Great article last week in The Atlantic by Larry Alex Taunton called Listening to Young Atheists: Lessons for a Stronger Christianity. Tauton discusses a research project in which college students from the “atheist equivalents to Campus Crusade”–the Secular Student Alliances (SSA) and the Freethought Societies (FS)–were asked to tell their story of how they came to embrace atheism. A few common themes emerged:
1. Most became atheists for emotional reasons while claiming to have become atheists for rationale/scientific reasons.
2. They grew up attending church, but the mission and message of their churches was vague.
3. They felt their churches offered superficial answers to life’s difficult questions.
4. They expressed their respect for those ministers who took the Bible seriously.
5. Ages 14-17 were decisive.
6. The internet factored heavily into their conversion to atheism (not “New Atheist” literature).
Check out the article. It’s quite insightful, particular for parents of teens and church youth workers.
Larry Alex Taunton is the executive director of the Fixed Point Foundation and the author of The Grace Effect: How the Power of One Life Can Reverse the Corruption of Unbelief.