Why Do People Choose Atheism?

Why Do People Choose Atheism?

For the past few days, we have looked at facts about atheists compiled by the Pew Research Center. We saw that people who identify as atheists in the United States are primarily male and younger than the general population. We also saw that they scored higher than the general population in a religious knowledge survey that included Christianity-related questions. We also pointed out that they often grew up in a church but left their faith in college. Why do people choose atheism over faith in God?

I think it is safe to say that some choose atheism because they don’t want to follow the moral standards of Christianity. By rejecting God, they can reject His moral standards without pangs of conscience. Living immorally becomes easier when we can pretend that there is no higher authority who sets standards of moral conduct. According to Pew Research, less than half (42%) of Americans believe that it is necessary to believe in God to have good moral values. But that is much higher than in France, where only 15% think that belief in God is essential for good morals. Interestingly, in some Muslim-dominated countries such as Pakistan and Indonesia, 98% to 99% say that a person must believe in God to be moral.

Atheists not only refuse to believe in God, but they also think that faith is a negative factor in society. In the U.S., 71% of atheists say that the decline in religious influence in public life is a good thing. About the same amount (70%) say that churches and other religious institutions do more harm than good. They overlook how many hospitals, orphanages, and charitable organizations have been founded and are supported by Christians. Many Western European countries, such as Belgium, France, Sweden, Denmark, and the Netherlands, have high rates of atheism (14-16%). That contrasts with the percentage of atheists in many Eastern European countries, including Romania, Ukraine, Bosnia, Poland, and Lithuania (1-2%). Even in Russia, only 4% of the population claims atheism. Could that be because the people of those countries lived for years under atheism, and they understand its consequences?

Reading the atheism data on the Pew Research Center website brings many questions to my mind. Why do people choose atheism over faith in God? The answer is as complex and diverse as human beings. At Does God Exist? our mission is to share evidence for God’s existence, the truth of the Bible, and Jesus Christ as the one who can restore us to a relationship with our Creator.

— Roland Earnst © 2024

Reference: Pew Research Center