Atheism: The Foil to Religion?
Religion has existed as long as humanity. It plays an influential role in our social ways of life and shaping our cultural views. However, times keep changing and the long-established belief in religion is slowly losing relevance as people seek alternatives. Atheism has emerged as the biggest challenge facing religion in recent times. But despite the challenges, religion remains the cornerstone of the human fabric of life; it offers a rational understanding of life and its dilemmas and will withstand atheism.
Even though atheism is becoming prominent, religion will remain influential because it does not simply require one to believe, but it is also a way of life. Most atheists are people who have never believed in any religion and do not see the reason behind the relevance of religion. Kenny (2014) observes that some theologians consider religion to be a way of life which can only be understood by participating and therefore cannot be justified to an outsider with a neutral, rational viewpoint (4). Based on this understanding it can be noted that most people who identify as atheists do not participate in any religious activities to understand how relevant it is. People who are active in religion will rarely become atheists even though they may choose not to believe for particular reasons. Therefore, the number of religious believers will continue to grow, and there is no significant challenge from the rise of atheism.
The values and principles that many religions teach offer a rational and comforting approach to life and its challenges compared to atheism which is considered to be empty. For example, Bussing (2010) observes that in times of existential need, most patients rely on religion and spirituality to stay strong and feel comforted. Unlike atheism, where there are no defined principles, religion is an invincible force that offers support in difficult times. Secondly, most religions advocate human correctness by teaching people how to live peacefully and avoid doing things that harm others, which is the universal message of any religious organization. Additionally, most groups engage in charity works within society which include providing basic human needs. For example, the Catholic Church is known to be engaged in many support around the world. Such practices draw people close and help realize the relevance of religion.
Religion offers support and enhances a person’s ability to understand life. Atheism does not represent any relevant contribution to humanity apart from the common belief that, one is always free from the responsibilities that come along with being a member of a religious group. In their research, Bussing (2010) and his team found that apart from the differentiation of search for a beneficial source and the conviction to access transcendence, religion gives a chance for reflection and re-orientation in life. For example, when faced with problems or challenges such as the death of loved ones, most people go to churches to pray, reflect, and seek strength during hard times. So a person does not only get confidence and strength but also understands why certain situations pose such challenges in life, how to get empowered through prayer to withstand difficult times.
In conclusion, the rise of atheism does not, and will not, pose any challenge to religion; nor will it even replace religion. Atheism can be considered as a temporary human characteristic which can change and does not have a lasting impact on a person’s view on the relevance of religion. Religion is part of the human make-up, providing rational life principles that support a person’s ability to understand life, its challenges and how to overcome them. Atheism does not represent any relevant principles apart from the perceived freedom it alludes to. It is an easy way to evade responsibilities that are a natural human characteristic, which eventually leads to failure.
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