Image via WikipediaFrom the November 10, 2009 edition of the Augusta Chronicle Teen Board member Stefan O'Kula, a senior at Augusta Preparatory Day School, writes about teens choosing atheism because it is a rational choice. This article is very well written and researched by this young person. I can't tell whether the author is also an atheist but at least there is no bashing. Although, a Christian did get a little bashing in the comments of the original post.
Some teens say atheism rational choice
By Stefan O'Kula| Teen Board Member Atheism as defined by the group, American Atheists, is a lack of belief in gods. Contingents of atheists have existed since the advent of religion, and continue today, even in the Bible Belt.
In the lifespan of a teenager, a significant shift in the religious makeup of the U.S. has taken place.
The findings of a recent study, the American Religious Institution Survey observed that the number of people who claimed no religion, or "nones," nearly doubled from 8.2 percent to 15 percent from 1990 to 2008, a span of 18 years. In comparison, atheists and agnostics lingered at 0.9 percent and 0.7 percent.Great use of statistics.
Regardless of disassociation with religion or atheism, the study points to a rise in unbelief. In Europe, the numbers climb much higher. Sweden remains the poster child of "nones" as researchers place the percentage of non-believers between 69 percent and 85 percent.This is a fantastic quote from the future of atheism.
No real statistics exist regarding the number of teenage "nones," atheists and agnostics. However, two vocal nonbelievers at Augusta Preparatory Day School hold interesting views on the subject of unbelief and religion.
Alex Shaw, 17, a senior, who attended church for the first 16 years of his life, cited its obvious benefit: "Well I get to sleep in now on Sundays."
He is not critical of his church experience.
"It was fine, we always had an awesome youth program. I liked church as a community I just never believed in what the community was based on."
He had called himself an agnostic until a week ago when he finished Sam Harris's Letter to a Christian Nation. Now he identifies as an atheist.
Joe Shively, 17, a senior, lived in the Netherlands from age 13 to 16. He has never been religious and has never faced any pressure to be. He recalled a moment in the first grade when he responded to another child talking about God's Creation with a fact from the Discovery Channel.
"It was something about prokaryotes on an asteroid," he remembers.
His take on religion is that of many atheists.
"I think it's a crutch in the context that it's an avoidance of dealing with the fact that reality sucks and there are questions we can't answer. That said, if it's something that helps you as a person, that's great, as long as it's not something you use to harm the rights, civil liberties, and well-being of others."
Among atheists, there are those who call for equal respect for all religions and those who are quick to denounce it as evil. An example of the former is outspoken atheist Richard Dawkins who goes so far as to call religions "mind viruses." Dubbed "new atheists," their intent is to counter religious teaching. Their books, such as Sam Harris' Letter to a Christian Nation top the bestseller charts. Many critics of the movement liken its intolerance of religions to the intolerance of fundamentalists.I agree that religion is a "mind virus" and I wish there were no religion. However, if someone wishes to be religious of their own volition then that is their own personal choice.
Actions of these "new atheists" include "Blasphemy Day," an event celebrated with a litany of sacrilegious acts such as de-baptizing by using hairdryers and anti-religious art. Less offensive but as controversial is the tongue in cheek Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, created by Bobby Henderson in the wake of the decision by the Kansas State Board of Education to require schools to teach intelligent design alongside evolution.