Why there are "Nones"

A May 2013 Gallup poll of religion in America posed the question, “If more Americans were religious, would that be a positive or negative for American society?" The results were 75% positive and 17% negative. One year later, another Gallup poll posed the question, “Do you believe in God?" The results were 86% yes and 11% no. Remarkably, the number of people who believe in God is 11% greater than the number of those who see religion as a positive, indicating a significant number of believers see religion as a negative. According to a Pew Research Center study released in May 2015, the number of those with no religious affiliation – the “nones" – has been steadily increasing, especially among young adults, while fewer Americans identify themselves as Christian.
What is it about Biblical religion in America that is turning people away? Is it that social norms are changing so fast that religion can’t keep up? Corporate attitudes have changed; it’s good business to be inclusive and diverse. Economic progress is made by moving forward, not backward. We must open up, not close up, if we are to endure. Then America is destined for greatness, not smallness.
Can Christianity in America adapt? Probably not, as historically, it has resisted social change and subverted the scientific knowledge that has contradicted it, especially in regard to evolution. For example, according to a 2014 Gallup poll, 42% of Americans believe “God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so." Setting evolutionary theory aside, citing the continuum of life found in the fossil record makes it untenable to claim our species appeared without an ancestral species.
According to the same poll, another 31% believe “human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God guided this process." Given that biological evolution worked so well for billions of years, our ancient ancestors wouldn’t have needed divine intervention for human evolution to take place. To claim that human beings are the singular exception to biological evolution is contradicted by genetic evidence and the fossil record.
Because religious faith is a spiritual conviction that does not rest on physical evidence or logical argument, no presentation of scientific knowledge is likely to be convincing or be met with a rational response. Instead, terms like “creation science" and “theistic evolution" are offered as coherent concepts. When these religious claims are debunked as pseudoscience, charges of academic bias, closed mindedness, intolerance and conspiracy are made.
Fundamentally, biological evolution conflicts with the Biblical concept of divine purpose, as a quick scan of the fossil record with its parade of bizarre-looking creatures demonstrates that life improvises; it makes it up as it goes along. We can logically conclude that no creator planned our existence or, by extension, that of any species, or that of our planet, solar system, galaxy, or beyond.
Belief, religious or otherwise, is not required to be reasoned, although we like to think that our own beliefs are rational, given that belief is what we discern to be true. False beliefs exist and can be strongly held, irrationally when faced with mounting contradictory evidence. Humans are notoriously susceptible to practicing self-deception, wishful thinking, and outright denial. In contrast to belief, knowledge must be rationally demonstrable. In particular, scientific knowledge is built on the preponderance of falsifiable analyses of reproducible results. Scientific theories are our best-reasoned explanations of those results to date, informing us as to what is most likely to be physical reality.
Looking to find evidence for God through the natural sciences has not been fruitful. There is no scientific God theory because there are no scientific God facts. Meanwhile, we enjoy the benefits of evolutionary science, from medicines, to agricultural products, to industrial production. Microfossil biostratigraphy, critical to oil exploration, is based on principles of evolution.
I am met with emotional rebuttals claiming that it takes more faith to believe in Darwin than God, as if science is a religion. This is conflating faith, meaning confidence or trust, with religious faith, to make the argument appear symmetrical. The deeper conflict occurs when Biblical faith is used to justify our laws, such as teaching creationism in public schools or subjecting attendees of a government-sponsored event to religious worship. Citing the sanctity of life or a sin against God does not provide a basis for rational discussion. The works of philosophers since Socrates have informed our deliberations as to what ideal human conduct consists of without resorting to religious appeals. Civil discourse and inclusiveness are advanced to the degree that those promoting religion can engage in rational discussion with those holding on to the secular principles of government established by our founders.

Young people are turning away from religion for many reasons, among them the homophobia and sexual misconduct of religious leaders.

welcome to the forum, sorry, TLDR

Well thought out piece. I gave a longer talk, rambled a bit, but reached the same conclusion, religion needs to come to secularism, secularism doesn’t need to accommodate religion.

Thanks Lausten, and great take-away.

Because religious faith is a spiritual conviction that does not rest on physical evidence or logical argument, no presentation of scientific knowledge is likely to be convincing or be met with a rational response.
That's possibly the most frustrating/sad/true statement that can be made. Our minds can be cured, but the Faith disease has rejection of the cure built into it. We need to work harder on preventing youth from getting infected with dogma so we have fewer and fewer cases to cure later in life, because curing them is very very hard (as we all know too well.)

Thanks 3.14, so appreciate your comment on that!
‘An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.’
Getting Bible believers to recognize that they are in denial is about impossible, until something happens in their personal lives that educates them as to what is most likely a reality and then frees them of their irrational guilt and fear. Also presenting stories of those who have suffered from the abuse by those close helps to make it real for all of us, as this is serious stuff that has destroyed lives. I have hope for the coming generation, as they are wising up pretty fast, based on necessity of course.
Beyond that, I know Pantheism isn’t exactly rational either, and not well received by atheists generally for that reason, however, it may be offered as the ‘methadone program’ to their addiction. I may present an essay on the merits of that next, just to open up the discussion.

Thanks 3.14, so appreciate your comment on that! 'An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.' Getting Bible believers to recognize that they are in denial is about impossible, until something happens in their personal lives that educates them as to what is most likely a reality and then frees them of their irrational guilt and fear. Also presenting stories of those who have suffered from the abuse by those close helps to make it real for all of us, as this is serious stuff that has destroyed lives. I have hope for the coming generation, as they are wising up pretty fast, based on necessity of course. Beyond that, I know Pantheism isn't exactly rational either, and not well received by atheists generally for that reason, however, it may be offered as the 'methadone program' to their addiction. I may present an essay on the merits of that next, just to open up the discussion.
There are enough 'famous' atheists who were deep, serious Christians, to spur me into action when the opening to engage appears. My favorite is Matt Dillahunty, who was literally preparing to be a pastor when he had to look critically at his beliefs, and is now a wall of reason against illogical thinking. Having a stepping-stone between atheism and monotheism for our religious neighbours is possibly beneficial. Personally, I would have a tough time arguing for a 'middle' position I find equally as wrong as the one I'm confronting, but if I think about it I might come up with a way. You have any suggestions on how an atheist can tout the benefits of pantheism when there aren't any? **Edit: Fixed a mixed-up sentence.**
My favorite is Matt Dillahunty
Here is another one:Ryan Bell, a former pastor (see 'a year without God') http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/01/04/ryan-bell-atheist_n_6397336.html
You have any suggestions on how an atheist can tout the benefits of pantheism when there aren’t any?
I do, but let me put that into another article, as I expect a lively discussion!
My favorite is Matt Dillahunty
Here is another one:Ryan Bell, a former pastor (see 'a year without God') http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/01/04/ryan-bell-atheist_n_6397336.html
You have any suggestions on how an atheist can tout the benefits of pantheism when there aren’t any?
I do, but let me put that into another article, as I expect a lively discussion!
I'll check out Ryan Bell some time (at first I thought you wrote Rick Bell, and my eyebrows almost hit the roof). The stories of ex-Christians always give me the warm fuzzies, especially the ones who came back from being real strong theists. As for encouraging your average monotheist to look at pantheism, I'd have to say that the only reason I could do it is because it's like a weaker placebo than the one they are on. But it would feel like lying to actually type words that promoted it- I would feel dirty and dishonest. **(I have never seen the words "weaker" and "placebo" used together. I LOVE it! If I wasn't so attached to 3.14rat, I'd start using it as my name on the interweb)**

I completely understand. Consider though, feelings of reverence for all of existence - while discarding a make-believe, non-natural subset - could be pretty strong medicine and impart a healthy change.

My favorite is Matt Dillahunty
Here is another one:Ryan Bell, a former pastor (see 'a year without God') http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/01/04/ryan-bell-atheist_n_6397336.html
You have any suggestions on how an atheist can tout the benefits of pantheism when there aren’t any?
I do, but let me put that into another article, as I expect a lively discussion!
I'll check out Ryan Bell some time (at first I thought you wrote Rick Bell, and my eyebrows almost hit the roof). The stories of ex-Christians always give me the warm fuzzies, especially the ones who came back from being real strong theists. As for encouraging your average monotheist to look at pantheism, I'd have to say that the only reason I could do it is because it's like a weaker placebo than the one they are on. But it would feel like lying to actually type words that promoted it- I would feel dirty and dishonest. **(I have never seen the words "weaker" and "placebo" used together. I LOVE it! If I wasn't so attached to 3.14rat, I'd start using it as my name on the interweb)** I've been following Ryan Bell since he began his "Year Without God" on patheos. The first few months of that are pretty interesting if you have the time. Now he has "Life After God", a podcast for those who are looking for what to do now they don't have religion. It's strongly humanist. It is about wanting to be in a community and reaching out to your neighbors, but doing that without having to answer the "where do you go to church" question.
It is about wanting to be in a community and reaching out to your neighbors, but doing that without having to answer the “where do you go to church" question.
I can understand that, thanks. I marvel at the humanist - the fruit of our collective being. I start from the lowly naturalist's perspective, and climb from there.

I’m one of those ex Christian. As much as atheists hate the word “faith”, it is actually one of the most powerful things that can lead believers “astray”. It is the belief that God is indeed all loving that it claims to. As a religious person, I didn’t have knowledge that atheists have and was discouraged to use my logic. But I strongly believed that God was good, nothing like the one that religion introduce to us. That’s how, many apostates turn away from religion. That’s why, many ex-religious used to be the most faithful and have a vast knowledge on religion.

I'm one of those ex Christian. As much as atheists hate the word "faith", it is actually one of the most powerful things that can lead believers "astray". It is the belief that God is indeed all loving that it claims to. As a religious person, I didn't have knowledge that atheists have and was discouraged to use my logic. But I strongly believed that God was good, nothing like the one that religion introduce to us. That's how, many apostates turn away from religion. That's why, many ex-religious used to be the most faithful and have a vast knowledge on religion.
Not sure I'm getting this samyaza? Are you saying that people "of faith", have a certain faith in their God, but then start to question their religious tradition and/or their religious leaders because they are not presenting the same picture of God that they have faith in? So, they believe God is good, but then hear a story of a bad God, presented as truth, so they turn away. Something like that?
I'm one of those ex Christian. As much as atheists hate the word "faith", it is actually one of the most powerful things that can lead believers "astray". It is the belief that God is indeed all loving that it claims to. As a religious person, I didn't have knowledge that atheists have and was discouraged to use my logic. But I strongly believed that God was good, nothing like the one that religion introduce to us. That's how, many apostates turn away from religion. That's why, many ex-religious used to be the most faithful and have a vast knowledge on religion.
Not sure I'm getting this samyaza? Are you saying that people "of faith", have a certain faith in their God, but then start to question their religious tradition and/or their religious leaders because they are not presenting the same picture of God that they have faith in? So, they believe God is good, but then hear a story of a bad God, presented as truth, so they turn away. Something like that? Yes, it's something like that. Most were turn off by the idea that a good god would send good people to hell. But most are afraid to admit that that god is bad. One thing that might give them the courage is a strong belief that God wasn't like that. Once they believe in a "good God" that allows them to do whatever they believe to be right, they can do everything that will lead them to doubt.
I'm one of those ex Christian. As much as atheists hate the word "faith", it is actually one of the most powerful things that can lead believers "astray". It is the belief that God is indeed all loving that it claims to. As a religious person, I didn't have knowledge that atheists have and was discouraged to use my logic. But I strongly believed that God was good, nothing like the one that religion introduce to us. That's how, many apostates turn away from religion. That's why, many ex-religious used to be the most faithful and have a vast knowledge on religion.
Not sure I'm getting this samyaza? Are you saying that people "of faith", have a certain faith in their God, but then start to question their religious tradition and/or their religious leaders because they are not presenting the same picture of God that they have faith in? So, they believe God is good, but then hear a story of a bad God, presented as truth, so they turn away. Something like that? Yes, it's something like that. Most were turn off by the idea that a good god would send good people to hell. But most are afraid to admit that that god is bad. One thing that might give them the courage is a strong belief that God wasn't like that. Once they believe in a "good God" that allows them to do whatever they believe to be right, they can do everything that will lead them to doubt. Interesting. I think you have a good insight into how a lot of people start to question religion. They start to judge the scripture, then realize their judgments come from somewhere other scripture.
I'm one of those ex Christian. As much as atheists hate the word "faith", it is actually one of the most powerful things that can lead believers "astray". It is the belief that God is indeed all loving that it claims to. As a religious person, I didn't have knowledge that atheists have and was discouraged to use my logic. But I strongly believed that God was good, nothing like the one that religion introduce to us. That's how, many apostates turn away from religion. That's why, many ex-religious used to be the most faithful and have a vast knowledge on religion.
Not sure I'm getting this samyaza? Are you saying that people "of faith", have a certain faith in their God, but then start to question their religious tradition and/or their religious leaders because they are not presenting the same picture of God that they have faith in? So, they believe God is good, but then hear a story of a bad God, presented as truth, so they turn away. Something like that? Yes, it's something like that. Most were turn off by the idea that a good god would send good people to hell. But most are afraid to admit that that god is bad. One thing that might give them the courage is a strong belief that God wasn't like that. Once they believe in a "good God" that allows them to do whatever they believe to be right, they can do everything that will lead them to doubt. Interesting. I think you have a good insight into how a lot of people start to question religion. They start to judge the scripture, then realize their judgments come from somewhere other scripture. Normally, if we talk about evolution, it's something that is difficult for them to comprehend. It took me quite sometimes even after I had turned agnostic until I admit evolution is true. My friend stayed in a Catholic dormitory. Every weekend, he got up very early in the morning to walk to a Protestant church that was far far away from where he lived. He told me the book that turned him agnostic was "The Prayer of the Frog", which is actually more about spirituality than Christianity. In my country, it was published by a Catholic. But, I think this would be much harder for a group such as Evangelical, because they tend to arm themselves against spiritual teachings or pluralism. The best move when dealing with such group is attacking Biblical inerrancy first , instead of Christianity at large.
Normally, if we talk about evolution, it's something that is difficult for them to comprehend. It took me quite sometimes even after I had turned agnostic until I admit evolution is true.
Evolutionary theory aside, the order of first appearances found in the fossil record contradicts Biblical creationism, which teaches that all life forms, including humans, appeared at once, with no ancestral species preceding them. Were we to find mammals appearing before invertebrates, or reptiles appearing before amphibians, then that might be evidence of supernatural creation. I've had some fundamentalists tell me that the fossil record was manipulated by Satan to make it look as if life evolved. Of course, if one accepts that life evolved, then it follows that we exist unplanned...
Normally, if we talk about evolution, it's something that is difficult for them to comprehend. It took me quite sometimes even after I had turned agnostic until I admit evolution is true.
Evolutionary theory aside, the order of first appearances found in the fossil record contradicts Biblical creationism, which teaches that all life forms, including humans, appeared at once, with no ancestral species preceding them. Were we to find mammals appearing before invertebrates, or reptiles appearing before amphibians, then that might be evidence of supernatural creation. I've had some fundamentalists tell me that the fossil record was manipulated by Satan to make it look as if life evolved. Of course, if one accepts that life evolved, then it follows that we exist unplanned...
I didn't learn much about evolution at school, so I didn't know about that. I didn't really care about fossils either. I thought it was only a hypothesis to explain the origin of human. I didn't know it's an integral part of our life. Fortunately, they didn't teach creationism in biology class, though.
I've had some fundamentalists tell me that the fossil record was manipulated by Satan to make it look as if life evolved.
Lol. That was extreme! XD But I think, the recent religious violence contribute a lot to the rise of the "nones". Pascal Wager is one of the biggest reason why people believe. But when it costs too much, it is no longer worth it.