Christianity Today Poll

Christianity Today wants you to finish the sentence in a poll: Atheism is…

  • a major threat to Christianity
  • the only rational outlook
  • just another religion
  • mostly irrelevant today
  • other

Let’s break this down.

Of course atheism is a threat to Christianity. Just like Christianity is a threat to atheism. Just like every religion is a threat to every other religion. That’s just obvious. Bad choice.

The only rational outlook? I like that one. Everyone, go pick that.

Just another religion?! Atheism is not a religion. I’m not the first to say this, but saying atheism is a religion is like saying bald is a hair color and not collecting stamps is a hobby. Religion means a belief in the supernatural. That’s not atheism. Bad choice.

Mostly irrelevant today? Well, considering that many of the bestselling books in the past year have been atheist-themed, and atheism is getting covered in the media more than ever, and the fact that Christianity Today saw to it to have a poll question about atheism…. I think it’s safe to say it’s fairly relevant. Bad choice.

Other? Atheism is other? That doesn’t even complete the sentence properly. Bad choice.

If you’d like to participate, here’s the poll.


[tags]atheist, atheism, Christianity Today, poll[/tags]

  • http://emergingpensees.blogspot.com/ Mike C

    What if we changed “religion” to “philosophy of life”? I think that’s probably closer to what they meant. As you know, not all religions have to mean belief in the supernatural (some forms of Buddhism or Confucianism for example include no supernatural beliefs). If we said that atheism is simply another philosophy – another way of looking at the world and basis for living your life, would that be less offensive?

    At any rate, that’d probably be my answer. I don’t see it as a threat, I don’t think it’s the only rational possibility, but neither is it irrelevant, so yeah, to me it’s just one more option among many.

  • Mriana

    I didn’t even finish reading and I voted the only rational outlook. :lol:

  • godma

    Unfortunately, I think when most people call atheism another religion, they don’t mean it in the philosophical sense, they mean it more in the “faith-based set of beliefs” sense.

    Individual atheists, etc. really need to seek this misperception out and try to correct it as much as possible. Blogs and discussion sites are a good place to start, and don’t require public exposure.

  • http://mojoey.blogspot.com Mojoey

    I never understand it when a Christian says atheism is just another set of beliefs. Because, they mean another faith based believe system. I have no faith. None at all. I look for truth using rational methods like logic and science. I have always thought the question to be a fundament disconnect. If they cannot get that Atheism does not entail faith, how can they understand us at all?

  • http://emergingpensees.blogspot.com/ Mike C

    I have no faith. None at all. I look for truth using rational methods like logic and science.

    Ah, the epistemological irony of this statement… :)

  • http://off-the-map.org/atheist/ Siamang

    What a garbage poll.

    I think I have problems with every single answer. Moreover, I have problems with Christianity Today loading their polls with their own philosophical baggage.

    “The Only Rational Outlook” is the only option that isn’t front-loaded with a “when did you stop beating your wife?” kind of trap. But of course, it seems specifically designed to scare Christians into agreeing with the first option… a threat!

    Why don’t they have something spiritually generous like “a different philosophical path”? Would they shoehorn Judaism into a stupid poll like this?

    The problem with the option “Just another religion” is the word “just”. Is judaism “just another religion”? Well, not to the people who follow that, it isn’t!

    The word “just” is a put-down. It doesn’t need to be there. If it was a mere misunderstanding as Mike C implies, the option could have been “A different religion”.

    Oh no, that’s not what they have in mind at all. The option “Just another religion” contains editorial content. What it really means is:

    “Atheists say they don’t believe in God. Well, my friends, THAT is a religious belief, because nobody can know for a 100% fact that there’s no God. So Atheism IS a religion, an anti-God religion.”

    And whattaya know… this one supports the “threat” option too!

    So the real options Christianity Today offers are:

    1: Threat to Christianity
    2: Threat to Christianity
    3: Threat to Christianity
    4: Not a threat to Christianity
    5: Other

  • Mriana

    You know, sometimes it seems easier as a non-theist, because this argument doesn’t come up as much, even though I get accused of being an atheist. I can understand the atheists POV better, in some respects. The thing is, I can honestly say, when I am misunderstood as an atheist, that theists have no comprehension of atheism.

    Of course, there is that factor of “If you don’t believe in my God, you are an atheist” and they somehow feel their god has been threatened because of that. Theists have no concept of anything but their supernatural, anthropomorphic deity. If it ain’t that you believe in, then you don’t believe in a real god, so therefore you are an atheist. *rolling eyes*

    I always hate to have to explain it to them, but atheism is the concept of no god or gods. Non-theism is something other than the theistic god and cannot be put into words, because it is so much a part of nature. They never get it. It’s like they have to have a pic of God, which is represented as Jesus. Doesn’t this go against the second commandment?

  • http://atheistrevolution.blogspot.com/ vjack

    Only rationale outlook just got my vote as well.

  • Vincent

    Mariana, I think you have a different definition of non-theist than most other people.
    As I understand the distinction, atheist is, as the greek origins indicate, the absince of a belief in a supernatural entity.
    Non-theist then is the belief that there is no supernatural entity (belief in its broadest sence as taking something as true that cannot be proven, since there is ample evidence).

  • Steelman

    Mirana said: Non-theism is something other than the theistic god and cannot be put into words, because it is so much a part of nature.

    Would you describe this as pantheism? Something akin to Spinoza’s idea of God?

  • Tim

    I wanted to pick “other” and add something thoughtful, but I realized there doesn’t seem to be a write-in ballot….. “Only rational outlook” seems a bit elitist to me, but all the other ones seem to either demean or dismiss atheism altogether, which I also don’t agree with. This poll sucks.

  • http://www.suckingthemarrow.blogspot.com Jennifer

    I voted “only rational outlook”. Thanks for the heads up.

  • Mriana

    Vincent said,

    May 18, 2007 at 2:12 pm

    Mriana, I think you have a different definition of non-theist than most other people.
    As I understand the distinction, atheist is, as the greek origins indicate, the absince of a belief in a supernatural entity.
    Non-theist then is the belief that there is no supernatural entity (belief in its broadest sence as taking something as true that cannot be proven, since there is ample evidence).

    I do not have a belief in a supernatural entity. I do not believe in a supernatural entity. There is no supernatural. I think I explained this before.

    However, if you look up Deism, Pantheism, and Panendeism, you will see they are called non-theistic. However, that is not my view. If you read my thing on neuro-psychology, that is what I’m really talking about. I just can not put that into words, except maybe call it transendence.

    None of the non-theistic views of deism, pantheism or panendeism, that say they are non-theistic, talk about what I talk about. There is no neuro-psychology, no feelings of transendence brought on by a chemical reaction in the brain. In other words they are not scientific ideas, even though they SAY they are non-theistic.

    I just don’t have a name for feelings of transendence other than the complicated drawn explaination of the neuro-psychological basis for it, whatever “It” is. I know the triggers that cause the chemical reactions in the brain, and the feelings of transendence brought on by that chemical reation, BUT I have no name for it. What the HELL do you call it? I have no clue, but it’s something.

    How do you put THAT into one or two words?

  • Mriana

    Oh and as you see, Ground of All Being or Divine Spark doesn’t really describe it correctly either, which I’ve mentioned in passing, but it’s an easy way of not going into neuro-psychological babble.

  • UnboundSet

    I chose “a major threat to Christianity” as requested, but the results show that “Just another religion” is winning.

    In suggesting that Atheism is “Just” another life view, aren’t the responders in fact placing their own hallowed faith on a playing field equal to other religions and non religions.

    That kind of Blasphemy makes me sad.

  • Darryl

    This poll question assumes that atheism is monolithic. There is more than one kind of atheism in terms of why people choose it and what it means for them. I rejected the beliefs I used to hold because they were insupportable, absurd, and divisive. Since I was in every other respect rational, and esteemed science and knowledge, once the faith was dumped, I remained what I always was. Just what I called myself was not so important.

    I should also say, in response to Mike’s remark about the epistemological irony of a rational, scientific atheist searching for the “truth,” that the idea of truth is an ancient and abstract idea, and has many kinds. I’d be willing to bet that the kind that Mojoey had in mind was not that which Mike had in mind. Because our knowledge tradition developed over millenia from sources that actually believed that an ultimate truth was possible, doesn’t mean that this term–and any other of the old ideas–cannot be used as stand-ins for more technical, modern, and precise terminology (with their modern assumptions).

    Language is not a trustworthy medium upon which to rest our philosophical knowledge. To think otherwise led the Greeks astray (and many others since), and explains why the simplicity of language beguiles and stupifies Theists with their arguments made of sounds rather than substance. It seems to me that religion is much like Life, as Macbeth observed: “it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” What do the religionists leave us, once their work is through? Nothing that is not material–nothing that matters, if they are to be believed.

  • http://lfab-uvm.blogspot.com/ C. L. Hanson

    I like “other”. Just on principle. ;)

  • http://danharlow.com Dan Harlow

    Only rational outlook gets my vote.

    What a weird sentence “only rational outlook”. It could be read as “only A “rational” outlook”, thereby implying that the Christian outlook is not rational – which is true, by the way! How ironic :)

  • Gary

    Psalms 14:1:
    The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.
    Psalms 14:2:
    The Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God.
    Psalms 14:3:
    They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
    Psalms 14:4:

    Have all the workers of iniquity no knowledge? who eat up my people as they eat bread, and call not upon the Lord.
    Psalms 14:5:
    There were they in great fear: for God is in the generation of the righteous.
    Psalms 14:6:
    Ye have shamed the counsel of the poor, because the Lord is his refuge.
    Psalms 14:7:
    Oh that the salvation of Israel were come out of Zion! when the Lord bringeth back the captivity of his people, Jacob shall rejoice, and Israel shall be glad.

  • http://off-the-map.org/atheist/ Siamang

    Hey, let’s all sing a song….

    It’s Gary, the off-topic bible quote bot.
    Who knows if it’s really a person or not?
    He’ll call you a fool
    with his cut-and-paste tool
    He’s Gary, the off-topic bible quote bot!

    Badump-dump!

  • http://atheista.net benj

    I chose “a major threat to Christianity” as requested, but the results show that “Just another religion” is winning.

    In suggesting that Atheism is “Just” another life view, aren’t the responders in fact placing their own hallowed faith on a playing field equal to other religions and non religions.

    That kind of Blasphemy makes me sad.

    Wait, you actually expect them to say that Atheism is superior to their beliefs? Putting all systems of belief, religions and non-belief is a good thing as far as Im concerned.I think making it seem like that philosophies are arbitrary makes more sense. I wouldn’t call if blasphemy at all.

    Oh wait, so you’re a christian? hehe

  • http://darwinsdagger.blogspot.com Darwin’s Dagger

    “Only Rational Outlook” trails “Just Another Religion” but still beats all the other options, including “a Major Threat to Christianity.” How are you going to convince anyone that Atheism is not a religion when you write stuff like this:
    Of course atheism is a threat to Christianity. Just like Christianity is a threat to atheism. Just like every religion is a threat to every other religion. That’s just obvious.

  • bluefireiceeyes

    I think many people picked “just another religion” b/c certain atheists and some atheistic organzations sometimes act like a “religon”. An example is the atheist preacher. So yes, technically it is not a religion, but some of it’s propenents act like it is.

  • KS

    What is it about disbelief in God, superstition or the supernatural that elevates it above disbelief in other unsupported hypotheses? Sure, I disbelieve in God, just like I disbelieve in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, Lamarckian evolution and my ability to jump over my house. So why is there all this pressure for rationalists to label themselves as atheist rather than a-Santa-Clausist or a-jump-over-houseist?

    By choosing “the only rational outlook”, are you saying that these equally valid disbeliefs are less important? Isn’t it more to the point to describe oneself as disbelieving in unsupported belief in general rather than God or the supernatural in particular? IMO we need a term specifically denoting this – I used to think the term was “agnostic”, but the word seems to have been hijacked to refer to people who cannot make up their mind on the existence of God (that over-hyped question again). Why support a debate in which the terms and vocabulary are determined by people who believe in an Imaginary Friend?
    I’m boycotting this poll.

  • Mriana

    Here we go guys, now that I have more time, esp Vincent:

    Non-theism (since it won’t let me paste and copy):

    members.aol.com/nontheism/opening.htm (the definition is at the bottom of the page.)

    The Theistic God is Dead–A Casualty of Terrorism- By John Shelby Spong beliefnet.com/story/88/story_8862_1.html

    God is not an external, supernatural entity, ruling the world from above the sky. God is rather the Source of Life, the Source of Love, the Ground of Being. It is a non-theistic definition. Life has taught us that theism is dead. There is no supernatural God directing the affairs of history. Atheism, however, is not the only other viable conclusion. Supernatural theism is nothing but a human definition of God.

    I half seriously and 1/2 joke when I say my answer is Humanism, but the point is there are different definitions. Thing is, I don’t quite agree with Spong about his Ground of All Being. I see more as the neuro-psych thing, but there are a couple definitions of non-theism for you, Vincent. :) I hope that helps you.

  • http://emergingpensees.blogspot.com/ Mike C

    You’re right Siamang, the “just” does seem to be derogatory. I didn’t quite pick up on it the first time, but you’re absolutely right about that.

    I agree with those who say that it’s just a sucky, loaded poll.

    BTW, great little ditty about Gary, the off-topic bible quote bot!

  • http://off-the-map.org/atheist/ Siamang

    Although we all seem to be crammed in to Gary’s post!

  • Pingback: Friendly Atheist » Christianity Today Says That Atheism Is the Only Rational Outlook!

  • http://sweetjazzycat.blogspot.com Jazzy Cat

    Ultimately an atheist must believe that unintelligent matter/energy is self-existant and has always been. A Christian believes this power resides in an intelligent being. I ask which of these two positions is the most rational.

    Also, nothing is a threat to the ultimate victory of being in Christ. The spiritual victory has been won on the cross of Calvary. Those who accept in faith the atonement that Jesus provided will have eternal life.

    What one believes or does not believe regarding this truth will have no bearing on what happens when one enters eternity. All who have a backup position or primary position of resting in their own merit will be badly disappointed. This includes many that profess to be followers of Christ, but are in fact trusting in their own efforts.

  • fred

    It’s really funny that so many atheists are so concerned and put so much time and effort into something they don’t even believe in. Christophobic is my word for it. Go for it if it helps you sleep. Maybe if you disbelieve strongly enough He will go away….yeah,right.

  • Eliza

    fred,
    Sorry, could you elaborate please, what is the “something” you refer to in the first sentence? Polls? Polls presented by Christian media? Christianity???

    It’s up to 97% saying “rational” now – sure, that’s a sign that atheists/agnostics are flocking to answer this poll rather than any reflection of anything else.

    But we atheists/agnostics don’t belong to big groups (most of us), don’t get together once a week with our homies, & we know that we are all too often viewed with suspicion, so that most of us are careful not to let others know IRL that we are atheists. You simply must forgive us for getting excited when there’s evidence that there’s more of us “out there” than we thought. It’s liberating, and comforting, to finally feel some strength in numbers. To feel, each of us, that we are not alone in this.

    Fred, your using the term “Christophobic” for atheists-agnostics suggests to me that you haven’t listened to atheists-agnostics, haven’t heard where we’re coming from…and/or, that you know better than we do what we believe & why. Is that the case?

  • Miko

    You simply must forgive us for getting excited when there’s evidence that there’s more of us “out there” than we thought.

    It’s also a pretty cool demonstration of memetics. I’ve been tracking the total votes count, and it’s been growing exponentially with added spurts, as one would expect from spread via word-of-mouth with a few major social nodes (i.e., other bloggers) thrown in.

    Today alone the total number of votes basically tripled.

  • Mriana

    97% somehow, I’m skeptical about the poll. I think it’s skewed. It’s nice to see it, but I don’t put much stoke in the percentage anymore. Either the Rational Response Team has their people in on it too or many other similar groups, including those who participate on this blog are involved with skewing the results OR the more technicalogical countries (including the U.S.) are more Secular than we thought and the survey numbers the other people take are skewed. In which case, the U.S. gov. should be taking more heat for mixing religion and politics, there by violating the 1st amend. BIG time and the country should be yelling more. Therefore, IMHO, they can’t both be right. I take less stock in the 97% poll, even if it is rather nice to see.

  • Mriana

    OK I just posted and it looks like someone was quoting me. And here I thought people were practically quoting the whole darn thread. That obviously is not a correct assumption. Something is wrong. :( Maybe Hemant can fix it when he gets to the blog today.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com FriendlyAtheist

    Mriana– I’m not sure what you’re referring to…

  • Richard Roberts

    A 2000+ year old book and its relevance and influence is as great as ever.

  • Jel5

    Looks as if they are onto us.  They took the pool down.


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