Atheist-turned-Christians
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20-06-2011, 11:24 PM
RE: Atheist-turned-Christians
(20-06-2011 07:06 PM)Buddy Christ Wrote:  Now that I think about it, being a preacher is basically like being homeless. You hold out your "offering" plate/hat/guitar case and entertain people and try to make them feel good enough to willingly give you money.

I just told that to my girlfriend, she fell on her ass laughing.

Hey brother christian, with your high and mighty errand, your actions speak so loud, I can't hear a word you're saying.

"This machine kills fascists..."

"Well this machine kills commies!"
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21-06-2011, 03:57 AM
RE: Atheist-turned-Christians
I'm skeptical (shocking, I know!) about most "I was an athiest" claims by religious believers. But I won't say it isn't possible, because as the story told by ShockOfGod relates, an "atheist" (or someone not raised to be religious and with no real understanding of it) when set upon by a bunch of zealous Christians determined to convert him, may be convinced to believe in God if he is easily swayed because he is either too intellectually lazy to question the things he's being told and/or too emotionally vulnerable to resist the comfort of religion and/or too afraid of death to accept it as a final end to his existence and embraces any preferable alternative. And before Ghost pounces on me for being too mean to converted Christians, I'm not saying they ALL have to be either weak-willed or weak-minded, just that I can understand how people like that could be converted from what they believe is "atheism" to Christianity or some other faith. On the other hand, you've got a fair number of fairly intelligent people who can be susceptible to persuasion by a gifted orator or a well-oiled conversion system, as evidenced by the sheer number of people who've been sucked into a whole host of crazy cults run by self-appointed messiahs. Obviously not everyone who has been converted from one belief system to another was born stupid. Look at all the conversions the Catholics made in the Americas after they arrived. The indigenous populations already had their own elaborate religious beliefs, but they were susceptible to switching teams when the right amount of threat/reward/persuasion was applied. Apparently a lot of people with very high I.Q.'s have converted to Scientology over the years, even though it was openly made up by a science fiction writer for the expressed purpose of selling books. All that being said, I think most of the "devout atheist" claims are bunk- at best most of the modern-day fundamentalist converts were agnostics who leaned towards the theist side until someone gave them the excuse they needed to jump in with both feet, and at worst there are certainly a good number of outright liars who claim to have been atheists because they think it strengthens their influence over others who might have questions or doubts about their faith. Being told "I used to reject God, but then I educated myself!" is bound to carry more weight with a wavering, fearful person than "I've just always believed because I had no reason not to." To me an atheist is someone who's seriously considered the available evidence and reached the conclusion that God is simply the most unlikely explanation for our existence man has ever come up with, especially since ALL the evidence we have so far conflicts with it. It would take a literal jaw-dropping miracle or some sort of irrefutable physical evidence (I cannot even imagine what that would be) for most people to swing back around to believing all of our science is wrong and only the Bible is right.

The way to see by Faith, is to shut the eye of Reason. - Ben Franklin
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21-06-2011, 08:23 AM
RE: Atheist-turned-Christians
I'm pretty sure that an ex-atheist would understand the atheist position. As ShockofGod doesn't, I'm almost certain he wasn't an atheist. Or if he was, he certainly wasn't the intellectual kind, just showing off to friends, rebelling against parents, cheap reasons like that. He doesn't come from out position, I know that.

I don't believe Jesus is the son of God until I see the long form birth certificate!
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21-06-2011, 09:31 AM
RE: Atheist-turned-Christians
I can see why an atheist might want to explore religion for social reasons. It feels good to be a part of a group that is larger than oneself, that has some history, rituals, and community. I can definitely see an atheist converting to Buddhism (though still remaining an atheist Tongue) or something similar to this. I can also see an atheist participating in a church for the reasons stated above, though I have my doubts that an atheist would actually believe in a deity solely for the benefit of being part of a close community.

I also think that there are people who are just easy to convince because they do not have confidence in their own reasoning/critical thinking skills (or they simply do not/cannot use them). Some people may be swayed to atheism by one atheist's argument and then become swayed back to Christianity or some other religion by a philosophical argument that seems just as solid to them as the atheist argument.

"Remember, my friend, that knowledge is stronger than memory, and we should not trust the weaker." - Dr. Van Helsing, Dracula
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21-06-2011, 09:56 AM (This post was last modified: 27-06-2011 12:11 PM by theophilus.)
RE: Atheist-turned-Christians
(20-06-2011 04:50 PM)ghostexorcist Wrote:  I’ve been interested in the subject of Atheists who return to Christianity. I just don’t see how it’s possible for someone to be skeptical or even critical of a religion only to embrace it.
Perhaps you would understand this better if you would read Surprised by Joy by C. S. Lewis. It is a spiritual autobiography in which he describes how he went from believing in God to atheism, and then discovered that atheism led to logical inconsistencies and became a Christian.

The information in ancient libraries came from real minds of real people. The far more complex information in cells came from the far more intelligent mind of God.
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27-06-2011, 09:21 AM
RE: Atheist-turned-Christians
(21-06-2011 09:56 AM)theophilus Wrote:  Perhaps you would understand this better if you would read Surprised by Joy by C. S. Lewis. It is a spiritual autobiography in which he describes how he went from believing in God to atheism, and then discovered that atheism led to logican inconsistencies and became a Christian.

Thanks, I'll look into that.

Here is the archive link for the Wikipedia discussion on mentioned in my first post.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:R...-Christian

(20-06-2011 05:46 PM)Buddy Christ Wrote:  There's a lot of youtube videos from "ex-atheists" that set off a bunch of red flags about these people's original atheist stance.

They says things like "I started to lose my faith in atheism" or "I couldn't understand why I was so angry at Jesus." All of these are theist assumptions that atheists laugh at. No atheist has "faith" in his lack of belief. And if you have accepted that Jesus is a deity for you to be mad at him... you aren't atheist, are you? Even people who use the term "ex-atheist" makes me raise an eyebrow. How can you label yourself and ex-nonbeliever? Wouldn't that just make you a believer? I don't go around saying I was ex-nonsmoker. I would just be a smoker. Their bad terminology hints that they held atheism to be a belief structure, or some ideology that can be "turned away from."

I also thought about this angle after my first post. Acting like an ex-atheist would imply that something about Christianity trumped the cold hearted logic of Atheism, making it a superior position. I guess this might appeal to a weak atheist or Christian. Some people value empathy more than logic.

Someone started a thread about science and religion on a history forum I frequent. A Christian who had been monitoring the discussion posted: "Have the God haters won the discussion yet, nope." This shows a misunderstanding of what Atheism is. I think it’s sad that people truly think Atheists are believers conducting a worldwide conspiracy to cover up God's existence. What possible benefit could Atheists get from such a venture? Since not believing in God is a position incomprehensible to Christians, they have to automatically throw Satan into the mix. Like this video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LbfFAYn8bgc
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21-08-2011, 09:06 AM
RE: Atheist-turned-Christians
(20-06-2011 08:45 PM)nontheocrat Wrote:  While I can fully understand my fellow atheists feelings about the supposed conversions of former atheists. I cannot imagine turning from rationality to religion. But I want to caution all of us that when we can easily fall into "no true Scotsman" thinking.

It is important not too fall into No True Scotsman. After all, people can be atheists for extremely dumb reasons. And, as is so often stated, atheism is the default position. All it takes to be an atheist is not to be raised around christians. So, most of these people who claim to be ex-atheists fit into one of two catagories.

First, the liars. Anyone who talks about being a 'devout atheist', having 'faith in atheism', believing 'evolution explains everything', etc... is obviously a liar. They are describing themselves as a caricature of an atheist. As diverse a people as atheists are (How much more diverse can you get when the only thing you share is what you don't believe), there are basically no atheists in the world who are anything like what these people used to describe themselves as, except perhaps the mentally ill. It's clear these people don't understand what atheism even is, much less how an atheist might think or act.

Second, the 'Not-Atheist-Like-Me'. Like I said, it doesn't take much to be an atheist. All you have to do is NOT do something (Believe in god, in this case). These kinds of atheists turned christians probably fit into the same catagorey of atheist that babies do. Implicit atheism. It's more that they never thought about religion seriously one way or the other. Less often they might have been explicit atheists, perhaps turned off by fundamentalist religion, only to find out that there are moderate groups, and after they stopped believing in the fundamentalists monster god, started believing in the moderates 'god-is-love' god.

However, I have never seen an ex-atheist who was clearly and undeniably one of our specific brand of atheism. I hate the term, but new atheist (we're not doing anything new...) is all I have. The scientifically minded, skeptical, rational atheist, who asks about why the Bible must be interpreted, and that will point out that, even if Genesis was meant non-literally, the order of events is still wrong (Earth preceded the sun). Or that the god of the Bible is an evil bloodthirsty monster, who mind-controls people to do evil, just so he can show off how cool he is when he murders them for their 'crimes' (Poor Pharoah).

If one of our lot had changed, they'd be able to explain the problems raised above in a clearly logical fashion. But I've not once heard a pro-god argument that was even remotely logical (Unless it was completely meaningless). So, if any of these ex-atheists ever were one of us, they didn't just change their beliefs (which is fine), they changed their fundamental principles. They have abandoned reason and evidence (A bit of a mantra for us, I know, but I'm not enough of a poet to avoid pounding out atheist buzzwords) in favor of, well, whatever illogic they use to justify god.

Maybe they really did use to be one of us. But when they changed, they didn't do it for the reasons we might. If a logic and reason atheist became a waffling and justifying christian, then they are just as useless at convincing us as any other christian who uses the same tortured logic who never was an atheist.

In fact, they're probably worse. Because it only goes to show that the only way to convert a rational atheist to theism... is to ignore reason. And that's the most damning thing you can say about it.
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21-08-2011, 09:44 AM
RE: Atheist-turned-Christians
I wonder, too, whether all converts are cleaving to the god, or whether some are merely switching leaders.
Suppose aNarnia fan discovered Harry Potter - would that count as a conversion from christianity to paganism? Or if someone a little older admired Dawkins and then read, and preferred, Hedges? They could easily change the label they wear according to the club they join. People are often cavalier about the meaning of words, and fickle in their allegiance.

If you pray to anything, you're prey to anything.
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22-08-2011, 12:18 AM
RE: Atheist-turned-Christians
A young person is a Christian during childhood, but then comes a period when he gets bored with the whole thing and stops going to church.

A few years later he decides to rejoin the flock and becomes "born again".

He regards that born-again-moment as the time when he became a "true believer" and therefore, by definition, he must have previously been an unbeliever (ie, an atheist).

Now he can big-note himself in front of his peers by declaring, "I used to be an atheist, but now I'm a Christian," where-as, in fact, he probably never doubted for a minute that god existed - he just stayed away from church services for a period of time.

Believe nothing you hear and only half what you see
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22-08-2011, 09:35 AM
RE: Atheist-turned-Christians
I like Joe Bloe's answer. I get the feeling that a lot of people where I grew up are this way, although they would never say they were atheist since THAT IS A DAMN DIRTY LIE!!!!!! But I get the feeling that most simply don't understand what the term means when they throw it around. Like Kirk Cameron. I will just use his example of evolution and not atheism. He claims to have studied evolution and now says that he is a creationist because evolution didn't make sense. Listening to this fool just once talk about evolution makes it painfully obvious he has no knowledge of what evolution is, so it is no wonder he abandoned what little knowledge he had of it for an easier to understand concept of creationism.

Also worth noting is to be careful to say that people were never "true atheists" because that sounds a lot like "you were never a true Christian."

“Science is simply common sense at its best, that is, rigidly accurate in observation, and merciless to fallacy in logic.”
—Thomas Henry Huxley
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