Happy Thor’s Day
In the United States where I live, the number of religiously ‘unaffiliated’ is growing. What is shrinking is White Protestantism and Catholicism particularly with Generation X and the millennials. Below is a good statistical graph of what is happening.
In short, older people are clinging to what they know and were taught, but younger people saying ‘fuck that shit.” It also true that as people age death and what follows it becomes more of a thing to them. But that does not account for the fact that a change is strongly evident. That Protestantism, particularly among whites but truly across the board, is shrinking in the United States and Catholicism as well. What is happening?
There are a lot of things that one could say here, but for me, I understand one thing for certain – that information is far more available and then there is no way to prevent people from getting alternative opinions. If one has an internet connection, you can find alternatives opinions and arguments against any religion and faith with ease. The two generations that have enjoyed this state of affairs the most are the Millenials and Generation X. Both of these groups have had the luxury of when any opinion is offered of being able to find a counter opinion in seconds and not just one counter opinion but many.
Of course, Christians fear what means. But in truth, this country was not founded as a Christian one but a secular one based on reason. It could be argued that we are simply returning to where we came from. I question whether this is a bad thing at all. As we look through the eye today I can only tell my personal story of becoming one of the Unaffiliated. I don’t know if it is typical, but I think it might be the pattern for most.
Time to Look Through the Eye:
In the case of Christianity, faith rests on the story of Jesus Christ being true. Not just parts of it but all of it. Without this, faith is simply not possible. Paul’s argument in the 1 Corinthians 15 is true in that regard that without the historical resurrection, Christianity is founded on nothing. The problem is that the gospels are problematic as I pointed out in this post: Odin’s Eye – Bible Problems: The Four Gospels. Because of this, the real Jesus of Nazareth is obscured by disciples who created what amounts to a tall tale with no historical verification. In many cases, stories are told alone without even the other gospels to back them up. Once the truth of this was apparent to me, I realized my faith in Christianity was based in large part on nothing but unverified stories that were no better or worse than the stories of any other mythology.
My religion was no help here in preserving my faith. Nor was my experience or education in Christianity a bolster to my sagging faith. In fact, my traditions repeatedly informed me it was dangerous to ask such questions. My response was: ‘if my religion cannot handle questions and the god they proclaim cannot stand the scrutiny of logic, then both are weak and not worth serving’. Religion as a general rule doesn’t like questions and would rather have people blindly follow than analyze the doctrines and theology. My problem was I have always been a rebel in that regard; and when it comes to theology, I am a guy with a degree in theology and that journey actually drove me to realize that all ideas about the divine are strictly opinion based on man’s thoughts about god.
As a theologian, I thought a lot about God. Mostly the problem was how to get the god of the Protestant Bible to make sense. The best I could do was to abandon the idea that god controlled everything; because if he did, then he was an evil fuck. No matter how you shake and dance, the god of scripture seems very human. Being jealous and acting in ways that would make tyrants look benevolent. He creates man knowing he is going to suffer and do evil things and then yet punishes them for the way he created them. The god of the bible promotes a certain morality, commands it even, and then breaks it himself. Over time, this and my other Four Major Objections to Christianity formed out of my theological struggles and I simply could not reconcile them. In the end, I found myself a pastor without any faith.
The hard cold truth is that our spirituality is chosen. It cannot be imposed and the reason I was a Christian all those years was not that Christianity as faith, religion or theology could prove itself true. It was because it was how I chose to engage the spiritual reality that I perceived around me. Once this truth dawned on me, I left Christianity to follow a more spiritual path without religion imposing on me the thoughts of others. I find a lot more peace about it these days.
I don’t know how typical I am here but I do know one thing. All of this journey was possible because my access to information and counter-arguments was right at my fingertips. Books, articles and web pages in abundance offered up alternatives to the arguments Christians used to defend themselves and their beliefs and in the end, they prevailed to the point I could not accept Christianity anymore. I think this is basically what is happening in American as a whole. It just took longer for me to join the religion known as “Unaffiliated” than others. It is a new path for me, but one I new cheerfully embrace. I consider it an honor to be a part of a time where religion is in retreat and perhaps there is a new chance for Reason to reign instead. Or at the very least where people can be Unaffiliated and free from religion’s control.
Continuing to Walk the Path,
The Rabyd Skald – Wandering Soul, Bard, and Philosopher. The Grey Wayfarer.