The Ebb of Faith and The Growing Campaign of Atheism: An Overview by Barry Goodspeed

The Ebb of Faith and The Growing Campaign of Atheism: An Overview by Barry GoodspeedThe Ebb of Faith and The Growing Campaign of Atheism: An Overview by Barry GoodspeedThe Ebb of Faith and The Growing Campaign of Atheism: An Overview by Barry Goodspeed

In the kaleidoscope of human existence, faith has long been a guiding force, offering solace, purpose, and moral guidance to the vast of mankind. Religion, as the institutionalized expression of faith, has played a pivotal role in shaping societies, providing a moral compass, and fostering a sense of community.

However, I find myself in a state of long-standing perplexity when it comes to religion. From the early moments of my existence, I have pondered the mysteries of faith, its lofty claims as a guiding light into the thoughts, persona, and purpose of the divine for humankind. It has been a journey through questioning and introspection; one that began in my childhood and has continued to this day, expanding and evolving as I, too, have grown and matured.

Many of the questions I asked as a child remain unanswered, and as I delve deeper into the realm of faith, these questions take on new dimensions. I have noticed that those who fervently attempt to address these questions find it increasingly difficult to decipher the core, especially in the face of evolving perspectives and a, or would I rather say, our growing collective awareness.

It is not a solitary endeavor, this contemplation of faith, for I have found that a multitude of individuals share these unanswered questions. The ambiguities, the gaps in knowledge, and the absence of irrefutable answers persist, creating a shared sense of uncertainty and curiosity.

In our modern era, a profound transformation has taken place in our understanding of the world and our place in it. New archaeological discoveries have emerged, challenging the veracity of classical religious narratives, especially those of Christianity and Islam. The conflicts between these discoveries and already existing religious dogmas outspread to foci like creation, evolution, and pre-human existence. These archaeological discoveries, often supported by rigorous scientific proof, have cast a shadow of doubt over the faith-based narratives of religion, which request ‘hook-line-sinker’ belief rather than rational inquiry and empirical validation.

Furthermore, historical discoveries too with relics have bellowed loudly of the intricate dance and surreptitious romance that has ensued between religion and politics throughout human history. The entanglement of these two powerful entities has at most times resulted in darkness rather than enlightenment. The pages of history are marked by the pursuit of wealth, lust, power, manipulation, oligarchy, deceit, murder, and war in the name of religion in filthy romance with politics. From the depths of such darkness, true illumination is a rare visitor, isn’t it?

This romance between religion and politics has been an enduring weave in the fabric of human civilization, yet it has remained hidden, veiled in secrecy. The advent of technology and globalization has unveiled these once clandestine liaisons and the many unimaginable heinousness effected by this romance of religion and politics, laying them bare for the amazement of revelation and especially the dread of contemplation. The wreck and savagery, that history has afforded to reveal, perpetrated in the name of religion and its propagation is such that, all of its numerous accounts are spine-shuddering and soul-quaking, leaving people awe-stricken by the inhumanity orchestrated by and under such so-called divine institutions hoisting the banner of godliness.

In our modern era, religion has undergone a paradoxical incarnation. The teachings of simplicity, meekness, and humility found in the lives of religious founders and the spiritual masters who followed them bear little resemblance to the opulent and flamboyant lifestyles of most religious leaders today. It is as if the script has been flipped, and religious leaders, instead of embodying the values of their faith with the exemplar of religious founders, embrace extravagance akin to politicians. Religious leaders, just like politicians, have become society’s superstars, even getting more social credence than music and film stars. The virtues of love, kindness, sacrifice, and contentment preached by the early Christian church are often lost amidst the clamor for power, prestige, aggrandizement, and prosperity within religious hierarchies.

In the wake of materialism, its enchanting lure, and the evidential tragedies of its inordinate drive, religious leaders who should, by their appearance, conduct, and even sermon interpretations, have not helped to redirect souls from the sprint for materialism, rather they have further plunged congregations of souls deeper into the abyss and shackles of materialism, further feeding the vicious cycle of materialism. Places of worship, once sanctuaries of spirituality, have now, more often, become arenas of social posturing, where social status takes precedence over spiritual merit. Classism, tribalism, nepotism, and other social maladies have infiltrated and pervaded the religious sphere, much like they so do in secular domains.

This transformation has left sincere seekers of spiritual enlightenment disenchanted and disillusioned. The fast-paced nature of modern life, the ever-present specter of insecurity, and the pull of materialism and consumerism all contribute to a broader disillusionment with religion. As we navigate the tumultuous waters of our existence, some have come to personal terms with the conviction that the promises of organized faith fail to assuage the storms of life.

In their quest for meaning, they have reigned to atheism directly and they have drifted away from the shores of religious belief.

In this contemporary age, the church and the mosque have transformed into social gatherings where worldly standards often overshadow spiritual values. Parochial and unholy affiliations have pervaded the nucleus of religious institutions as they have outside. This reality has undoubtedly led many on a spiritual quest to question the authenticity of their once-chosen path.

It is little wonder that some who seek enlightenment bypass traditional religious institutions altogether. Many individuals who claim to have discovered profound truths and enlightenment confess to experiences found outside the fringe of traditional religious institutions.

It is against this backdrop that the numbers of atheists seem to be growing rapidly. While it is not my intent to convert or convince committed atheists of the veracity of my faith, I believe it is essential to reflect upon how religion, particularly the institutional aspects of the church, has contributed to the rising tide of atheism in modern times.

My journey has led me to embrace Christianity, not the faith as it is often portrayed by Christendom, but rather the essence of Christ’s teachings. In doing so, I do not seek to impose my beliefs on others but to provoke contemplation and discussion. It is only through reflection and open dialogue that we may begin to understand the factors that have led to the growing campaign of atheism in our complex, evolving, and modern world.


The growth of atheism is a complex and multifaceted phenomenon. While it is yet a challenge to point to a single cause, the perplexity arises from this phenomenon being the culmination of the confluence of several factors that have collectively contributed to the disappointing failure of traditional religious structures, leading to this paradigm shift onto the run into atheism. Let us briefly consider a number of these factors:

1.                      Access to Information: In the digital age, information is more readily available than ever before. The internet has provided people with easy access to diverse perspectives and resources that challenge traditional religious beliefs. The dismay kindled by the discombobulation of religion is worldwide and religion is losing its attractiveness and commitment at a fast pace, every day churning out agnostics and atheists regularly. And these atheists and agnostics are finding support and an intellectual community online and here, they encourage themselves to further embrace or strengthen their unbelief.

2.                      Science and Rationalism: The progression of science and technology led to the aforementioned phenomenon, and as mentioned above, has granted humanity unprecedented access to knowledge. This advancement in science and the scientific method has played a significant role in this paradigm shift. Scientific discoveries have provided natural explanations for many phenomena previously attributed to supernatural causes. Now, superstition and experiences of like kind are considered phenomena that people were once overwhelmed by their ignorance, and advancement in science and technology did help in providing a better understanding of these experiences, thus pitching science and the scientific process as the yardstick for all understanding. As scientific literacy has grown, people have become more inclined to reject supernatural explanations in favor of evidence-based reasoning. As scientific explanations have supplanted traditional religious narratives, a growing number of individuals find themselves drawn to the empirical and the rational. This contemporary ubiquitous embrace of science and its methodology, especially the art of rational inquiry has provided a pedestal for people to rationally examine every ounce of knowledge they encounter to decipher every cipher therein, and when undecipherable, such knowledge is refuted vehemently as false. The clash between religious dogma and scientific evidence has windswept the authority of religious institutions, leaving many questioning the veracity of age-old religious beliefs. For religion which presents most of its knowledge as doctrines of faith expected to be accepted hook, line, and sinker as the word of the divine, this modern, adopted art of knowledge query introduced by science, has been very brutal and it has rendered certain if not many ounces of religious knowledge and doctrines within the borders of improbability and falsehood.

3.                      Secular Education and Secular Humanism: As access to secular education has increased worldwide, individuals have become exposed to critical thinking and secular values. Secular education has often emphasized rationalism and evidence-based learning, which has led its students to question, and on many grounds, reject religious beliefs.

The rise of secular humanism and secular ethics has provided an alternative moral framework for people who no longer identify with traditional religious values. Secular humanism emphasizes the inherent value and dignity of human life without recourse to supernatural explanations. This worldview emphasizes empathy, reason, and human-centered ethics. Secular humanism, unlike Christendom, would, for example, prescribe that an individual, instead of paying his tithe to the church, offer the equivalent as charity to his ‘at-the-moment’ hungry and needy neighbor. The average clergy preacher would readily have a sermon to denigrate such a secular perspective with the claims that giving to God through the church is more mandatory than showing charity to that, ‘at-the-moment’ needy neighbor. Nevertheless, paradoxically, was this aforementioned ethos that secular humanism upholds not taught in the parable of The Good Samaritan narrated by Jesus Christ in the Bible I ask?

Another offshoot of secular humanism is its premium on individual autonomy and the individual as a personal moral agent. Freed from the constraints of religious doctrines, individuals are encouraged to chart their moral course, make ethical decisions based on empathy with reason, and self-preservation, and live authentic lives without the fear of divine retribution. This emphasis on personal autonomy stands in stark contrast to the prescriptive nature of most religious teachings and has appeared appealing to many as the new moral compass.

4.                      Cultural Shifts: Many societies are experiencing a cultural shift away from traditional religious values. This shift can be attributed to factors such as urbanization, globalization, and exposure to diverse cultures and worldviews. As societies become more pluralistic, the influence of religion is on the decline.

5.                      Religious Scandals: High-profile religious scandals, instances of corruption, and moral failings within religious institutions have led some individuals to lose faith in organized religion. These scandals, I am not to name, have eroded trust in religious leaders and institutions, pushing some people toward atheism. I was once in utter dismay and almost on the threshold of atheism over the unveiling sights of many scandalous and usually surreptitious immoralities that hung like the sword of Damocles over the head of Christendom, and so has been it that this sword has fallen and pierced the very nucleus of the ‘whatness’, essence, purpose and course of Christendom. I was born a Christian and as such would say this but I know and have read of many true-searching scholars from other popular religions who have the same story to tell of their disappointment in the religions they were born into.

6.                   Social and Political Factors: In some cases, religious extremism, religious intolerance, and violence in the name and masquerade of religion have pushed individuals away from popular religions. This is especially evident in the most popular religions, and it is not just Christendom and Islam. We know what is happening in Myanmar and India where Buddhists have strayed off the ethos of peace and detachment preached by Buddha, and to the shock of many, persecute Muslims, who I would jive as, the most known religious persecutors. This, I stand to say, does not represent the peace that true Muslims hold Islam to be but holds the same undertone of religious manipulation my rhapsody endeavors to hint. At best, from this standpoint, atheism has been seen as a reaction to religious dogma and manipulation and its associated social and political problems.

7.                      Freedom of Expression: As freedom of expression with freedom of religion becomes more widely accepted, individuals are increasingly free to openly express their atheistic views without fear of persecution or discrimination.

8.                      Generational Shifts: Younger generations, in particular, are often more inclined to identify as atheists or non-religious. They tend to be more skeptical of traditional religious beliefs and more open to secular and humanistic values.

9.                      Economic Development: There is a well-observed trend in which more economically developed countries tend to have higher rates of atheism and secularism. As societies become more prosperous, people have become less reliant on religious explanations for the uncertainties of life.

It is important to note that the growth of atheism does not mean the decline of spirituality or ethical values. Many atheists identify as secular humanists, agnostics, and spiritual but not religious after all, man is a spiritual being. They only tend to find meaning, purpose, and morality outside the ambits of organized religion. While atheism is on the rise, the human quest for understanding and connection with the divine remains an intrinsically personal and diverse journey, with a wide spectrum of worldviews and belief systems

Perplexities and Unanswered Questions

In contemplating the rise of atheism against the backdrop of failing religious systems, one cannot escape the profound perplexities that arise. Is the decline of religion a harbinger of a more enlightened, rational age, or does it signal a loss of the moral and communal foundations that religion once provided? As we witness the wane of traditional faith, what new narratives will emerge to fill the void, and how will they shape the ethical and spiritual landscape of our societies?

The perplexity deepens as we grapple with the implications of a world where faith is increasingly personalized and decentralized. Does the rise of atheism mark a rejection of spirituality altogether, or is it a call for a more inclusive, nuanced understanding of the human connection to the transcendent? Can atheism and spirituality coexist in a framework that accommodates diverse expressions of meaning and purpose?

Moreover, as religious institutions face a crisis of credibility, how can they adjust to regain the trust of those who have drifted away and those who are almost drifting away? Is there a possibility for a reformation within religious traditions that reconciles ancient wisdom with contemporary values, or is the fracture therein religion irreversible? These questions underscore the complexity of the interplay between faith and unbelief, tradition and progress, and the timeless pursuit of meaning in an ever-evolving world.

My conclusion:

The perplexity surrounding the failure of religion and the rise of atheism is a reflection of the intricate dance between tradition and progress, faith and reason, and the enduring quest for meaning in the human experience. The landscape of belief is shifting, propelled by the relentless march of science, the reevaluation of ethical norms, and a growing demand for authenticity and individual autonomy.

As we navigate this evolving terrain, the dialogue between believers and non-believers becomes crucial. The space for respectful discourse, where differing perspectives can be engaged with curiosity and empathy, can bridge the gap between the religious and the secular. The rise of atheism, far from signaling the death of spirituality, prompts a reexamination of how humans connect with the transcendent, the ethical principles that guide their lives, and the communal bonds that give meaning to their existence.

In this perplexing landscape, the narrative of faith continues to be written and rewritten. Whether one finds solace in the embrace of religious traditions or seeks meaning in the absence of deities, the human journey is a collective exploration of the profound mysteries that define our existence. The rise of atheism, in all its complexity, challenges us to confront unanswered questions, and engage in holistic reflection with introspection and unbiased discourses for universally, mankind is altogether confronted with the same questions seeking ultimate answers to connect all the dots that anchor at the many crossroads of human existence.



Meze Goodspeed

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