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No Surprise: Brit Teens Don't Like God

Roger Morris, on the Faith Interface blog, analyzes a recent study that finds British teens taking a decidedly negative view of religion.  The reason I say it’s no surprise is that I have interacted with many British adults during my career in the semiconductor industry, and the majority are apathetic or hostile toward religion.  They have clearly passed this on to their children, whom they have set adrift on a sea of moral relativism.

Check out the study and Roger’s analysis.  It’s depressing, but well worth reading.


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  • http://www.secularthinker.com The Secular Thinker

    First of all, thank you for the study, it is definitely a sign of progress being made, and it gives me hope for the future.

    “They have clearly passed this on to their children, whom they have set adrift on a sea of moral relativism.”

    Are you suggestion that these children have been indoctrinated by atheism? I’m honestly surprised that you say this with such a negative connotation, as if there were “churches” of atheism all over, teaching the children these foolish things and community atheist leaders who the children turned to for advice and help in times of need. Forgive me for the humor, but I still am surprised with your reaction, and I find is quite hypocritical. Tell me this: If you were to find an unspoiled, primitive island nation in the middle of the ocean, who had has never had any contact with the rest of humanity, and you were to ask them about Jesus, what would they say? If you described to them the god of the Bible (of the many), would they think that he (and only he) existed? Atheism is not something that needs to be indoctrinated into children. Religion, however, is.

    Additionally, the part about being “set adrift on a sea of moral relativism” I find particularly interesting. Morality, by nature, is subjective, in the sense that it is a man-made construct. Your comment seems to imply that you need to be Christian (what flavor?) to be good, an idea that myself and many atheists find insulting. I would be interested to hear your evidence for
    A. Atheism being moral relativism
    B. Only Christians having “good” morals
    and C. Why the Christian morality is true and “good”?

    Thanks for your time, and I look forward to future discussions.

  • Bill Pratt

    “Atheism is not something that needs to be indoctrinated into children. Religion, however, is.”

    If that is the case, then why does all the evidence we have from human history show that belief in a god or gods is the dominant view of every people group ever studied. Where did this indoctrination of God start and how has it been so effective at deluding so many billions of people for so long?

    If you are interested in my views on morality, please read my series of blog posts I wrote on it.

    If those posts don’t answer your specific questions, fire away and I will try to answer.

  • http://www.secularthinker.com The Secular Thinker

    I agree, that human history has shown that humans have a predisposition to believe in a religion. However, I would assume you don’t believe in the tenets of Buddhism, or Hinduism, so I will go out on a limb and say that you probably think that all the Hindus and Buddhists in the world (hundreds of millions if not over a billion) have been deluded for their entire history. If this is the case, how has their religions been so effective at deluded their followers?

    An additional answer I would give to you is that religion appeals to emotion, not to reason. I hope I’m not offending you when I say this, but religion targets people in need, people who are afraid, and people in trouble. Death is a scary thought, much easier to deal with when you believe there is something after. The loss of loved ones is hard to understand, but feels much better if you think they are in a better place. Religion preys upon these types of fears, and gives people the answers that they want to hear.

    In terms of indoctrination, has there been any documented case of a remote, primitive tribe who all of a sudden, with no contact with the outside world, found Jesus and the Christian God? Not to my knowledge. Religion is drilled in children’s heads at young ages, when they are most impressionable and least likely to question. Also, much of children’s mindset revolves around fear. If you tell them that they need to believe X in order to avoid Hell, then they most certainly will believe in it.

    In terms of its global influence, religion has been used, much similar to politics, as a way to achieve and maintain power. It provides jobs to many people, allows leader to manipulate the masses, and in general controls people’s thoughts and actions. Now, this isn’t always in a negative way, as a few of the teachings of Christianity are positive and worthwhile. However, the majority of them are harmful. Again, I am covering a lot of topics here, so I will leave it at that and let you respond. Also, I’ll be sure to check out your morality posts, and see what I can find there. Thanks as always!
    -TST

  • Bill Pratt

    “An additional answer I would give to you is that religion appeals to emotion, not to reason.”

    You are swinging a two-edged sword with this comment and you are blithely cutting yourself every time you wield it. The “God is a crutch” argument is actually a crutch for atheists who have no arguments. Read this post to see my response to this argument.

  • http://www.secularthinker.com The Secular Thinker

    Interesting post about the psychology of belief, and I’m sure there are atheists who have some type of conflict with their biological fathers. There are also plenty of Christians with conflict with their fathers. The study you referenced in your post would be significant in this debate if the atheists in question only reason for being atheists was their problems with their fathers. Now, not having talked with any of these individuals, I can’t speak for them, but I’ve never met a fellow atheist whose only reason for not believing is the fact that they are angry at their father. It is much more than that, as atheist requires an examination of the arguments and evidence for the existence of a god. Now, if it is their hatred for their father that leads them to examine these arguments and come to the conclusions that they (reasonably) do, then the fact that they had conflict with their fathers has absolutely nothing to do with the actual arguments and their analysis of them.

    That being said, I’m sure there are a handful of “atheists” (who I would not really define as atheists because they haven’t actually examined the evidence) who only call themselves “atheists” for unrelated reasons, such as anger at the church or their family, whatever. However, the large majority of atheists are called so because they do not believe in the existence of a god. It has nothing to do with family or personal motive. It has to do with an objective evaluation of the arguments.

    “The “God is a crutch” argument is actually a crutch for atheists who have no arguments. ”

    Actually, atheists don’t need arguments. That is up to the theists making the claims. It is certainly helpful to examine the particular reasons and explanations for the popularity of organized religion, as this certain helps the case, but to be an atheist, one merely needs to reject the claims of theists. No positive claims or assertions are needed to be an atheist.

    Also, if you have time, it would be good to get a response to some of the points I made in the original comment, such as my point about religions other than Christianity (vastly different) being deluded. Thanks.
    At some point, I’d love to have a direct one on one question and answering type thing, but I’m not sure if thats possible. I appreciate your time and effort here, and I hope you are enjoying this discussion as I am.

    -TST

  • Bill Pratt

    “However, I would assume you don’t believe in the tenets of Buddhism, or Hinduism, so I will go out on a limb and say that you probably think that all the Hindus and Buddhists in the world (hundreds of millions if not over a billion) have been deluded for their entire history. If this is the case, how has their religions been so effective at deluded their followers?”

    There is a natural desire within every person to believe in God. Unfortunately, human beings throughout history have taken advantage of this desire, some with good intentions, some with bad, and have developed and promoted false views of who God is. These views are passed on from one generation to another. Some people reject these false views, but many don’t. There is, of course, some truth in every religious system, but I believe Christianity gets it right more than the others.

  • Bill Pratt

    I don’t mind interacting with people who have serious questions and who would like to learn. I have little time to debate with people for the fun of it, although I sometimes get pulled into arguments that I feel compelled to finish.

    I get the feeling you are in this just for a debate, and that you don’t really care to learn anything from me, except to prove me wrong. If that is the case, I’m not that interested in speaking with you. If, however, you truly seek answers, then I’m all for it. There are people who write to this blog who are seeking answers and I prefer to spend most of my time with them.

  • http://www.secularthinker.com The Secular Thinker

    I’m sorry for giving you the impression that I was solely attempting to prove that you are wrong. I am most definitely interesting in learning, and I’m sure you have much to offer. However, because we are of such opposite world views, there is bound to be some debate. I think these are the most important questions, and I’m glad that you are examining them, just as I am. In that regard, we are very similar. I am not attempting to “defeat” you or anything like that, merely to examine your arguments and point out what I see as potential problems with them.

    If I was of the position that “God does not exist”, I wouldn’t be here, reading your arguments for the existence of a god. I am simply attempting to examine all the evidence as best as I can, and hopefully learn as much as possible. So again, I apologize for any potential hostility you felt from me.

  • http://www.secularthinker.com The Secular Thinker

    Now, back to some of the issues at hand, if you will.

    “There is a natural desire within every person to believe in God.”

    I would only semi-agree with you on this point. One the one hand, I think it is a nice thought to believe that there is someone out there watching over me, someone that cares for me and loves me, and someone who will send me to eternal happiness after I die. I freely admit, those thoughts are appealing. However, this is not true of every single person. As much as I like some of the ideas behind the creator god belief, I feel no real “desire” to believe in one. I think that every human has a natural desire to have their questions answered, which a god-belief often overlaps with. However, on the whole I do not accept the claim that every single person has a desire to believe in God.

    “I believe Christianity gets it right more than the others.”

    I touched on this in my last post, and perhaps this is a question which would require days to answer, but it is important nonetheless: Why do you believe that Christianity get it right more than others? Regardless of whether a god could be proven to exist, what do we know about him/she/it other than it exists? What is the source for this knowledge? Thanks as always.

    -TST

  • Bill Pratt

    No apology necessary. I will take you at your word. You have to understand that the vast majority of atheists that comment on my blog are extremely dogmatic and close-minded. They are not here to have fruitful discussions, but they come instead to see how stupid they can make me look. I used to think it was fun to debate these kinds of people, and I still do from time to time, but I’ve come to realize that it is mostly a waste of my time. There are many who come to this blog who are honestly seeking some explanations for tough questions about Christianity, but I sometimes can’t tell who falls in which camp, so I just ask, as in your case.

  • Bill Pratt

    “Why do you believe that Christianity get it right more than others?”

    Good question. I gave a brief outline of an answer to this question while responding to one of your other comments. If you want a book-length treatment of this subject, I would recommend the book, I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist. In that book, the authors lay out a step-by-step approach to this issue in a very readable way.

    “However, on the whole I do not accept the claim that every single person has a desire to believe in God.”

    Maybe we’re chopping words here. What I mean to say is that virtually every human being yearns for a higher power, a being or a force that can provide the answers to the deepest questions we all have. Where do we come from? Why are humans so evil, yet we can be so good? Where did the universe come from? How do we know right from wrong? What is the purpose of my life? What will happen when I die? Does anyone care about me? Will my life have ultimate meaning? Why am I suffering?

    The religions of the world all attempt to answer these questions, and people are therefore naturally drawn to them. Not only that, but the vast majority of people (historically well over 90% from what I’ve read over the years) find it easy to believe in a god or gods. It seems altogether natural to them and they certainly do not need to be indoctrinated at all. Even a hardcore atheist like Richard Dawkins admits that most humans are genetically predisposed to believing in God. He chalks it up to an evolutionary accident, but he nevertheless admits it’s true.

    It seems to me that the fact that virtually all human beings incline toward religion is obvious from the empirical data. Anthropologists never find lost people groups in the middle of the jungle who are atheist! They are always religious. We are a religious species. I wish I could point you to a book that makes the case strongly, and I’m sure there are many out there; I just have never had someone really argue this point with me before, so I haven’t felt the need to compile documented sources.

  • http://www.secularthinker.com The Secular Thinker

    “Not only that, but the vast majority of people (historically well over 90% from what I’ve read over the years) find it easy to believe in a god or gods. It seems altogether natural to them and they certainly do not need to be indoctrinated at all.”

    True, I guess what I meant by indoctination was the specifics, the particular variety/denomination of religion. Our innate, human desire for answers to the biggest questions may lead us to the idea of a god, but where do we get ideas about the Eucharist, or Baptism, or Jihad? Who actually gives us their own interpretation of what god looks like, or does, or thinks? It is organized religion with their pastors and priests and imams (etc.) that do this. No primitive native on a remote island has ever traveled to a Catholic church and already agree with the exact doctrine and ideas of that church in regards to who god is, what that god does, how should people treat god, etc. Additionally, the fact that a majority of people believe something does not make it true. Not too long ago in the U.S. a majority of people believed Africans to be an inferior race to Whites, yet this claim has never been supported or demonstrated true with evidence.

    “It seems to me that the fact that virtually all human beings incline toward religion is obvious from the empirical data. Anthropologists never find lost people groups in the middle of the jungle who are atheist! They are always religious. We are a religious species.”

    Again, I agree with you 100% here. But as a species, we also are inclined to believe in all sorts of supernatural things. Think of the witch hunts of history, or all of the literature which contains references to talking animals, monsters, and magical objects. As a species, we like extraordinary things. They are exciting, they are different, they are part of fantasy. The real world isn’t always so great, that’s why people read fiction or play video games. These experiences are not “real” or representative of reality, yet they are useful to us as a species, just as religion is useful to us in the sense that it gives people answers to the questions they have.

  • Bill Pratt

    I wonder if you’ve ever heard the saying that “reality is stranger than fiction.” All stories, myths, and fantasies are based on something real. Humans are not capable of creating new thoughts out of nothing. We only work with pre-existing material.

    The challenge we have to is to try and separate the real from the fiction, to find the truths that lay behind the stories, because they are there. To dismiss it all with a wave of the hand seems incredibly lazy and arrogant to me. It’s as if modern skeptics are saying, “Our ancestors were complete imbeciles who would believe anything and had no capability of discerning truth from error. Everything they claimed about ultimate reality is obviously false and we shouldn’t even waste time looking into it.”

    It’s easy to say that all UFO sightings are bogus, but maybe a few aren’t. It’s easy to dismiss hauntings and other paranormal activity as fake, but maybe a few of them are real. I tend to be skeptical of these things, but I would never make the bold claims that skeptics make when they say that these things should be completely ruled out as even possible (you might not say this but many of your skeptical friends do go this far). There is something there, something more to the picture. Even the anti-religious Dan Brown (of DaVinci Code fame) recently said in Parade Magazine that as he gets older, he is finding spiritual aspects to reality that he rejected when he was younger.

    Some Christians believe because they’re gullible or they feel comfort in knowing God loves them, but some Christians have good reasons for believing. Those are the ones that should bother you.

    One of my agnostic friends said something interesting to me a few years ago. He said, “I used to think that all Christians were morons until I met you and [a few other people at work]. The fact that some of my most intelligent friends believe Christianity is true very unsettling to me. I can’t so easily dismiss it any more.”

  • Joe Bigliogo

    “they have set adrift on a sea of moral relativism”… “It’s depressing”

    Depressing to whom?—you? Spare us your sanctimonious condescension on the issue of morality. Anyone who holds as moral the cruet and barbaric doctrines of the biblical Old Testament is an offense to the very notion of morality. Nor have you a clue what atheism means based on your thoughtless mischaracterizations. If you require reward or threats of punishment to keep you from doing wrong—congratulations, yours is the morality of border collie.

    Speaking of morality–want to know what i consider immoral? A fraudulent and dogmatic belief system that threatens infinite punishment and eternal torture for finite offenses. Hitchens is right—religion POISONS EVERYTHING.

  • http://twitter.com/almamu18 Allie Murray

    I’m sorry but your claims are not supported by evidence. Only mockery. This is why atheism is a laughable delusion. No logic, no reason, just complaining. Please, child, go educate yourself on the Truth before you make bad judgement. Someone who is as dishonest and rude like yourself has no authority on morality. That’s why atheism is not (and shouldn’t be) taken seriously in the public sphere. Same old arguments with no evidence to back them up.

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