Most if not all theists believe atheism to be a choice. To them it is something you can choose to accept or reject. Therefore, to the typical theist, if you become an atheist, you have chosen to be one. If you leave atheism, then you have chosen to leave it. While this second argument is most likely true. The person who decides to abandon atheism for theism has most likely made a choice. The person who becomes a theist has usually made a choice. [except in the case of young children raised as theists, who are almost always too young to make this choice.] However, is it true that a theist who converts [or more accurately "deconverts"] to atheism, really chosen to be an atheist? I don't think so.


For me, I certainly did not have a choice in becoming an atheist.

Although I am now quite happy as an atheist... when I first lost my faith, I wanted SOO BADLY to go back to it.

Being raised as a typical theist, I held the erronious belief that if I simply went to church and prayed hard enough, then Jesus would answer me and turn me back to him and away from my sin of "rejecting him." - Amazingly, I was so badly brainwashed at this time, that I didn't realize that I didn't choose to become an atheist, that it just happened, I thought that "I was being sinful and turning away from God, or God was "testing me."

So... I went to church and prayed, and begged, and sang praises, and through my heart and "soul" into trying desperately to find my way back to Jesus.

Certainly I tried hard enough, but the "light of God" never touched me, I was outcast.


So, does one "choose" atheism...

I doubt it.

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From one outcast to another. Having married not once but twice out of Judism I am certainly one.
I agree. Atheism doesn't usually happen in the blink of an eye. It takes time over a period of years of to embrace atheism. I also believe the more devout one is, the stronger the atheist one becomes. Embracing atheism is a process. Each of us awakens in our own time.
To oversimplify this.. It is exactly analogous to no longer believing in the toothfairy and Santa claus.... Once you realize they just aren't real... you can't go back to believing in them. Regardless of how hard you try.

You can still believe in 'the spirit of giving'...but you can no longer go back to the big guy in the red suit flyin' around the world in one night.

The same thing about God/gods. Once you realize that human beings created the ideas, wrote the scriptures, interpreted their 'visions' etc... then it all goes away and you can never go back to the innocence of that first illusion.

This doesn't mean that you can't come up with your own ideas about what, why, how of this existence...but it does mean you can pretty much dismiss MOST if not all of the bronze age conjectures and postulations about it.

What this does is leaves you more open and with less bias to look mystery straight on....acknowledging that you DON"T KNOW...but also that you are willing to take in NEW INFORMATION...and form NEW IDEAS....NEW UNDERSTANDING.....and the ability to change any and all of these things as new information comes to light!!!!!

Atheism, if defined as being unconvinced by any of the god proposals/conjectures offered up by man, is not a choice.
Well put, Wesley. Very well put.
Thanks Reggie...
But what about those atheist who become religious?
You mean like Kirk Cameron?
Actually, I meant my best friend from childhood, he was an atheist and now he's an apologist for the Catholic Church!
I think I remember you posting about him, unless I am mistaken. I think some people fall prey to the emotional responses that they get from religion. Isn't that one of the trappings of religious converting? Douse them in love and acceptance? A devious co-opting of our natural yearnings. Maybe your friend went that route?
I think you'd have to ask them their thinking on the subject. Do they reject reason and rationality? Non-overlapping magesteria? Anthony flew is a famous Atheist to 'Deist' convert.. but he couldn't go the full monte to christianity...(this doesn't seem to bother the christians who use his conversion to support their cause) Why couldn't he go the whole nine yards?

Why has your friend picked Catholicism? Maybe they should engage in some debates with protestants to see if their arguments hold up?

Why not Hinduism or one of the yoga paths? Why not Judaism? or Islam? Surely each of these God paths have their validity, arguments and reasoning.

These are serious questions.. Why pick one over the others?
He was raised catholic, as was I, he reconverted in undergraduate school at St. John's College in Santa Fe. He also spent several years in Canada avoiding the draft. His name is Michel Rene Barnes, he's a theologian and has numerous publications. He has never offered to explain how or why to me, though he did contact me when my father died last year.
He was raised a Catholic, and even attended a Catholic university. That explains a lot.


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