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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lol~~~~yes, you got a point there, reggie.....but you are comparing apples and oranges....of which if i say about "apple". is it an apple or not? sure, it is an there's is nothing "in between" about it.......but, we need to distinguish the, in your example, you are perfectly correct.
having said that, i'll give another example. maybe, this will be more "appropriate". a person contemplates whether he or she is in love with someone. if I take your example, one either loves or one doesn't, correct? but.....this is not the case, is it now?

this part is "tricky/confusing". there is a phase that we go through...asking ourselves if one is in love or not. it is this period that i'm referring to when i mentioned "in between" category. one is unsure whether he or she is in love........a state of "questioning oneself".....which leads to revelation in the end.
thus, this example is relevant to the state of one who is questioning one's is this "phase period".
i'm sure you went through it(not talking about love, but in belief). you didn't just become an atheist next day.
you, too, had "questioning phase".......slowly and gradually building your skepticism, until finally
making a commitment to be an atheist. this is a choice and no "in between" about it....
this concept is not easy to comprehend but once you know how to apply and when to apply it, it becomes much clearer....
I'm cool with the spectrum, but I guess it depends on what belief people are believing in. I see your point, but the way I have been thinking about it is that belief is digital, not analog, like pregnancy. Perhaps there are gradients of belief and non belief, but there is certainly a one or the other aspect about it.

My personal experience is that I have been an atheist for a long time without even knowing it, even when I was trying desperately to believe in the Jesus myth. I just couldn't truly believe in it, no matter how much I desired to. For me, it wasn't a choice, or else I'd be a Christian right now, in all likelihood. Now, I did eventually choose to embrace my atheism, but it was already there whether I would choose it or not.
hmmm....i see, i think i'm getting bogged down with this choice thingy....well...
~~~as for me, i was committed to atheism while i was taking a biology course in junior high(7 or 8th grade?). somehow i could relate to science and it made more sense to me.
funny thing is that i still attended church on and off........but it was just formality.....all show, hehe...

during my college years, i cut my ties with the church. i just couldn't live with myself deceiving people that i was a christian.....

so, after many years of wanderlust, .....voila! i found this site and signed up =^.^=
Well, welcome aboard! ;-)
skycomet, i meant that you are in denial to accept the term "choose"....and not the state of your belief.
in regards to children, of course they don't have a choice to begin with. i was in that category. speaking of category, i've stated that basically there are 3 categories of which you said there are only 2.....when dealing with one's beliefs....that is either you are it or you are not. this view is simply inadequate and we need to broaden it. that is why i've included the "in between" category, which is by far the biggest.

even here, in this group, i am very confident to tell you that(not all of us) belong to your 2 division category. just because we are here, doesn't mean that we are all atheists. again, it's 3 categories: atheists, theists, and the "in betweens".....the still "undecided" are here as well. how do i come to this conclusion? obviously, i can't possibly know all these members. well, its quite simple really. it's from life's experiences......and surely, you are well aware of that. in life, it is not about "black and white"........there are immense, huge "gray area".....
i'll give you another example. there are 10 women in a room (ahem, ok any feminists out there? change to 10 men...hehe). and let say from 100 men, they are asked to rate in regards to their beauty. the results will be various. see my point? it is not simply pretty or ugly...........................................atheist or theist.

i found your statement amusing, "they often will deconvert through the simple process of logic, and not by conscious choice...."
yes, i used the term "conscious choice".....but guess what? simple process of logic and conscious choice mean the same thing. let's not deviate and play with words.
perhaps, it is the word "choose" that you are having a difficulty with in determining your status???
well, david..... glad to hear that but unfortunately, i'm having a problem understanding skycomet. i would be grateful if you can enlighten me.....

if i didn't choose to become an atheist, was i placed or absorbed by someone or something???
Personally, I think there is a bit of choice involved at first.
For me, I chose to listen to smart people and to think openly.
And tah-dah, I'm Atheist now.
I was born an Atheist.... same is for everyone here...
I certainly tried hard enough as well but it is not in my character. Its like being left handed. Its like being a homosexual. its just natural.
It's a choice whether or not to confront and comprehend the facts of reality.

However, if someone put a gun to my head I couldn't honestly say I would change my mind. I hate to use "belief" b/c there's plenty of evidence backing it up, but I can't really help that i don't believe in any Gods.
I think you're born an Atheist, being anything else is a choice. Ask my daughter when she's two if she believes in God. She'll say "What is that?"-- because kids have no concept of God until it's taught.
Sam Harris argues that beliefs are not made by choice. One cannot simply choose to believe a proposition. A brain simply examines the evidence (including the consequences) and believes or disbelieves it.


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