“Do you still have ‘faith’?” she asked the two of us who were sitting on either side of her at our table.
“No,” I answered. Just that. No.
Under other circumstances, I might have carried on about my perspective on the value of godlessness, my decades-long exploration of what some call the world of the spirit, my opinionated take on the evils of organized religion. But for the two other women, who had suffered the tragedy of losing young adult children to the fickleness of fate, the loss of their faith was something much more personal and much more painful.
Tonight on NBC Nightly News, Brian Williams ended his program with a piece that indicated atheism is on the rise.
The Washington Post also had a article a few days ago that begins with this:
BURGESS HILL, England — Every morning on his walk to work, high school teacher Graham Wright recited a favorite Anglican prayer and asked God for strength in the day ahead. Then two years ago, he just stopped.
Wright, 59, said he was overwhelmed by a feeling that religion had become a negative influence in his life and the world. Although he once considered becoming an Anglican vicar, he suddenly found that religion represented nothing he believed in, from Muslim extremists blowing themselves up in God’s name to Christians condemning gays, contraception and stem cell research.
Wright is now an avowed atheist and part of a growing number of vocal nonbelievers in Europe and the United States. On both sides of the Atlantic, membership in once-quiet groups of nonbelievers is rising, and books attempting to debunk religion have been surprise bestsellers, including “The God Delusion,” by Oxford University professor Richard Dawkins.
New groups of nonbelievers are sprouting on college campuses, anti-religious blogs are expanding across the Internet, and in general, more people are publicly saying they have no religious faith.
Another Washington Post article includes these statements:
Focusing fresh attention on atheism in the United States was the publication last week of a book about Mother Teresa that lays out her secret struggle with her doubts about God. “Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light” has led some high-profile atheists to say that her spiritual wavering was actually atheism.
“She couldn’t bring herself to believe in God, but she wished she could,” said Christopher Hitchens, a Washington-based columnist and author of “God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything,” the latest atheist bestseller.
Nontheist is another term for atheist, or someone who does not believe in a supreme being.
A study released in June by the Barna Group, a religious polling firm, found that about 5 million adults in the United States call themselves atheists. The number rises to about 20 million — about one in every 11 Americans — if people who say they have no religious faith or are agnostic (they doubt the existence of a God or a supreme deity) are included.
I deprogrammed myself from my Catholic brainwashing soon after I set foot in my first college philosophy course. At the same time I was losing religion, my roommate was converting to Catholicism because she was marrying a Catholic. I remember going with her to a Newman Club meeting, where I asked the chaplain: “If I live life as a good, compassionate, caring person but I don’t believe in god, will I go to hell?”
Of course, his answer was “No, but….”
I never heard the rest of his answer because I left the room, recognizing the conundrum of my question and not expecting an answer that made any more sense than “faith.”
My children were brought up godless and good, and they remain so. As do I. Well, the godless part, anyway.
Go here for an overview of the godless in America.