by Kenneth Justice
~ Just like Shakira’s hips, the numbers don’t lie; fewer young people than ever before believe in god, or at the very least no longer believe religion is relevant to their lives.
So how does this effect your morning stop at Starbucks for that Grande Carmel Macchiato before yoga, or the time you spend with your friends? In some ways, perhaps all these people and their lack of faith doesn’t seem to affect your life. After all, it’s not like young agnostics are breaking laws any more than people of faith, right?
But consider for just a moment that a lack of faith does indeed affect your life and mine. Is it possible? Is being an agnostic detrimental to culture and society? Has agnosticism and atheism contributed to a decline in Western Culture?
Obviously, my fellow Christians haven’t done the best job in shaping society over the years. First off there’s that whole Crusades thing, the Inquisition, and then oh yea, all those damn Southern Christians who defended slavery on the basis that the bible sanctioned the abhorrent practice. So sure, I’m definitely not the first one who’s going to act like Christians have been the standard bearers when it comes to awesome ideas or good cultural practices. Hell, it was crazy Christian John Ashcroft a few years back who ordered a classical nude sculpture to be covered by drapes, at a cost of eight thousand dollars because the nudity offended him! <article>
Nonetheless, having hope that someone (or something) is out there, has been central to humanity throughout our history. It gave us a sense of purpose in our darkest hours, and it gives us hope that our lives are not the fleeting moments we spend on this earth.
As I sit with people each day at coffee, there is a constant theme in the thread of conversation and stories that are shared with me. People feel an overall sense of hopelessness. From the single mother who is struggling to make rent, to the young college graduate who is working a dead end job and feels he will always be stuck in a vicious cycle of boringness.
What happened to our culture? What happened to our sense of hope that the best is yet to come? In Greece, life is perilous right now. The economy is on the brink of collapse, and if they can’t keep the interest rates below 20% on their national debt, then pundits believe it could lead to another massive banking problem. Greeks everywhere are not sure where to put their trust and hope.
In the United States, young people are more disillusioned than ever. College and University costs have become astronomical, and graduating with a degree no longer ensures that you’ll gain employment. Young people see their parents fighting and living lives of quiet desperation, they see their parents living in suburbia going out about their business in never-ending meaningless motions.
All that seems to happen is that people get older. Things don’t seem to change. Agnosticism and atheism offer no hope. They give people the false pretense that the answers to your life, lies within you. But there are no answers in our hearts other than hopelessness, frustration, and desperation.
Where Christians have gone oh so wrong for many years, is that they treated atheists and agnostic’s with vehemence. Christians threw stones at homosexuals, and they attacked couples who had sex before marriage. Christians for too long have been nothing more than borderline hate-mongers.
And now, when Western Culture has sunken to some of its greatest depths of hopelessness, It is time for Jews, and Christians, and Hindus, and all those spiritual thinkers who know there is something out there, rather than nothing, to begin a greater dialogue. A conversation that is engaging, and not condemning. A conversation that connects people together, rather than bland lectures that push people away.
There is someone out there, rather than nothing. There is hope.
Just a few thoughts as I sipped my coffee,
Join us for tonight’s conversation on Culture Monk Live : Is Atheism Killing Our Hope?
Categories: Culture & Society