Is is better or worse to have never been a theist?
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19-09-2012, 08:22 AM
Is is better or worse to have never been a theist?
I was raised in a non-religious house. I hesitate to say I was raised an atheist, because my parents never told me there was (were) no god(s). My parents were atheists, so were theirs, even some of my great-grandparents were, so I didn't really have to confront theism till I went to catholic school.

When there, I felt at times disconnected from my fellow students because I didn't believe in their god, but generally it was a great school with a pretty tolerant attitude towards my atheism and my brothers atheism. I am overall very happy with the way I was raised, was taught by my parents to think and question everything.

However, I find that in discussions with theists I often have trouble understanding what motivates them, how they view the world, why they think the way they do about their religion. It means that even though my arguments are sound, they fail to resonate with theists. I wonder if I were a former theist I would be more effective, not so much in deconverting them as in making them think about their beliefs.

What do you think? Does being a former theist make it easier to talk to theists?
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19-09-2012, 08:30 AM
RE: Is is better or worse to have never been a theist?
The best thing I was ever told (and it's true) is that people do not believe IRRATIONAL things for RATIONAL reasons.

When I was a theist, there was very few times that anything made any resonance and made me even go, "that's a good point." the few times it did, they were all within things that really interested me, and even then, were only the tip of the iceberg.

I find that even as a former theist, that many theists think I was either "Not a real christian" (confirmation bias/cognitive dissonance) or think I now worship satan, or that I'm simply misled and will "find my way back" or use some other lame excuse to justify things. However, I find it easier to understand some of their arguments, because many of them are the same crap that I would flippantly toss out there.

You think there is something else, you believe that prayer does things. Each time something good happens from it, it makes it seem that much more likely it was really god until you've done things long enough that you just believe it. Or you were raised in a household where you were taught these things so young that you never even questioned them. So as time goes on, to even think about it, you feel afraid. Not to mention the idea of eternal punishment, burning forever in hell, you learn to just stuff things deep down, toss them to the side and you're afraid to ask questions.

The other thing that makes it hard to get through to a theist is the community aspect. It's easy to make a rational argument, have someone go, "hey that's a good point." and they go talk to another christian friend, who talks to them and convinces them they were wrong, god is right, you are just a silly atheist trying to trick them and are influenced by the devil, they go to church, are surrounded by and enforced by people, and they continue being indoctrinated.

Quite literally, if you look at what a cult is, the support structure and how they work, they are one and the same, except on a larger level. Cults are small, then they grow and become organized religion.
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19-09-2012, 08:35 AM
RE: Is is better or worse to have never been a theist?
I have always been an atheist. Even from a young age I was arguing with my YEC Gran about the existence of dinosaurs. Tongue Dinosaurs are too cool for a little kid not to believe in them.

I'm glad I was never a theist. If I was a theist and then became an atheist then it would have been a huge waste of time. I'm glad I have been with reality for so long. Tongue

Although, I do have trouble understanding how theists "think" the way they do aswell.

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19-09-2012, 09:00 AM
RE: Is is better or worse to have never been a theist?
Better to not have been down the rabbit hole IMO. It's dark down there.
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19-09-2012, 09:03 AM
RE: Is is better or worse to have never been a theist?
Unfortunately, the Thread question is unanswerable.

Each of us is either an converted theist or a unconverted atheist... no one can be both so none of us can make an objective argument.

No doubt, as already demonstrated by others, above, there are pros and cons with either position.

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19-09-2012, 09:05 AM
RE: Is is better or worse to have never been a theist?
Ha! This makes me remember when I was a Christian and I wondered if it was better to have grown up as a Christian or did adult converts to Christianity make better apologists to convince others to convert? Tongue

"All that is necessary for the triumph of Calvinism is that good Atheists do nothing." ~Eric Oh My
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19-09-2012, 09:30 AM
RE: Is is better or worse to have never been a theist?
This might be like asking, 'would it have been sweet to experience the dark ages?'. As much as the dark ages fascinate me, it sucks that my family thinks I'm a witch. Ha ha.

(Today's religions do fascinate me, it's an amazing part of our species story.)
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19-09-2012, 09:35 AM
RE: Is is better or worse to have never been a theist?
(19-09-2012 09:30 AM)LadyJane Wrote:  it sucks that my family thinks I'm a witch. Ha ha.

That explains why it feels like you've cast a spell on me. Heart

"All that is necessary for the triumph of Calvinism is that good Atheists do nothing." ~Eric Oh My
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19-09-2012, 10:01 AM
RE: Is is better or worse to have never been a theist?
(19-09-2012 08:22 AM)ABC Wrote:  Does being a former theist make it easier to talk to theists?

I've wondered about this too. Sometimes it's like, "Do they know something I don't know and was never privy to?" Also, it's bazar to me - that someone would think it's bazar - that I think the way I do. I'm certain a Theist must think the same about an encounter with a non-Theist. I go with that; it's got to be just as weird for them.

I do think it puts the former Theist in a specific category with specifically, very sensitive issues. I think because of this, I sincerely try to be very careful with how I must come off to the newly de-converted - it's not all peaches and roses for them. I don't think I really realized this in depth until I started specifically hanging out with other "Atheists" as an actual collective group.

In fact, an "Atheist group" would have never occurred to me to be a thing, specifically. I simply never thought about it. I often think that the defining thing must be the transition itself; the realization of reality. I think I must equate it with the epiphany experienced by a Theist - but of course, they have better publicity. Dodgy

I think in the end, I just feel like I'm a secular person who has a skeptical eye toward any extraordinary claim, carefully examining any extraordinary evidence before jumping to conclusions. ~ Eric ~ My friend ... who figured it out.
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19-09-2012, 11:10 AM
RE: Is is better or worse to have never been a theist?
(19-09-2012 09:30 AM)LadyJane Wrote:  This might be like asking, 'would it have been sweet to experience the dark ages?'. As much as the dark ages fascinate me, it sucks that my family thinks I'm a witch. Ha ha.

(Today's religions do fascinate me, it's an disgusting part of our species story.)


Fixed.

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