News

Is God really dead? How Britain lost faith in the church

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Is God dead?

Fifty years ago, on April 8, 1966, a Time magazine cover asked just that question.

The same could be asked in Britain today.

The Church of England recently announced it was considering dropping the requirement for weekly church services in parish churches in the wake of dwindling attendance that show no sign of bouncing back for at least a generation. Low church attendance is frequently in the news, but looking deeper into the phenomenon reveals what the underlying issues really are.

The Church of England has been suffering from a conflict of values with its members, especially the under-25s. Recent debates around same-sex marriage, abortion and female bishops, have threatened to split the church and alienate a significant proportion of its congregation. Throughout ongoing controversies, including the lack of support for policies on women, the Church of England has come across as outdated.

The situation has been exacerbated by the comments of senior church figures such as the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, who lamented earlier this year that “the culture [is] becoming anti-Christian, whether it is on matters of sexual morality, or the care for people at the beginning or end of life. It is easy to paint a very gloomy picture.”

At the same time, the Church of Englandas well as the Catholic Church – is still reeling from allegations and legal settlements related to accusations of sexual abuse. Indeed, many have abandoned Catholicism as a result of what many perceive to be the church’s inadequate response to that systemic problem.

God is no longer ‘in our image’

As Church of England congregations age and young people reject organised religion, the atrophy of traditional parish churches seems to be unremitting.

In contrast, attendance at Evangelical and Pentecostal churches has increased over the last several decades. Between 2015 and 2013, attendance in London Pentecostal churches increased by 50 percent. This is at odds with Church of England attendance, which has gone down by 9 percent over the same period. While many Anglican churches have made an effort to welcome new immigrants and support refugees, the message has not been unequivocally supportive; evangelical churches are more highly regarded by Christians who have recently arrived in the U.K.

Prominent Conservative Party leaders, including Theresa May and David Cameron, and most recently, the aptly-named Tory councillor Christian Holliday, whose policies have been criticised as not welcoming of new arrivals to the U.K, are perhaps some of the more visible representatives of traditional churchgoers. In contrast, the rise of charismatic church attendance by recent arrivals to the U.K illustrates that these communities offer something the Church of England does not.

While the demographics of church attendance have shifted over the past few decades, as indeed they have since Christianity first emerged as a religion in its own right, interest in religion itself has increased sharply. For instance, religion is the fastest-growing A-level subject in all of the humanities, social sciences, and arts, increasing a whopping 110 percent since 2003.

The church: losing focus.
Shutterstock

This is despite growing anxiety about how to teach religion in schools, some of which has resulted in backwards curriculum redesign or ineffective teaching that may be discouraging students from learning more about the subject.

‘Believing without belonging’

It’s not quite true to say, then, that young people are becoming more secular – interest in faith, belief and spirituality seems to be on the increase. Grace Davie’s concept of “believing without belonging” might be a more useful way to understand young people’s apparent rejection of the church.

In the nineties, Davie, a sociologist of religion, coined the phrase to describe the shifting nature of religiosity from communal and active to individual and inactive. She argued that religious believing in the UK has become detached from religious belonging, which reflects a wider social shift to individualism. Young people’s “rejection” of the church, then, could be both a political response to the misogyny and homophobia displayed during church debates over the last few years, and a reflection of the “implicit religion of the British people” by which belief in a Christian God doesn’t equate to church attendance.

The idea of the UK as a Christian nation has been challenged in recent years. What is clear, however, is that religion is even more a factor in public life and personal interest than it ever has been.

More people than ever are choosing to learn about religion and what it means for a world that increasingly believes itself to be secular. This challenges society to reflect on how it defines religious literacy – and that is a good thing. God, then, isn’t dead. People are just looking for him in a different way.The Conversation

(Katie Edwards is director SIIBS, University of Sheffield, and Meredith J C Warren is lecturer in Biblical and Religious Studies, University of Sheffield. This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.)

About the author

RNS staff

97 Comments

Click here to post a comment

  • God is a construct of human society and will continue to exist as long as people believe they need him. Since irrationality is part of human nature, that won’t happen anytime soon. The nature of god may change, however, from the Stone and Bronze Age definitions.

  • It is so much easier to sell fear– believe or burn– hell, damnation, and “those people over there are not as good as you because GAWD says so and I agree with him” …

    then it is to sell love thy neighbor, be kind, think before acting, conscientiousness, and sacrifice to lift up others.

    The latter is too much work and costs too much personally.

  • Well let’s just put the stuff directly on your table.

    Throughout the many decades of your life, you’ve read of, heard of, and most likely MET actual Christians, even if only 2 or 3, who actually met your criteria there. I seriously believe you met a few.

    They were NOT perfect, but you SAW that they were kind to you or others, they practice “LoveThyNeighbor” the best they could, tried to think before acting, plus conscientious, and self-sacrifice for others the best they could, just like you asked.

    I’ve definitely met some Christians like that, and I fully believe, in all your years, you’ve met at least 2 or 3.

    So you got what you wanted. So how come you ain’t held up YOUR end of it, and accepted/trusted Jesus as you own Ruler and Savior of your life?

  • Ben in Oakland’s post neither states nor implies any of the “stuff” you inexplicably “put directly on [his] table”. It merely cites what your own Savior, Bible, and common sense tell you about human nature — and what your own reply demonstrates: it’s easier to give in to temptation than to fight it; it’s easier to encourage discontent than to challenge it; it’s easier to be nice to those who agree with oneself than to those who do not; it’s easier to focus on and criticize others than to focus on and criticize oneself; and it’s easier to throw the Bible at strangers who don’t even go to one’s church than to recognize and apologize for one’s own unworthy accusations, judgments, and trespasses against those strangers.

    I can easily see that from Ben’s comment.

    Of course, so can you.

  • God will far outlast all other constructs human or otherwise. There, I have made a categorical statement which matches yours for certainty, and is also equal in terms of the authority of the author to give it.

  • Yes, it would be the misogyny and the homophobia, especially on the part of Vaticanites. An insistence that women must be limited to certain roles, all second class. It would be the scriptures and prayers calling God “He” or “Him.” No such thing as a God limited to maleness.

    It would also be their strange Church governance.– or lack thereof. The Papacy is like a monarchy.

    It would be the lack of any coherent explanation for suffering and evil. It would be the lack of any coherent definition of God. A “good” God who “allows” evil? Com’on now. A God who creates people just to test them and throw them away in a “hell”? A God who “needs” a human sacrifice so “he” kills his only Son? What a mess.

    Until someone fixes the mess, I’m not interested. Too many of the fanatics sound like fanatics. As some have pointed out in comments — all religion is made up. Couldn’t it be made up better?

  • Not really. Your knowledge of god, his words, attributes, actions, etc. are contained in the Bible. Your god does not exist outside of the bible. I can quite easily demonstrate the scientific and historical inaccuracies of the book; its inconsistencies and contradictions. I don’t have to prove he doesn’t exist; I can prove he’s a fraud and make a good argument that the christian god of the bible is man-made. That will work for me. You on the other hand have to prove he exists – which is impossible.

  • “God, then, isn’t dead. People are just looking for him in a different way.”

    No, I think god is dead. It is getting harder and harder for apologists to reconcile the bible’s morality with society’s advancement. As scientific knowledge advances, god gets smaller.

  • Dear, dear, doc. Dear, dear, BLIND doc.
    Of course I have met them. My best friend for over 50 years is one of them. The real question is: WHY AREN’T YOU?
    And for you who regularly condemn, slander, and revile other people, who finds no lie about gay people so vicious or detached from reality, and who claims regularly that no gay person could possibly have accepted Jesus.
    no. Never mind. I just can’t.

  • It may or may not be the case these days, but when I was taking GCEs (1960s) the interest in RE was often not due to interest in the subject matter (even then it was generally regarded as an interesting anomaly) but the belief that it was one one of the easier exams to pass, and since further ed/employers counted passes rather than seeking quality many saw RE as a low-cost make-weight.

  • I’ve met a few self-certified christians who were undoubtedly good people, imperfect but definitely good. I’ve also, as you have, met people of other faiths and non-believers who are equally good people.

    Why then are you not an Islamic, Buddhist atheist who attends gurdwara one week and the mandir the next?

    I suggest that the reason is simple – good people do good things, bad people do bad things. Religion is irrelevant to peoples’ character, though not necessarily to their actions.

    Presumably you believe that your contributions to this site are part of your being a good christian. Some of us would simply regard such a conviction as evidence of additional delusion.

  • Well, just for the sake of truth-telling, (since you apparently are opposed to lies), you can begin by quoting exactly where I said that “no gay person could possibly have accepted Jesus.”

    I’m serious. You pride yourself on NOT being a liar, as we all do. So I offer you a sincere inquiry that will sincerely prove that you didn’t just offer a lie right there.

    What I HAVE shown, repeatedly, with no refutation from you, is that 1 Cor. 6:9-11 (all three verses) clearly show that homosexual behavior and gay marriage are INCOMPATIBLE with Christianity, even incompatible with Christ Himself.

    So if you’re now claiming that you indeed have accepted and trusted Jesus Christ to come into your life and heart, as the very Ruler and Savior of your life, (instead of the atheism you been professing!), well you see the unavoidable issue on the table. Are you still claiming a GAY self-identity and practice, are you still claiming atheism, knowing that such things are directly opposed to Jesus?

  • Sure, that’s understood G. I do expect such.
    But honestly? If people are worried about others thinking them to be “delusional”, such people probably should avoid involvement on Internet discussion boards altogether,
    and instead seek out sponsored “In-Person” interfaith dialogues where everybody is “gentler” (no joke no sarcasm) and seriously expected to NOT offer any world-view challenges to each other.

  • We see Ben’s initial response to this article differently, of course.

    I see a guy who, upon reading a brand-new article talking about the woes of the diminished church in Britian, immediately shifts into sarcastic knee-jerk broad-brush “Well they oughta done like This and That and the Other, but that’s too much work for them” mode, even though he KNOWS that not all Christians are failing at those tasks. And that’s not his first time.

    Now you’re okay with letting that business slide. That’s understood. But I’m equally okay with challenging that sarcasm and hypocrite business out loud. C’est la vie.

    Got problems with the church these days, G? Got a bunch of good ethical advice for us Christians, do you? Then YOU go join a local Christian church and show us — again no sarcasm here — how it’s supposed to be done.

  • Even harder to reconcile monotheistic attitudes that one’s own faith is the only real one (with dire consequences for disbelief) with societies which are becoming more and more religiously mixed. The old game of demonizing “the other” to reinforce belief is becoming harder to play. This is why it has become the sole province of fundamentalists and extremists these days.

    Its very tough to to find anything morally or socially acceptable with the idea that your neighbors, friends, co-workers, relatives are all doomed to eternal suffering just because they belong to a different religion (or none at all).

  • Much of the social reinforcement of Abrahamic belief, the core idea that one’s faith is the only one to be followed and all others will bring dire consequences is becoming lost. That is a good thing. It is harder for such faiths to keep cohesive communities together through fear and prejudice of the outsiders.

  • When christians point to the bible or god as the source of the condemnation it is the same as doing the condemnation itself because you agree with it because that’s what it says. You reject slavery, for example, as evil whereas in the OT god gave the Israelites slaves as spoils of war. Neither Jesus nor Paul condemned the practice aming christians. Yet you reject it. Why don’t you do the same with homosexuality? Is it because you personally reject it and the bible gives you a justification? Please note it is a question and not an accusation.

  • “I suggest that the reason is simple – good people do good things, bad people do bad things. Religion is irrelevant to peoples’ character, though not necessarily to their actions.”

    And as someone said, only religion can make good people do bad things. What parts of religion you embrace is a reflection of your personality and character, a Rorschach Test. Is one a fire and brimstone christian versus a golden rule christian or something in between, for example? Religious or atheist, our personal moral code is selected cafeteria style. The exception are cults and extreme fundamentalist sects that have an scary uniformity.

  • Your first sentence is extremely perceptive, (as far as it goes), so I thank you for that.

    It happens to be the unspoken (but always present) Gay-Activist belief that underlies such controversies as the recent InterVarsity thing, and also many of the RNS articles and forum posts that we’re always debating.

    It’s the proverbial 800-pound elephant. (I’m **not** accusing you of being a gay activist, by the way.)

    I’m not ignoring the rest of your post, I just wanted to call attention to your first point.

  • Christians soil their own nest by acting badly and expecting to use religion to excuse it.

    As for the second point, Larks Law states that Christians will eventually threaten a person with eternal damnation when flustered.

  • “even though he KNOWS that not all Christians are failing at those tasks”

    Please reread Ben’s and my posts and replies, floydlee, and see for yourself that your persistent accusation of the non-existent prejudicial “all” is claiming offense where there is none.

    All I care about is how people treat each other; that’s all I ever comment about.

    I don’t have “problems with the church”. I have problems with people making up stories about strangers and mistreating them accordingly, as you have in your “knee-jerk broad-brush” whole-cloth accusations against Ben and me.

    You’re tossing blame and flame at others for fictions you yourself wrote.

    These are human problems, not religious ones.

  • Bill, I do not recognize the authority of the bible and it has very few “facts” that can be verified. You might as well be quoting Shakespeare.

    In centuries past when man knew very little about the natural world, gods were thought to cause various natural phenomena. As scientific knowledge grew, the gods became less significant.

    Few: A small number of persons or things.

  • (i)Often times these debates tend to be Western focused. Yeah Western society is growing more and more secular. Meanwhile places like Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America, etc are becoming more and more religious. So while the Western World looses religion, the rest of the Globe is gaining religion and this is at a time when the West is loosing cultural significance across the Globe anyways.,

    (ii)The God is Dead thesis is a pretty dead thesis itself ironically. The assumption is that with more industrialization, science and technology religion would wither on the vine. We actually see the opposite where religion is growing and expanding in many parts of the world.

  • I will bother with the whines of Christians when they learn to be a little less obnoxious with others.

    You are trying to call me a liar. But you are just misinformed
    http://americanhumanist.org/hnn/details/2012-05-unelectable-atheists-us-states-that-prohibit-godless

    Arkansas, Article 19, Section 1:
    No person who denies the being of a God shall hold any office in the civil departments of this State, nor be competent to testify as a witness in any Court.

    Maryland, Article 37:
    That no religious test ought ever to be required as a qualification for any office of profit or trust in this State, other than a declaration of belief in the existence of God; nor shall the Legislature prescribe any other oath of office than the oath prescribed by this Constitution.

    Mississippi, Article 14, Section 265:
    No person who denies the existence of a Supreme Being shall hold any office in this state.

    North Carolina, Article 6, Section 8
    The following persons shall be disqualified for office: Any person who shall deny the being of Almighty God.

    South Carolina, Article 17, Section 4:
    No person who denies the existence of a Supreme Being shall hold any office under this Constitution.

    Tennessee, Article 9, Section 2:
    No person who denies the being of God, or a future state of rewards and punishments, shall hold any office in the civil department of this state.

    Texas, Article 1, Section 4:
    No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office, or public trust, in this State; nor shall any one be excluded from holding office on account of his religious sentiments, provided he acknowledge the existence of a Supreme BeingMy remark was a reference to the fact that several states still have laws on the books prohibiting atheists from holding public office.

    ….
    Now if you will be so kind as to take that long walk off the short pier.

  • I would simply ask YOU, to re-read the posts, starting with Ben’s.
    The specific problem(s) with his posts, that I chose to directly question / challenge, are clear enough.

    The questions / challenges are still standing unrefuted, I notice — and they can always be repeated if need be.

    You say that “all you care about” is “how people treat each other.” That’s fine; just be sure you apply your ethics on all sides of the fence (you may need a little more practice there!).

    Also be more ready to support your worldview, ‘cuz it does surface on occasion and doesn’t look so good.

    Meanwhile, I’m sure Ben will continue calling ’em like he sees ’em, and hopefully, I will continue to do the same.

  • My knowledge of God exists outside the bible in fact, in a construct that you can neither understand, nor disprove. Nor am I compelled to prove it to you. You can merely extend the level of your own self deception.

  • Just briefly on your second point — you MUST be aware by now, that everybody from the abolitionist Grimke sisters to modern-day Christian online sites like Probe, Radio Bible Class, GotQuestions, and Christian Thinktank, have already proven that slavery in the Bible was NOTHING like the racially-based U.S. horror show.

    You MUST be aware that black slaves who were taught the Bible, didn’t need to be told twice that “…However, if you get a chance to become free, take it.” (1 Cor 7:21)

    So you can’t use the issue of slavery to create an escape-hatch on the Bible’s prohibitions on homosexual behavior.

  • The issues of shrinking attendance and belief are not only a problem for the Church of England in England, but are common to churches in the rest of the UK, Europe, North America Australia and New Zealand and other places.

    People might be interested in religion, especially of the threatening and bloodthirsty kind, but this doesn’t equate with belief. Religion has gained the reputation of being a rather toxic brand at the moment. No wonder that people are turning their backs on it.

  • Yes, I’ve reread them many times, floydlee. And, assuming you have similarly reread mine, I’m sure you now recognize that almost everything I wrote applies to everybody, not just Christians:

    “it’s easier to give in to temptation than to fight it; it’s easier to encourage discontent than to challenge it; it’s easier to be nice to those who agree with oneself than to those who do not; it’s easier to focus on and criticize others than to focus on and criticize oneself”; and
    “I have problems with people making up stories about strangers and mistreating them accordingly”; and
    “These are human problems, not religious ones.”

    In fact, the only thing I wrote about Christians both acknowledges and addresses their unenviable additional temptation:

    “it’s easier to throw the Bible at strangers who don’t even go to one’s church than to recognize and apologize for one’s own unworthy accusations, judgments, and trespasses against those strangers.”

    Most Christians recognize this temptation, and conquer it through humility, empathy, self-restraint, and, I would imagine, a lot of practice, and even more prayer. Some Christians don’t recognize the temptation, and instead give in to it; and when they are confronted about it, some of those Christians deny it even as they intensify their expressions of disrespect.

    But, back to what we all face — “it’s easier to be nice to those who agree with oneself than to those who do not; it’s easier to focus on and criticize others than to focus on and criticize oneself” — and to your accusations about my ethics and worldview (nice examples, and nice pivot, by the way):

    “…be sure you apply your ethics on all sides of the fence (you may need a little more practice there!)”; and
    “be more ready to support your worldview, ‘cuz it does surface on occasion and doesn’t look so good.”

    Regarding my ethics, you must not read a lot of my posts. These are typical:

    “Most theists respect other-believers; some don’t. Most atheists respect other-believers; some don’t. We have more in common than some of us care to admit.”; and
    “Of course, most Christians aren’t [trying to impose their will on everyone else], just like most non-Christians. The real bummer is that those few exceptions on both sides can be ungodly — and inhuman.”

    Regarding my worldview — that I care more about how people treat each other than about anything else, and so my chosen guiding values are Equality, Respect, and Empathy — Who are you to judge? But you’ve certainly proved my point.

  • In fairness Jim I never add the “but to make good people do bad things takes religion” because I don’t believe it to true.

    I’m sure that many good people have done bad things because they were pressured into it through their religion, but I can think of a lot of other pressures – hunger, poverty, sickness etc. – which have the same potential for causing evil.

  • The Anglican Church may consider God to be dead, but God is alive and thriving in the evangelical churches in Britain! They are Christian Protestants too, remember? A state-church has the double burden of trying to give a spiritual patina to the lives of the royal family, and Prince Charles dealth that effort a strong blow! Then a few years ago their Archbishop of Canterberry told Britons they need to get used to Sharia law!

    Between the sexual deviance of the royals and bending to the Muslims, the Anglican Church has indeed lost a great deal of authenticity as a fit vessel of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

  • I think that the need to profess a religious belief is rooted in culture and in the perception of a need for support in difficult times such as illness and unemployment. If so we need to separate the cultural and the survival pressures which maintain religious practice.

    Most western societies have attained a never-before-enjoyed standard of living for most of their citizens. Those citizens are not only more wealthy, they are more mobile and have access to support from non-traditional sources – they are able to find remedies to their problems outside the narrow family/village(street)/church groups. The prevention of centralised proper support for the poor and sick in the US seems to be a major reason why the demise of religion is happening later there rather than in western Europe,

    Individuals within the emergent societies of Africa, South America and Asia have, generally, yet to achieve the same level of independence from traditional support as those in societies where religion has become less central to their lives. I predict that the growth you refer to will peak and then wither as those societies achieve greater levels of personal freedom from the old fears relating to health and wealth.

    Finally, religion sold itself on having answers – how/why the universe; providing unjustified hope for a perfect future – heaven; promoting itself as a defender of the poor and downtrodden whilst enriching itself at their cost; etc.. As time has gone by religion’s answers have been demonstrated to be wrong/no more likely than any other guess. People who lived in a world where little was known could accept silly ideas as plausible because there was nothing better to compare them with.

    Those days are over for ever but the knowledge is not yet universal.

    Fight as I don’t doubt it will religion will only continue to wield its present authority within closed societies where information is filtered and dissent suppressed – does the word cult spring to mind?

  • “BTW there are many facts in the bible at have been verified contrary to your opinion”

    Like what? Please be specific.

    Aside from the existence of a few places which existed long before biblical authorship, you are hard pressed to find credible verification for most facts asserted in the Bible. Literal belief was not even intended for a lot of it.

  • Belief in God is alive in evangelical churches in Britain.

    Belief in God is also thriving in mosques, mandirs, gurdwaras etc. in Britain.

    Belief in the gods of the Romans, the ancient Greeks, the Norsemen, the Pharaohic Egyptians et al periodically flourished, revived and eventually waned.

    Doesn’t mean that god(s) are real – just believed to be. Big difference.

  • Actually it’s the attitudes of nasty minded people like that tend to drive reasonable and sane believers away. Too many fanatics sound like fanatic is right. Thank you for illustrating Violet writes point.

  • “you fools”

    Odd behaviour for someone who (I assume) considers themselves a Christian.

    Christian; one who follows the teaching and example of the Christ?

    Does your Bible not include Christ’s alleged statement in Matt 5:22?

  • “…religious sites.”

    I’ve heard this complaint by believers before on this site. It just shows that believers don’t like having their dogma discussed by unbelievers, but would prefer to remain unchallenged in their bubble of belief. In fact, many unbelievers know the Bible, for example, better than many believers do. Unbelievers have as much right to comment here as you do.

    This is not a religious site, it is a news site that reports on religious issues. That’s a big difference.

  • You would still believe in a god but not the god of the bible if the bible didn’t exist. Notice that my reference to god was the christian god, the god of the bible. The existence of a deist or first cause intellegent being can’t be proven or disproven. That’s a different argument. I went from a belief in the christian god to being a deist to being an atheist. So I do understand the need and the construct- it is inherent in our makeup, we all grapple with it. Irrationality is a part of us.

  • “Meanwhile places like Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America, etc are becoming more and more religious.”

    It is a pretty broad statement. In a good deal of the world, especially Eastern Europe and Latin America, that is not really true. Its just that ultra-religious groups are becoming more prominent and politically active than they used to be.

    A lot of what you are seeing as religion growing and expanding is not something to feel triumphant about.

    Many developing nations, non-belief brings threats to one’s life. Worse still, sectarian beliefs are linked to political/ethnic identity and conflicts of that sort. In the Middle East, religious extremism is a planned political platform in order to reinforce autocratic governments.

    Developed nations in those regions are seeing a sharp decline in religious belief. Much of it brought on by increasing heterogeneity of the populations due to immigration or ends of long standing sectarian conflicts. Japan, South Korea, Singapore, India,

    It is not just economic/technological development which is causing a shrinkage in religious belief, but also the increasing ubiquity of immigration. It is harder to rely on age old xenophobia to reinforce sectarian belief.

  • “the government was the religion and didn’t truly reflect the bible nor the Christian faith just like Rome.”

    What is really interesting about this statement is that we have a whole branch of people who claim their Christian faith “truly reflects the Bible” and desire such ideas to be the government at the same time, Dominionists. The crowd that makes nonsense claims such as, “America is a Christian Nation”, “America was founde don Judeo-Christian principles (which nobody can seem to come up with)” and “Separation of Church and State is a myth”.

  • And there I was thinking that the FA was to prevent the sort of religious intolerance that people fled Britain in order to exercise against other residents. Roger Williams?

  • Apparently you are unable to read what you wrote. Of course you were complaining about an atheist being on this site, which you clearly implied is a “religious site”. You also resorted to one of the lowest forms of argument, an ad hominem one, by calling Spuddie a troll and hypocrite. So I guess its you who is the hypocrite. Exposing the untruths and unsupported “facts” of the bible is not “whining”, it is a public service.

  • Don’t you realise that the rules are made by your god for you to follow (and fail) – they don’t apply to him.

    Part of the standard domination play of any psychopath; insist others behave according to mutually exclusive rules (so that they have to fail) whilst making up rules for themselves that suit the moment and insisting that you’d understand if you were intelligent enough/a true believer etc.. In other words, the psychopath is always right and you (the victim) are always wrong, and wrong because you are incapable of being as wise, as clever and as wonderful as your manipulator.

  • Thanks for the compliment.

    I spent my childhood thinking within the artificial constraints of belief. It’s good to know the escape is recognisable.

  • I’ve only just spotted this

    “The fact is we still know very little about the natural world because we still have no cure for the common cold.”

    This is as sensible as saying that green is the noise favoured by deaf boulders.

    Humanity knows a massive amount about the natural world (including how to cure many diseases which your god either can’t or won’t). The fact that you understand little of that knowledge speaks to your ignorance rather than the existence of an undemonstrable and unnecessary supernature.

  • “the culture [is] becoming anti-Christian, whether it is on matters of sexual morality, or the care for people at the beginning or end of life. It is easy to paint a very gloomy picture.”

    I believe it is a misunderstanding due to incorrect translations of ancient writings to call matters the Archbishop mentioned here “anti-Christian.” In fact, abortion, euthanasia, marriage for all and similar issues don’t belong in that category. Now if he’d mentioned greed, war, pollution, death penalty and similar items Jesus focused on, he would have been both accurate and timely.

  • Well that is a comforting fiction for you to declare. The appeal of Fundamentalism is the false sense of superiority one has that they are the only type of Christians out there and none of the millions of others really matter. As if they are the sole arbiter of such things. Nobody ever takes this seriously.

    What the Bible defines “what a Christian is supposed to be” is always subject to your personal interpretations. Anyone who says it is clear on such things is either lying or delusional in the certainty of their belief. 500+ Christian sects with almost nothing in common with each other on beliefs tells the world that when it comes to interpretation, “your mileage may vary”/

    “Even you god obama said we were once a Christian, the highest government agent in the USA.”

    I am going to chalk that one up to auto-correct trouble on your electronic device. We were never a “Christian nation”. The phrase is used to pretend that Christians should be entitled to greater rights than anyone else or that their posteriors should be kissed for being part of such a faith. Its nonsense.

  • I said credible verification. An apologist site with a section for “Reasons to believe” and “The remarkable book called the Bible” is neither going to be objective, nor provide verification of claims. Credible is some source which doesn’t have a vested interest in promoting belief saying something has been proven.

    Plus the claims of the link are just outright goofy. It is just claiming that various scientific ideas are somehow referenced in the Bible through vague pronouncements. Not at all verification that the Bible provided factual information. Such as scientific proof of the existence of Moses or Adam & Eve. Reasons To Believe

    If this is what passes for verification of facts in the Bible, it speaks badly for the reasoning skills and honesty of many believers.

  • Really? Sectarian conflicts, xenophobia, discrimination under the color of law, covering up scandals and a cretinous attitude towards science and education have nothing to do with it?

    Its just those nasty atheists and their questions and challenges to your faith that is the problem?

    Riiiight? Bill, on behalf of the post-religious movement, keep posting your stuff. You are doing the work for us. 🙂

  • Everybody has “faith” in something or someone (the monarchy, pubs, celebrities, drugs, a particular political party or leader, money, a football team, or whatever).
    Some people have faith in “science” as a replacement for religion. However, it really is faith. We now estimate that 95 percent of the universe is dark energy and dark matter, but really have little idea what that is. That is to say we think we have some limited understanding of 5 percent, and the rest we take on scientific faith. It was not that long ago that we believed the 5 percent was actually the 100 percent. The “religion” of science was way off, and who really knows if we have it right now?

    We have faith in organized government, healthcare, transportation, and education. We would not think of trying to fly to the Moon without organized science. Yet modern nations can no longer understand the value of organized religion or why an organization would be necessary to transport the soul to Heaven–surely the most complex human undertaking of all.

    When religions started adapting their doctrine to catch the changes in the direction of the moral wind, it was hardly a surprise that they started being blown away. Who wants a ticket to Heaven on a plane that cannot seem to figure out the right direction to go? Is there eternal truth? Are there eternal laws? Is there really good and evil? Or does anything go? What are the lines? Who is qualified to say, if not an ancient Being who has observed and seen it all? Is the Bible outdated? Has God chosen prophets in our generation to tell our generation what we need to know? Would we listen if He did? Would we even be willing to try to find out?

  • You don’t know about God’s word, you don’t know about God.

    You have conviction, you have certainty but you don’t have knowledge.

    Oh – and your analysis of my emotional state is silly, erroneous and irrelevant.

  • This post is nonsensical.

    How can I blame god when I don’t believe god exists?

    As to your God not curing people (including devout believers) just to prove a point – yup, that’s precisely what I’d expect from an unfeeling, self-obsessed psychopath.

  • There weren’t any scientific facts stated. Did you read the site? If that is what you think is a site with recitation of scientific evidence, it speaks badly to your understanding of such things.

  • A nice fiction to feel spiritually superior to others in the same faith. Yes, I already made that clear. You feel like you are the arbiter of such things despite no indication why such assertions need to be taken seriously.

  • Keep demonstrating the Christian love, understanding and wisdom they like to tell the world they have. 🙂

    It just makes my job easier.

  • The “no true Scotsman” argument.
    I don’t know if I was a Christian, I was thought to be (sinner’s prayer, public confession, church choir etc. – though perhaps all that doesn’t count if one is only eight years old?) You imagine an admission that is impossible to make whilst passing a judgement you do not have the authority to decide. In what I believed to be Christianity it was down to God, and God alone, to make that decision.
    How do you define a Christian?
    If you had read my post diligently you would realise that the escape was from the constraints imposed by having to try to accommodate my Christian beliefs when trying to make sense of my world. The Bible was part of that belief system, and part of the reason that I was forced to realise the incompatibility of Christianity and reality.

  • You have a very ignorant or dishonest view as to what constitutes scientific evidence or credible proof. Hurling lame insults that it was over my head doesn’t change the fact you posted apologetic bullshit that nobody would consider. You obviously didn’t read the site.

    Either way, it comes down to you either being an ignorant fool or thinking everyone else is. You posted nonsense and are doubling down on it. What waste of time.

  • Faith is the belief that unprovable ideas reflect reality.
    Science is a process by which, and within severe restraints, we try to obtain and understand evidence.

    Science is a work in progress, Faith is unchangeable.

    Science has mechanisms for self-correction – it never claims to know everything – if it knew everything it would cease.
    Faith does not need correction, it therefore does not change (except around the fashionable edges) and will go on, and on, and on ,and, on……………………..

    You ask good questions, good answers are available, certainty generally isn’t.

    When you start questioning you need to start with the first one because giving a pass to the basics means you may be building a rational structure on a non-existent foundation.

    For example, you assume the existence of God, I question that assumption; can you provide a definitive proof that such a deity exists? – If not you are not rationally able to ask questions based on your unproven assumption are you?

  • Not “God” – “your god”; that is to say – the one that exists only inside your head.

    If it existed it would be a rotten, small-minded, self-obsessed and immoral god – fortunately there is no reason to believe such an abomination exists.

  • You think being Christian means I have to assume you are finest and knowledgeable? LMAO! You post garbage that looks like it was thrown together for a Sunday school lesson for 7 year olds and call it scientific evidence.

    So either you have no idea what scientific evidence looks like or you are such a self absorbed liar that you think others don’t. It’s also rich to complain about personal attacks when that is the entirety of your posts.

    Whatever. If that site was the best you could do. So be it. You aren’t going to do any better and just fling poo. No point in continuing further.

  • No – I referenced “your god”. If you can turn that into an admission that any god exists your understanding of the English language is faulty.

  • Your heart is a muscle which evolved to pump blood around the body.

    Please explain how you interpret my comment as meaning that I think I’m god (I don’t) or am trying to bully you (I’m not). Does this rather informative cognitive association mean that you are getting frightened by your inability to respond logically? Does that fear explain why you have reduced your comments to puerile insults? Does your laughter cover your confusion?

    Chuck the spade out of the hole Bill and I’ll lower a rope when you ask.

  • It’s not surprising I haven’t answered this question – you hadn’t asked it had you? Off the top of my head –

    there are many nuanced versions of the definition of “a Christian”; most would include being a person who follows the example and teaching of the Christ (as claimed in the Gospels wrongly attributed to Ss Matthew, Mark, Luke and John).
    Note that is the teachings of the Christ, not of fictional OT prophets and johnny-come-latelys like St Paul, Popes and Archbishops, telly-evangelists and the whole raft of hangers-on).

    Many would require a specific act or acts such as saying “the sinner’s prayer”, public confession of Christ etc.. The expectation is that the resultant “filling with the Holy Ghost” modifies the individuals character so that “their light may shine before men”.

    The Bible doesn’t actually play a role in becoming a Christian does it, if only because the Bible was created after the concept of Christianity was well established. (Cart and Horse). Passages are quoted, such as

    “unless you become as one of these (a child)”
    “sell all you have and give it to the poor”
    “take no thought for the morrow” (which means no pension, no healthcare, no property, no regular job etc.)
    “leave your family and follow me” (abandon your parents, your spouse, your children).

    Are these what you mean?

    Do you know anyone who has truly done so?

  • “including how to cure many diseases which your god either can’t or won’t”

    There; I’ve even saved you the effort of finding the reference to “your god”.

  • try removing the lens cap – you’re not seeing anything.

    Should I assume that your suggestion that my personality is being projected on to my god means that you acknowledge the existence of my god – since clearly my personality exists and can’t be projected on to nothing. What would your god say about you acknowledging my god?

    As I said before, chuck the spade out of the hole.

  • I’ve already explained – you cannot explain something that was around in 100CE by something that wasn’t put together until 300CE.

    Anyroadup – Why are you so keen to get me to define Christian – don’t you know?
    Do you follow Christ? Do you take no thought for the morrow, have you sold all that you had and given the cash to the poor? Have you deserted your kith and kin? OK – I might believe the acting as a child bit. If you won’t answer this I’m through because you are wasting everyone’s time.

    (I’ll let you in on a secret – there have been as many definitions of Christian as there have been people who claim to be one – and none of them knows for sure – they just hope their guess is good enough).

  • Yep – “your god” either can’t, or it can but won’t. Logic is very easy when you understand it.

  • Correction of terminology when used in the context of Christianity:

    “Here are some actual facts FACTs in the bible on how many actual believers in the faith FAITH there is at any given time.”

    FACTs = Fantasies Accepted as Complete Truth

    FAITH = Foolish Acceptance of Illogical Theological Hogwash.

  • Religion is be being harmed by Politics and Money for Political Votes.
    Billionaire Home Depot founder Ken Langone has a warning for Pope Francis.
    A major Republican donor, Langone told CNBC in a story published online Monday that wealthy people such as himself might stop giving to charity if the Pope continues to make statements criticizing capitalism and income inequality.

  • You guys do it to yourselves. Somehow live and let live and your mileage may vary aren’t in your lexicon.

  • I have to ask myself what sort of person would have such a poor opinion of other people, that he would suppose many of them will “decide” to go to hell. By the way, I am not an atheist, but rather, I am a None who is also an agnostic.

  • I haven’t made a choice. By the way, faith is not the opposite of doubt. Certainty is. Atheists and “believers” are certain.

  • Instead of wasting your time whining about “bigoted arrogant atheists,” why not spend your time trying to discover a few shreds of evidence to support the existence of your god? I guess the answer is that, after thousands of years of nothing being discovered, looking for evidence would be an even bigger waste of time.

  • Well, one thing I can tell from your comments is that you’re among the worst kind of Christians. Even you must admit that on the spectrum of Christianity, there are great many kinds of Christians. I get along well with many Christians, including my mother and other family members, just not those of your ilk.

  • Your faith doesn’t offend me, because it is meaningless to me. But your words certainly reveal what an offensive person you are, the worst example and expression of Christianity there is. As for “bigoted bully”, take a look in the mirror and read your own words.

  • Violet

    The normal definition of “atheist” is “someone who does not believe in god(s)”

    Most of us are agnostic atheists; we don’t think that we can disprove the existence of god(s) but, because we can’t detect any evidence, need or rational justification for god(s), we suspect that there probably aren’t any. (Many of us also reckon that any god(s) which can’t be bothered to provide a reasonable case for their existence aren’t worth bothering with).

    There are some atheists who disbelieve in god(s), that is to say they believe that nothing that could even remotely be described as a god exists. They are normally known as “hard atheists” or “anti-theists”.

    It is, in my opinion, perfectly possible to demonstrate rationally that the god(s) we are told we should believe in do not, in reality, exist outside the imagination of their acolytes. Again, in my opinion, it is not possible to disprove concepts as yet un-imagined (though I suspect that they would be readily dispatched soon after).

    It suits some religious people to try to make out that all atheists are hard atheists because that position requires exactly the same faith-based belief, being equally devoid of evidence, need or reason, as religious belief. They can then kid themselves that we are just as silly as them in believing without evidence, but even more silly because their silliness is more right than what they seek to impute as our silliness.

    Sometimes the opposite of certainty is irrelevance – most atheists regard god(s) as irrelevant; it’s the actions of those who believe that concern us, not the existence or otherwise of an irrelevant concept.

  • Thanks Bony for your thought-filled reply. I learned a lot from it. I am at the agnostic end of the spectrum, but I still have a spiritual life and opinions about religion. It is easy to disbelieve in the illogical god(s) of some. They have gods, plural, because they invent a Satan also, who has a personality and super-powers – a demon god. I am not ready to call myself atheist because I am still hoping there is some greater purpose beyond little ol’ me. Yes, it is a concern that some are able to convince themselves of strange beliefs and act on that.

  • Hi Violet

    I appreciate your response and encourage you to continue hoping.

    I find the idea that we can assist each other to a better life, for ourselves, those we interact with and for future generations to be much more worthwhile than my previous selfish pre-occupation with my undemonstrable “soul” and an unsupported expectation of any form of life-after-death.

    This feeling that I can make a (small but worthwhile) difference leads me to being an active humanist.

    Humanists base their lives on evidence-based considerations. They reject the supernatural, not because they can prove it non-existent but because they can see neither evidence nor need for it to be. We have a personal moral code, not because it is imposed by other people who claim to have a special link to, or understanding of, their deity’s wishes but because a society with a rational morality works better for its members.

    We don’t have a set of rules, we don’t have to agree to a protocol or behave in particular ways, we just try to live our lives with as much fun, as much compassion and as much love as we can. We don’t always get it right of course – my preferred dictum is along the lines of “Do whatever you want; provided that it doesn’t hurt anyone.” Sadly, sometimes, this can become “do whatever causes the least harm to others”; not all situations have an outcome that does no harm.

  • I have to say Bony, that your comments to me make sense. Thanks. Yes, the only rational choice is to be a humanist. I want to lessen the burdens imposed on us collectively by our Existence. Or should I put a more positive spin on that and say — the conditions imposed by the fertile soil in which we are growing?

    I am puzzled by the uneven texture of this Existence, some of it near-perfection, some unbearable misery. I suppose some would advise me to change my perception of it and thus adapt to achieve equanimity. In recent days I have been looking at Pi — a fairly even, but still uneven distribution of digits — interesting. I do detect “mind” in the factors present in the Fibonacci Series and in the triangular patterns of factors in the Pascal’s Triangle (@Et Cetera Selection). A sort of intelligence. Why the perfection of these numbers does not seem to be present in the chaos of my life, I can’t explain. Or maybe Perfection is there, creating the “best of all possible worlds” for me?? Would I leap to the conclusion that there is a god named “Father” who sends plagues and flies? No. However, life does not seem sufficiently random to me to be strictly a random process per known laws of physics.

  • People still have the same brains they had during Biblical times. The Holocaust wasn’t that long ago. I’m not sure how much society has advanced.

    Why are atheist as literal readers of the Bible as Fundamentalists? Have you ever read any of the Jewish Commentaries on the Bible? Nearly everything in what Christians call the “Old Testament” is questioned. My rabbi says that if you are reading the Hebrew Bible by yourself, you should be arguing with yourself. The Commentaries and the Talmud reinterpret many questionable passages in the Hebrew Bible.

    Also, atheists can be antisemites as well as believers. The French Enlightenment was.

ADVERTISEMENTs