Thursday, June 07, 2012

Why America Makes Boring Atheists

Really when you get past the media and the noise, the atheist population in America is pretty weak and boring.  It is by and large a pretty intellectually lazy group, mostly given to slurs and silly attacks more than intellectual engagement. It can be easy

American Protestants do not have to believe in God because they believe in belief. That is why we have never been able to produce interesting atheists in America. The god most Americans say they believe in is just not interesting enough to deny. 

- Hauerwas, Stanley, War and the American Difference (Kindle Location 491)

Of all of the lines I have highlighted in this book, that one takes the cake. What an indictment and how very true, sadly enough. Also interesting that we have a citation convention for e-books that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago....anyway. I think the response to the question of why the church is not persecuted here is often that this is a choice and special land, founded as a "Christian nation" and so we need to constantly be on guard and fighting to protect that heritage. I personally deny the very notion of a "Christian nation" so what we are trying to protect/recover is a moralistic religious culture that kept people in line.

Do American churchgoers really not believe in God so much as they believe in belief?\ Have we turned justification by faith alone into a perversion where transformed lives and regenerate hearts has been replaced by external piety and public morality? Is the "god" that is worshiped by most Americans little more than an American deity with Biblical language? I think that a case can be made for that. I have long felt that we face no persecution in America because, to paraphrase Hauerwas, the "god" we claim to worship just isn't interesting enough to oppose. I likewise get what he is saying re: belief in belief. Our testimony, our verbal affirmation, church membership/attendance, etc. are what many people place their hope in, not so much in a Savior that calls them to come and die to self. Many people believe in the American moral and civic religion rather than Christ. That is not intended to be a haughty statement that I have it all figured out but a call to the real church scattered throughout this land that our task is far more difficult than we have been led to believe.

What do you think? Is he overstating his case? Am I?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think you and Hauerwas are right on. We've gotten complacent here and it's starting to show. Public policy is equating "freedom of religion" to only what happens in the 4 walls of the church and the church is starting to wake up that suddenly living out the faith in regular, everyday life is no longer culturally accpetable or welcome. As we start living ourwardly different lives from our inward faith, I think we'll start seeing society push back more...