Author Topic: Theists: why your "I used to be an atheist" stories fails  (Read 7415 times)

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Offline Aaron123

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Theists: why your "I used to be an atheist" stories fails
« on: November 23, 2011, 01:04:53 AM »
Inspired by zerwwgha's post in the Questions for Christians thread.

The "I used to be an atheist" stories fails because they're always[1] boils down to "I had a big emotional moment".  They're never about rational thoughts and inquiries.  Having an emotional moment does not make something true.  As an example, suppose you found out you've won the lottery.  You're excited beyond belief, you call everyone you know... then you find out you didn't win the lottery at all.  You misheard/misunderstood something, and your big emotional moment will not do anything to change that.

Oftentimes, the words about the emotional moments are preceded by "I wanted to believe".  Again, there's nothing about rational thoughts and inquiries.  No usage of the scientific method, etc.  If you're desperate for god, then it's no wonder you'll have an emotional moment as a catalyst for belief.

For these stories to work, they would have to drop the emotional angle.  They need to start with "I have read/heard the arguments for god, studied the evidences presented, and have come to the conclusion that god exists based upon the following: (*insert conclusive proof here*).  These findings are repeatable, testable and falseable."  It would also be great if at least some of them could end with  "I have submitted my findings to the scientific community for peer reviewing, and I am confident that my findings will hold up."  But I have my doubts we'll see that anytime soon.
 1. technically, I suppose I should say "almost always", in case there's an exception out there, but I have yet to see one, and I doubt there is one
« Last Edit: November 23, 2011, 01:07:21 AM by Aaron123 »
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Offline jetson

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Re: Theists: why your "I used to be an atheist" stories fails
« Reply #1 on: November 23, 2011, 07:39:15 AM »
They also try to use the "I was raised in an atheist household" lie to bolster their belief that they were at one time, atheist.  It could be argued that if one never thinks about or concerns themselves with a god, they are atheist.  But I would contend that one has to proclaim outright that after looking at the evidence, or lack of it in the case of all gods, that they are atheist.

What possible rational, well researched approach would ever conclude that there is in fact a god? 

Offline gonegolfing

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Re: Theists: why your "I used to be an atheist" stories fails
« Reply #2 on: November 23, 2011, 08:20:28 AM »
They also try to use the "I was raised in an atheist household" lie to bolster their belief that they were at one time, atheist.  It could be argued that if one never thinks about or concerns themselves with a god, they are atheist.  But I would contend that one has to proclaim outright that after looking at the evidence, or lack of it in the case of all gods, that they are atheist.

What possible rational, well researched approach would ever conclude that there is in fact a god?

A question well put mate.

Once the emotionally driven magical bait is taken in and swallowed by a person, that kind of approach to the god idea becomes extremely difficult for the theist to consider. I know that I was very nervous, and in fact very fearful, when I first started to use that approach to my faith. The idea that I was displeasing the creator of the universe because of my use of rational thinking and research, played on my mind at first, but the more rational I became and the more knowledge through research I gained, the more I realized that faith in magical beings was completely unnecessary and that god/s do not exist.

It's quite astonishing how everyday people can be completely rational about their daily lives and experiences, and yet when it comes to gods/supernatural they can become irrational as easy as turning on a light switch.
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Offline jetson

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Re: Theists: why your "I used to be an atheist" stories fails
« Reply #3 on: November 23, 2011, 08:28:49 AM »
Have you ever caught yourself being nervous in a dark room, in your own home?  For example, every now and then, before I go upstairs for the evening, I will turn out all of the downstairs lights, and start walking up the stairs.  And I will occasionally get this feeling that someone could be downstairs, behind me.  I suppose I can't completely rule out the possibility that someone is hiding in my home, waiting for me to turn out the lights, etc., but it defies rational thinking.

It takes a few seconds to refocus, and laugh at myself.  Since I know I take security of my home seriously enough, keeping doors locked, and using my alarm system, it would take a very serious effort to circumvent that security, and where I live, it is completely absurd to think that a person would take such steps - especially since I have nothing of any true value, like all of the homes in my neighborhood.

Anyway, I do understand that irrational thinking can grip humans at times.  But this God of the universe stuff is so hard for me to understand.  It is much more likely that Bigfoot will crash through my door, than some god smiting me for not thinking he is real.  ;D

Offline gonegolfing

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Re: Theists: why your "I used to be an atheist" stories fails
« Reply #4 on: November 23, 2011, 10:09:02 AM »
Have you ever caught yourself being nervous in a dark room, in your own home?  For example, every now and then, before I go upstairs for the evening, I will turn out all of the downstairs lights, and start walking up the stairs.  And I will occasionally get this feeling that someone could be downstairs, behind me.  I suppose I can't completely rule out the possibility that someone is hiding in my home, waiting for me to turn out the lights, etc., but it defies rational thinking.

It takes a few seconds to refocus, and laugh at myself.  Since I know I take security of my home seriously enough, keeping doors locked, and using my alarm system, it would take a very serious effort to circumvent that security, and where I live, it is completely absurd to think that a person would take such steps - especially since I have nothing of any true value, like all of the homes in my neighborhood.

Anyway, I do understand that irrational thinking can grip humans at times.  But this God of the universe stuff is so hard for me to understand.  It is much more likely that Bigfoot will crash through my door, than some god smiting me for not thinking he is real.  ;D

I had to chuckle when I read that as I remember quite clearly that I in fact used to do that on a regular basis as a theist. As you well know, theists believe in evil spirits and demons and the devil, and that they're out to seek and destroy christians, so it was quite easy as a theist to have an irrational fear of the dark ! ...."They're out there man !!!!" :o
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Re: Theists: why your "I used to be an atheist" stories fails
« Reply #5 on: November 23, 2011, 10:10:33 AM »
They also try to use the "I was raised in an atheist household" lie to bolster their belief that they were at one time, atheist.  It could be argued that if one never thinks about or concerns themselves with a god, they are atheist.  But I would contend that one has to proclaim outright that after looking at the evidence, or lack of it in the case of all gods, that they are atheist.

What possible rational, well researched approach would ever conclude that there is in fact a god?

indeed.  I have yet to see anyone who had been an atheist adn then converted to Christianity, who said that they read the bible and that's what "convinced" them that there was a god.  It's never that and as we've seen, actually reading teh bible is one of the popular ways to lose one's faith altogether.

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Re: Theists: why your "I used to be an atheist" stories fails
« Reply #6 on: November 23, 2011, 10:39:08 AM »
Sorry, but I completely disagree with this argument. You're assuming that all atheists are rational and not easily swayed by their emotions. We have no right to tell them that they weren't "true" atheists, just like they have no right to tell ex-theists that they were not "true" theists.
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Offline Alzael

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Re: Theists: why your "I used to be an atheist" stories fails
« Reply #7 on: November 23, 2011, 10:57:02 AM »
Sorry, but I completely disagree with this argument. You're assuming that all atheists are rational and not easily swayed by their emotions. We have no right to tell them that they weren't "true" atheists, just like they have no right to tell ex-theists that they were not "true" theists.

I don't think he's actually saying that. Merely pointing out that there's a difference between someone who is an atheist because they've look at the evidence and found it laughable, and someone who's never thought about the question.
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Re: Theists: why your "I used to be an atheist" stories fails
« Reply #8 on: November 23, 2011, 10:59:04 AM »
I don't think he's actually saying that. Merely pointing out that there's a difference between someone who is an atheist because they've look at the evidence and found it laughable, and someone who's never thought about the question.

I read it and understood it as "You were never 'true' atheists"; hence my reply. If your interpretation is correct, then the OP is (obviously) right.
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Offline jetson

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Re: Theists: why your "I used to be an atheist" stories fails
« Reply #9 on: November 23, 2011, 11:19:31 AM »
True theism, no matter how you slice it, is based on a delusion of supernatural entities and beliefs.  True atheism is based on the complete lack of anything theistic whatsoever in the demonstrable world we can measure. 

I think it's fair to say that an atheist does not have to come out and say "I am an atheist".  But if a person wants to argue that they are, it must be based on some type of investigation into theism that leads nowhere. 

And in the case of the atheist turned theist, something outside of rational, evidence and fact based thinking has occurred.  Thus, there are no theists who can claim they were once atheists without using some form of appeal to some emotional based event that lead them to theism.  You just cannot arrive at theism, in any form, using any form of rational, fact/evidence based approach.


Offline onesteward

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Re: Theists: why your "I used to be an atheist" stories fails
« Reply #10 on: November 23, 2011, 11:26:21 AM »
  I thought one of atheism's foundational tenets is "We are all born atheists".Wouldn't everyone- Christians included,have been 'true atheists' at one time?
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Re: Theists: why your "I used to be an atheist" stories fails
« Reply #11 on: November 23, 2011, 11:30:04 AM »
True theism, no matter how you slice it, is based on a delusion of supernatural entities and beliefs.  True atheism is based on the complete lack of anything theistic whatsoever in the demonstrable world we can measure.

Theism in general is based on that. However, there's no "true" theism, just like there's no "true" atheism. Atheism is lack of belief in deities. One can be an atheist and still believe in the supernatural.

I think it's fair to say that an atheist does not have to come out and say "I am an atheist".  But if a person wants to argue that they are, it must be based on some type of investigation into theism that leads nowhere.

Why is that? Why can't they just lack belief and never actually investigate theism, like fundies who don't investigate scientific theories and claim that they're wrong anyway?

I gotta say that what I keep seeing here is putting all atheists on a pedestal, like we're all rational, not swayed by emotions, curious, unbiased, et cetera. The truth is, we're not all like that, just like not all theists are irrational, swayed by emotions, lack curiosity, biased, et cetera.

I thought one of atheism's foundational tenets is "We are all born atheists".Wouldn't everyone- Christians included,have been 'true atheists' at one time?

Atheism has no tenets.
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Offline jetson

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Re: Theists: why your "I used to be an atheist" stories fails
« Reply #12 on: November 23, 2011, 11:32:28 AM »
  I thought one of atheism's foundational tenets is "We are all born atheists".Wouldn't everyone- Christians included,have been 'true atheists' at one time?

Yes, all brand new humans are atheists.  Unless their theistic parents proclaim them otherwise!  Tell that to the babies!

It's a simple matter of definition.  Some people believe that one must proclaim their disbelief in God in order to be an atheist - and conveniently leave out the fact there is literally no reason to think there is a god to begin with.  Excepting the fact that humans have been deluded about this forever, and this is what they pass on to their children automatically, and without actual thought.

Offline onesteward

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Re: Theists: why your "I used to be an atheist" stories fails
« Reply #13 on: November 23, 2011, 11:34:15 AM »
I thought one of atheism's foundational tenets is "We are all born atheists".Wouldn't everyone- Christians included,have been 'true atheists' at one time?

Atheism has no tenets.

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Re: Theists: why your "I used to be an atheist" stories fails
« Reply #14 on: November 23, 2011, 11:40:45 AM »
Why is that? Why can't they just lack belief and never actually investigate theism, like fundies who don't investigate scientific theories and claim that they're wrong anyway?

I gotta say that what I keep seeing here is putting all atheists on a pedestal, like we're all rational, not swayed by emotions, curious, unbiased, et cetera. The truth is, we're not all like that, just like not all theists are irrational, swayed by emotions, lack curiosity, biased, et cetera.


Indeed, I don't disagree with you here.  But in the context of proclamations in either direction, some effort was put into it by the person.  I find it hard to believe that humans just blithely follow anything without a single private thought on the matter - perhaps I'm wrong?

When it comes to gods, self-proclaimed atheists are more rational than theists, wholesale.  And if you have atheists who use their ability to reject gods based on something other than a rational, fact/evidence based conclusion, then you're left simply with someone saying they don't believe in gods.  But what would that disbelief be based on?  I can't back it up, but I would argue that there are very few atheists who simply "believe" there are no gods.  There are probably a lot of people who don't believe in gods though, who would never label themselves as atheists.

Maybe that's a distinction that I should have made earlier?


Offline Aaron123

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Re: Theists: why your "I used to be an atheist" stories fails
« Reply #15 on: November 23, 2011, 12:11:03 PM »
Sorry, but I completely disagree with this argument. You're assuming that all atheists are rational and not easily swayed by their emotions. We have no right to tell them that they weren't "true" atheists, just like they have no right to tell ex-theists that they were not "true" theists.

The point isn't whenever or not they were atheists.  I'm not trying to say that atheists can't or shouldn't be swayed by their emotions.  The issue is poor reasoning.  The people that uses the "used to be an atheist" card should, at the very least, understand why its not convincing to other atheists.
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Re: Theists: why your "I used to be an atheist" stories fails
« Reply #16 on: November 23, 2011, 12:20:51 PM »
Catch- phrase?

well-supported fact.  But not a "tenent".  it's like saying "accepting apples grow on trees" is a tenent of atheism.
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Offline onesteward

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Re: Theists: why your "I used to be an atheist" stories fails
« Reply #17 on: November 23, 2011, 12:21:54 PM »
 Seriously, do atheists as a rule believe we are born atheists?Do you have to "become" an atheist?
When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
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Re: Theists: why your "I used to be an atheist" stories fails
« Reply #18 on: November 23, 2011, 12:23:44 PM »
Catch- phrase?

well-supported fact.  But not a "tenent".  it's like saying "accepting apples grow on trees" is a tenent of atheism.

 Then the "I used to be an an atheist" stories never fail , correct?
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Re: Theists: why your "I used to be an atheist" stories fails
« Reply #19 on: November 23, 2011, 12:24:37 PM »
Seriously, do atheists as a rule believe we are born atheists?Do you have to "become" an atheist?

As a rule? What does that mean?

You were born without any type of god belief.
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Offline Aaron123

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Re: Theists: why your "I used to be an atheist" stories fails
« Reply #20 on: November 23, 2011, 12:26:02 PM »
Seriously, do atheists as a rule believe we are born atheists?Do you have to "become" an atheist?

Well, how do you define "atheist"?  If you define an atheist as "a person without beliefs in any gods", then yes, babies are atheists. 

Unless you want to say that they are born "knowing" god.  If that's the case, then how would we determine whenever such a thing is true?
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Re: Theists: why your "I used to be an atheist" stories fails
« Reply #21 on: November 23, 2011, 12:26:12 PM »
Seriously, do atheists as a rule believe we are born atheists?

Questioning whether human beings are born atheists, in my opinion, is like questioning heliocentrism.  Of course human beings are born atheists.  Babies not only lack belief in deities, they lack the capability of even forming the concept of deities.  How can you say that a baby is anything other than an atheist?

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Do you have to "become" an atheist?

Only if you became something else beforehand.  For my own part, I've never been a believer, so no, I never "became" an atheist.  I've always been one.
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Re: Theists: why your "I used to be an atheist" stories fails
« Reply #22 on: November 23, 2011, 12:26:18 PM »
Catch- phrase?

well-supported fact.  But not a "tenent".  it's like saying "accepting apples grow on trees" is a tenent of atheism.

 Then the "I used to be an an atheist" stories never fail , correct?

Technically, it is correct.  But this is not where the argument is coming from at all.  It is the theist looking to bolster their delusion, by appealing to the "I used to be an atheist" position, meaning they knowingly rejected the god they now believe in - which is not atheism.


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Re: Theists: why your "I used to be an atheist" stories fails
« Reply #23 on: November 23, 2011, 12:26:39 PM »
Since the theists are looking for loopholes in the term "atheist" I'd say redefine the term in the OP to "active atheist" or "vocal atheist" since that is usually the context of the Testimonials of the Christians.

Offline Mr. Blackwell

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Re: Theists: why your "I used to be an atheist" stories fails
« Reply #24 on: November 23, 2011, 12:49:07 PM »
Yes, all brand new humans are atheists.

That hasn't been verified. At this point it is just philosophical conjecture.
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Re: Theists: why your "I used to be an atheist" stories fails
« Reply #25 on: November 23, 2011, 12:59:59 PM »
I find it hard to believe that humans just blithely follow anything without a single private thought on the matter - perhaps I'm wrong?

You most certainly are.

When it comes to gods, self-proclaimed atheists are more rational than theists, wholesale.

Most of them, yes. But there are always those who are more irrational than (some) theists.

And if you have atheists who use their ability to reject gods based on something other than a rational, fact/evidence based conclusion, then you're left simply with someone saying they don't believe in gods.

Yup.

But what would that disbelief be based on?

No basis for it at all.

I can't back it up, but I would argue that there are very few atheists who simply "believe" there are no gods.  There are probably a lot of people who don't believe in gods though, who would never label themselves as atheists.

Their labels are pointless. If you do not believe in gods, you are an atheist. Whether you're gnostic, agnostic, ignostic or apnostic is a different issue altogether.

Maybe that's a distinction that I should have made earlier?

Probably, although I disagree with it anyway.

The point isn't whenever or not they were atheists.  I'm not trying to say that atheists can't or shouldn't be swayed by their emotions.  The issue is poor reasoning.  The people that uses the "used to be an atheist" card should, at the very least, understand why its not convincing to other atheists.

Alright, thanks for clearing that up.
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Offline onesteward

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Re: Theists: why your "I used to be an atheist" stories fails
« Reply #26 on: November 23, 2011, 01:05:29 PM »

 Then the "I used to be an an atheist" stories never fail , correct?

Technically, it is correct.  But this is not where the argument is coming from at all.  It is the theist looking to bolster their delusion, by appealing to the "I used to be an atheist" position, meaning they knowingly rejected the god they now believe in - which is not atheism.
Wouldn't that only be true in the cases where they weren't atheists first?Antony Flew was an 'accepted' atheist then became a Deist ,I believe.He was never really an atheist?
When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
when sorrows like sea billows roll;
what ever my lot, you have taught me to say
it is well, it is well with my soul.

Horatio Spafford

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Re: Theists: why your "I used to be an atheist" stories fails
« Reply #27 on: November 23, 2011, 01:17:09 PM »
Seriously, do atheists as a rule believe we are born atheists?Do you have to "become" an atheist?

As a rule? What does that mean?

You were born without any type of god belief.

 Would the majority of atheists hold to that position?
When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
when sorrows like sea billows roll;
what ever my lot, you have taught me to say
it is well, it is well with my soul.

Horatio Spafford

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Re: Theists: why your "I used to be an atheist" stories fails
« Reply #28 on: November 23, 2011, 01:18:56 PM »
Catch- phrase?

well-supported fact.  But not a "tenent".  it's like saying "accepting apples grow on trees" is a tenent of atheism.

 Then the "I used to be an an atheist" stories never fail , correct?

I'm not following you. I would say that, bluntly, I find that the "I used to be an atheist" stories always fail since there is no good reason to believe them to be valid, other than humans can latch onto all sorts of nonsense when stressed.  They may have indeed been atheists, but the stories are always the same, the usual appeals to emotion, the "oh how awful I was before I found Jesus" nonsense.  It also makes me amused since this version of how God works isn't universally accepted by all Christians.  But that's so often the case. 

Never do we see an atheist who was a perfectly fine person, like many here on the forum, who found a good reason to become a theist.  We never see any atheist have read the bible and come to the conclusion it was right, which in theory should happen if this message from this god was so obvious. 
"There is no use in arguing with a man who can multiply anything by the square root of minus 1" - Pirates of Venus, ERB

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