Monday, November 23, 2020

Why Atheists become Christians and Vice Versa

 An interesting article over at Patheos. I don't know how solid the research behind this is, but it does ring true with some of my own observations. People do not deconvert because they are attracted to atheism as a belief system, but because they are intent on leaving a Christian faith they think has been damaging, and atheism is a safe landing spot. They note five characteristics of churches driving this behavior.

The first is performance control, which is the expectation that the members of a church will conform to stringent standards of thought and behavior and be subject to shame if they fall out of line. The second is textualism which refers to rigid and literal scriptural interpretation. The third, isolationism, refers to segregation of the community from the outside world by preventing ideas from entering and questions from leaving. The fourth is spiritualism where disproportionate importance is given to angels, demons and apocalyptic prophecy. The final category is compulsive certainty where doubt is viewed as a sign of weakness or lack of faith. 

I have a few objections to the essay, but they are small. I forget that most churches are not like mine, and most conversations among Christians are like what is normal for me. One of my texting groups forwarded a particularly bad example of a sermon at a non-denominational church this morning. I watched and listened in some astonishment. I forget.


Do not bother to read the comments, as it is atheists stating that this wasn't the reason for the their atheism at all - they made that decision solely on the basis of rational thought, because they are such solid thinkers, much smarter than you, who believe ridiculous things.  I  am conscious of there being varieties of atheist, which we demonstrated here when I linked to Michael Novak's "Christmas Atheists," which listed six, and my own commenters weighed in and said "I don't really think any of those describe me that well."

So there are more than six varieties, but the type that likes hanging around Christian sites and explaining to everyone why they are wrong seems pretty similar, year after year.


james said...

David Warren:

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Good find.

Texan99 said...

I think it's not at all a bad thing to listen carefully to what atheists tell you about how they changed their minds. Discounting their doubts is naive.

Brad said...

I had a time where I rejected my faith. Part of my journey back was a sermon by a pastor saying "Almost all of the cases I know of Christians rejecting God have come from people with a besetting sin they cannot conquer. So they would rather reject God than live with the guilt." I knew that was exactly me. I used pretended there were other rationales for my leaving the faith, but the weight of guilt was the real reason. I wonder how much that is true of others.
Eventually, even without conquering my sin, I was ready to let God continuously forgive me rather than ignore Him. Even later, God allowed a disastrous consequence that was enough to help me break free (God disciplines those He loves). Praise be to God.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

@ Brad - years ago I had a sexual offender who told me "Being arrested was the best thing that ever happened to me." I had to admire that. I don't know if I would be up to it.