I've run across ex-atheists at various online site; not many but a few. I just can't believe they ever were really atheists to begin with. How does somebody go about unembracing reason? It just doesn't add up. I get the feeling that a certain percentage of ex-atheists are actually Christian frauds using pseudonyms to give testimonies of fake reconversions.
What do you think? Can a real atheist really reconvert to Christianity? How?
Internet debate fora tend to become echo chambers which reinforce opinions rather than challenge them. Just as there is a dearth of religious people on this site, there aren't too many atheists on religious sites. As humans are quite intellectually lazy, prefer the company of like-minded people, and prefer avoidance of conflict, I don't think too many people with doubts would choose to challenge these doubts on an atheist forum, but rather prefer to have them removed on a religious forum.
There ought to be some way to structure forum rules so that reasonable, rational, debate can take place. There was once a robust discussion, here, on abortion that went into hundreds of replies without getting nasty. That was a major accomplishment in civil discourse.
If that kind of civility could be encouraged and enforced, perhaps atheists and believers could actually have some good discussions. I think recognizing an impasse and agreeing to disagree is paramount if feelings are to be spared and respect maintained.
Many people tend to follow the latest good argument they hear and forget the first argument they heard. I guess most of these ex-atheists will have heard an argument which convinces them that they are wrong about the non-existence of God(s), and thus embrace religion again.
As for me, I just never trust people who base a set of arguments from the experiences of people who hear voices in their heads. No matter how good their following arguments are, the first argument forever remains something which is a psychological issue, and no amount of rationalizing can detract from that.
I don’t care if somebody is a faithful believer as long as they’re honest about it. If they claim faith because they want or need God, then I say “Amen”. If they claim faith because they know which God is the real one and they know what he likes and dislikes, then I say get the hell away from me! Don’t come to me, uninvited, pretending to know what you can’t possibly know.
Those who profess their faith as a subjective, personal, choice and without basis in logic or evidence, are being honest. They’re not in denial. They don’t claim a rational explanation for supernatural claims and they don’t presume to claim knowledge of God’s mind. It’s the ones who do claim rational explanations for supernatural claims and presume to know God’s mind, who are the problem. They’re not being honest. They are in denial. Cocksure certainty of the supernatural requires some major rationalizations.
I think that's the crux of the problem. Denial leads to belief systems built upon dishonesty. Certainty is a facade masking a web of delusions — claims of knowledge nobody can possibly possess. Whereas “honest” believers recognize the subjective, personal nature of their faith, “dishonest” believers do not. They are threatened by disbelief and respond angrily when their faith is challenged. If only all believers could admit that they believe for subjective, personal, reasons — and not objective, rational, reasons — then religion would finally become the personal preference that it really is. Fundamentalism would evaporate and zealotry would fade away. There would be nothing (religious) to fight about any more.
Denial will always come back to bite us on the butt. You can turn on CNN, any time, and within 30 minutes, see this fact unfolding somewhere in the world: usually the Middle East or the U.S. but, really, religion rears its ugly head everywhere.
Here in the Philippines, the citizens are 85% Catholic. But they're not as judgmental as U.S. Christians. They're very tolerant, actually. I'm not sure why that is. Perhaps it's the don't-rock-the-boat, face-saving, Asian mentality. Eastern culture is definitely much different than Western culture.
On the opposite side of the coin are the Muslims. They agitate (often violently) for sharia law and independent statehood. They are intolerant of gays, revealing clothing, and . . . well . . . just about everything counter to their beliefs.
This polar difference is pretty stark. U.S. citizens are more concerned with Christianity because that's what they're accustomed to. But as a small minority, Muslims here have the impact of a much larger group. In cities where Muslims are a growing presence, you'll notice much tighter security and a strong undercurrent of tension.
It's difficult isn't it because those of us who were committed Christians (and doubtless other faiths) get very annoyed when theists say that we could never have been true Christians in the first place or we would not have lost faith. We tell them that this is the 'No true Scotsman' fallacy and I personally describe my feeling of being filled with the holy spirit and in constant communion with Christ which I later realised was a state of self-induced euphoria. For us to say they could not have been real atheists seems hypocritical but I do not think it is for the same reason as you.
Those of use who are atheists because we feel our position on faith is important to us and have considered evidence for gods very carefully and conluded that there isn't any are very unlikely to then start believing in gods. The reason for this is because there is simply no reason to start believing whereas a Christian (I am only using Christian because I am familiar with their faith) may at any time be confronted with any of those facts that have led us to become atheist - the sheer number of gods and the fact that the one you believe in depends almost entirely on when are where you are born, the proof that our world was not created and neither were we,the contradiction in the bible, the fact that a loving, all powerful god cannot logically exist in a world with famine and natural disaster, the fact that no one god has ever been known to emerge in two cultures who have never mixed and the fact that near death experiences in which god is seen are always found to be the god the person happens to believe in and the same is true of so-called miracles and answered prayers.
There is simply nothing we atheists could find out that would indicate we are mistaken in our view that there is no reason to believe in a god and I suspect that the tiny number of atheists who do become theists do so for psychological reasons. My friend became a Christian briefly when she suffered from depression and loneliness - she wanted to believe that there was something more to life because her life seemed so bleak. She had never given much thought to why she was atheist before that tho - she just grew up in England with non-believing parents. If there is no rational reason to believe in gods, the reason must be psychological. I am aware that this sounds as though I am adopting the 'No true Scotsman fallacy' but in reality that fallacy does not stand up to examination where it comes to the supernatural. Some things just do have no evidence to support them and then the natural position is disbelief and to believe in such things usually takes indoctrination from childhood.
Nice summation. I couldn't agree more.
Hope springs eternal.
I would venture to say that we all deep down wish we were wrong and that out there in the eternity of space and time there existed a paternal figure who plans his, hers or it's day around our doings. An all knowing and all loving source of endless love and compassion who thinks we are just tits.
A being who desires us to confide in it and befriend it so it might share its knowledge and insight with us....its children.
Well, for some this desire becomes overpowering. The loss of a loved one or the coming face to face with mortality can push a person from a rational state of mind into the arms of mythology and wish craft.
For some it is just the need to stop trying to answer questions that seem to have no answer and hence they acquiesce to the comfort of "god did it"
. . . we are just tits.?!?
Don't get that one . . . but I like the sound of it. :-)
We can agree that an Atheist is someone who does not believe in the existence of gods. In order to become a “true” or “solid” Atheist we need at some point to be “confirmed” in our lack of faith. To do this we must come to terms with our own mortality. It is something we must confront for if there is no god then there is no Afterlife. Once we accept we have this one life and that there is nothing after it just as there was nothing before it we have reached a place from where there is no going back. I cannot envisage a situation where someone who is now a “true” Atheist (sorry Scotsman) could then start believing in the existence of supernatural creators.
Once this reality is reached it shows us the world in a different light and I would say that it is a more mature and adult way of looking at things. It has given me a greater understanding of the world and an appreciation of all other life in it. I cannot claim dominion for I am related to it all other life. Deep down inside I have no desire for there to be a god who is all loving or knowledgeable. I would not want it any other way no matter how many foxholes I was to find myself in. This one life is all I need.
I don’t mind the run of the mill Theist believing in whatever they claim to believe just don’t try to make it policy for me to follow. As an Atheist I could not start believing what I have come to consider untrue and nonexistent.
Coming to terms with one's own mortality, especially as an atheist, is a very hard proposition normally. Personally I have excepted what my future holds and remain very glad I am not a fruit fly. :^ )
LoL . . . at least if you were a fruit fly, you'd never have angst about your own death. I have a saying, "Coming to terms with death means coming to terms with life . . . THIS life." The converse is true also.
It's not death that bothers me . . . it's the pain and suffering that scares me.