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Atheist Tuesday: Atheist Numbers Declining Daily

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The American Spectator reported on some wonderful news:  According to the International Bulletin of Missionary Research there are 80,000 new Christians every day! But there’s even better news. Keep reading.

Because of God’s Spirit working in the lives of unbelievers as they hear the Gospel preached, Christianity is still thriving, with “one third of the world professing Christianity, virtually unchanged as a global percentage since 100 years ago. Christians today are estimated to number about 2.3 billion. About 1.5 billion are estimated to attend church regularly at over 5 million congregations, up from 400,000 100 years ago.”

But the best news of all? According to this report there are 300 less atheists in the world every day! At this rate, in a few thousand years (or more) there will be no more atheists! Hallelujah!!!

Maybe a lot of these “backslidden” atheists were a lot like prominent existentialist thinker Albert Camus. He, too, wrestled with many of the issues that unbelievers today struggle with: the meaning of life, a foundation for morality, and the problem of suffering and evil. We wrote about his convictions that God does not exist and that the world is without meaning in such major novels as The Stranger (1942), The Plague (1947), and The Fall (1956).

His main frustrations, as written about in The One Year Book of Christian History, “came from the issues of suffering and evil. Seeing pain and suffering all around him, he could not believe that a God who was good and all-powerful would watch such events and do nothing to alleviate them. Such a God, he felt was not worth believing.”

Hmmm. Sounds like some of the atheists I’ve encountered.

But let’s continue with the account of Camus’ life. He befriended a Methodist pastor named Howard Mumma whose “irregular and occasional” conversations with Camus were confidential, yet they were making an impression. “I am searching for something I do not have, something I’m not sure I can define,” explained Camus to the pastor, who sympathized with Camus and also confessed that he, too, didn’t understand it all.

They continued their conversations to the point where Pastor Mumma gave Camus a Bible—and he read it. Then things started to change.

Camus started asking questions like, “Howard, do you perform baptisms?” and what did it mean to be born again? The pastor replied that “baptism is a symbolic commitment to God,” and that being born again means, “to enter anew or afresh into the process of spiritual growth…to receive forgiveness because you have asked God to forgive you of all your sins.”

(Too bad the pastor didn’t give a full explanation of why Camus needed forgiveness of his sins. All he had to do was show him his sin by taking him through the Ten Commandments. Then Camus would have understood that because he’s lied, stolen, coveted, blasphemed and hated he would be condemned to Hell, unless he trusted Christ and repented of those sins.)

I’m sure the pastor was quite surprised when he heard this from Camus’ lips: “Howard, I am ready. I want this.”

Camun requested a private baptism but Pastor Mumma would not allow it, instead suggesting that he continue to study the Bible and wait until the both of them could come to some type of agreement. Camus left with these words: “My friend, mon cher, thank you…I am going to keep striving for the faith!”

A few months later, Camus was tragically killed in an auto accident on January 4, 1960.

So where is Camus now? I cannot say. But the bigger question today, dear atheist friend, is where will you go when you die, Heaven or Hell?

Perhaps this will be the year that you, like Camus, will start investigating the claims of the Bible more thoroughly and come to your senses—before it’s too late.

You may even become part of the 300 Club!

Read more on Mumma and Camus here.

41 Comments

  1. Wow so it took you this long to find a source for Richards claim. Pity that source doesn’t give any actual data source or methodology for the numbers. Why not link to the original report so we can see where the numbers actually come from?

    What tiny percentage of these new Christians are likely to be True Christians™?

    Roll on the trolls to share the love and joy of the holy spirit with us.

  2. I read the article Steve, I’m interested in knowing how there can be 300 fewer atheists every day, those atheists are dis proportionally represented in the west, and the rate of atheists in America be the same since the 1940’s? I looked but I couldn’t find any sources in this article, are there any out there, I’d be interested in reading more.

    • Let me know when you find them too.

      • Steve, don’t you think its important that you should repeat articles with sources on them? How is anyone supposed to fact check this when there’s no links to any of the claims the article is making? Anyone could have written anything down with no indication about where they got their facts from, and it could be incorrect, and now you’ve just tossed it out there for more people to read. This is how misinformation can get spread through out the internet, I’d find a source or two for these claims before posting them, that way you can provide extra sourced links for your readers.

      • Steve, isn’t it important to you to verify a claim – to make sure something is actually true – before you pass it along as fact?

  3. “Seeing pain and suffering all around him, he could not believe that a God who was good and all-powerful would watch such events and do nothing to alleviate them. Such a God, he felt was not worth believing.”

    “Hmmm. Sounds like some of the atheists I’ve encountered.”
    But I note you do nothing to address the problem of evil. You merely smugly note that you’ve heard the argument before, then disgard it. You never stop to think about how it might be convincing to someone of a skeptical nature.

    I suspect, Steve, that I have thought more about the problem of evil than you, and I’ve actually come up with an internally logical answer, though not one you’d easily agree with: God is the author, not the ruler, of the universe.

    Speaking as an author myself, I find this convincing. Author’s have to put their characters through hell to make them appealing to the readers: often, a good author will subject a character they like to worse situations based simply on the fact that they like the character. I’ve done this in the past, and no blame attaches because the characters are fictional. They’re not real.

    Of course this hypothesis has it’s limitations, but it does fit in quite elegantly with one aspect of christian theology: you think the universe is a story. The biblical story, to be specific. You think reality is fictional.

    There’s really no way around this: either a materialistic reality grows naturally out of physical laws and nothing else, or it’s fictional reality and anything can happen if the author so wills it. Magic and miracles cannot exist in a materialistic reality, but your story of reality claims the latter at least do exist.

    Of course, your theology puts God as the ruler of the universe, which makes him a character, not an author. Plus you have an emotional investment in the character of God you’ve borrowed from a narrow interpretation coming out of american fundangelical culture, so you’d be very unwilling to even consider any thology that differs from your own. Heck, you cry ‘blasphemy’ at the notion that hell doesn’t exist based on your cultures absolute certainty it does, which can trace it’s roots back to medieval notions of justice based on barbarianism and a small number of probably-metaphorical quotes from the Master Of Parables himself. So there’s no way you’d give any theology other than your own a fair glance.

    Which is really a shame for your side, because there’s a lot of good (though ultimately unsatisfying) theological answers to the problem of evil which can be very convincing to the fencesitters. Well… more convincing than “You’realiar you’reathief you’reamurderer turnorbuuuurrrrurn!!!!!!!Eleventy11One!”

    • Quasar most of what you wrote is historically inaccurate not to mention convoluted. I regret that I’m going to have to declare… Failed Point Making on you.

      • Seriously Carl? “Historically inaccurate”?

        I didn’t make any historical claims at all. Oh wait, I called hell a medieval notion that had it’s roots in certain quotes of Jesus. My apologies for the misunderstanding, ‘medieval’ was meant in the same tone as ‘barbaric’: ie. an insult based on their outdatedness, not a reference to their historical age. I’m sure the concept of eternal torture as punishment for not toeing the line was around long before medieval times.

        As for convoluted, there is no answer to the problem of evil that isn’t. Your choises when it it comes to an omnipotent, monotheistic God are a) Mental gymnastics, or b) Apathy. Clearly you’ve chosen the second: you don’t care if your God is a monster, so long as he’s the biggest monster around.

        Finally, if my answer to the problem of evil is convoluted, what’s yours?

  4. Camus was one of the greatest minds of the 20th century so he most likely did repent of his sins and believe the Gospel. Afterall, that is the intellectual thing to do.

    Steve, I think that the wearesmrt atheists will be angry and disagree with your entire post because the account of Albert Camus and Pastor Harold Mumma can not be found in their bible, Wikipedia.

    LOL

    • Yep. I’m counting on it. I’m getting ready to approve their comments now.

    • I’ve got no reason to believe that this particular anecdote is false, nor to be angry. Why would you even assume such a thing, Carl?

      • I’m not familiar with Camus. According to CT and other sources, the only source for the Mumma story is Mumma himself, who wrote these alleged events down 40 years after their occurance. Book reviews of Mumma’s book “Albert Camus & the Minister” (2000) note that not only did Mumma get significant details of Camus’s biography wrong, also there’s not one scholarly biography of Camus that even mentions Mumma. People acquainted with Camus’s works note that the conversations cited by Mumma make Camus appear profoundly naive and ignorant of scripture, whereas his own works show extensive knowledge of and thought about it.
        Mumma’s story doesn’t add up – and carl, I don’t care if it’s in wikipedia or not.

    • Wikipedia is the atheist bible? So the atheist bible contains facts, sited, sources, as accurate accounts of history as possible and is free and widely available to everyone? Wow what a good book!

  5. Steve, I forgot to mention… Atheist Tuesday IS BETTER than the one from last week!

    Every week it just gets better and better. The atheists won’t admit it but they LOVE Atheist Tuesday too.

    It is a definate highlight in everyone’s week.

  6. Once again you all missed the point. If Camus can doubt, and possibly confess Christ, is it not possible for 300 atheists to do this daily.

    You may call the “300 daily” point Powerbait.

    • Um… yeah, okay, it’s possibleM. But you quoted the 300 number as accurate. It’s also possible that Ray Comfort has special underwear that grant him superpowers when he wears them on his head, and he moonlights as a superhero, stopping crime with his incredible facial hair and whiney accent, but you don’t hear me going around claiming that that is actually true. That would be dishonest of me, wouldn’t it?

      Also, a large percentage of atheists on this site have read the bible already, so I doubt they’re going to convert in quite the same fashion as Camus. Maybe it’s time for you to try another approach with these ones?

    • You, as always, are missing the point. The fact that some atheists find religion is not in dispute.

      What is in dispute is the research done here, which goes against all other research on religious demographics.

      Even if it was true, the article makes it clear that many of those converts are clearly under your definition of False Convert. So what exactly are you celebrating?

      • False converts can be shown the error of their ways unlike the majority of hard-hearted know-it-all atheists.

        Furthermore, Jesus said “for whoever is not against us is for us” Mark 9:40

      • But…whomever if NOT a True Christian is worshiping Satan. People here tell this to me all the time. So they ARE against you.

    • I don’t think you understand how some people come about to being atheist. It doesn’t matter who changes from atheist to theist, it only matters why they changed. And I don’t find emotional reasons very convincing. I think emotions tend to cloud things and it’s easy for people to mistake what they want to be true for what is actually true. (I think William Lane Craig falls into this category. From my reading of Case for Christ, it sounds like he had a very strong emotional need to find belief and then set about trying to convince himself.) Personally, I can’t live with that much cognitive dissonance.

      • I thought I recognized a fellow Vulcan.

        Live long and prosper Perdita.

      • “I don’t think you understand how some people come about to being atheist.”

        That’s a very good point, perdita. And as rational thinkers, perhaps it’s our duty to educate Steve on that point.

        Steve, over on Pharyngula, they have a medium-long running series of entries entitled “Why I am an Atheist.”

        Perhaps it will give you a little perspective. Most likely, just fodder for future posts.

        Either way, you’re welcome.

    • Of course it’s possible, has anyone denied it’s possible?

    • Steve,

      How do you know if you are talking to an atheist?

      Answer: Hand them a porcupine and if they are an atheist they will miss the points.

      🙂

  7. Steve, why must you spew unsubstantiated drivel?

    • You are guilty of Failed opinionating regarding Steve… that’s all I have to say. Come out of the shadows and into the light before the infernal cat (Satan) drags you back to his lair (Hell).

  8. “Seeing pain and suffering all around him, he could not believe that a God who was good and all-powerful would watch such events and do nothing to alleviate them. Such a God, he felt was not worth believing.”

    I want to point out that this was not what caused me to leave my faith. History is littered with cultures that believed in very evil gods and goddesses. So god’s morality or disposition towards humanity has no influence on my disbelief.

  9. Where did you get your numbers from? They are entirely unsubstantiated. However, what can be substantiated (google is your friend), is the fact that over a MILLION Americans are leaving Christianity every year, and the number of those with “no religion” is approaching 30% among those under the age of 30. Gives me hope that religion will eventually die, thou not in my lifetime.

  10. I found your article’s information interesting. It contradicts every study I’ve read, including this one from the (Christian) Shaeffer Institute [http://www.intothyword.org/apps/articles/default.asp?articleid=36557]:

    The United States Census Bureau Records give some startling statistics, backed up by denominational reports and the Assemblies of God U.S. Missions:

    · Every year more than 4000 churches close their doors compared to just over 1000 new church starts!

    · There were about 4,500 new churches started between 1990 and 2000, with a twenty year average of nearly 1000 a year.

    · Every year, 2.7 million church members fall into inactivity. This translates into the realization that people are leaving the church. From our research, we have found that they are leaving as hurting and wounded victims-of some kind of abuse, disillusionment, or just plain neglect!

    · From 1990 to 2000, the combined membership of all Protestant denominations in the USA declined by almost 5 million members (9.5 percent), while the US population increased by 24 million (11 percent).

    · At the turn of the last century (1900), there was a ratio of 27 churches per 10,000 people, as compared to the close of this century (2000) where we have 11 churches per 10,000 people in America! What has happened?

    · Given the declining numbers and closures of Churches as compared to new church starts, there should have been over 38,000 new churches commissioned to keep up with the population growth.

    · The United States now ranks third (3rd) following China and India in the number of people who are not professing Christians; in other words, the U.S. is becoming an ever increasing “un-reached people group.”

    · Half of all churches in the US did not add any new members to their ranks in the last two years.

    There’s a reason that Christian churches send their “missionaries” to the world’s poorest, least educated, most politically unstable areas of the world, even as their own neighbors and townspeople are awash in apostasy and disbelief – they can only sell that stuff to people who don’t know better and who will agree to *anything* to get the food and aid the missionaries hold out as bait.

    Studies from Britain show that the “dechurched” population – those who used to be members of Christian churches but now don’t go – is enormous, and unlikely to return to church – for any reason: http://www.whychurch.org.uk/belonging.php

    No similar studies have been done in the US, but it’s probably a very similar scenario. Most of today’s atheists were raised Christian, you know. And the more non-Christians there are in the population, the easier it is to leave Christianity. It was different when the Christian church was the only social game in town, but things are quite different today.

  11. The “conversion of Camus” sounds like one of those Christian urban legends along the lines of Charles Darwin’s supposed “deathbed conversion” – ha ha ha. Something about “bearing false witness”…

    Anyone who is interested in a review of Mumma’s book can read it here: http://cmtk3.webring.org/l/rd?ring=cruxwebcompoetry;id=3;url=http%3A%2F%2Fdemonwilbjammin%2Eblogspot%2Ecom%2F2009%2F10%2Fcurious-case-of-howard-mummas-book%2Ehtml

    “Beware of those who say: ‘I know this too well to be able to express it.’ For if they cannot do so, this is because they don’t know it or because out of laziness they stopped at the outer crust.”
    — Albert Camus, The Absurd Man

  12. The “conversion of Camus” sounds like one of those Christian urban legends along the lines of Charles Darwin’s supposed “deathbed conversion” – ha ha ha. Something about “bearing false witness”…

    Anyone who is interested in a review of Mumma’s book can read it here: http://demonwilbjammin.blogspot.com/2009/10/curious-case-of-howard-mummas-book.html (edited for better link)

    “Beware of those who say: ‘I know this too well to be able to express it.’ For if they cannot do so, this is because they don’t know it or because out of laziness they stopped at the outer crust.”
    – Albert Camus, The Absurd Man

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