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from non-believer to believer.





nickfyoung
I was just reading through an interesting thread, 'Whats wrong with being an atheist, by Bluedoll and decided I would like to comment and found that I was too late as it had been locked.

I was wondering what was the percentage of believers convert as adults as compared to kids brought up in religious families and just sort of drift into believing.

Of those believers who converted in adult life what did they convert from. What percentage were outright atheists compared to those who were in various stages of belief.

In my case I was about 30 when I converted although I always sort of knew there was a God.

What percentage were hardened atheists who became believers and what caused that huge change to come about.

It would be a huge change as you can imagine if you are an atheist. What do you think it would take for a hardened atheist to become a believer.
Ankhanu
I became atheist by age 13, through simple reason and drift. Atheist I remained until I was probably about 18. Around this point I began learning about various neo-pagan paths and found that many of their teachings jived with me... I became a theist again, though in more of a deist sort of way than a personal-god sort of way. I saw deities as personifications, human constructs or faces for more primal concepts, and though we relate to them as though they are conscious, ultimately they are not... more akin to forces than minds.
Over time, I learned more and more about the various (neo-)pagan beliefs, branched into the various Eastern beliefs, and ultimately back to the Cristain beliefs I'd initially left behind... As I learned more, I saw common threads, differences... and ultimately, concluded that none of them really got it right, and none we're very rational. They all seemed to hold some truths, but, ultimately, they seemed to detract from the natural wonder of the universe, rather than support or describe it. I concluded that none had things right and that imposing deity or divinity into the picture did nothing to make it better nor accurate. My beliefs in divinity slipped away once more, leaving me the atheist I am today.

Shifts in belief are personal and depend heavily upon experience, emotional circumstance and, to an extent, education. The question "what will it take" is almost always going to be answered on a case-by-case basis; there isn't a hard course.
Do I know what might make me a believer? No. I have a feeling, however, that it will have to be consistent with a rational mindset... which I admit, limits the opportunities Wink
nickfyoung
Some say that there are many 'using' Christianity as a crutch because they converted through some crisis in their life. I have a friend who is a Jehovahs Witness because they happened to knock on his door just after his mother died and he was at a low point. It probably would not have mattered who knocked on his door at that time as he just needed someone or something.
deanhills
I've also read about instances of multiple conversions during a single life time. I.e. someone converting from Christianity to atheism then back again. Think it would be difficult to arrive at statistics. There are too many people who really doubt where they are with religion or atheism, and simply default to the one or the other because it would be popular for them to do so in the company they are keeping, the acceptance by their peers being more important than what they believe or don't believe in.
nickfyoung
Deanhills
[quote]the acceptance by their peers being more important than what they believe or don't believe in.
Quote:


I suppose there is a difference from a conversion to nominal Christianity and a conversion to a Christianity accompanied by a life changing encounter.

We have had this debate but it just doesn't seem to be grasped.
Bluedoll
Deanhills the acceptance by peers I think is a huge factor in any group that is certainly true for anyone.

I don’t look at these subjects in the same light as most here I think. I don’t really even look at these posts as angry debates that need to go somewhere. Where? To the bottom of the browser page? That is probably why I have the particular effect on people in this forum as I do and the reason for all the contempt towards me. Many here want me gone and so have labeled me a troll, complaining, stupid and always off topic, disruptive to the treads that exist here.

If I conformed to their thinking however I would be not be writing what I believe is true and so have to accept the ridicule and treatment I receive if I do want to voice my beliefs. I’ve turned my head away from many concepts in this forum because it is just too restrictive to my religious beliefs. Even the descriptive term believer versus non-believer for me is not always confirmed in people unless you are only referring to atheism – theism and even those are defined shadily...

If you are wondering what the above has to do with the topic, I’ll connect the dots. I believe anyone that calls himself or herself an atheist is conforming to a set of standards which atheism provides. Just as I want to express myself in a particular way, so does an atheist. An atheist will say no, no. I just don’t believe in deities. They say it is all about non-belief. I think that is part of an elaborate illusion atheism constructs. If standards didn’t exist or if atheism didn’t have unification then why do people group themselves together? You will be told that is not true but that is in effect the position that atheism wants you to believe. Do you notice even in this forum there is a constant fight to maintain that position? There lies your answer.

If anyone is going to change a belief, for the sake of logic, I am using the word belief to mean anything, not just a belief in a deity, they must as Ankhanu indicated find some “truth” in what they seek. A person is only going to belief in something when they think it is true. I agree with his logic to say it is a personal journey.

[quote="nickfyoung"]It would be a huge change as you can imagine if you are an atheist. What do you think it would take for a hardened atheist to become a believer. [quote]I do not ponder over the question in an evangelistic way because I believe it is by choice and conviction that a person finds their own personal beliefs. Yes, we all have been influenced but eventually we will take ownership of our own beliefs.

Everyone has a role to play in this universe and it is not an exception for an atheist. An atheist wants to, chooses to and will label themselves atheists because they do like everyone else on this planet does, they form their own beliefs. I see all this in a different light because I am saying an atheist is a believer too and until they desire a change they will continue to consider the side with atheism. Atheism non-belief talk is double talk. It is only a confusing statement and non-rational but atheists I think can not understand this nor do they want to.

Nickfyoung do you believe that atheism is satan’s cunning way of convincing and teaching people to reject God? I do.
watersoul
nickfyoung wrote:
What do you think it would take for a hardened atheist to become a believer.
Rather emotive term 'hardened' atheist, but speaking as an average guy who does not believe in any gods then witnessing a miracle as mentioned in a believers book would definitely influence my thinking.
Strange how in the days of limited education there seemed to be a miracle fest going on, but in an age of greater critical thinking there are none to be seen.
Yep, walking on water, feeding the millions starving in the world with a couple of fish and never ending bread (Even the Philippines right now, we wouldn't need a massive disaster relief and I could have saved a donation to charity when a prayer would've fixed it all), turning water into wine, you know the sort of stuff. That would definitely influence my current lack of belief.

Someone else's story about 'feeling love from a god', or an old unverifiable multiple translated book, is not enough for me, but bring on the visible supernatural stuff, that curiously only people of old were apparently deemed appropriate to witness, and I think most people would question their lack of faith in gods. I think that's a pretty reasonable position to hold when dealing with god/s who are supposed to be able to do anything, and are claimed to be the creator/s of my intelligent questioning mind..
nickfyoung
Bluedoll
Quote:
Nickfyoung do you believe that atheism is satan’s cunning way of convincing and teaching people to reject God? I do.


For sure but I also believe that Satan is still controlled by God.

Watersoul
Quote:
but bring on the visible supernatural stuff, that curiously only people of old were apparently deemed appropriate to witness,


You are right in that the supernatural stuff has become a bit limited and harder to find. However, it can still be found with a bit of digging. I haven't seen much for many years so it is limited. It is mostly happening now in a very few churches and usually Pentecostal ones and ones with a pastor at a unique stage of his ministry who is in tune with the agent of these happenings. And the happenings seem to go in stages so if one church and pastor is having a 'revival' in this stuff you will find that it will pass and go somewhere else. That is why some people will travel the world chasing this stuff as it can be pretty spectacular.
So keep your ears tuned and you may find it happening near you one day and you can get in for a quick sticky.

Edit.

Just remembered a small happening a while back in our own church. A stranger came in to church one day on a walking stick in much pain. When they had finished with him he left with his stick over his shoulder. He now plays guitar in our band and to see him dance with his guitar you would never have known.
watersoul
Hmm, I suspect my standards for what I'd consider a miracle will exclude me from any life-changing reassessment of belief in gods any time soon.
One guy with an alleged poorly leg would not be enough for me unfortunately. Now, a regrown leg for an amputee would be different of course, or failing that, simple irrigation and clean water for the millions in impoverished countries? But of course, simple stuff like that never happens, even though these god/s are supposed to be able to do anything.
I guess the passionate Catholic believing victims in the Philippines didn't believe 'enough' for their God to help or save them a few weeks ago? Thank humans for governmental and NGO relief agencies I suppose, bit more reliable.
deanhills
Here is an interesting thread from the Philosophy Forums - Beginning and end of Faith. I thought the comments below were particularly interesting:

Philosophy Forums - simpleserve wrote:
I was an atheist and am presently a theist. One of the experiences that changed me was watching other atheists argue their atheism. They would go on the attack against religion then mistake those attacks as evidence for their atheism. Thus, I recognized that atheism was a reaction to other people's ideas rather than an active chase for truth. Consequently, I transitioned from atheist to agnostic, then chose to transition to theist. I *chose* to become theist because I realized all the arguments in either direction were complete bullshit. My time spent in the PoR forum has confirmed that nothing has changed.


I wonder what the statistics of conversions from Catholic to Atheism would be versus other religions. May be an interesting study to conduct.

Philosophy Forums - Apost wrote:
Thank you for sharing your experiences. My experience was similiar to mayer of simpletons. I grew up in a catholic society, where religious indoctrinations is part of the public school system. Thereofe I had no option but to grow up believeing in it, until at around the age of 13-14 it all changened. during school my favourite pass time was arguing with the religion teacher, questioning everything he said.

Right now I am having difficulties specifying my belief. I used to believe in the catholic dogma, then converted to atheism and now I believe in something that lacks definition. Incapable of putting myself in a "box" so to speak.

I wonder why humans always have the need of specifying a belief and the need of limiting its boundries. I myself have a belief system that is like an ocean, it changes frequently, depending on current circumstances and experiences. Nothing is set in stone, nothing is determined.

So why does it always have to be "A" or "B" or "C" (such as catholic, baptist, hindu, atheist, agnostic, etc.)? Why can't be it something completely different, which is not precisely defined and restricted?


Philosophy Forums - Mayor of Simpleton wrote:
If it helps, I'm only an atheist when confronted by theism or god/deity issues. When this is not the case, I'm simply human.


Philosophy Forums - Gen11 wrote:


[....]

I would not say there was 'any one moment of change', rather always having had scepticism in any and all faiths and just throwing out the junk that didn't make sense and trying to grasp wider meanings and notions rather than becoming misguided by stances that cannot be well justified.

Partly this might have always been down to having an interest in science and technology and that may have strongly influenced the way I have decided to take various elements as 'known to a point', but the full picture is rarely completely known from a single perspective. I might also state that my chosen areas of study, cosmology and physics, were very much influenced by my desires to be able to answer spiritual points of perspective.

In this sense, my study and research is profoundly religious to me, a literal; 'search to know god' and it is through science in general that we can build on, and explore this concept and meme. This grand reality we find ourselves in. I think many of my colleagues have/do share the same feeling of wonder, awe and sense of perspective, however for many of them, like for myself, we don't share 'a religious notion of god' it doesn't factor into the 'day to day' work/discussions, only the philosophical notions of 'why' and 'what'. At this time in my life I find it interesting to come here and share perspective, it returns me to those years of university.
watersoul
deanhills wrote:
Philosophy Forums - Mayor of Simpleton wrote:
If it helps, I'm only an atheist when confronted by theism or god/deity issues. When this is not the case, I'm simply human.
I understand the intention but the lack of belief in deities means they are at all times atheist. Perhaps the message was intended to be 'I am only *publicly* an atheist when confronted by theism or god/deity issues' - that is of course an understandable position to take. Especially when some theists are so evangelically public with their beliefs in 'real' life, or on forums such as Frihost.
loremar
watersoul wrote:

I guess the passionate Catholic believing victims in the Philippines didn't believe 'enough' for their God to help or save them a few weeks ago? Thank humans for governmental and NGO relief agencies I suppose, bit more reliable.

Prayers don't work. That's obvious since I'm pretty much alive and some others who prayed hard for days are dead. Magnitude 7 Earthquake what? World's biggest typhoon to ever land what? These couple of months is emotionally shaking for me but hey I'm still atheist you know. They say it's God's trial, I say it sucks to live near the Pacific.
Bluedoll
It is not required that everyone agrees on everything anymore than everyone needs know absolutely everything.

I don’t say it is God’s trial. I say it is mankind activities messing up earth cycles because humans will not listen to reason, though the earth could be heading for some change anyway, maybe mankind’s activities are not helping. I think God needs to be observed not dismissed from our decisions. I think prayer is real and is a portal to understanding our spiritual needs or spirituality to begin with.

I agree we have the capacity to protect ourselves and if that means being careful around the pacific then maybe that is the way to go? As far as God is concerned everything has been provided. We just need to learn how to use it.

In regards to our own personal belief, I think there are two schools of thought here. The belief that points in a direction that can help someone understand God and the “non-belief” that will throw dirt in the face of anything that attempts to convey that understanding? Tell me please if I am wrong on that point?


____________________________________


Using non-belief in this context...
Non-belief = belief in the opposite

Example:

Prayers work
Prayers do not work
Ankhanu
Bluedoll wrote:
In regards to our own personal belief, I think there are two schools of thought here. The belief that points in a direction that can help someone understand God and the “non-belief” that will throw dirt in the face of anything that attempts to convey that understanding? Tell me please if I am wrong on that point?


____________________________________


Using non-belief in this context...
Non-belief = belief in the opposite

Example:

Prayers work
Prayers do not work

Well, there is a third option... though your use of an unique definition of non-belief somewhat colours your language and conclusions.
watersoul
Bluedoll wrote:
In regards to our own personal belief, I think there are two schools of thought here. The belief that points in a direction that can help someone understand God and the “non-belief” that will throw dirt in the face of anything that attempts to convey that understanding? Tell me please if I am wrong on that point?


____________________________________


Using non-belief in this context...
Non-belief = belief in the opposite

Example:

Prayers work
Prayers do not work


Personally, I see many different opinions and perspectives of people regarding belief (or not) in gods.

* People who absolutely believe in gods and preach hell-fire and damnation to non-believers or different faiths
* People who absolutely believe in gods but hold a merciful and tolerant position towards non-believers and different faiths
* People who absolutely believe and will do everything in their power to convert people who do not
* People who believe and concern only themselves and fellow believers with their declarations of faith
* People who believe and worship essentially through fear of the consequences allegedly facing those who do not
* People who pretend to believe because of peer pressure or that they enjoy the community element provided by an organised church/religion
* People who do not believe and are unable to confirm there are none, but will critically question believers assertions when such discussions cross their life path
* People who don't believe and really don't care either way so avoid/dismiss such questions as irrelevant to their lives
* People who absolutely believe there are no gods and ignore such things as irrelevant to their lives
* People who absolutely believe there are no gods and will actively campaign against faith being imposed on their life in schools/workplaces/government etc
* People who question the many different opposing faiths so hold a position that they can't all be true
* People who have believed for many years in their life but felt 'let down' by whichever god they previously worshipped, so turn away and reject it based on their own understanding of what a moral god should or should not do

I could list more but certainly, to me, a 'black or white' 'on or off' 'believe exists/believe does not exist' polarised view of humankind seems a little too simplistic when one considers the huge differences in individual perception of such things.
nickfyoung
Deanhills
Quote:
I wonder what the statistics of conversions from Catholic to Atheism would be versus other religions. May be an interesting study to conduct.


There seems to be a significant conversion from Catholicism to Protestantism also which may be just as interesting.
deanhills
nickfyoung wrote:
Deanhills
Quote:
I wonder what the statistics of conversions from Catholic to Atheism would be versus other religions. May be an interesting study to conduct.


There seems to be a significant conversion from Catholicism to Protestantism also which may be just as interesting.
I googled stats, but doesn't look as though there is anything significant, particularly considering the following important fact about how the Catholic church would work its statistics - i.e. counting those who converted to protestant or atheism as catholic. Sort of messes up the head count a little:
Quote:
I will have to make an educated guess until someone actually finds the statistical data. Since the Church believes that once one is baptized a Catholic, they are a Catholic until they have made an act of schism or heresy. If they were Confirmed before they drifted from the Church, then they would definitely not be considered "converts".
Source: Ecumenicity Conversion Statistics
SpaceInvader75
I was born in a Christian family, and today I call myself agnostic, which might even be a liberal use of the word. I would say around the age of 18 I remember asking myself this hard question "Is there any other reason that I believe what I believe other than that my parents taught it to me?" And I could not answer with 100% certainty, but I felt more free, once I asked myself that, because there were things about what I was taught that I did not feel comfortable with. Certainly, the version of Christianity I was taught may have been different than what other Christians believe; my point here is just to try to explain my beliefs (and lack of them), and how I arrived at this point.

In my early 20's I became more convinced that there was no reason to believe what I believed, and this was actually not a very pleasant thing for me; and I think this is worth noting, for this topic. I've seen responses that seem to indicate that atheists (who seem to ask many of the very same questions I ask) have simply made up their minds, especially when one uses the term "hard atheist". And I don't feel this is the case at all, based on my experience.

Now, here is something that may be surprising. There was a point where I started going to church again, and I enjoyed it on some level, and felt temporarily more comfortable there, at least with the people I developed different degrees of friendships with. But eventually, the questions (that had always been there, BTW) came back, and I felt myself gradually drifting away from church again, because I did not feel that comfortable there. I was not friends with any atheists, that I can recall.

Even after this I continued to believe, and I was actually still praying at this point. But, I reached the same conclusions that I think I came to early in life; I felt like I was feeling guilty for things that I should not be guilty about; I could give specific examples, but I think they are beyond the point of this post. I was finding that my prayers were not being answered. Of course, I admit that is a subjective argument; but I'm attempting to explain some of my reasoning. Now, one could say that I was never a believer, but I know better than that. I wanted to believe, and actually I still want to, but I could no longer ignore the glaring inconsistencies of what I was taught. This does not mean I'm an atheist, but again, I ask myself (and others) many of the same questions atheists ask. I actually still have some hope in Buddhism.

My goal is actually to have an open mind. Now, out of the religions that I know of, I tend to be the most interested in Buddhism (although it may be argued it is not religion).
And this brings me to another point. One of the reasons I tend to find Buddhism more believable is that it seems (correct me if I"m wrong) to teach that things are not black and white. Why does one have to be either for or against god? This is more than a theoretical question for me, as I will explain below.

Quote:
In regards to our own personal belief, I think there are two schools of thought here. The belief that points in a direction that can help someone understand God and the “non-belief” that will throw dirt in the face of anything that attempts to convey that understanding? Tell me please if I am wrong on that point?


Well, I consider this reducing things to black and white. Now let me ask you, what would you consider a Buddhist then (apply this question to them)? Do you think that Buddhism "points in a direction that can help someone understand God?" It's my understanding that Buddhist don't believe in God (possibly depending on the definition of god), but that certainly doesn't mean they are throwing dirt in the face of anything that attempts to convey understanding. I think it is quite the opposite of Buddhism, in my limited understanding of it.

I'm editing my post because because I did not include the quote that this last part is referring to:

Quote:
Nickfyoung do you believe that atheism is satan’s cunning way of convincing and teaching people to reject God? I do.


If other religions believe in different gods, does that mean that Satan is behind those religions as well? If so, I think is extremely lucky for you that you just happened to pick the one "right" religion that Satan wasn't behind. And for that matter, how do you know he isn't? Oh wait, your faith tells you.

I do believe that atheists and agnostics will not justify killing you because you believe something different about god. And for that matter, neither will Buddhists. History tells us differently of Christians and Muslims. And I bring this up because, IF there is a Satan it seems like he would be accomplishing his goals better by convincing you that god wants you to blow up innocent children or go on a murderous crusade for him than he would convincing you that there is no god.
Bluedoll
@SpaceInvader75
I certainly do not believe that God wants to hurt people however I believe that people do. It is for selfish reasons and they use religion to get what they want. I think satan will always be “behind” the scenes opposing God’s authority. It is actually a good thing that religions get exposed for any wrong things they do but worldly religions are not God.

I think churches fail sometimes in how they present the bibles message. Prayer never hurts but I will not give up on it for only lack of reward. The answer you might be getting is silence. I don’t know, that is a personal thing between you and God. I do remember how my own dad used to be silent with me at times but it was usually for a reason. Sometimes we have to put our own foot forward and live our life because we have the capability to do so.

Everyone is entitled to a belief. I will listen to the bible but I do not attend an organized worldly church.

the spaceInvader75 did write,
Quote:
Why does one have to be either for or against god?



John 2:18-24

John 2:18-24 wrote:
Dear children, this world’s last hour has come. You have heard about the Antichrist who is coming—the one who is against Christ—and already many such persons have appeared. This makes us all the more certain that the end of the world is near. These “against-Christ” people used to be members of our churches, but they never really belonged with us or else they would have stayed. When they left us it proved that they were not of us at all.

But you are not like that, for the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you know the truth. So I am not writing to you as to those who need to know the truth, but I warn you as those who can discern the difference between true and false.

And who is the greatest liar? The one who says that Jesus is not Christ. Such a person is antichrist, for he does not believe in God the Father and in his Son. For a person who doesn’t believe in Christ, God’s Son, can’t have God the Father either. But he who has Christ, God’s Son, has God the Father also.

So keep on believing what you have been taught from the beginning. If you do, you will always be in close fellowship with both God the Father and his Son.


MOD - Quotes added. Material you did not write should be quoted and sourced. Please refer to the forum rules here: http://www.frihost.com/forums/vt-13011.html
- Ankhanu
redhakaw
^prayer must hurt.

when one offers himself up to prayer, he must drop down all that he has, the "I" should be gone, and other thoughts must be discarded.

the grace of God will then mitigate whatever pain you have received, and this is the joy of being under His holy presence. We need to sacrifice ourselves, in order to receive Someone greater.
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