Why atheists are more ‘Christian’ than they realise

Aug 2, 2019 by

by Tom Holland, Premier:

Best-selling historian and author Tom Holland responds to the latest British Social Attitudes survey which shows declining Christianity and rising atheism

The success of Christianity, the most influential framework for making sense of human existence that has ever existed, has always depended on people who tend not to feature in history books. It was not in churches, or monasteries, or universities that the mass of the Christian people were most influentially shaped. Rather, it was in the home that children were likeliest to absorb the revolutionary teachings that, over the course of 2,000 years, have come to be so taken for granted as almost to seem human nature.

Down the generations, down the centuries, down the millennia these teachings have been passed. Only Jews can lay claim to anything comparable: a living tradition that can be traced back along an unbroken line to the long-vanished civilisation of the Roman Empire.

No one, then, should doubt the significance of a trend highlighted in the annual British Social Attitudes survey which came out last week. The bonds which for a thousand years and more have joined each new generation born in this country to its Christian past are fraying with a vertiginous speed. Church-going parents now have only a one in two chance of raising children who, as adults, will attend church themselves.

As the number of people in Britain who identify as Christian plummets, so familiarity with even the most basic knowledge of Christianity fades with them. Ignorance of stories, rituals and teachings that for long had seemed so thoroughly woven into the fabric of this country’s culture as to be indistinguishable from it, is now increasingly the norm.

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See also: Parents launch court action over Christian school assemblies, by Harriet Sherwood, Guardian

Schools must not cave in to secularist pressure over religious assemblies, says C of E’s education chief, from Christian Today

Prayer spaces in schools ‘encouraged positive mental health’, by Rachel Conner-Hill, Northern Echo

Famed Yale computer science professor quits believing Darwin’s theories,by Jennifer Kabbany, The College Fix

Out of the darkness: Is the secularist faith in decline? by David Robertson, Christian Today

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