I am puzzled, how the words 'convert' and 'deconvert' are used.   It seems that some people call it deconvert, when a former religious person becomes an atheist.   

But in my understanding, only something existing can be converted into something else, not nothing to something nor something to nothing.   Converting to me is for example a catholic becoming a mormon.   Deconverting would then mean, that the mormon returns to be a catholic. 

But when a child is made a christian, what is the correct word?   Insertion maybe?  

When a christian becomes an atheist, I would called it a reversion, back to the original state of the absence of a faith.     

Views: 219

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Welcome to the sometimes daunting pliability of the English language.  Lots of verbs and variations on a theme, no waiting!

I am influenced by having started to learn Latin before English.

When a child is made a christian/theist, it is called indoctrination.


When a theist becomes an atheist, it is called becoming enlightened.


I'm being facetious, for the most part.

I have a hard time coming up with the right words for when I became atheist. Nonreligious conversion? But it was more like discovering or realizing my atheism.

When asked about my change to atheism, I usually say, "I grew up."


To me, conversion simply means going from one state to another. One could convert from Catholicism to Mormonism, or from Christianity to Islam for examples.

The most fundamental conversion is from atheism to theism. I aver that atheism is the default state for humanity. A new born baby has no theology, nor belief in any gods. By default, that makes all babies atheist, (lacking any belief in any gods, and having no understanding of what all that means).

So, to become a theist, of whatever stripe, is the result of learning, and conversion from the default state, (non-belief), to another. Latterly losing one's religion and going back to atheism is thus the reversing of a conversion - it is a deconversion. (Even if the person in question has converted from one type of theism to another in the meantime), subsequently deciding to become atheist again - as one was at birth - is ultimately a deconversion. If I am right to say the newborns are atheist, then becoming an atheist after a period of theistic belief would tautologically be a deconversion, having come after one or more conversions.

To extend this, a catholic Christian could in principle convert to Mormonism, and then deconvert back to Catholicism. Or a Christian could convert to Islam and then deconvert back to Christianity. What I'm saying is that any theist who chooses to be atheist is always deconverting to an earlier state in relation to the acceptance of gods.

This is not meant to imply that atheism is a considered state in a newborn baby, on the contrary, it is because of a lack of consideration by the child, that atheism is the default state, (with respect to believing in a god or gods). A baby cannot be a theist, and so must be an atheist, in a passive and unconsidered manner. Deconversion from theism back to atheism is likely to be a considered choice.

I can see that a theist could go back to atheism without any considerations on their part, as the result of an accident, when brain damage prevents both the consideration of the reversion, and the maintaining of a belief in any god. I use the word reversion in the last sentence to indicate that it differs from deconversion in that it is not the result of a conscious choice, as a deconversion would be.

I only stumbled over the literal meaning of the word convert, that does not fit the absence of a belief.   I can convert euros into dollars, but I cannot convert the void of an empty purse into euros. 

ask him, w/a beer ha!


© 2019   Atheist Nexus. All rights reserved. Admin: The Nexus Group.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service