What makes former atheists switch sides become theists? Were they really atheists in the first place or do the likes of people such as Lee Strobel simply claim former atheism in an attempt to give their theism more credibility? Or an attempt to lure real atheists into theism by claiming to have solid enough evidence to convince an atheist of the supernatural? Are there really any true atheists who become theists by choice?

Atheists switching sides seems far outside the realm of logic or reason. With everything most of us know about evolution, our independent studies into the history of religion, our constant debates with theists, and our bare requirement for evidence of an invisible deity how can any one of us abandon all logic and reason to become dinosaur-riding, Jesus-loving, young-earth creationists?

It's like Cypher from The Matrix knowing the truth and wanting to be ignorant anyway. People who are already theists I can understand because their faith keeps them blind and ignorant. But I can't fathom anyone CHOOSING ignorance.

The 40 Year Old Atheist did a really good blog post awhile back outlining the different types of atheists I'll copy and paste below here:

1) Natural Atheists: Those brought up by atheist parents who never experienced the conflict between religion and rationality.

2) Apathetic Atheists: Those whose faith was not particularly strong and who, without a compelling drive to believe or not believe, defaulted to atheism - becoming an atheist involved very little internal debate and conflict.

3) Dissonant Atheists: Those who grew up with belief but who were overwhelmingly torn up over the incompatibility between faith and rationality. These people sought one thing - to rid themselves of the terrible cognitive dissonance cat #1 and #2 atheists are spared from.

If any atheist does jump the fence I can't imagine it would be category 3 from above there. Those of us in that category didn't leave their theistic beliefs on a whim. Another atheist blogger I read recently but can't recall who it was compared leaving theism to a dense fog clearing from a lake. It's a process that takes time and eventually it's gone completely. I myself was agnostic for about 3-4 years before considering myself an atheist. I can't imagine going back to a theistic belief without compelling evidence.

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Comment by DeafAtheist on June 1, 2009 at 10:01pm
Yep... deaf kid in a hearing church... bored out of my fucking mind. Cool that you studied ASL, but yeah, you're right, as with any language if you don't practice it you'll lose more of it the longer you go without practicing it.

I enjoyed learning about other religions... still do. I find the history fascinating especially how one religious belief branched out of another. It's almost comical how they are connected yet each one thinks they have God's market cornered and everyone else is deluded.

I don't think anyone needs religion as a moral guide... they just THINK they do because it's what they've been taught and all they know. It's interesting to see a person deconvert... the process they go thru from being a diehard theist who thinks they have all the answers to an atheist realizing they never did. But during that diehard theism they cling to the worldview that comes with it relentlessly and refuse to acknowledge any other possibilities.

I first realized there were other religions besides Catholicism when I was in 6th grade... Due to losing even more hearing literally overnight in 5th grade I had to transfer from private Catholic school to public school and have an interpreter in my classes. Once I started public school I started meeting students of different religious backgrounds and it piqued my interest because I was curious why other people believed in different things than my family did.

My adoptive family "encouraged" me to give to the church too out of my allowance. I hated it because I was basically paying to be bored out of my fucking mind.
Comment by Liz Richey on June 1, 2009 at 9:37pm
So as a deaf child you had to attend a hearing church??? That would really suck!!! I studied ALS for a couple of years and enjoyed it, but with no one to practice with- I lost most of it. I never really got into reading about other religions- I get bored. I know enough about them that I don't want to participate. I respect most religions, I just don't want to be a part of them. One thing I have always said is that many people need a crutch- some thing to make them behave, somthing to make them be honest. I do that pretty much OK on my own.
Funny thing...I never realized there was any other religion besides catholic when I was growing up (raised in a small village in upstate NY). I was the only one of the four kids that was made to walk to church every Sunday. My step-mother gave me a quarter to put in the collection plate so I did not know about the 10% tithe until I was in my mid 30's. Oh, and I used to buy cigarettes with that quarter...

Well, it is late and I am babbling.
Comment by DeafAtheist on June 1, 2009 at 1:18pm
Clarence: I suppose that makes sense. From what I've seen of some atheists turned theists that the lack of answers about life... the lack of directed purpose for life... etc. Things like that have caused them to revert to theism. God is the magic solver of all puzzles and as long as God is in your life you need not be burdened with unanswerable questions because God provides all the answers.

Liz: I agree. My reasons for abandoning theism were both emotional and logical. Growing up I was pretty much forced to attend regular church services at a hearing church without any interpreting services. Needless to say I was bored out of my fucking mind. I suggested to my adoptive family that we try a deaf church so I could get something out of it and they refused because it was too far away and they felt their church was good enough. So my outlet from there was to do my own independent research into religion, but I didn't stop at Catholicism or even Christianity... I read stuff on anything I could get my hands on... Hinduism, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Satanism, Scientology... etc. I came away from that independent research and agnostic and eventually an atheist. Today I'm an anti-theistic atheist.

No, there's no sign that I know of for "atheist" in ASL that I know of. In fact there's only one other deaf person I know personally who is an atheist, but she isn't nearly as vocal about it as I am... probably wouldn't join Atheist Nexus or join the FFRF as I have, or debate, research, and discuss religion. She's more of a closeted atheist. But I haven't seen her in person since high school.
Comment by Liz Richey on June 1, 2009 at 6:04am
Hi, one of my favorite metal singers went back to Catholicism- broke my heart. Oh well, he really is a loser anyway!!! We had the discussion on 'why are you an Atheist' on the discussion board at the Charlote Atheists and Agnostics, and most (a very high majority) said the are Atheist becasue of logic and proof either in action or writing. Only maybe 2 (I was one) became an Atheist because of emotional reasons. I can't imagine someone who has seen the logic and reason would UNsee it, and I can't imagine any one that feels and sees the emotional reasons would ever change that- UNfeel it. I have never met anyone that has gone back to being a theist. Clearance-I can see what you are saying-I just can't verbalize anything back to you! (I have deleted about 10 different ideas).

DeafAtheist-let me ask- is there a sign in ALS for Atheist? All I can find is the sign for god while shaking the head no.
Comment by Clarence Dember on April 28, 2009 at 4:57am
Hi Deafatheist. I tend to agree with you on the lack of a logical process (path) from atheism back to a faith based view. I would mention though that there are those uncertain individuals who never believed their own rational process and so, they continue to be conduits for the false information found among the faith based.



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