Response: 10 Reasons why apologists fail to understand ex-Christian Millennials
It’s been a long time since I’ve blogged, for that I apologize to any readers who enjoy my work. I’ve been wanting to find the time to write, and recently I was certain I would do a piece on the Pureflix’s film “The Case for Christ” – the story about the life and conversion of Christian apologist (mostly stooge) Lee Strobel. After all, Lee Strobel is what brought the founding fathers of Trolling With Logic together all those years ago. Unfortunately, I lived a bit of a distance from the theaters that were the first to screen the film, and several people beat me to the punch – Richard Carrier wrote a blog that thoroughly debunked the film, even the God Awful Movies podcast did a show on the film, and they were all excellent and I highly recommend everyone to check them out. And as much as I would love to write my own blog on the film (and being referenced by Richard Carrier’s blog again), I decided to let it slide.
But I will quickly give my own two cents of my thoughts: Lee Strobel is, quite honestly, a stooge. He tries to make himself look authentic with his “journalism” background, but even in the film he shows what a colossal hypocrite he is (see Richard Carrier’s blog review of the film, particularly the section “Oh, Is That How Journalists Do It?” about his double-standard on viewing the evidence for Jesus and how Lee handled the crime investigation). And this isn’t a one-time issue, when you read the “Case for” book series that made Lee big, they all show the same flaws: he never asks a skeptical or opposing viewpoint, he always gets the weakest views, and never asks for hard proof. Essentially, all he is a muppet who parrots Christian apologetics and propaganda from the Discovery Institute. And like Ray Comfort, Lee knows that his books can contain next to nothing and they will still sell big, especially if you boost-http://trollingwithlogic.com/godless-wolf/wp-admin/post-new.phpa-lot about a fictional story like “I was a devout atheist turned Christian” – even when they show numerous signs that they haven’t the foggiest idea of what atheism even is.
And that brings me to writing this blog, another example of sham journalism mixed with a complete misunderstanding of what atheism is, especially on why people become atheists. I woke up this morning and read this article posted on Fox News, “Ten Reasons Millennials are backing away from God and Christianity” and I was compelled to respond and refute.
First of all, this article written by Dr. Alex McFarland – whose website says that “Alex attended the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and earned a Master’s degree in Christian Thought / Apologetics from Liberty University, Lynchburg, VA.”
Master’s degree in Christian Thought?
What a waste of a degree. What a waste of life choices and educational resources. The fact they offer this as a “doctorate” is crazy.
As for the article published by Fox News, it’s just as terrible and weak as Lee Strobel’s best efforts.
Our most recent research, which includes dozens of interviews with teens, twentysomethings, professed ex-Christians, and religion and culture experts, points to factors like these:
So these guys claimed to have interviewed ex-Christians, but they don’t say they were atheists, nor do they say the exact number or percentage of the whole pie of interviewees. Because they also say they interviewed “religion and culture experts”… and based on the 10 Reasons they give, I suspect that was all they talked to.
1. Mindset of “digital natives” is very much separate from other generations. Millennials are eclectic on all fronts—economically, spiritually, artistically. There is little or no “brand loyalty” in most areas of life.
Would you be “brand loyal” to a brand that you knew wasn’t true? Did you’re parents teach you about Santa Claus? If so, are you still “loyal” or “still a believer” in Santa Claus?
And how ironic that a “doctorate” in Christian Though — which basically is knowing the history of the Bible, church and religion — would call Millennial “electic on all fronts”… then what do you consider Christianity? Christianity has morphed and evolved many times in the past 2,000 years, constantly adopting pagan and folklore traditions and worldviews; adopting various artistic methods; even in economics, there are Christian Communists who follow the exact economic model portrayed in Acts 2, 4, and 5 about the Apostle Peter practicing collectivization of property.
2. Breakdown of the family. It has long been recognized that experience with an earthly father deeply informs the perspective about the heavenly father. In “How the West Really Lost God,” sociologist Mary Eberstadt correctly asserts, “The fortunes of religion rise or fall with the state of the family.”
“Correctly asserts”… those are some very sly apologists words to cover how stupid this second point sounds. Basically it’s a deflection of the holes in the religion or how little sense it all makes, and re-focuses the discussion on the ones introducing the criticism or leaving the faith by blaming those people’s families.
So to Alex and his ilk, they think that if someone leaves the faith, it’s because something happened to them or their family. Imagine if they encountered a ex-Jew and asked him why he left Judaism, to which he says the lack of evidence, such as the Exodus never happened. Alex and other apologists think this is a rational response: “oh you point out that the Exodus has no evidence… but you must’ve left the faith because your cousin is getting a divorce, so that’s why you’re turning your back on their Temple and faith.” Yeah, quiet a big stretch to blame the faults of religion on the “breakdown of the family.”
Basically what Alex is peddling here is a message to families to be sterner about indoctrinating their kids with faith.
3. Militant secularism: Embraced by media and enforced in schools, secular education approaches learning through the lens of “methodological naturalism.” It is presupposed that all faith claims are merely expressions of subjective preference. The only “true” truths are claims that are divorced from any supernatural context and impose no moral obligations on human behavior. People today are subjected to an enforced secularism.
For those of you who didn’t catch that, “methodological naturalism” is another word for this little thing called SCIENCE.
Yeah, Alex is actually putting the blame on schools for teaching kids science. What. An. Idiot.
Public schools are government institutions, which means they are not allowed to promote one religion over any other. This is why they must remain secular, unless Alex would prefer America adopt the methods of ISIS.
As for the “it’s presupposed that all faith claims are merely expressions of subjective preference” I challenge Alex or any apologist to name one instance of a natural phenomenon that is better explained by magic then science. Humanity once didn’t know how lightning formed, so they attributed it to a magical entity they could not see (like Zeus) but the moment we learned the truth of lightning, it turned into not be magical at all, and it opened a new field of study that never existed before and opened the door to greater understanding of nature then ever.
4. Lack of spiritual authenticity among adults. Many youth have had no — or very limited — exposure to adult role models who know what they believe, why they believe it, and are committed to consistently living it out.
This MISTER Alex McFarland acts like Millenials are surrounded by nihilists. BULLSHIT
Everywhere you look in America, there are more churches then there are gas stations. There is no way of going through life without being “limited” to be exposed to adults who know what they believe and why. I, like many atheists, come from Christian families. Even if all they did was celebrate Easter and Christmas every year, that is still quiet a big exposure to what the family believes. As for myself, I come from a large family, and in that family we have Evangelicals, Baptists, Catholics, Mormons, and Presbyterians. This fantasy that atheists like myself are not exposed — or at least limited to exposure — to religious people is complete bullshit.
5. The church’s cultural influence has diminished. The little neighborhood church is often assumed to be irrelevant, and there is no cultural guilt anymore for those who abandon involvement.
You can’t blame people for not wanting to go to your church. The only people who can be blamed for this are the churches themselves of not being worthy to attend. They are the ones who are full of liars (because religion is a lie), hypocrites, and criminals. And this isn’t just limited to America. 180,000 Germans left the Catholic Church due to the Church hiding and protect child-raping priests.
And this pedo-priest stories happens quiet commonly.
6. Pervasive cultural abandonment of morality. The idea of objective moral truth—ethical norms that really are binding on all people—is unknown to most and is rejected by the rest.
First of all, it’s a rejection of “religious morality,” not morality itself. Apologists like Alex are quiet the clever little liars who misuse words to push their agenda. American Millennials abandon religious morality such as “gays are evil” but that doesn’t mean they think all morality like “murder is bad” goes out the window. But thanks to sly wordings from apologists like Alex, this is why people think that atheists are immoral people by nature.
If that was true (which it isn’t), then the proof ought to be in the pudding… yet the data should be shows the opposite: According to the United Nations’ Human Development Report (2005) the most secular nations are also the healthiest, as indicated by measures of life expectancy, adult literacy, per capita income, educational attainment, gender equality, homicide rate and infant mortality. Conversely, the 50 nations now ranked lowest in terms of human development are unwaveringly religious. Other analyses paint the same picture: The United States is unique among wealthy democracies in its level of religious literalism, yet it is also uniquely beleaguered by high rates of homicide, abortion, teen pregnancy, STD infection and infant mortality. Southern and Midwestern states, characterized by the highest levels of religious superstition and church attendance, are especially plagued by the above indicators of societal dysfunction, while the comparatively secular states of the Northeast conform to European norms. Countries with high levels of atheism also are the most charitable in terms of giving foreign aid to the developing world.
7. Intellectual skepticism. College students are encouraged to accept platitudes like “life is about asking questions, not about dogmatic answers.” Is that the answer? That there are no answers? Claiming to have answers is viewed as “impolite.” On life’s ultimate questions, it is much more socially acceptable to “suspend judgment.”
Did you notice a key word missing here…. EVIDENCE.
Once again, the sly wording of apologists to inflict confusion among readers. This is why I suspect Alex and their “interviews” with ex-Christians (if there were any) was insincere, or they are deliberately misrepresenting what the interviewees said. Why? Because a big deal to every atheist and ex-Christian is Evidence, and religion has a huge lack of it, which is why people leave the faith and church.
Furthermore, “suspending judgment” and “constantly asking questions” does not mean that skeptics never have answers. That’s just not true. We can still have answers while constantly asking questions. For instance, we know evolution is a fact, and it is not “impolite” to state scientific facts. We have the answers, skeptics admit that, though to maintain being a good skeptic, they must be willing to change their minds and views should new evidence be presented that proves their current understanding to be incorrect.
For instance, it is a fact that the Earth is not flat, that’s the answer… but if anyone can disprove it, you will be given a Nobel Prize, we will cheer you as a genius, all our models of nature will be adjusted in concordance to the new evidence. That’s how this works. It’s called learning and growing.
But to Christians, especially Creationists, facts and evidence don’t matter to them. It’s all about faith, pretending and make-believing being more important than accepting reality as real. When Bill Nye “the Science Guy” debated Ken Ham of the Creationist Museum, when they were asked what would it take to change their minds, this is what they answered:
Creationists even proudly promote on their websites that they will not change their minds even when presented with evidence that contradicts or disproves their faiths today or any time in the future.
8. The rise of a fad called “atheism.” Full of self-congratulatory swagger and blasphemous bravado, pop-level atheists such as the late Christopher Hitchens (whom I interviewed twice) made it cool to be a non-believer. Many millennials, though mostly 20-something Caucasian males, are enamored by books and blogs run by God-hating “thinkers.”
Fad (n) – an intense and widely shared enthusiasm for something, especially one that is short-lived and without basis in the object’s qualities; a craze.
Atheism dates back further then Christianity was ever a religion.
And another thing, the rise in atheism is what prompted Alex to write this blog on Fox News, yet all his points miss the key elements that bring people to atheism. Atheism is not a “fad,” it is growing more and more every year. Thanks to the Internet, humanity is exposed to more information that every before in humanity’s history, and with a click of a button we can learn the facts of nature and verify if certain claims are true or not.
“Many Millennials… are enamored by books and blogs run by God-hating “thinkers”…. this is why I say that apologists like Alex and Lee Strobel don’t understand what atheism is, and if they do then they deliberately lie to their audience about it. They confuse Atheism with Misotheism, because they think Atheists, who profess to not believe in any god, somehow means atheists DO believe in a god. That is completely upside down, like claiming people who don’t believe in mermaids hold that view because they just hate mermaids.
9. Our new God: Tolerance be Thy name. “Tolerance” today essentially means, “Because my truth is, well, my truth, no one may ever question any behavior or belief I hold.” This “standard” has become so ingrained that it is now impossible to rationally critique any belief or behavior without a backlash of criticism.
Tolerance doesn’t mean that one’s personal views is immune to criticism, it is the acceptance of people holding different views. That’s all it is. Tolerance isn’t an inward view, it is outward one. Basically Alex is asking for permission to criticize others while being protected from criticism… sorry Alex (not sorry) but screw you.
If you encounter someone with thin skin that they cannot accept “rational critique” of their beliefs and behaviors, tolerance is not the culprit of that person’s thin skin.
In fact, the culprit that may cause someone to be “thin skinned” against rational critique may very well be religious dogma. There are mountains of examples of “the flock” being told over and over to not question the “Word of God” or the priests and demanding women “submit” to their husbands. It’s always about thought control and obedience.
(notice that Meyer was addressing how teens fall from the faith, and she literally calls “reason” a cause from Satan and she lumps “reason” in with depression. That goes to show how fragile the Christian faith is and how much apologists hate reason)
…basically when an outsider comes along and rationally criticizes their beliefs, they feel under attacked. They’ve been indoctrinated to not question, and if their beliefs feel under attacked then they personally feel under attacked, hence a common response is to react with lashing out and disdain.
This is why religious faith resorts to literally encouraging people to not think and fear reason.
It’s sad how often you encounter people who openly admit that they will choose to not think or even care for using reason or logic.
Even Martin Luther, the founder of the Protestant movement, called upon all Christians to cut off their Reason. He said, “I answer: That reason in no way contributes to faith. Nay, in that children are destitute of reason, they are all the more fit and proper recipients of baptism. For reason is the greatest enemy that faith has: it never comes to the aid of spiritual things, but—more frequently than not—struggles against the Divine Word, treating with contempt all that emanates from God.” (http://www.ccel.org/ccel/luther/tabletalk.v.xiii.html)
Christopher Hitches was onto something when he said “Religion Poisons Everything.”
10. The commonly defiant posture of young adulthood. As we leave adolescence and morph into adulthood, we all can be susceptible to an inflated sense of our own intelligence and giftedness. During the late teens and early 20s, many young people feel 10 feet tall and bulletproof. I did. The cultural trend toward rejection of God—and other loci of authority—resonates strongly with the desire for autonomy felt in young adulthood.
So growing kids contribute to the cultural rejection of god because… they’re naturally defiant, and it has nothing to do with the lack of evidence supporting religion. Again, it’s the apologists deflection from addressing the elephant in the room and shifting the blame unto the wrong crowd.
Why should people, of any age group, continue to align and support a worldview that has no evidence supporting it and makes zero sense? Even if we acknowledge teens are “naturally defiant,” that doesn’t mean that teens “naturally don’t use their heads.” These defiant teens still go to school, they still have access to libraries and the Internet, they are still capable of thinking for themselves and ergo are very capable of learning on their own whether religions are true or not. All the teen “defiant posture” in the world will not magically change the fundamentals of geology and somehow make the impossible “Noah’s global flood” suddenly a reality. No amount of teen “defiance” will invalidate the existence of DNA and our ability to prove ancestry… just as no amount of denial from Christian adults who are creationists will invalidate the fact that humans share a common ancestor with other primates.
Finally, is it really any wonder that kids raised in the churches of 21st century America aren’t often stirred to lifelong commitment? Most churches are so occupied with “marketing” themselves to prospective attendees that they wouldn’t dream of risking their “brand” by speaking tough-as-nails truth. For evangelical youth mentored by many a hip and zany “Minister to Students,” commitment to Jesus lasts about as long as the time it takes to wash the stains out of T-shirts worn at the senior-year paintball retreat.
Why should anyone, young or old, be committed to something that makes no sense and has no evidence to stand on?
It is true that our culture has grown visibly antithetical to God and Christian commitment. But in addressing the spiritual attrition rate of young America, it must be admitted that a prayerless, powerless church peddling versions of “Christianity Lite” share in the blame. God only knows the degree of our complicity, and also the time when we’ll be concerned enough to change direction.
Wait… there are prayerless churches??? Someone name me one.
On top of that, we all know what Alex means when he mocks words like “Christian Lite”… he prefers “Christian fundamentalism” where everyone is upfront with their faith and constantly evangelizing… The very thing human society does not need. What we need is to properly educate all generations about how science works and improve their critical thinking skills.
Alex McFarland may appear that he’s done research on the matter, but like Lee Strobel, it’s complete bunk.
Why was there not one mention in this whole article of an atheist or ex-Christian who said anything along the lines of “Religion cannot survive two simple words: Prove it.” There was not one discussion on the evidence, not one discussion on the philosophical objections teens may bring up that conflicts with the church’s teachings. This article seems to give the impression that teens are not “thinkers,” they’re just in rebellion for the kicks, or it’s because their families have failed them. How degrading, to think so low of teens, and by extension their families. Basically, this whole article is “shame on you” instead of “shame on the con artists in holy robes selling an invisible product they haven’t ever proven real.”
Given that having a college degree wasn’t as important as it was in the late 1970’s as it is now, it seems to me that Millennials are being more educated then previous generations. Thus they are exposed to more and more knowledge then before, and are learning firsthand what their parent’s were not aware of or taught when they attended college. For example, while evolution was taught in Biology courses to the Baby Boomers, it was only recently when new evidence surfaced such as Tiktallik and Human Chromosome #2. Or what about the discovery of the Higgs Boson. Millennials are learning all of this now, and unlike the previous generations, they have greater access to knowledge then ever before at such young ages. They are also more open to new discussions, listening to podcasts and watching YouTube clips of opposing viewpoints, unlike the previous generations who only heard what their family thought or what people talked about in church (unless they had access to a radio or liked to read the newspaper).
I for one am glad that Millennials are more and more getting and education, and I am just as glad that more and more are seeing religion and faith for what it is: a lie.
And to all apologists, I have many things to say. Starting with quit your theology jobs and do something useful for society. And in the future, try to properly understand why Millenials like me leave the Christian faith. It’s not because Millennials are “rebellious” or because our families are flawed or broken. It’s definitely not because we rejection morality, only religious dogmatic morals. It’s simply because we want to live in the real world. Not a world of fantasy, make-believe, and falsehoods. That’s you’re world, not ours, and we don’t want any part of it.