What kind of atheist converts to a theist?
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25-08-2014, 09:29 AM
RE: What kind of atheist converts to a theist?
(29-09-2013 08:32 PM)RedJamaX Wrote:  So we have all heard, read, watched, or experienced for ourselves, the stories of people who have converted to, and/or from, being an athiest, and sometimes back again. To be honest, the first time I heard of an atheist converting to theism, I was baffled... I had converted from theism to atheism my self, and I coulndn't possibly fathom how I (or anybody else) could ever switch back. I thought it was just some theistic manipulation of the truth in order to provide more "prais to the glory of god". But I think I understand what's really going on. Based on all of the stories I have heard (or otherwise), I have a general hypothesis about atheists who convert to, or back to theism.

I think that almost all atheists who convert to theism were not atheist due to a rational, in-depth analysis of theism. I'm not supposing what may have been their source for being atheist, just that it was NOT a concious and deliberate decision against being a theist due to a rational, in depth approach to theism. I am making a point to say "in-depth approach" because... a theist who used to be an atheist, but their atheism was simply because they were raised in an atheist family and was always told "there is no evidence for god", could claim a "rational approach". While that claim "is" rational, it's no where near the same level as a fomer theist who was raised theist, and battled with the cognative dissonance for years while examining the scriptures, evidence, history, etc... and finally coming to the conclusion that their belief in god is unsubstantiated.

Agree, disagree? Does my hypothesis make sense?


I forgot to mention, based on the conversions I have read about - MOST were triggered by some traumatic event in the person's life... possibly suggesting that it was driven by fear, or need for comfort perhaps?

A move from traditional religious beliefs into a rational worldview perspective is a developmental step, e.g. its a moment of psychological development into increased thinking complexity when it occurs.

Just as it's possible to develop and grow in the right situation, it's also unfortunately possible to regress in the wrong situation, e.g. most people's behaviour will start regressing to more primal perspectives if they are under a lot of stress.

Your comments about traulma seem in line with this!

For those interested, in terms of the stages of cognitive developent identified by Piaget, religious traditionalism is "concrete operational" thinking, and rational thinking is "formal operational" thinking.

As stated in the diagram, not all humans make it to formal operational (you can spot those that don't by their fundamentalist religious beleifs)

[Image: piaget2.gif]
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26-08-2014, 08:26 AM
RE: What kind of atheist converts to a theist?
(23-08-2014 12:54 AM)Logisch Wrote:  
(22-08-2014 07:16 PM)goodwithoutgod Wrote:  Don't know him, but i have a hard time buying it. Of course, my story is similar, but opposite, but in that direction it makes sense. As a believer who goes on a journey of knowledge in an attempt to solidify his failing faith, learns the delusion and walks away from it is buy-able, true in my case, but buy-able from the outside looking in in my opinion. Knowing it is a delusion, then finding faith I have a hard time accepting. The only way I can see it happening is if it is an inexperienced low level of knowledge in theology atheist, who just doesn't believe in god for whatever reason, but never really dug into it, then gets exposed to some good kool aid and goes, oh my, this totally makes sense, then switches teams...i get that being a possibility.

The thing is here, and I'm not sure if you're seeing it... but I'm just going to say it from an outside perspective... telling someone what they do or do not believe and then claiming they were never a true xyz is the No True Scottsman fallacy.

Saying, "Someone who converted from atheist to a christian obviously just didn't follow the correct knowledge." or, "Obviously if they had adapted their critical thinking skills properly they wouldn't have converted." and of course, "They obviously must have had a low level of theology and understanding and took position xyz. Obviously they weren't a solidified atheist."

Is no different from....

"Obviously there's no way a true Christian could have converted to an atheist. If they had known the true meaning of Christ, they would have stayed a Christian." or, "They obviously had a very low level of understanding of the workings of Christ, so they weren't a solidified Christian the entire time."

Do I think that perhaps someone who has honed critical thinking skills and has finally stepped outside the box would be unlikely to convert back to religion? Yeah probably, it's unlikely. However, it is intellectually dishonest to tell someone what they do or do not, did or did not believe. We also don't know what he/she was thinking and just how serious their position was. We are no different from the "no true christian" spewing fallacies if we fall to the same fallacy Wink

The best thing to do in the case where someone seems as if their case is perhaps that they missed things critical to their improvement in critical thinking, skepticism or the ability for them to soak in important information is to show them the mistakes. Show someone how the line of thinking is faulty, explain to them how it works, help them learn. But telling someone what they do or do not think, when you can't put yourself in those exact shoes is unfair, fallacious and dishonest.

But we're human and none of us are immune to making those mistakes in an argument from time to time.

It seems that as humans we have an inherited nature to us that wants to believe things that sound good to us. I can certainly see how someone who begins their journey through lacking belief and honing their critical thinking/skepticism and other intellectual abilities to fall back on things that feel and sound good. It's a coping mechanism. Some people have anxiety issues and as soon as the doubt kicks in it's so uncomfortable that cognitive dissonance takes over. Other people may have social disorders and find reasons to want to go to church for social practice, etc etc. The possibilities for it are large and numerous, so it would be unfair to claim otherwise.

actually a good point Thumbsup

"Belief is so often the death of reason" - Qyburn, Game of Thrones

"The Christian community continues to exist because the conclusions of the critical study of the Bible are largely withheld from them." -Hans Conzelmann (1915-1989)
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