Europe is currently the worst affected region of the world during this current pandemic. Although I’d be surprised if it remained that when all is said and done. Europe is also the most secular of continents 1 and has significantly moved away from faith in the last half-century or so.
So will this massive shutdown of commerce, movement, association (all fairly key fundamental freedoms) and the constant and relentless coverage of death be enough to make Europe think, even for a moment, about more eternal questions? 2
It is of course, far too early to say.
There are a few things we should clear up as we try to make sense of what is going on 3. A few theories have been laid to rest and although they will come up they are not the big threats they were once thought to be. So, for example, science has not killed religion nor will it 4 and it has become evident that there are good questions we can ask back. Atheistic humanism 5 has not retained the momentum everyone thought it would not so very long ago nor does it offer the better world 6 everyone thought it would.
Instead of a steep rise in rationalist atheism, western societies are seeing a rise and return of some ideas that were almost extinct. Astrology is becoming more popular, the old Norse gods are gaining followers, paganism is flourishing 7 and many are turning to ancient philosophies such as Stoicism or Epicureanism 8.
In framing a response I want to point out a few resources that I think are very helpful. Two from two young (ish) guys and one from two older chaps.
Then, take a listen to this talk by Andrew Haslam called ‘Reaching Millenials’ as he talks a good deal about our secular culture and how churches can provide a robust answer.
Then take a few moments to listen to Tim Keller and Don Carson 10 because they have so much experience at providing good answers to secular people.
We do not know what tomorrow will bring but nor does anyone else and the confidence they had that they did has evaporated. As a result they may start asking questions they did not think they need to ask. Let’s be ready.____________________________________________________________
- Reaching secular Europe
- Pray this pandemic will light the fires of revival
- Religion and Secularization: What Do We Know?
- Why Religion Is Not Going Away and Science Will Not Destroy It
- Atheist Humanist. Pick One.
- The Problem of ‘Secular Inhumanism’
- The Magic of Secularism
- Why Epicurean ideas suit the challenges of modern secular life
- A few thoughts on apologetics & Coronavirus
- What Are the Most Common Objections Against Christianity?