Ancient Greek pantheons were a bunch of eccentric, witty, cunning and mean beings who played a critical role in Greek society. A clash with one of these pantheons brought a swift response from the religious and political establishment of the day. Their confluence left influence even among the affluent and fluency among the opulent.
The majority of Greeks from all the islands danced and dined in the name of these pantheons. Still, there were few mandarins who would still wander away in wonderment. A good example was Socrates. He was accused of mocking gods and misleading the youths. The charges carried a death sentence and it was capably executed.
Theistic ancient cultures did not tolerate divergent views. The Ancient Rome, China, India, Egypt, Persia, Aztec, Scandinavia (during the time of Vikings), Inca, Babylon, Mesopotamia and Macedonia were steeped in strange religions that did not have room for dissent. Purported contrariness and disrespect to deities attracted swift punishment.
However, historians agree that there was remarkable dissension sprouting intermittently. They were spearheaded by people who viewed belief in deities as a source of primitive fear, laughable anthropomorphism and matchless cruelty. They refused to dance to the whims and wiles of the likes of Zeus and Saturn.
Turncoats in modern days
Much water has gone under the bridge and we can rightly say that the world is more civilized. We hardly live in fear that one would slit your throat for reneging on religious beliefs. This does not necessarily mean that we are completely out of the woods, for there are religions that still punish turncoats. Your head is at risk of being harvested whenever you question their dogmas and philosophies.
Christianity does not prescribe any punishment for deserters. In fact, the Bible teaches that we should win them back (Galatians 6:1-2; Luke 15:1-7). Moreover, we are commanded to provide an answer to those who confront the Christian Faith with philosophical assaults (1 Peter 3:15).
Deserting from the Faith, as it were, happens frequently and specifically among the youths. A good number of us know of a person who had a Christian upbringing, attended church faithfully but somehow lost it either in their youth or adulthood. How can someone who supposedly grew up grounded in Christian worldview suddenly denounce it? How can a son or a daughter walk away from home and go ahead to vilify the tenets he or she once held unto with zeal and zest?
A survey that was carried out between the months of March and May 2016 by Pew Research Centre brings to the fore some of the reasons that could account for this trend. The Centre is a fact tank that conducts opinion polling, demographic and social research with the purpose of informing the public about issues, attitudes and trends shaping the US and the World. The survey was conducted in the US whereby 5000 adults were interviewed via telephone. The findings apply to the American setting. However, we should never forget we live in a global village and the findings could not be far from truth across the continents.
Examples of reasons why people are unaffiliated
The following are some of the common reasons that were provided by respondents when asked why they did not either believe in religious groups, were religiously unsure, or inactive believers.
- Evolution as taught in colleges
It appears that Evolution is doing a great harm to the Christian account of creation. To me, the problem may not necessarily be the Christian Account of Creation itself but the way it is packaged and delivered. We rarely delve deep into the creation story. We mention it in passing. In this way, it passes as one of the many myths of creations. Contrastingly, Evolution is treated with seriousness in colleges. It explained in depth and breadth.
- Duplicity of religious people
Besides Evolution, respondents said that ‘too many Christians doing un-Christian things’. They mentioned overarching issues such as sex scandals.
- Lack of any sort of scientific or specific evidence of a creator
This is one of the most advanced argument even by the atheists. It argues against the existence of a Creator on the premise that there is no evidence of one. Christians should be in a position to exhaustively engage this kind of thinking.
- More harm has been done in the name of religion than any other area
I think it is true that religion at some point has been hijacked by people with mischievous interests. This is something we cannot deny as historical documents of such occurrences are in public domain. Nonetheless one should bear in mind that not all religions are the same. We do not worship the same God. On top of this, it is good when we judge such occurrences in light of the fundamental teachings of the said religion. We err when we conclude that every action executed by a Christian is permitted by the Bible. We need to explain to our fellow Christians what Christianity is and what it is not.
- Open mindedness
Some of the respondents suggested that they do not believe in any religion because they are open minded and that there is no single religious group that is right or wrong. This is tantamount to saying that Jesus lied when He said, “I’m the way, the truth, and the life-no one comes to the Father, except through me” (Jn.14:6). Mahatma Gandhi tends to agree with them in his quote, “The soul of religion is one, but it is encased in a multitude of forms.”
Do this line of thinking leads to truth?
- Don’t have time to go to church
Time to go to church is ‘created’ just the same way we have time to study, work, hang out at social joints, and visits friends. Are we taught the meaning of not neglecting the gathering of brethren?
In summary, it is good if we realized as Christians that we have a pretty hard row to hoe. It is better if we started nipping this problem in the bud by targeting children churches and youth ministries. The best thing is that we have a backup assurance from God. He guarantees that it is neither by our might nor by our power but by His Spirit.