The Spiritual Lives of Atheists

iStock_000043266488_MediumA Pew Research blog is making the rounds, (7 Facts About Atheists).
It is worth the read.

The survey continues themes that have been trumpeted for some time now. Americans are slightly less religious, less spiritually disciplined, and have more doubts about the existence of God than they have in the past. As you read it, however, keep in mind this is a largely Anglo-Saxon-Protestant-Christian phenomenon. Within the survey, and even in Houston – lets go to Bellaire and US 59 sometime and look at all of the ethnic new church starts –  we see faith is holding its own outside of the Northern European Protestant community.

What was the most interesting to me within the study, though, was the spirituality of the atheists. Take a look:

Many atheists do not see a contradiction between atheism and pondering their place in the world. Three-in-ten (31%) say they feel a deep sense of spiritual peace and well-being at least weekly. A similar share (35%) often think about the meaning and purpose of life. And roughly half of all atheists (54%) frequently feel a deep sense of wonder about the universe, up from 37% in 2007. In fact, atheists are more likely than U.S. Christians to say they often feel a sense of wonder about the universe (54% vs. 45%).

Read that last sentence one more time. Atheists are significantly more likely to feel a sense of awe over creation than American Christians. Does that strike you as strange? As an American Christian and a United Methodist pastor, it makes me ask within the church – What kind of faith are we practicing?

iStock_000046408686_MediumThe call of our most ancient ancestors in the Bible begins with a sense of wonder about the universe. In Genesis 15, God establishes a covenant with Abram with a bit of universal wonder thrown in…

He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.

As I read studies about atheists, agnostics, and nones – my personal faith is not shaken in the slightest. I believe. I also believe God will – in some way – give an invitation to each of us to know both God’s existence and God’s love.

I also believe, however, the Holy Spirit is beginning a deep-resetting of the church. Disappearing are past definitions of what it is to be religious, and emerging is a new time where building a Kingdom will be the focus of the faithful. Christianity defined by church attendance and Bible study will wane, and the power of personal missional witness will be more influential than ever before. The Gospel of Jesus will be known not because an institution or book tells the story, but because individual Christians live out love of neighbor in increasingly extraordinary missional ways.

God is using this time as God has used every other, and within the spirituality of today’s nones, a call is beginning to be heard by tomorrow’s Abraham.

 

(thanks for reading, as always if you found Jesus in this please comment & share)

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