The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians, who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, and walk out the door, and deny him with their life style.

That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.

Wow! This node seems to have worked out well. For those who care, I got the contents of this node from the beginning of the dc Talk song, What if I stumble?, where there is a voice over which says these words.

On the other hand, I think I must disagree with some statements below. Reason (or rational thought in any of its various forms) is not incompatible with Christianity, any less than it is incompatible with being agnostic, atheistic, etc. Some of the most rational people I know are Christians.

In any case, I'd advise anyone who has had bad interactions with Christianity is this. First, learn what a Christian ought to be. Then, bear in mind that one major premise of Christianity is that everyone has failings and problems - and that they don't go away when you get converted. Jesus didn't hang out with good people. I'd advise you to read CS Lewis' book, the Screwtape Letters, for an excellent explanation of some of Satan's methodologies.

I am not an Atheist, however I do know a great many who would be better represented (at least in their minds) with a slightly different yet somewhat related answer.


This is the "credo", so to speak, of the intellectual Atheist. I am forced to admit that it is what I claim as the capital cause of my Agnostic lack of belief.
It would also be noteworthy to point out that "Reason" is also claimed by many modern minded christians as the very spark of their faith. Objectively speaking, these are starkly contrary. Deeper still, down the well of logic, I find that we may all be better served if we swapped out "Reason" with "Will" or "Choice" as it is quite a bit more base, honest and more easily defended. :P
According to A.A. Milne (he wrote Winnie the Pooh!):

The Old Testament is responsible for more atheism, agnosticism, disbelief, call it what you will, than any book ever written. It has emptied more churches than all the counterattractions of cinema, motor bicycle and golf course.

The Old Testament. It's where we learn that you must stone to death a man wearing clothes of two linens, where we receive all the instructions for buying and selling slaves... and where we are subjected to all those boring family trees!

And when your average Joe off the street picks up a Bible, where's he gonna start? The beginning! Sure, it starts out easy with the familiar stuff: Garden of Eden, Tower of Babel, Moses, et al... but once you get out of Exodus you start dealing with some dry and outdated stuff. An evangelist once told me I should read the Gospel first. Shouldn't The Good Book that controls the lives of millions of believers all over the world be inspirational cover-to-cover?

A Christian friend of mine defended the Old Testament by pointing out that God imposed several rules for health reasons. The no clothes with two linens rule, for example, was based on diplomacy with the nations surrounding Israel. There were several rules that made it unclean to touch lepers and other forms of nastiness. I found it odd that the same God Almighty that dropped food from the sky couldn't include a couple of vaccinations for his chosen people in the scope of his interest, in lieu of having them put to death anyone who unknowingly subjects himself to disease.

I may not speak for all the atheist everythingians, but I claim the Old Testament as the greatest insult to reason (q.v. MoJoe's node) and therefore the single greatest cause of atheism.

Disclaimer: This node seems to me to be a fairly casual forum for opinions. I am not trying to categorize all atheists and/or flame Christianity; I'm just contributing my $.02 as far as, well, what I think the single greatest cause of atheism is.

I often see and hear people using particular Bible verses, or corrupt Christian leaders, or bad examples of religious ethics in their personal lives, as the reason for widespread atheism, and it makes my head swim. That's nothing but overgeneralization and finger-pointing. Few people would reject equal rights because of the Black Panthers or a single instance of reverse discrimination, I think. You can't oppose an entire way of thinking just because it has been abused or misinterpreted by some.

Blaming one bad example of Christianity for every atheist's rejection of all religion is illogical at best and prejudical at worst. The only thing you can say with any degree of certainty is that they led you and/or certain people you know to reject religion. You or they used it as a justification for atheism, lacking the motivation to understand the Bible more deeply or the open-mindedness to not throw out the whole barrel because of a few bad apples. Martin Luther didn't become an atheist because he disagreed with his Catholic leaders; he became a reformer and thousands of Europeans followed him. Rather than reject their religion, they tried to replace it with the truth.

If you want to identify an actual cause of atheism, then try the Age of Enlightenment. Try anthropology and cultural relativism. Try separation of church and state. Try capitalism and laissez faire. Try the rise of democracy and its emphasis on personal freedom instead of personal responsibility. Try the Industrial Age metropolis and the known effects of high population density on community and altruism. Try good old-fashioned apathy and egocentricism. Heck, try any or all of these; they're all responsible in varying degrees.

Or pick any individual and talk to them long enough to find the one person, the one instance, that tipped their inner spiritual scale from positive to negative at a time when they were most receptive to it. Everybody has one. And it's almost never the same.

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