Sunday, October 02, 2005

Former atheists

Austin Cline references a discussion on his forum as to whether there's any truth in claims of people who say they were atheists and then got saved. I think the last poster nailed it:
To address the larger issue of former atheist born again Christians...my husband (who is practically the king of religous apathy, but is vaguely deist) and I (the ex-Episcopalian atheist) have a very dear friend who is a former atheist and is now a born again Christian, so such people actually do exist... As far as I can tell, his atheism sprang from a strong emotional reaction to Christian hypocracy, and general teenage anger at the world. It was more like he decided not to believe in god, and then did so. (Before anyone says anything, I don't understand this myself either.) His reentry into Christianity was equally emotional, and I don't think he can understand for the life of him how I make do without religon. Incidentally, except for being generally much more emotionally driven than I am (he has a strong temper, etc) this person is probably more reasonable than your average person on the street. (You know... intelligent, usually thinks before he acts, etc.)

It's possible that some of those "former atheists" might be people like him. (Although it's probable that most of them are people who are confusing nonreligon with atheism.) I think that my friend's case might also shed some light on the reason why some evangelists like to accuse atheists of being "mad at god."
There definitely different types of atheists. I once met a guy whose parents were Latin American converts to Hinduism, and they never really passed on their religion, so he considered himself an atheist for awhile before becomming born again. I've also met the "mad at God" type (to be fair to the person in question, it was later explained to me as "God doesn't exist, but if he does, fuck Him.") Then there's people who decide to think rationally about it and conclude they don't have good reason to think God exists. People of the second category are far more likely to convert than those in the last, and that probably influences evangelist's perceptions of atheists.

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