Friday, April 24, 2009

Christianity on the Decline?




Newsweek recently did a story about the end of Christian America.
"Meanwhile, the number of people willing to describe themselves as atheist or agnostic has increased about fourfold from 1990 to 2009, from 1 million to about 3.6 million. (That is about double the number of, say, Episcopalians in the United States.)"
What is causing this shift? Will Christianity and religion eventually disappear from our society altogether? Is this decline a failure of the church to stay relevant and in-touch with the people or is there a more fundamental underlying issue here? Are people beginning to classify religion as superstition and myth?
I suspect that part of society's move away from religion is based on the continued advancement of science and technology. Technology provides scientific answers and explanations for the things we do not understand. Perhaps people have started to assume that there is a scientific explanation for everything and that belief in something bigger is meaningless. For example, take a civilization that worships the sun god. Once that society has the science and technology to discover that the sun is not a god, but really just one of millions of stars in space that is burning as one really big chemical reaction, what happens to their religion? Do they continue to practice their religion or does it become obsolete?
Do you think this life is all one big chemical reaction? Is our life meaningless? Irrelevant? Are we all just by-products of the Big Bang and along for the ride? Or is there something bigger out there, a higher power?

27 comments:

  1. things are going to get hotter than hell on this post. Pun intended.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I agree and I don't think I am going to touch it.

    ReplyDelete
  3. You sissies! I bet Justin will get his hands dirty.

    ReplyDelete
  4. He is just going to say that the majority of people should die and go to hell for whatever they believe in.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Ok I will bite. I think the decline in Christianity has somewhat failed to evolve with our culture. Some of the beliefs are to rigid and some generations stay away from that and go to other religions that are more flexible. Its just a thought.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Do you think they are going to other religions or abandoning religion altogether?

    ReplyDelete
  7. I think they are going to other religions. I think more religions, or different religions, are being formed and will continue to form due to the continuing growth of diversity of people.
    Also, when I think of Jesus I think of him wearin' a tuxedo t-shirt. Cause it says....I want to be formal, but I am here to party too!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Alright, I am going to step upto the plate. I think the decline is due to the corruption of churches. It seems like every time you turn on the TV, some church is ripping off its people, sleeping with their alter boys. Case in point there is a Miami church leader who spend 10 years in jail for stealing millions of dollars...guess what, he is leader of the church again. Hello! So, I personal think a lot of people are affected by that. I don't think they are going to other religions, but I could be wrong. If there is a stat that says Christians numbers are lowering and Muslims are rising then show it to me...of course without the birth affect. I personally now don't go to church, but I have my religion and my beliefs.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Casey-In regards to your first comment.

    (please copy and paste this into your browser)

    http://www.thebestpageintheuniverse.net/c.cgi?u=puns

    ReplyDelete
  10. Yeah I don't think there is a massive movement of Christians converting to other religions either. I think scandals hurt the church and possibly cause a decline in church attendance and participation, but I don't think that would cause someone to give up their religion altogether.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Does anyone know how long Nondenominational churches have been around?
    Kevin - He went to prison and was born again...Hello!

    ReplyDelete
  12. The decline is not a result of people changing religions. I think it's a result of fundamental shift in how we live. It comes down to consumption. Our culture is DEFINED by consumption. Consumption of goods, services, and entertainment. There has also been a dramatic decrease in the longevity of marriage for the same reason. Consciously or not, we've come to regard things as disposable, even things we used to regard as sacred. The act of consumption tends to compensate for things that we may never find an answer for. True, science can answer questions that only "god" could before but until it informs of what to expect at death, it will always fall short.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I know what to expect after death...my body will slowly rot away until I just cease to exist.

    That's why I'm trying to bring back mummification. Who's with me?

    ReplyDelete
  14. Religion is like a box of chocolates...

    If you pick one and it leaves a bad taste in your mouth, just grab another one. If you are allergic to chocolate, quit eating it dumbass!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Matt,
    I've already read that page. I love that site. Now knowing that, I hope no one got insulted that I said "pun intended".

    Everyone else,
    Do you think there's a correlation in the rise in obesity and the decline in christianity? Maybe, just maybe, Jesus is like going for a jog?

    ReplyDelete
  16. I think that is the only serious post I have seen my Matt...bravo dude...bravo. Well, I thought about changing to pagan, but worshiping a fairy or goat god does not seem appealing...oh hum

    ReplyDelete
  17. I do not believe that going to church makes someone a better person, or that not going makes you a horrible person. But I think if someone is truly religious, than they are active in cultivating and developing their faith,no matter what they are, and I believe church can provide one type of opportunity for this.

    So why have people stopped going to church. I think there are a number of reasons, but I think, as Matt pointed out above, one of the main ones is that we are a society who has become driven by consumption and instant gratification. And there is no immediate physical benefit from going to church. I mean why spend an hour or hour and a half at church when you can go see a movie, put in some extra hours at work and make money, or take a nap? Also I think people who stop attending church eventually stop identifying with a certain religion and are therefore less likely to pass on specific religious beliefs to their children, thus perpetuating the decline in Christianity. It doesn't mean they aren't instilling beliefs in their children, I just think they are more nondenominational.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Matt/Casey - First of all that is the dumbest website ever, please stop giving that idiot the satisfaction of reading his crap and sending it out for everyone else to read. No pun intended.

    In response to your comments above, I agree. I think that the move away from “Christian America” is due to our life styles now. I don’t know if it is based on the fact that consumption runs the way we live or not, but I do agree with you that we have come to regard most things as disposable and that in turn tends to undermine the idea that something is sacred. I think that today’s society tends to question things more instead of just having faith. Because of this it becomes harder to blindly believe in anything. That is where science comes in. Science gives people something tangible which makes it easier to believe in those things.

    ReplyDelete
  19. If something is tangible or therefore has been proven than it is fact, not a belief. Questioning and constantly defining my beliefs has always been an important part of my faith. I would hate to think of any church that wants you to blindly believe everything (aka cults).

    ReplyDelete
  20. People are starting to realize that it is a little bit ridiculous to base all your beliefs on a 2,000 year old document that has been translated multiple times and was originally passed down orally (I actually don't know how old the bible is but I'm sure it's at least that old). Sure it's "God's Word" and he would not have allowed their to be any alteration but let's be realistic folks. The Crusades themselves (though it's not provable) could have been the turning point where Christianity was "the religion" and you were killed if you thought otherwise. It is easily conceivable (at least to me) that at the same time, the high powers of the church (which were corrupt with power because absolute power corrupts absolutely) simply destroyed all any evidence that countered Christianity and Jesus' story. Yes, very DeVinci code but it's just as believable as a man walking on water and subjecting himself to the toruture that Mel Gibson portrayed.

    All major religions teach the same common basic values of treating others with respect and living peaceful with one another. Almost everybody I know grew up going to church because that's what their parents did on Sunday's. So you are only exposed to Christianity. Until fairly recently, the only access you had to other religions was the public library and nobody wanted to do research there (unless you were arguing the speed of light). Today you have the internet and information about the fundamentals of other religions is at your fingertips. I think people are starting to realize that we use religion to explain the unexplainable. It is just logically sound that because we are here, somebody or something had to come first and create us. But where did his creator come from? And how do you explain the ultimate creator? We have no explanation other than there exists a God who is omnipotent and omniscient. I have no other explanation but just chalking it up to something that knows all things and can do all things just seems like an easy way out to me.

    I am not sure what I believe. I believe that we are part of something bigger, whether that be our souls/energy or our existence is part of a bigger being's existence. I think there are so many potential explanations to how things are that it is too difficult for me to commit to just one view. I do however think that everybody needs something to believe in when it comes to the afterlife. That is the ultimate unknown to us. We can not fathom anything besides life because we have not experienced anything else. Who knows? Death might be what it's all about! But we need something to believe in so that we can be comforted when our eventual end comes. If yours happens to be Christianity, then that is just fine with me. I don't have anything solid myself right now so I actually envy the true Christians out there for the conviction they have in their faith.

    I do think too that religion is something that should be kept private and does not need to be announced or made readily available to people. That was why we originally came to America - to practice whatever religion we show choose. And you can do that as long as it doesn't infringe on anyone else's rights. If you can handle that, then believe whatever you want.

    To end this, I think the main reason that Christianity is on the downfall is because it is no longer cool to be a Christian.

    ReplyDelete
  21. My 10 biggest issues with the Bible (in no particular order):

    1. It is written in the bible that all of the authors of the bible were instruments of God to spread his word, but that doesn’t mean that it’s true, and whoever ended up putting all the chapters together, how do they know if any or all of the authors were indeed inspired by God to write what they wrote.

    2. The original religion that is Christianity was the Roman Catholic Church. I don’t know about you guys, but I trust Romans about as far as I can throw them.

    3. Where are the pictures? Throw me a bone here if you want me to believe.

    4. So you are telling me it never rained before Noah built his boat. Likely story.

    5. So our entire existence is a pissing match against God and the devil, and to prove his point God will make the losers spend eternity in hell. Neato.

    6. I’m running out of things to say so I am using this line to say I am mostly joking about all of this. I’m sorry.

    7. Everything that happened in the Bible happened at least 1500 years before we realized the world wasn’t flat. Just a little perspective on the level of intelligence we are dealing with here.

    8. It says in the bible that everyone will be given the opportunity to hear the gospel, but this isn’t true is it? I am guessing tribes in China in the 12th century did not get too many missionaries coming around.

    9. Blind Faith by definition makes no sense to me. No sense. If you want to know why Christianity is on the decline, boom goes the dynamite.

    10. Hey Mary Magdalene, holla atcha boy!!

    ReplyDelete
  22. Number 10 - friggin' awesome!

    ReplyDelete
  23. If anyone is wanting further research on this issue watch idiocracy, and/or knowing, and maybe the left behind movie (kirk cameron will make christianity cool again just you watch!) I actually met him at in n out burger in vegas (sarah - that's the best fast food ever by the way), he was trying to bring people to christ right there over a burger it was awesome, and he's dreamy!

    ReplyDelete
  24. Hey Brett, so I know you said you were kidding but I hope you wont mind if I make a clarification.

    The original church was not the Roman Catholic. The letters Paul wrote (e.g. Philippians, Ephesians, Colossians, etc.) were written to the first century churches - which were not Roman Catholic. They did not practice confession to a priest, they didn't elevate certain people to sainthood, the list goes on. Now, the Roman Catholic church was the first mega denomination for sure, but not the original.

    On a side note, our country was inundated with Christian themes all throughout our government and culture upon arriving in America. Over the years have we altered and deleted Christianity from history.

    Most religions do teach the same practice of being kind to your neighbor and make peace, but they are not the same. The motivations and reasons for this are completely different. In Christianity, the ultimate goal is not to make peace with others (although that is commanded of us) but to love and worship the one who created you. Because that is the goal, isn't it impossible to think it's no big deal for others to believe in false religions? Please don't misunderstand me, in no way am I advocating for a Christian to be a pompous, arrogant jerk and judge the world. That is not loving Jesus. But I do think that in the appropriate situation, a Christian should acknowledge and advocate Truth.

    It is much easier for me to believe in intelligent design than to chalk it all up to a big bang theory or even evolution. Take our bodies for example. Every part of our body has a function; it is meticulous and complicated but yet it works. When we get a cut, we bleed; however, our body knows how to clot so that we don't bleed to death. A small, meticulous function that would otherwise leave us fatal. That is just one small part of a million reasons why it makes MORE sense to believe in God.

    I wonder at the research of most people in regards to their own religion - especially Christianity. I certainly agree with Justin about Christianity no longer being cool and it suffers because of that. Just because someone says they're Christian, does it mean they actually are? For some, obviously not, because they aren't no longer "practicing" Christianity. If I were to say that I am a doctor, does that make me one. Of course not, I've never studied a lick of biology, chemistry, etc., nor have I used a scalpel or worn a fancy, white lab coat. By definition, despite my proclamation, I am not a doctor. In the same way, are people really doing their homework in regards to what they believe - or don't believe. Are we content to just regurgitate the garbage television and movies tell us to believe? Or is our society really researching what they believe; because we have more information than ever before, I believe we have also a greater responsibility.

    One last random thought: morality and Christianity are different. Having good morals is not the same as being a good Christian and I think that has been a huge barrier for a lot of people in Christianity because it leads to never being good enough, like someone said earlier. But that’s not the standard Jesus is holding us to. We don’t have to be perfect, He already did that. He just wants faith.

    ReplyDelete
  25. P.S. TV preachers are the bane of my existence. I hate that they manipulate the name of Jesus to promote their dirty, sleazy agenda.

    "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” Matthew 7:15

    ReplyDelete
  26. I know I am posting to this a little late, but I'll give it a shot anyway.

    It seems from the mood of this blog that no one has taken a Christian apologetic stand. I think there are a couple of wrong ideas floating around here, and I would like to clarify them.

    First, I believe that Christianity is in decline here in America because Americans, in general, are consuming and consumed by individualism. We refuse to to allow ourselves to be bound by anything. We want to dictate our religious beliefs instead of letting our faith dictate who we are. People are joining other religions that are more "flexible" because it means that their individualism is never threatened.

    Second, as to corruption within the church, is not a new story. Read the book of Acts, read the Canterbury Tales, read about the Renaissance popes. Anybody who is shocked by the recent scandals in Christian churches (which are despicable nonetheless) is obviously no student of history.

    Lastly, I have read on this comment page that "Christianity is no longer culturally relevant." Thanks be to God this is the truth. Christianity is counter-cultural. Our faith instructs us to love our enemies and eat with the outcasts. We are to love God and neighbor (which are the ones we don't like, read the parable of the Good Samaritan) with every fiber of our being. We are to acknowledge that we are not individuals, but a community, one flock under one shepherd. If Christianity becomes culturally relevant, then Christianity has lost its soul.

    P.S. One thing is painfully clear from the comments made here about the Bible; you are interpreting it from a 21st fundamentalist perspective. Of course it's not the absolute Word of God (if you want a document like that, look at Islam). Instead, the Bible is the witness to the love of God. I would suggest reading the Bible with an Episcopal lens. The Bible feeds us inwardly, it doesn't dictate how we believe the world came into existence or if dinosaurs really existed.

    ReplyDelete