Ancient Greek pantheons were a bunch of eccentric, witty, cunning and mean beings but still played a critical role in Greek society. A clash with one of these pantheons brought a swift response from the political establishment of the day. Their confluence left influence among the affluent and fluency among the opulent.
Majority of the Greeks from all the islands had their tentacles firmly embedded in the pantheons. Still, few mandarins with cavalier interests had hijacked religion, at some point, and wandered 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, Aztecs, Scandinavia (during the Vikings times), Inca, Babylon, Mesopotamia and Macedonia were steeped in strange religions that did not have room for dissent. Purported contrariness and disrespect to deities drew swift punishment.
However, historians agree that there was some 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
Since then, much water has gone under the bridge. We can rightly say that the world is now more civilised. We hardly live in fear that one would slit your throat for reneging on religious beliefs. This does not necessarily mean that we are entirely 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. The Bible teaches that we should win over them back (Galatians 6:1-2; Luke 15:1-7). Furthermore, 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 mostly 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 teenagehood 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 start to vilify the tenets he or she once held unto with zeal and zest?
The survey that was carried out between March and May 2016 by Pew Research Centre brings to the fore some of the reasons that could account for this drift. The Centre is a fact tank that conducts opinion polling, demographic and social researches to inform the public about issues, attitudes and trends shaping the US and the World. The survey was conducted in the US and 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 countries or continents.
Examples of reasons why people are unaffiliated
The following are a sample of the common reasons that were provided by respondents when asked why they did not either believes in religious groups, religiously unsure, or inactive believer.
- Evolution as taught in colleges
It appears that Evolution is doing great injury 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 accorded serious treatment in colleges. It explained in depth and breadth.
- The duplicity of religious people
Besides Evolution, respondents said that there are ‘too many Christians doing un-Christian things’. They mentioned overarching issues such as sex scandals.
- Lack of any scientific or specific evidence of a creator
This is one of the most put forward arguments by 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 reasoning.
- 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 cavalier interests. This is undebatable. 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 events 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.
Some of the respondents suggested that they do not believe in any religion because they are open-minded (the so-called free thinkers) and that no single religious group 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. How many of us know the reasons why we go to church? Are we taught the importance of not neglecting the gathering of brethren?
Back home, South Africa, a 2012 Win-Gallup International Religiosity and Atheism Index poll showed that the number of South Africans who hold themselves as religious declined from 83% of the population in 2005 to 64% of the population in 2012.
In summary, these are not the only reasons why they walk away. However, it is good if we realised that we have a pretty hard row to hoe as Christians. It is better if we started nipping this problem in the bud by focusing our machinery on children and youth ministries. The best thing is that we have assurance from God. He guarantees that it is not by our might or power but by His Spirit.