Does It Take Faith to Be an Atheist?

“I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist.” I know it must be gratifying to pull out a zinger like this from time to time, but I’m here to tell you it’s not as clever as it sounds to you. When people say this, they’re going for style over substance, and it only works on people who are already members of their tribe. It’s like a verbal hair flip meant to communicate confidence and superiority. But it’s as disingenuous… Read more

FAQ: Should I “Come Out” as an Atheist?

A religion editor for a national publication wrote me recently with a couple of questions for an upcoming piece, and it occurred to me that these questions recur often enough to lead me to include my responses in a post of my own for future reference. She basically had two main questions to ask, and my answers follow: What are some lessons you’ve learned after leaving the religious tradition you were raised in? (Lessons about navigating doubt, about maintaining relationships… Read more

7 Reasons to Stop Believing in Hell

Because I write mostly about the challenges people face upon leaving their religion, I receive a good many emails and private messages from friends who still struggle with the fear of Hell. The curious thing about this is that most of these people no longer feel they have sufficient reason to believe in God. Most of them have left the religions of their youth (or of their young adult lives), yet they still fear everlasting torment. How is that even… Read more

When Things Don’t Have to Make Sense

I think one of the most detrimental things my faith did to me, and to everyone else like me, was to convince me that things don’t have to make sense. Imagine what that would do to a person’s ability to discern fact from fiction. Imagine how this could be used to influence an entire voting bloc prone to follow instructions because they believe those who are leading them are representing The Voice of God in their lives. Just imagine. The… Read more

The Sociology of Belief

When I was still a Christian, I would often bristle whenever someone tried to analyze my faith from a scientific point of view. The tools of the scientist, I argued, could not reliably detect the things of the spirit because they are only discernible by those with the right organs of perception (see 1 Cor. 2:6-16). You must have “ears to hear,” Jesus would often say, and in a manner befitting both evangelicals and fundamentalists (I contend the differences between the two groups are… Read more

When Other People’s Fear of Hell Rubs Off on You

I seem to have a lot of friends who are in what we call “mixed faith” marriages, meaning pairings in which one partner still believes all the same things they did when they first began their new life together while the other one has since changed their views. This may happen more than you think, and it makes perfect sense considering how many of us entered adulthood with its accompanying romantic commitments before we had a chance to rethink our… Read more

September 11 and the Birth of New Atheism

Today marks the 16th anniversary of the day a group of radicalized Islamic extremists attacked us with our own commercial airliners, hijacking multiple planes and flying them into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, plus one more that crashed into a field in Pennsylvania thanks to a group of passengers unwilling to allow their plane to be used as a weapon to take thousands more lives. The students I’m currently teaching wouldn’t be born for another couple of years, but… Read more

What Praising God in the Storm Reveals About Faith

Nothing puts the cognitive dissonance of faith on display like a destructive storm system ripping through a religious community. “Does disaster come to a city, unless the Lord has done it?” –Amos 3:6 “I form light and create darkness; I make well-being and create calamity; I am the LORD, who does all these things.” –Isaiah 45:7 This week people all over the southeastern United States are bracing themselves for another potentially disastrous storm, thanks to a significant uptick in oceanic… Read more

How Do You Deal with Your Own Fear of Death?

A friend wrote me a couple of days ago and posed a question every formerly religious person has to wrestle with at some point or another. I’ve been having a mini freakout at the reality of consciousness ending when I do. I KNOW there’s no life after death, but for some reason the finality of that just hit two days ago. I’m feeling grief and a kind of existential terror at this reality becoming real to me in a cogent manner… Read more

Yes, I Know, Your Christianity Is Better

Whenever people who never truly bought into the hype about Jesus cast their gaze upon his most vocal fan clubs, what they see there alternately amuses and enrages them. They find the claims of Christianity implausible at best and emotionally manipulative at worst, but that in itself is no skin off their backs. What really irks them the most, however, is when people within this one religion presume to tell the rest of the world how to live regardless of… Read more

Follow Us!



Browse Our Archives