Another Blow to Religion in America -- Or Is It?

The faster the church stops telling people they are hopeless sinners and starts building them up, the better chance this archaic institution has to survive.
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More bad news for organized religion in American, as the Pew Research Center released some new statistics that shows one in five American adults, or 19.6 percent of the population, are now religiously unaffiliated -- the highest this number has ever been. And of those unaffiliated, 88 percent say they aren't looking to become part of any religious group anytime soon.

Critical thinking says this isn't necessarily a bad thing, because organized religion has controlled the masses in America for more than 200 years. Christianity is forced on us in childhood, and we are threatened to choose between conformity and damnation. We are warned to worship Jesus or burn in hell. The decision to accept Jesus as lord and savior is not usually made through logic, but from the emotional bullying of a puritanical society.

Most Americans don't reach their religious conclusions through research. In fact, very few Americans possess much knowledge on Christianity beyond what their pastor tells them on Sunday. Studies show that fewer than 10 percent of professed Christians have actually read the entire Bible, and only a fraction of those have seriously studied it. Only a tiny percentage of the faithful have made a conscious decision to be Christians based on in-depth study of it. They believe because they are brainwashed to believe.

The most frightening part of organized religion in America is that so many people refuse to discuss it intelligently and unemotionally. When it comes to religion, many people operate with the emotional maturity of a child. Americans are so terrified of their mortality that they willingly suspend their critical thinking and believe almost anything that eases their fear and offers them comfort. Science is seen as a threat and is often not welcome in the religious debate. Scientists, agnostics and atheists are savagely attacked for having the audacity to question the beliefs of people living their lives through blind faith.

On the other side of the spectrum, you have staunch atheists who are usually more educated on religion than most religious people. Estimates of the size of this group ranges, but is likely much larger because so many are afraid to speak out.

The delusion of religion is not whether or not God exists, but in the absolute certainty of knowing the unknowable. The staunch atheist who claims to know God does not exist is as guilty as the far right fundamentalist. Both claim to possess information they don't have. Does God exist? No one knows, yet billions of otherwise intelligent people claim to know something they cannot prove.

Under 30 Group

According to the Pew report, a third of adults under 30 are religiously unaffiliated today. That's because the core premise of organized religion is that we are helpless and hopeless without God, and a large percentage of people in their 20s and 30s are rejecting it. These are young adults who never lived in a world without computers, and most of them had access to the Internet as children. They grew up in the instant information age and they know how to find answers faster than any generation in history. As a result, they are smarter and savvier, and the idea that they are hopeless sinners who should fall to their knees and beg forgiveness doesn't make sense to them.

It's easy to fool an uneducated populous, especially when you're offering eternal life in exchange for rational thought. But when the populous has access to all of the world's knowledge at their fingertips, it changes the game. This new generation is also aware of the abuses of the church and religious leaders. A 30-year-old man is much more likely to know the details of the Catholic Priest Sex Scandal than a man twice his age.

These kids have more access to information on their phones than we did in every library we ever visited and every encyclopedia we ever owned. They are better educated, more sophisticated and highly skeptical. Telling them they are helpless without Jesus minus the evidence to prove it isn't going to fly.

My generation and the generations before me were taught to respect our elders and submit to authority. The new generations are equally respectful but eager to challenge unsubstantiated claims, superstitions and anything that sounds suspect. It's the upward intellectual evolution of society, and its bad news for the Church.

The delusional thinking is that the church's decline is a bad thing. It's not. Convening weekly to learn more about a book filled with hate, bigotry and murder that promises to save your soul is an exercise in mass delusion and dangerous to society. Sending our kids to interact with celibate Catholic priests is still dangerous.

The Bible is promoted as the loving word of God, yet it's filled with inhuman slaughter, slavery, torture, homophobia, hate and discrimination. The Bible is a bully-book. It demands that you follow the authors' barbaric laws of life and living or burn in hell. If you decide to submit to the bully, he rewards you with everlasting life. If not, you burn. It's pretty straightforward. It's no different than the bully at school who steals your money and promises you protection, or the mobster who threatens to vandalize your store unless you pay him part of the profits.

Critical thinking says we should restructure the church by removing the medieval practices and superstitions and focus on uplifting society through lessons of personal responsibility, friendship and charity. The faster the church stops telling people they are hopeless sinners and starts building them up, the better chance this archaic institution has to survive.

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