Why atheism failed

“Atheism invited humanity to imagine a world without God. For many in the eighteenth and nineteenth century, this was a morally compelling vision—a world in which humanity could think and do as it pleased, without having to look over its shoulder at some disapproving deity.” Alister McGrath

Yet in the last thirty years, atheism has fallen from a position of power throughout the world while Christianity continues to advance. Here are five reasons for the twilight of atheism gleaned from Alister McGrath's book on the subject:

  1. Faith in humanity. Atheism argued that belief in humanity should replace belief in God and yet belief in autonomous humanity was responsible for some of the 20th century’s, and history’s, worst atrocities.
  2. Child of modernity. Atheism claims for itself the “proofs” of rationality and science. Yet there is no inherent conflict between science and religion. Atheism has been exposed as a faith itself, devoid of conclusive proof. It is a “preference dressed in rationality”.
  3. Outdated. In a postmodern world, there are no certainties, no “meta-narratives”, or overarching worldviews that explain everything. Atheism is more of a cultural mood than a proven reality. Yet culture is not static, it continues to change and leave atheism behind.
  4. Boring. Atheism lacks imagination as a belief system and tends to define itself by what it rejects. McGrath says, “Secularism is as dull as it comes, making a pallid appeal to the reason and failing the engage the imagination and emotions.
  5. An enemy on the move. Most frustrating of all, Christianity proved to be a moving target for atheism. Christianity is not a historically fixed monochrome entity, but a diverse faith that evolves in different manners at different points in history. Atheism’s attack paradoxically helped to energize and reform Christianity. Today, in much of world Christianity continues to thrive while atheism whithers.

Related: God is Dead: RIP, 1966

”The Twilight of Atheism: The Rise and Fall of Disbelief in the Modern World“ (Alister Mcgrath)