I am not writing to convert atheists, but just trying a little to understand the phenomenon that’s so prevalent in France (where I stay); I think in India, it is not so open, but if the lessons are not learned, religion will give into it. It is interesting to see that there are many Muslim atheists too (even in Gulf countries like Saudi Arabia and number is not very small; the profession of atheism is not so easy there). Thus it is a world-wide phenomenon. I would only like to see some of the reasons of why Christians (and Catholics) become atheists. This is just sharing some of my thoughts after talking to a few people and reading few books, and not a researched study.
Some of the reasons I think are
- Discrepancy between the teachings of Jesus and Christian witness (we don’t need to study rocket science to understand this primary reason).
- Lives of the Church hierarchy or those in powers, which include many issues of abuse of power, sexual abuses and how such cases are dealt with. [With power comes responsibility…I am hopeful that things are slowly (yes speed is slow) changing with Pope Francis.]
- Difficulty to engage people with the questions related to science. [First of all, many in the authority don’t know much about science, especially problematic theories like theory of evolution/big-bang theory. Many Christians (definitely not the official church teaching) still believe that world was created in exactly 6 days. Sadly, I know a learned Jesuit who believes in this creationist theory. A lot of engagements need to happen in this direction.] More than anything else, an atmosphere to discuss has to be created.
- Believers say that religions give a moral compass to the persons. Whether it is true or not, we see church still struggling with questions like patriarchy, gender equality, inclusion of people with LGBT orientation and so on. Many surely get dismayed when these issues are not sufficiently dealt with.
- Prayer services unable to create an experiential dimension. [I should say that this is exactly the reason for the success of Charismatic movements].
- We see many atheists (from birth or converted) living life much better than the believers (honest and interested in justice). (Wonderful believers and their amazing life is not forgotten here).
- If we see world happiness index (and many such parameters), we see irreligious nations in the top. [I used to speak of Sweden because of their extremely high rating in the happiness index — and thus great peace in their country. But one of their dirty secret is their economically powerful arms trade industry. So all things are not heavenly there too].
I stop here; purpose of the article is not to convert atheists, but their lives give prophetic messages to believers.