Is Atheism Killing Our Hope???

stimulating conversation

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,

Kenneth

Join us for tonight’s conversation on Culture Monk Live : Is Atheism Killing Our Hope?



Categories: Culture & Society

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45 replies

  1. Christians are just people. They make mistakes like everyone else. People need to treat people nice, regardless of anything else. The basis of Christianity was never and never will be condemning. I have never before in my life seen a more accepting spirit in the church than I do now and that may have something to do with my location but I don’t know. Just look at theologian Rob Bell’s book Love Wins. You can’t get more inclusive than that!

  2. Reblogged this on Will the real reality please stand up! and commented:
    It is hard to have faith in a God whose representatives are utterly out of touch with the lives of common people.Jesus wouldn’t have a snowflakes chance in hell for a chat with the Pope,bishop or Cardinal.Churches that could be converted intoo cheap homes lie empty.I could go on but basicaly i have found young people have lost faith in religion,it’s dogma and it’s leaders.The sheep are revolting lol

  3. The problem?

    “Don’t worry, everybody, there’s hope out there. You just have to die first!”

    Awkward.

    • Nicely said. On the face of it, hope theology offers an excuse for people to skip out on offering a hand to our fellow (wo)man. It seems to only offer a carrot that says – well things suck now but someone else will help later. To borrow a phrase from the Obama campaign – it’s hope AND change, hope alone is fairly vacuous.

  4. I do not think that atheism is the problem, I think it is our society, we are too spoiled. We are too concerned with keeping up and forgetting our values. We need to look to our inner core, see that there is hope. It is not by following a religion that makes us good or evil. I believe it is the great $ sign that has brought us the despair we are in now. We have no choice but to spend on things we do not really need because that is what the trend is.

  5. Hope is not necessarily a religious thing. To hope things will change or get better is hoping someone out there picks up on your request so to speak. We can be everybody’s Hero, to pick up on today’s ideas on hoping for someone.
    What is wrong with reaching out to help a mother at least feed their child so she can pay rent.

    Theory maybe. Graduating is getting more pensive sure enough, we do not want to many people have to good a jobs. Imagine the greedy getting paid less or having competition.

    I don’t think we have lost hope in God so to speak, if there is any. I think we lost hope in ourselves to overcome problems. We have dug a hole to deep for comfort and we can’t get out of. Is that the fault of ancestors religion. I would not go so far to blame religion thought it might not have helped.

    We should believe more in ourselves and not so much hope for change but be the change and just hope someone will help you. But in order to make that work we need to listen again talk again and understand our differences. And as a story once was told. Only God loves each and everyone of us no mater colour or beliefs. So why can’t we.

    Youngsters get taught by parents and it is our parents/ancestors who lost hope, it is they who made mistakes and they are ashamed not knowing what to do to fix it and hoping something makes it better, well lets just say the young know better, they are smart and might surprise us one day with a different view.

    Lets see and hope for the best. In the mean time let us do what we can to make a smile happen. And change even a little bit.

  6. The last two men I dated were atheists and I have a good friend who tells me he is agnostic. We have talked about why and how they came to their beliefs. The two atheists were abused as children and early on determined that a loving God would not allow such terrible things to happen to children. If there was a God, then he he hated them – with no reason. As they matured they saw that many other children suffered as much or more than they did. When I brought up the concept of free will, they both said, “That is just an excuse Christians use for bad things happening to good people. If there is such a being as God, then he gets his jollies watching people suffer.” I don’t have an answer for that. To me, believing is like breathing – natural. I have the same questions that they do, and my faith has been shaken on more than one occasion. Still l believe. I have to wonder, is it the lack of faith that is shaping our culture or the culture that is causing the lack of faith?

  7. i am not exactly atheist but partially yes! i believe in humanity and m not gonna waste my time praying instead i believe in working and preserving things made by god 🙂

  8. If I recall correctly, the era epitomized by the phrase, “a war to end all wars”, was a very hopeful time. Maybe we need to replace hope with something rougher and more humble. Maybe Grande Carmel Macchiatos are more corrosive than lack of hope.

  9. Kenneth, you’re a Christian, but you accept the secular world’s interpretations. The Crusades were a failed attempt to push back the onslaught of the Muslim religion. They mostly failed, and we’re failing at it today. They now control major portions of the most populist regions of the earth. And they are killing Christians daily.
    We are paying a huge, invisible to many, cost for this lack of faith. When you deny what is immanent, you can only follow argument. Argument doesn’t create. It whittles away. It edits. It worships science, technology, government, and vast schemes. And it has no humility. Immanence allows the humility of a vehicle. Religion allows us to allow creation. Yes, a lot is being lost… or, at least, hidden from the eyes of the young.

  10. What is killing faith is common sense and critical thinking, not atheism. But is killing faith the same thing as killing hope. Not in my opinion. Kenneth, you wrote, “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.” I couldn’t disagree more with that statement. To me, it is Christianity that is offering the false pretense that the answers to life lies within the Bible and with God. But that is a man-made fiction, a fabrication. It prompts people to not rely on themselves because God will take care of them. And when people begin to see that God doesn’t do shit for them, people lose faith in God and the religion that taught them that fiction.

    I am an atheist. I know many other atheists, and none of us can be characterized or described as hopeless, frustrated, desperate people. We have just come to realize that we create our own happiness and give our own lives meaning and direction. It comes from within each of us. We are no longer primitive people who think the Earth is the center of the universe around which the sun revolves. We no longer thing our planet is flat. We no longer have to rely on a fabrication to answer questions that we, as human beings could not, ourselves answer. And to me, Kenneth, that’s a good thing.

    • I disagree slightly. I think people can rely on themselves and still have faith in God. When I graduated college I was actively seeking employment, but I was also trusting in God to open doors for me.at the time my own efforts weren’t panning out, and I was ready to move back in with my parents. Than out of the blue I received a phone call about a job interview that I had no clue was open. It could all be coincidence, but I would like to believe my faith in God had something to do with it.

    • Hey, if you want to believe that God answered your prayers for that job and if that makes you feel good, then that’s great. I’m happy for you that you got it, with or without God’s help.

    • Thanks for that. I respect your beliefs as well.

  11. Wow…first post in a long time that I 100 percent agree Kenneth! The world is ending lol j/k. I would only add that the lack of belief in a higher power is reflective in an overall change of attitude, or perhaps it is because of the lack of belief in spirtuality of some sort is what’s changed behavior…either or. It was like I was saying yesterday about relationships even, people are so self-preserving now they are not nearly as careful about others’ feelings; people are so self-serving, self-absored, etc., that dating is so ridiculous. This applies to other aspects of life too. I agree the thing about having a belief in something is that it provides hope…or at very least a positive energy. Positive energy is contagious, but then again so is negative energy. The more we step away from the positive, the more negative we become and to me…that’s seen in everything including how we interact on the Internet (trolls, etc.), increase in bullying (cyber and otherwise), dating, just being consumers…how people behave when shopping; we’ve generally become meaner. It’s very unfortunate, but I always believe there is hope (maybe I’ve watched “The Lord of the Rings” or “The Hobbit” one too many times lol). It is always darkest before the dawn. 🙂

  12. Religion is a patriarchal concept and we don’t need more rules and control. The government does enough of that. I think people are thinking for themselves now. They aren’t afraid of the seasons, crop failure or anything else…as if they are being punished by outside forces and need a god to take care of them, if they just sacrifice more people to the pit. I don’t think religion, and the lack of it, has anything to do with the condition of society. I think Greed and Power are the things that are destroying us. Anyone can blame who they like, but as for religion, I think it’s time has come. People understand that what the churches say and what the churches do are two different things. They can’t hide what they do anymore. Rape, greed, lies, secrets, murder. You know, that kind of thing. I think people are smarter and no longer in peasant mode, working for the Lord of the manor or the king. People are educated and question the beliefs that have been handed down to them. They can see behind the curtain and all they find is men and power over others.

  13. There are missing stats in your article. Of the people who feel hopeless, how many are Christian or of some other religion and how many are atheist? It’s true that atheism doesn’t offer hope because it is not a belief system. This does not mean that atheists are thereby without hope. They may very well have hope, just not in a supernatural deity. The hopelessness, if its truly endemic which is also not put to stats, cannot be blamed on atheism for not offering a hope to counter that of the deity-worshipers. Again, it’s not a thing. It’s not a belief system. A bigger question may be: why isn’t the hope offered by various religions enough to counter the hopelessness felt by its adherents? [If hopelessness is truly endemic as you suggest.]

  14. Yes. Atheism is killing us. We are spiritual beings and without that connection, why care for the planet and the beings on it?

  15. we ALL suffer from an immaturity problem . . . WE have created this mess because of it. . . .

    CONVERSION DISORDER is a physical ailment that comes upon some people . . . they tremor/stumble/lose sight etc. . . . for no physically known reason . . . it’s the old “it’s all in your head” adage. Our brains create negative physical symptoms out of negative non physical thought. . . . the process CAN be reversed . . .

    We are creators . . . The earth is suffering. It will all change when we grow up, but for now point and blame and fighting for toys is the name of the game . . .

    This has nothing to do with religious magic OR atheistic denial . . . WE the creators are just too immature to drive the wheels of evolution to a better place . . . BUT we will someday be. . . . . be KIND and RELAX . . . that’s about the best we can do for now 🙂

  16. I don’t think that atheism is necessarily killing our hope, I think hope in the true sense of the word has been something lacking for centuries. Lack of hope is what contributed to the cause of all of the wars, massacres, etc., that we have suffered from globally looking as far back as we remember. I totally agree with you about the dialogue. Lack of hope feeds fear. By having open and humanistic conversations with one another on a daily basis, we can begin to spread hope and understanding. While religion does help some people, I don’t think it’s a lack of religion that leads to people being hopeless. I see it as a state of mind and philosophy of life that anyone can bring about. It’s just not an easy thing.

  17. Religious people are not necessariliy the same who truly believe and trust in God, our Heavenly Father.
    Jesus, wasn’t a “Sunday Christian”, and he seemed to behave kind of “scandalous” in the eyes of the “believers”, and established church people who claimed to be devoted… Yet, Jesus has never condemned the sinners, never stoned them, never judged them – if they repented and chose the path of discovering the true identity and characteristics of God.
    Jesus didn’t make a huge business, somehow, he didn’t feel the need to build mega-churches or writing self-help books… The way He showed was the pure, humble, honest re-connection to God.
    It was an originally all-inclusive idea, yet, “christians” used to mislead and misdirect everything for their individual, godless purposes and ideas.
    The hope in every culture was and is beyond the everyday life, noone can see any change in the life and the path of humanity. This hope manifests only through a private, honest, clear connection with God, our Heavenly Father. It is less important if someone meditates, or bows in a carpet, or simply cries at a rock or hugs a tree – we can feel God’s presence in several ways, and that is the hope. Somewhere, something with absolute values can bring the promise, the hope of total sweeping of the Earth.

  18. You don’t truly know what atheism is do you? Where did you get the idea that atheists believe in nothing?

  19. I recently found your blog and this article was an interesting perspective. I was a Christian fundamentalist for over 30 years, and I was very involved in church during that time. I was often serving as worship leader, musician, teacher, committee leader, etc. Throughout all of the churches that I worshiped and served in, I saw very strongly that Christianity had only a modest impact on the character of a person. Regardless of a person’s faith, nice people were nice, and assholes were assholes. I saw repeatedly that Christians often demonstrated some of the WORST behavior among human beings. I found many to be some of the most judgmental, intolerant, hateful and ungrateful people in the world. Religious belief really doesn’t seem to make a big impact on moral behavior. For example, divorce rates for Christians and non-Christians are very similar, and the viewing of pornography is often higher among conservatives.

    Those were not the reasons that I left the faith (the curious can read my story here, http://lifeafter40.net, click on About Us). My son’s declaration of atheism started me on my journey as it was my intent to reach him and show that he was wrong.

    Nonetheless, atheism doesn’t have anything to do with killing hope in our society. There are a multitude of other factors at play for that conclusion. And the corruption within our justice system and political system are two prominent sources.

  20. I would say atheism is more like a symptom of a diseased, corrupted culture, rather than a cause. Some extreme atheists make a big noise with words, but there is not much spiritual force behind their ideas. The noise they make with words is inversely proportional to the influence they have. They are symptoms of much more powerful forces in society that need to be addressed. Such as a lack of a sense of community, a corrupt manipulative societal elite group, and the sheer boredom resulting from the passive lifestyles that are promoted in our culture.

  21. I think when/if we were to look at the trouble “Christians’ have created in the world you would find that a surprisingly low percentage of the conflicts were actually created by Christians. Granted there were some big ones but if we look at the 2nd WW for instance how much of that was instigated by Christian theology. If we are to consider how many of the current ‘skirmishes’ going on in the world right now–I believe there are around 30 all over the place–how many involve Christian forces or antagonists?? Just saying–JIm

  22. and then you look to the Middle East to where in a name of a God people are be crucified, beheaded and slaughtered and dumped in mass graves, where bombs are being strapped to 10 year old’s and sent on suicide missions.
    Maybe as a human race we need to finally mature and accept our own reality and live in peace with the life we have, instead of killing and fighting for the possibility of what might be after it.

Trackbacks

  1. Is Western Culture In Decline? | Coffee & Conversation
  2. Atheism and self-reliance | Mindful Digressions
  3. Homo Superior | Amusing Nonsense
  4. An Atheist with Hope | Nerd in the Brain
  5. Dear Culture Monk, | Mindful Digressions
  6. I was wrong about religion | Blog Blogger Bloggest

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