“Listening to Young Atheists” – Excellent Piece in The Atlantic

My friend and colleague, Dr. Greg Jones, of Duke University and the Laity Lodge Leadership Initiative, recently pointed me to an insightful article in The Atlantic. “Listening to Young Atheists: Lessons for a Stronger Christianity” by Larry Alex Taunton reflects many conversations the author had with atheists in their mid-teens to early twenties. This is must reading for anyone or any organization that seeks to share the truth and love of Christ with the next generations.

Here is one of Taunton’s findings:

They felt their churches offered superficial answers to life’s difficult questions

When our participants were asked what they found unconvincing about the Christian faith, they spoke of evolution vs. creation, sexuality, the reliability of the biblical text, Jesus as the only way, etc. Some had gone to church hoping to find answers to these questions. Others hoped to find answers to questions of personal significance, purpose, and ethics. Serious-minded, they often concluded that church services were largely shallow, harmless, and ultimately irrelevant. As Ben, an engineering major at the University of Texas, so bluntly put it: “I really started to get bored with church.”

And one more that speaks to the role of the Internet:

The internet factored heavily into their conversion to atheism

When our participants were asked to cite key influences in their conversion to atheism–people, books, seminars, etc. — we expected to hear frequent references to the names of the “New Atheists.” We did not. Not once. Instead, we heard vague references to videos they had watched on YouTube or website forums.

So much could be said in response. In my new role as Executive Director of Digital Media at Foundations for Laity Renewal – my day job – I’m wondering how we could speak into this “space,” offering safe places for honest, respectful, searching dialogue, as well as a clear profession of our own faith.

Thanks, Greg, for this link!

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  • DKeane123

    All factors that eventually led to my atheism. Good luck with your path forward.

  • The Internet is the new public hall or even pub, when ideas were discussed and intellect honed. Mark, love your leadership at THC and stand with you that we can fill that space.

  • I have a third factor. How about people who lead lifestyles that don’t fit moral codes and are unwilling to change. They are more likely to simply “not believe.” That gives them a way out of dealing with the issue of right and wrong.