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Christianity Johnson on 17 Sep 2008 12:00 am

How do Christians turn into Atheists?

Yesterday we discussed the compartmentalization of the Christian brain and the way that these compartments allow irrational ideas to reside in what is often an otherwise rational brain. It is this compartmentalization that allows, for example, a Christian to believe in God’s Plan even though God’s Plan is obviously absurd.

How do we know that God’s Plan is absurd? Simplest example: If God’s Plan is real, then it means that God plans all abortions, and that God plans for 30,000 kids to die of starvation every day. See Proving that God’s Plan is impossible for details.

If you talk to a Christian about his or her faith for any length of time, you can easily identify the many absurdities caused by the compartmentalization. But to a Christian these absurdities are invisible. The following article does a good job at pointing out several of the biggest absurdities:

I don’t believe that believers really believe

Given that a Christian spends years building the compartments and encouraging the blindness, how can a Christian possibly become an atheist?

In order to become an atheist, the Christian needs to have one of the compartments collapse. As soon as rational thought is allowed to expose the contents of any one of the compartments, the whole house of cards can fall and the person is cured of religion. The following article offers an example of the process:

My story – from evangelical Christian to atheist

It was Twain that may have given me my first healthy dose of skepticism. I began to see the evil nature of god as described in scripture. Years of teaching literature in high school also exposed me to a lot of wisdom from artists like Shelly, Coleridge, Hemingway, Emerson, Thoreau and others.

Human wisdom and humor began to chip away at my faith and strengthen my skepticism. Then at the age of 34, I came across Bart Ehrman’s Misquoting Jesus. The ball began to roll and it only picked up velocity. Now I had the gross error, plagiarism, and lies that are scripture.

In a matter of months I had revisited old studies like evolution. It was really strange how 20 years of education seemed to suddenly become clearer in a matter of about two months. The last straw was the admittedly brief study of the myth and religion of India, Egypt, and Greece. The evidence of parallel myths and astrology brought it all together for me.

So here I am, atheist and free at last.

In this case, it is the “Bible is the perfect word of God” compartment that got punctured. Once punctured, it allowed the author to see how repulsive and absurd the Bible really is. Once you see that – and it is something that is obvious to anyone who is not blinded by “faith” and compartments – you are done with religion.

It seems like a majority of former Christians who become atheists follow a path like this. The first glimmer of rationality is always different, but the effect is the same. Once the seed of rationality takes root in one of the compartments, the person is eventually healed of their religious delusion.

So what is the key to healing a Christian? One way is to have a conversation – perhaps a long conversation – in the hope that you can penetrate just one of the hardened compartments in the Christian’s brain and plant a seed of rationality.

Have you seen other techniques or examples?

23 Responses to “How do Christians turn into Atheists?”

  1. on 17 Sep 2008 at 11:19 am 1.PSR said …

    I have seen a Christian healed. It took months after the first insight for the complete collapse to occur. Eventually she had to divorce her delusional husband because she could not stand his irrationality once she could see it.

  2. on 17 Sep 2008 at 11:32 am 2.PSR said …

    This story shows a little different path –

    http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=22807.0

    There are other stories in that same folder

  3. on 17 Sep 2008 at 4:13 pm 3.SteveK said …

    “How do we know that God’s Plan is absurd? Simplest example: If God’s Plan is real, then it means that God plans all abortions, and that God plans for 30,000 kids to die of starvation every day.”

    How do we know you lack the ability to think logically and clearly? You set up a strawman by first creating a false dilemma that either God plans *all* things or he plans *none*, and then you beg the question by assuming the premise that he plans *all* things, at the conclusion.

    Way to go, Johnson!

  4. on 17 Sep 2008 at 4:34 pm 4.SteveK said …

    “I began to see the evil nature of god as described in scripture.”

    The former believer seems to think of morality in strictly anthromoporphic terms, as if a moral question is to be judged by the human perspective alone. As a believer, it must have occured to this person that morality isn’t rooted in the human perspective so why did this person immediately conclude that God is evil? Sounds like he/she let their emotions fuel the fire.

    Why do I say this? It’s because reason tells us that like things should be treated as like, whereas different things should be treated as different. The question is what makes us the same versus different.

    As a believer, this person certainly knew (or should have known) that God is different than a human. Humans are similar in that we are image bearers of God’s nature, but we are different nontheless.

    Can we expect God to treat us differently because we are different? Sure. To think otherwise it to think are the same as God.

  5. on 17 Sep 2008 at 5:19 pm 5.PSR said …

    SteveK,

    “How do we know you lack the ability to think logically and clearly? You set up a strawman by first creating a false dilemma that either God plans *all* things or he plans *none*, and then you beg the question by assuming the premise that he plans *all* things, at the conclusion.”

    It is not a strawman or a false dilemma. The Bible says that God plans *all* things. So does Rick Warren. Who are you to say the Bible and Rick Warren are wrong?

  6. on 17 Sep 2008 at 5:21 pm 6.PSR said …

    SteveK,

    “Can we expect God to treat us differently because we are different? Sure. To think otherwise it to think are the same as God.”

    So God can murder millions and that’s OK?

  7. on 17 Sep 2008 at 5:31 pm 7.SteveK said …

    “So God can murder millions and that’s OK?”

    I said God can treat differently, that which is different.

  8. on 17 Sep 2008 at 5:35 pm 8.SteveK said …

    “It is not a strawman or a false dilemma. The Bible says that God plans *all* things. So does Rick Warren. Who are you to say the Bible and Rick Warren are wrong?”

    For the last time, a) Warren, like me, says we have free will so there’s your false dilemma and strawman and b) Warren, like me, says context is king.

  9. on 17 Sep 2008 at 8:01 pm 9.PSR said …

    SteveK,

    “I said God can treat differently, that which is different.”

    I will take that as a Yes. In your mind, God can murder millions and it is OK. Which is insane.

    Did you read the post on this page? When it says:

    “If you talk to a Christian about his or her faith for any length of time, you can easily identify the many absurdities caused by the compartmentalization. But to a Christian these absurdities are invisible.”

    That is you. You cannot see it, but your beliefs are absurd.

    I do not know how to help you, but you need help.

  10. on 17 Sep 2008 at 8:39 pm 10.SteveK said …

    “I will take that as a Yes. In your mind, God can murder millions and it is OK. Which is insane.”

    Your question was illformed. It’s like asking “Was it OK for you to abuse your children?”. Both a yes or no answer means you did. I reject your premise that God did murder. It’s your job to show that he did. Good luck.

    I’ll ignore the rest of your personal attacks.

  11. on 17 Sep 2008 at 9:08 pm 11.PSR said …

    “I reject your premise that God did murder. It’s your job to show that he did. Good luck.”

    The story of Noah comes to mind in Genesis 7:

    ” 17 For forty days the flood kept coming on the earth, and as the waters increased they lifted the ark high above the earth. 18 The waters rose and increased greatly on the earth, and the ark floated on the surface of the water. 19 They rose greatly on the earth, and all the high mountains under the entire heavens were covered. 20 The waters rose and covered the mountains to a depth of more than twenty feet. [b] , [c] 21 Every living thing that moved on the earth perished—birds, livestock, wild animals, all the creatures that swarm over the earth, and all mankind. 22 Everything on dry land that had the breath of life in its nostrils died. 23 Every living thing on the face of the earth was wiped out; men and animals and the creatures that move along the ground and the birds of the air were wiped from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those with him in the ark.”

    In Christian thinking it is “God the father”, so this is a father murdering millions of his children. Which is insane. Why can’t you see the insanity?

  12. on 17 Sep 2008 at 9:56 pm 12.SteveK said …

    Once again, I reject your premise.

  13. on 18 Sep 2008 at 3:29 am 13.lil tom said …

    steveK,

    >Once again, I reject your premise.

    then who is to be accountable for the mythical millions killed in the mythical flood if not a the mythical god of abraham?

    (sorry to butt in on the conversation, but I was just curious…)

  14. on 18 Sep 2008 at 5:51 am 14.anonymous said …

    I was raised a Christian, and my entire family was Christian, however I began to question my beliefs at the young age of 8. It was when my mother tried to explain away all the questions that I had, many of them the exact same questions that you ask in your “50 simple proofs god is imaginary”, and her answers were quite unsatisfactory for me to say the least. So I spoke with the pastor of our church about it and his answers were unsatisfactory for me as well, but he suggested that I read the Bible and pray for God to give me insight. So I read the Bible for a good long while, from front to back and then I went over some of the books again. By the time I hit 11 I was completely done with church based on what I had read and the conclusions I reached from it. When I told my parents I no longer wanted to go, my mother forced me to for another couple years before my parents went through a rough time and finally got divorced due to her cheating on my father. That was around when I was 13 and luckily my father respected my decision to not go to church even though he was still an avid churchgoer. I still get into long debates with my mother over Christianity and she is so blind that it can get frustrating. She shoots all my logic and arguments down with glaring contradictions and when I point them out she can’t even see them. I truly think that there are just some religious people that are completely beyond help. It would be wonderful if everyone could see what religion truly is; where we could look at religious texts as something ancient man did to rationalize everything around him. Religion is so deeply rooted in human culture though (not just Christianity) that I really don’t think it will happen for many centuries, if not longer.

  15. on 18 Sep 2008 at 7:14 am 15.lil tom said …

    steveK,

    >Your question was illformed. It’s like asking “Was it OK for you to abuse your children?”. Both a yes or no answer means you did.

    exactly. either way, the children are still being abused. would you rather ignore that question and pretend that they weren’t (or in this case that millions were allegedly wiped out by gods hand?). personally, I feel that if children are being abused we should not just change the channel.

    fatalism and free will are not compatible. either god has decided the fate of all things, or he has no control over anything. if god is truly omnipotent, there can be no free will, yet the existence of free will seems to be the only reason given by believers for why evil might exist in a universe created by a benevolent god in the first place.

    (1) If God exists then he is omniscient, omnipotent and benevolent.
    (2) If God were omniscient, omnipotent and benevolent then the world would not contain moral evil.
    (3) The world contains moral evil.
    Therefore:
    (4) It is not the case that God exists.

  16. on 18 Sep 2008 at 11:40 am 16.PSR said …

    SteveK,

    “Once again, I reject your premise.”

    On what basis?

  17. on 18 Sep 2008 at 3:21 pm 17.SteveK said …

    “On what basis?”

    On the basis that you haven’t shown the premise to be true.

  18. on 18 Sep 2008 at 7:02 pm 18.PSR said …

    “On the basis that you haven’t shown the premise to be true.”

    You Bible claims that your God, the father, killed millions of his children in Noah’s flood. Are you denying this?

  19. on 18 Sep 2008 at 9:11 pm 19.lil tom said …

    welcome to the infinite regress of religious belief.

  20. on 19 Sep 2008 at 9:07 pm 20.lil tom said …

    the infinite regress that is forever ignored by believers.
    anyone?

    steveK? you’re just going to leave it at that? I know you may not want to think too deeply about these things because it may mean questioning the faith, but you know… perhaps “faith” should be no different from *every single other aspect of our lives* which we can apply the test of coherence to.

    there’s a good reason that I was told in the church I grew up in that intellectuals were “dangerous” and did not “fear god” as they should. thorough, coherent thinking is indeed very destructive to the claims of religion.

  21. on 19 Sep 2008 at 10:47 pm 21.SteveK said …

    Show the premise to be true and I’ll work on an argument of some kind. Your anthromoporphic beliefs are the only thing I’ve heard so far.

  22. on 20 Sep 2008 at 12:01 am 22.lil tom said …

    again…

    are you denying that your god wiped out millions of humans and other innocent creatures as told in the bible?

    either this is murder or it is not.

    I don’t hold any anthropomorphic beliefs, because I don’t believe god exists. it is one who believes who is forced into this conundrum. “we can’t think about god, because he is beyond thinking and beyond language, beyond our possible universe”. if that was the case, then it would be pointless to even talk about god or try to think about the very concept. any idea of god is an anthropomorphic idea of god. please don’t pretend you have figured a way out of this loophole.

    either god murdered or he didn’t. either he created evil or he didn’t. either he is omnipotent or he isn’t. any time you claim god heals, or that he is “good”, or that he is a HE, you are anthropomorphizing god.

    >”I reject your premise”
    >”Show the premise to be true and I’ll work on an argument of some kind.”

    the premise is that if god killed the millions of innocent humans as is told in the bible, then he is guilty of genocide.
    if you are asking us to somehow show that god actually did kill millions in the flood, then I’m afraid you’re on the wrong side of your own argument, because as we well know, the flood is a myth.

  23. on 20 Sep 2008 at 2:23 am 23.wbr said …

    StevenK,
    A couple questions come to mind.

    Do you believe that the story of Noah is true?

    [Yes] If so that means God snuffed out the life of untold numbers of people and billions of other creatures. Is that murder? You tell me. If Noah really sailed off into the storm, then how can you state: “I reject your premise that God did murder. It’s your job to show that he did. Good luck.”

    [No] If you don’t believe the story of Noah then do you believe in the infallibility of the Bible? If you believe the bible is the word of God and is flawless then this story must be true. If you don’t buy the Noah story, then what reason is there for God to put this untruthful story in the first book of the Old Testament?

    If one of the stories in the bible is false, that poses a dilemma for all of Christendom. Where do we find the guidance to determine which of the hundreds of other stories are false? From God? That’s troublesome as it appears that He deliberately placed falsehoods in the book. Should we seek advice from our priest or pastor? Is he more infallible than God?

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