There is a subtle but absolute difference between a culture that is non-Christian and a culture that is post-Christian: A non-Christian culture can be indifferent, perhaps even open to the idea of Christianity. A post-Christian culture believes it has 'been there, done that.'
Modern western culture remains committed to belief in progress, which in turn means that Christianity is for those stuck in a morally retarded and scientifically ignorant past. In the west, the particular brand of Christianity consigned to the past is known as 'Christendom'. That is, a dangerous cocktail combining verses from the Bible, political power and imperial conformity. It has left a bad taste in the mouth modern Europe.
At a personal, as well as a political level, many born in the twentieth century have learned that the Church traditions in which we were schooled no longer work. Hardly surprising, then, that many of those disillusioned with church traditions have simply abandoned ship. My own deeply felt disaffection with Christianity has not yet led me to jump ship, so much as go to the lower decks to see for myself what is happening. Proper investigations of atheism necessitated several dimensions of contemporary life: looking properly at history; grappling with philosophy; listening well to theologians; reading what contemporary scientists tell us; facing head on what the bible actually says; engaging fully with ethical questions in pop culture; considering the omnipresent and largely invisible role of economics in the modern world.
'Atheism After Christendom' is my attempt to articulate what I found when I went in search of an atheism I could adopt.
Robinson College, Cambridge
St George's Day, 2014