One of the most popular apps around is YouVersion. This is a free Bible app that contains over 700 different translations and has been downloaded by 115 million people, so is perhaps one of the most popular apps out there. Well yes, so there are lots of religious people, but then you knew that anyway.
Now what is rather interesting is that one demographic that this is rather popular with are the non-believers, and to illustrate that point, the Washington Post has a nice little article all about it.
Lauren, a 22-year-old chemistry major from Colorado
A newly minted atheist, she uses her YouVersion Bible app to try to persuade people away from the Christianity she grew up in.
…Lauren said she uses YouVersion to debate believers about once a week, usually during a study break. Typically, she searches Twitter for someone who uses a Bible verse to support their belief that marriage is between one man and one woman. Marriage equality, she said, is a pet issue for her.
“I usually look up one of the many passages in the Bible that refer to different kinds of marriage” — like those of men with multiple wives — “and then I’ll screen shot it and send it to them,” she said. “Most of the time people just ignore it, but I hope they took a look at it and think about it in the future.”
Tom Amon, a 37-year-old atheist
… opens his YouVersion app nightly to engage believers in verse-on-verse debates via Twitter and the Internet.
“It’s free, it has good search features so I can search for certain words like ‘unicorns,’ and there are a ridiculous number of versions,” he said of the app. “It is supposed to be the Word of God, yet when you go from one version to the other you see how much the text varies.”
26-year-old nursing student in southern California, downloaded YouVersion because he felt he needed to be more biblically literate. Raised a Mormon, he never read the Bible in its entirety; since becoming an atheist a year ago, he felt he should know more about it.
“It has helped educate me,” he said. “I don’t know if I am a better atheist for it, but I am definitely more informed than I would be without it.”
So what do the LifeChurch, the folks who produced the app, think about non-believers using their app like this, it is supposed to be all about deepening faith, not debunking it. Well, Bobby Gruenewald, their “innovation pastor” and the creative force behind YouVersion, is quoted as saying …
I have heard that people use the app in that way, but I view it as a win to bring the Bible into the conversation. I think it is a positive thing.
So what is really happening here?
The rather interesting thing is that for some, the path to non-belief was paved with a good understanding of what the bible actually says. Case number 1 above, Lauren, explains it like this …
“I know of a lot of atheists who have come to their nonbelief by actually reading the Bible rather than just the fluffy stories they choose to tell you about in church,”
So do I, as a non-believer, have the app?
Actually yes, I do, it’s on an iPad, but then I guess this comes with the territory because polls show that atheists are among the most religiously literate, and topped Jews, Mormons and other Christians in a 2010 Pew Research Center poll.
Wait, what was that again … non-believers are the most knowledgeable when it comes to religious issues … is that really true?
Notice that the top score there (2nd from bottom in the list) is Atheist/Agnostic. This is perhaps a reflection of the reality that those who do not believe once did, but have generally taken the time to ponder over it all, hence are quite knowledgeable.
Having once been religious myself, not just mildly so, but speaking in tongues batshit crazy, I’ve successfully managed to escape the ensnaring clutches … slowly slowly over time.
Knowing and understanding what the bible actually says, and realising that there was no evidence at all for any of the utterly ridiculous supernatural claims did indeed open my eyes and enable me to appreciate the things that are actually true and to put aside the things that are not.
So yes … there is indeed an app for that.