Wednesday, 5 June 2013

The - "I was a former atheist" - ploy

Every so often, you run into a religious person who employs this line on you. They claim "they were an atheist but then, they saw the light" (or whatever). There’s a moment of awkwardness that follows this clumsy attempt to build a rapport.

Here’s why it does not work.
  • First, there are not any commonly-held doctrines to atheism. You can’t presume your former reasons not to have Jesus in your life are the same as mine. Jumping straight in and assuming I was in a similar state to you is, well, inane. At least ask me why I’m an atheist.
  • Second, there’s a difference between being an atheist and non-religious.  Being an atheist is an actual position taken towards the evidence for gods. Many “former atheists” I’ve encountered were simply non-religious for a time. They were indifferent to the claims by religion- they didn’t take an atheist position. It was far too apathetic. But they’re still primed for belief- they are exposed often and regularly to religious influences.
These conversion stories are pretty basic fare for Christians. And I appreciate that from such a perspective, anyone who hasn’t adopted a formal religious stance is clumped into the big atheist set. It must sound kind of exciting, hearing these tales of conversion of atheists. But it doesn’t work like this. Real atheists don’t get converted to Christianity by listening to your faith and convictions.  Witnessing goes down like a cup of cold-sick.

If you want to convert atheist, then the only thing that will work is valid evidence that your beliefs can be substantiated. We’ve all heard the Jesus speech before. We’ve all been witnessed to, we’ve all been prayed for. You need to stump-up with actual evidence rather than assertions describing your faith.

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