Don’t Assume Non-Christians are Atheists
by Logan Judy
In apologetics, we often focus a great deal of our energy into combating atheism. But for those of us in the United States, the stats say we might be misreading the field.
According to a recent Pew Research Center study, a whopping nine out of ten respondents believe in a higher power of some kind. Only 54% of respondents mean the God of the Bible, but in comparison, only 10% of respondents believe there is no higher power at all. In fact, nearly three-quarters of the “nones” (those without any religious affiliation) believe in some vague notion of a higher power. Why, then, are we spending so much energy on atheism?
This is, in part, because it is a greater danger than other religions of pulling away young people. Some estimates of young Christians leaving the faith as they enter adulthood are as high as 70%. Many of these are leaving faith for atheism, frequently because of apologetics issues, such as the problem of evil or a perceived anti-science bias. As a result, focusing on atheism in an effort to retain young Christians makes sense.
When it comes to our own circles of influence, however, some caution for those of us who are already Christians is in order. The best tactics to use for these two groups – those who are atheists and those who believe in some other higher power – are very different…