that people believe them! Perhaps once Gabzooks friends’ left their faith (for whatever reason) they were then able to see their beliefs as mere stories. Even if they admit they just left so they could sin, it would still be difficult to re-convert them, now that they seen the Bible as an obvious work of fiction.

    On the subject of the survey: I’m still waiting for an 80% atheist respondants, particularly among politicians. :)

  • 32. John Evo  |  March 14, 2009 at 1:24 am

    Gadzooks said: This question does come, however, from someone who does profess to be a follower and disciple of Jesus Christ;

    Funny, I just heard today that there is a movement among Christians to de-label themselves as such. The new, preferred, handle is “Follower of Christ”. Apparently this is some sort of shame over the worldwide perception of what Christians are like. Is that your thing? I’m not trying to start a debate. Just asking.

    By the way, in light of your question, my response would be “what does it matter”? If the only reason someone has for deconverting from Jesus is that s/he is living a sinful life, then we must assume that later in life they may just convert right back. True?

    Either there is a damn good reason for belief, or there is not – regardless of how one lives their life. I stopped believing in superstitions 35 years ago and never re-considered because, despite the many changes my life has gone through, there is still no good reason to believe in a superstition like Christianity – or “Followers of Christ”.

    You have a book that you claim is god’s word, despite any evidence that it is and much evidence for things that are factually incorrect. The book says there is a god and you believe the book so you believe in god. Presumably you have some accompanying facts – certain “feelings” that you have probably most prominent among them.

    These two reasons are absolutely HORRIBLE reasons for believing anything. They combine for evidence of – absolutely nothing. So what else do you have?

  • 33. Jenn Besonia  |  March 14, 2009 at 7:45 am

    I’ve decided I was an agnostic. But I’ve read a blog post regarding the difference between agnostic, atheist and thesi.

    It made me confused. Surely I’m not atheist. But I don’t know if I’m an agnostic or theist.

    Here’s me:

    I believe there’s a God. Because I won’t be here if there’s none. But, I also believe that no one knows the truth about God. Meaning, all the religions out there are only invented by people.

    So what am I? An agnostic or theist?

    I’ll be looking forward to your reply. Thank you.

  • 34. the chaplain  |  March 14, 2009 at 10:17 am

    Jenn Besonia:

    I’d like to begin by saying that you don’t need to sweat over fitting into neat categories. You’re just you and there’s nothing wrong with that. Some people like labels and others don’t care about them at all. Having said that, if you would feel more comfortable being able to identify with some group, you may fit most closely with Agnostic Theists or with Deists.

    There are agnostics who don’t think we can know anything about any deity and who aren’t too concerned about that. They don’t think the existence or non-existence of a deity makes any difference within their lives, so they may be more like agnostic atheists, with the emphasis on god’s unknowability (the agnosticism) than upon their belief, or lack thereof (the atheism).

    There are other agnostics who don’t think we can know anything about any deity, but believe that there probably is “something” out there. These would be agnostic theists, or possibly deists.

    It seems to me – and I’m just thinking this through, so correct me if I’m wrong, anybody – that the difference between an agnostic theist and a Deist may be in the nature of the deity in whom you believe. Theists generally believe in some sort of a personal god, or at least, an interventionist God, a deity that involves itself to some degree in the affairs of Earth. Deists, to my knowledge, believe in a deity that is not personally involved with believers and that does not intervene in earthly affairs at all – the Watchmaker Deity who winds up the watch and lets it run.

    I don’t know if any of that helps, and I’m sure there are others here who can explain these things more accurately and understandably than I. Maybe they’ll help both of us sort through these ideas.

  • 35. Lucian  |  March 14, 2009 at 11:03 am

    Those With No Religion Fastest-Growing Tradition!

    Oh, let me guess: ‘we are legion!’ :)

  • 36. Yurka  |  March 14, 2009 at 12:06 pm

    Jen #33, why do you believe that no one knows the truth about God? Do you think such a powerful being would be unable to communicate with us or reveal himself in history? Spong tries to argue like this, but it doesn’t seem plausible to me, somehow.

    Do you regard this God as only the creator of the physical universe, or is he responsible for your moral sense as well? Then I guess you could say we know some truths about him on a personal level, that he is good and wishes us to act morally.

    Have you ever looked into historical claims of religions to see if it’s likely that God has revealed himself in history, or which religion has the best claim? Christianity certainly seems to have a pretty cogent case for it- have you ever heard of Gary Habermas? He shows even skeptical historians such as Gerd Ludemann are willing to grant as facts events that imply the resurrection.

    And as to this post – it is misleading. The number of atheists has remained static for the past several decades, at about a whopping 4-5%.

  • 37. Joshua  |  March 14, 2009 at 1:03 pm

    “So what am I? An agnostic or theist?

    I’ll be looking forward to your reply. Thank you.”

    Sounds like you are a deist :) Personally, I’ve been leaning toward a form of deism myself lately. Surprise, surprise!

  • 38. John Evo  |  March 14, 2009 at 10:04 pm

    Jenn – here’s the problem – you say you believe there is a god, because you wouldn’t be here if there wasn’t. I’m not trying to offend you, but that’s a meaningless statement. I know there is a tooth fairy, because the earth would be covered in baby teeth if he didn’t collect them. I know their are ghosts, because I wouldn’t be frightened in a dark abandoned house otherwise.

    Further, if it DID make sense, then it would mean that YOU DO have some positive knowledge about god(s) and therefore why would you say that there is a god but no religion can give us an explanation? Surely if you think YOU can know there is a god, then certain religions should likely be able to “know” (and teach) the same thing!

    Now, if we change this up a little and you say, OK, I don’t “KNOW” there is a god, but I think there is but I don’t think any religion has the answers, then you are probably a deist. Although (like Chappy points out) if you “think” there is a god and you “think” he is a personal god (one that interacts in the world), then you are probably a form of theist. You are definitely neither atheist nor agnostic if you take the position that you either “know” there is a god or “believe” there is a god – whether or not you accept the teachings of any religion.

    Again (back to Chappy’s response to you) there is no need for you to pigeon hole yourself into the labels we come up with. But I strongly suggest that you review exactly why you believe there is a god. Based on what evidence? The fact that you exist is not evidence of god.

  • 39. Anonymous  |  March 15, 2009 at 3:14 am

    John Evo : “The fact that you exist is not evidence of god.”

    –I just don’t want to believe that I believe in nothing. That would be ridiculous if I do. There’s always a creator of something. Even if I state millions of evidence about the existence of God, if you really believe there’s no God, you will never believe in what I’m saying. And sometimes, there are things that can’t be evidenced. There enters FAITH.

    Yurka: why do you believe that no one knows the truth about God?

    —because there are tons of religion. If they really know the truth, there will only be one religion.

    Yurka: Then I guess you could say we know some truths about him on a personal level, that he is good and wishes us to act morally.

    –yes, some. but not all.

    the chaplain: I’d like to begin by saying that you don’t need to sweat over fitting into neat categories.

    –hehe. I just wanna know in what group I do belong. But if there’s none, then I won’t insist. BTW, thanks to your explanation.

    joshua – thank you.

  • 40. Jenn Besonia  |  March 15, 2009 at 3:14 am

    John Evo : “The fact that you exist is not evidence of god.”

    –I just don’t want to believe that I believe in nothing. That would be ridiculous if I do. There’s always a creator of something. Even if I state millions of evidence about the existence of God, if you really believe there’s no God, you will never believe in what I’m saying. And sometimes, there are things that can’t be evidenced. There enters FAITH.

    Yurka: why do you believe that no one knows the truth about God?

    —because there are tons of religion. If they really know the truth, there will only be one religion.

    Yurka: Then I guess you could say we know some truths about him on a personal level, that he is good and wishes us to act morally.

    –yes, some. but not all.

    the chaplain: I’d like to begin by saying that you don’t need to sweat over fitting into neat categories.

    –hehe. I just wanna know in what group I do belong. But if there’s none, then I won’t insist. BTW, thanks to your explanation.

    joshua – thank you.

  • 41. John Evo  |  March 15, 2009 at 1:35 pm

    Even if I state millions of evidence about the existence of God

    Yet you state none.

    I don’t suggest that you should “believe in nothing”. That would be kind of hopeless, wouldn’t it? Believe in yourself, your friends, your family and the better notions of your society. Finally, if you think there is something “bigger” going on, just leave it tucked in your back pocket, because you can never know what that thing is anyway, so what’s the point in wasting precious life contemplating it?

  • 42. Jenn Besonia  |  March 15, 2009 at 9:13 pm

    I state none because I know you won’t believe. :)

    John Evo: Believe in yourself, your friends, your family and the better notions of your society.

    –Ahh. I got your point. In that case, I agree with you. I don’t like people who just keep on praying every night and day. I reckon they’re just wasting their time. Instead of praying endlessly, why not make a move by himself, right?

  • 43. John Evo  |  March 16, 2009 at 12:25 am

    Jenn – we agree more than we disagree.

    Yeah, if you want to believe in a higher power and just live life to the best of your ability without feeling you have to know god’s secret handshake (which is what every religion offers and none can agree on) then I’m fine with that. I’m not nearly so interested in people realizing there is no god(s) as I am with them not buying into silly (yet dangerous) dogmas.

  • 44. Lucian  |  March 17, 2009 at 3:30 pm

    Hi there!

    [Planting evil, subversive link]. 8)

    By there!

  • 45. Linda  |  June 23, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    Ya learn something new evyerday. It’s true I guess!

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    room mate! He always kept talking about this. I will forward this post to him.
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Attention Christian Readers

Just in case you were wondering who we are and why we de-converted.

de-conversion wager

Whether or not you believe in God, you should live your life with love, kindness, compassion, mercy and tolerance while trying to make the world a better place. If there is no God, you have lost nothing and will have made a positive impact on those around you. If there is a benevolent God reviewing your life, you will be judged on your actions and not just on your ability to blindly believe in creeds- when there is a significant lack of evidence on how to define God or if he/she even exists.

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