I have not but am feeling good at the moment cos been talking to an American girl who was already questioning  her faith and recommended some books which she said really helped. She'd posted a question about how to keep her Christian faith when it just seems so silly. She said she could not believe in God but couldn't completely disbelieve either and was scared of hell which is exactly where I got stuck for over a decade. Told her that and gave her the names of books which helped me deprogramme myself and got this message.

'I just bought God Delusion and God is not great today and can't put it down the first one down. You've literally changed my life. Thank you. It seems so obvious that god doesn't exist... This book just puts it all out there! Thanks!!!!!'

:) :) :) Clearly she was already more than halfway there already but I feel very happy now now cos I'm remembering how good I felt when I finally freed myself from that fear and doubt with the help of some atheists on Yahoo Answers.

Anybody ever managed to get through to a theist. Please tell the story?

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I have had no success with theists. The best I have done is stay out of the 'mind killing zone'.

Hum..I don't think I was ever scared of 'hell', I seemed to be hung up for a while on 'just being wrong that there is nothing there!' When I was paying attention during my Catholic school period(time share Catholic school ;o) ), I started listing all the basic characteristics of 'God/god' to see if anything seemed weird.

Omnicient(all knowing), Omnipotent(all powerful), and Omnipresent(always present everywhere) were what I extracted out, but there was very little actual conversation about these characteristics. You could take each one and contrive some senarios that indicate weirdness/crazyness.

If 'God' was all powerful it seems that it could make 5=4, Freedom=Slavery, Knowledge=Ignorance. Which could create all manner of contradictions and maybe cause human cognition to shutdown. This might be convenient for control of the masses, but would the choice to do this be made if it is 'all knowing'?

If 'God' is all powerful, could it create a being greater than itself?  But would it want to?

If 'God' is omnipresent, would it not know everything that will happen, and then act to change it due to 'all powerful' characteristic? The creation of the universe could have just happen a moment ago, with our memories, history and evidence fully formed, with 'God' hardly breaking a sweat!

At what point does this sound a little fishy? The desire for evidence is stood on its head. The 'god' concept denigns the human mind any purchase on the world around us! We are stuck questioning our perseptions, never having a place or perspective to look at anything that is not tainted with the 'hand of god'. Humans stuck in an eternal childhood with no exit. Seems like a bad scean from the 'Matrix'..;p(

As this sunk into my skull over the years, plus adding other experiences that seemed to be important, I just could not make it work! The web of crap and mental masturbation, absurdities of christian culture, etc, was just more than I wanted to make sense of. At what point do we stop trying to 'make sense out of non-sense'?     

James Cox wrote (snippet): As this sunk into my skull over the years, plus adding other experiences that seemed to be important, I just could not make it work! The web of crap and mental masturbation, absurdities of christian culture, etc, was just more than I wanted to make sense of. At what point do we stop trying to 'make sense out of non-sense'?   

Hmmm, maybe when one becomes so exhausted at trying to make it all fit they lose the will to live. That would be a jumping off point but not a good one.

Why would you '...lose the will to live.'?

I think it is the beginning of a life.

Why would you '...lose the will to live.'?

I think it is the beginning of a life.

@ James Cox - Many people have a tough time getting deprogrammed and adjusting to living life without religion. Some of them don't make it. You just don't hear about it. 

Many people have problems leaving the drugy life also, a few die. Even in a 'normal' life, people die. A few people can't live without a credit card. I do wish it was otherwise.

I have helped quite a few to realise that there probably is no god. I have gotten quite good at the debating game over the years and it is almost a fulltime occupation for me. Some might even call it a preoccupation. I think there are 2 main factors that need to come into play for this to happen. The first is that they are going through a period of doubt and secondly some time away from the main congregation of their faith. This give them some breathing space to reflect on their doubt and on the alternatives that someone as shown them.

The theist has been conditioned to fear Doubt and to pray for guidance or return to the flock if it rears its ugly head. This step only leads to further conditioning from the “group polarization”. It does not remove the doubt – it only reinforces the beliefs they held and covers it in a fog where it will remain niggling away at them. Usually the pack (I mean flock) will shower them with love and hugs for a few days and once the status quo has returned the bias is further confirmed for everyone else especially others that may have had their own doubts. This is why they love prodigal son stories or those of ex- atheists (ughh). This is why time away alone to think is important. Religion cannot survive without a group ethos to keep the conditioning going to sustain the delusion.

Theists will initially see a debate as a contest. It’s me and my god against this Atheist!! They are out to win. Often when they realise you are an Atheist they will return for weeks. The Jehovah Witnesses can’t seem to get enough of it. Even though I have helped 3 of their members “defect” they still call to me. They only come in pairs now and always at least one of the big guns. I never see it as a contest though. To me I am helping a fellow human being to realise that belief in a god IS a delusion. I want them to be able to see the beauty of the world without thinking “Oh god did that and that and that etc.” I want them to be able to learn to think freely without feeling guilty for not including their god in every thought. I want them to grow to be mature enough to accept that there is no need to fear death because we only get one life.

So when I debate Theists I am asking them to challenge their own beliefs and if they stand up to scrutiny them keep them. Those that don’t just play the faith card but are willing to analysis not just what they believe but why they believe it will more often than not begin to lose their fear of losing god and start to look at things from a new perspective. If I can help then my “reward” is not to win the debate but to meet them afterwards and see that sparkle in their eyes that only those who live life without the need for god do. It’s almost like being born again!!

Excellent - think of all the kids those ex-theists may have who will now not be indoctrinated and psychologically abused and will not do it to their kids and so on? You can visualise a wave of rational thought expanding outwards generationally as a direct result of your reasoning with each theist. :) Yes, I think I could be considered evangelical about atheism now too!

I've once talked with the bishop of Minneapolis-St. Paul for several hours, back in the late 60's.  He said that I was the first person he ever met that had no faith.  I don't know how much our discussion influenced him, but a couple of months later he resigned and moved to San Francisco and became a substance abuse counselor. 

I too lost my faith through a Yahoo Answers atheist.  He had never gotten through to a theist before, and hasn't tried to since.  I think that the reality of just how life-changing the whole process is was too much for him.  I've told him time and again how grateful to him I am, to no avail.  Here's what he helped me through that all probably lead up to his break with trying to deconvert theists:

  • The first two weeks after I admitted that god very most likely did not exist, he helped me through my irrational fears.  I wouldn't leave the house for fear that I had maybe been fooled by Satan and that if I died I would go to hell, or that God would "take" me through an untimely death.
  • Coming out to all my friends and family.  I lost many of them in the process.  Some because I was an atheist.  Others because we gradually grew apart, having no common interests anymore.
  • Losing my long-term relationship.  My boyfriend of two years and I fought more and more---sometimes I started it, sometimes he started it.  He was a Fox News watching Republican Christian as I had once been.  I could no longer stand it.
  • I personally went through the five stages of grief/loss.  I was angry---at the belief, at myself, at others.  I mourned the loss of my old life and the things I had once loved.  I was in a real shocked state for the first few months.
  • I became extremely interested in EVERYTHING.  Everything I learned about religion, science, philosophy, politics, etc I wanted to discuss.  I didn't give a damn about pop culture, sports, movies, etc.  I was hungry to learn things that MATTERED!

It was not an easy process, but he was there with me through it all.  We still talk, occasionally. 

Don't let the negative of what she's going to go through deter you from doing what you're doing.  You've given her the greatest gift anyone could possibly give her.......mental freedom.

I don't know. In head on debates? No.... but I may have changed minds through "laying the path out"

I think that, although doubts can sometimes start the spark... you will be faced with a wet fuse if the theist is (as is usually true) prone to falling into cognitive dissonance and dismissing any contradicting evidence.

I have come to the conclusion that while we can provide a "path out" by laying the evidence out in full view in books, videos, articles, and the web... we cannot make a theist look at them. 

Certain theists will begin to question on their own - as I did - and will actively seek out information about god and religion that they haven't heard from their pastor - also as I did. 

We can lay out the path out of religion by making this information easily available. Don't try to present it to theists! Unless they're ready... they will ignore and scorn it. Make the information available by tweeting it (for example) and then wait.... at some point a theist will have started deconverting and will look for the information themselves.

I think that's the only way to get through to them.


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