by David Murray
What leads people away from religion and into atheism? That’s the question that fascinated Larry Taunton so much that he launched a nationwide series of interviews with hundreds of college-age atheists.
His question was simple: “What led you to become an atheist?”
The answers were surprising, creating a completely unexpected composite sketch of American college-aged atheists. Here’s a summary from his article, Listening to Young Atheists: Lessons for A Stronger Christianity.
1. They had attended church: Most of them had a church background and had chosen atheism in reaction to Christianity.
2. The mission and message of their churches was vague: While there were many messages about doing good in the community, “they seldom saw the relationship between that message, Jesus Christ, and the Bible.”
3. They felt their churches offered superficial answers to life’s difficult questions: Churches did not address questions like creation v evolution, sexuality, reliability of the Bible, purpose of life, etc. Messages were bland, shallow, irrelevant, and boring.
4. They expressed their respect for those ministers who took the Bible seriously: This is summed up in one student’s response: ”I really can’t consider a Christian a good, moral person if he isn’t trying to convert me.”
5. Ages 14-17 were decisive: Most embraced unbelief in the high school years.
6. The decision to embrace unbelief was often an emotional one: Although all gave rational reasons for becoming atheists, for most there were powerful emotional reasons too – usually associated with suffering…
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