Testaments, Stories of Conversion and Inspiration

It seems pretty common for people of every belief to be ‘spiritually uplifted’ when they hear stories of people finding the love of whatever god it is they believe in. Allah or Christ, nobody can resist a good testimony about their own beliefs.

Atheists are no different. We, like everyone else, tend to really enjoy a good de-conversion story. A story about, instead of finding the love of god, finding reason and letting it lead them where it may, and it such stories it obviously invariably leads them away from ‘god’.

And of course, philosophically, epistemologically speaking, none of these stories are proof of their respective beliefs or non-beliefs. They’re mostly only meaningful to people who believe, or are close to believing, in whatever belief is being testified for. But they’re still quite powerful.

I used to be Mormon. In the Mormon church, there is a tradition that I think a lot of other churches could benefit from – every first Sunday of each month is testimony day (with some exceptions throughout the year). Everybody, young, old, new to the Church or born into it, is invited to come up to the podium and tell their ‘coming to Christ’ story. I did it twice. Being such a new convert, and SO INTO IT, I remember loads of people crying when I gave my testimony.

Anyway, I was just reading a good Atheist testimony. Thought I’d share it.
Here it is.


It would be fun to what the reconversion. :sunglasses:

I don’t know what that means, but I’m sure that only contributes to how much fun it would be.

Sorry about that.

I’m sure it would be.

Thanks for sharing. Having grown up Southern Baptist, I’ve been thru much of this.

We all have to grind out our approach to reality. Reality is hard to get around. It takes a lot of work, and constant re-enforcement to deny.

I’ve explained the circumstances of my loss of faith probabably on ten different occasions on ilp alone, certainly no one has ever told me they were inspired by it. Not that I expected inspiration by athiests or second thougths by Christians to result in any of those explanaitions. They were just rants.

But, I plowed through the article, it wasn’t inspiring at all, even though on the surface one may think we had similar experiences. Firstly, I noticed what James implied; his faith in the non existence of God is very weak. I think what may have bothered me as much as anything was that he used the example of an apathetic Christian responding to his crisis of faith and then a very concerned and detail responce of an atheist. Certainly believeable, but the steriotyped contrast he was trying to present wasn’t appreciated by me.

Another problem I have is that he didn’t appear to have ever tried to establish faith in God on his own terms, that is by himself, without the approval of others being factored in. I think he’s a fall-out with his athiest friends and a “fall-in” with some Christian friends away from reconversion. I’ve actually tried getting involved with church communities when I was only a small part of the way to atheism, and got treated like shit. And then out of an old bad habit, after movig to a new city, I tried again, after I was already thoroughly atheistic. Shit would be an understatement. But, I bring this up to say that if the results had been different and I was welcomed fully and made many friends, it wouldn’t have been out of the question that I’d take the stance of a Christian again, though now without a hint of faith. (Of course people will disagree, but isn’t that the norm among so-called Christians anyway?) The argument I’m making is he seems to imply, perhaps unknowingly, that belief is related to one’s company. I don’t think anyone can have faith in God, atheism or anything else unless that’sa faith that they can substain in the mist of people with contrary beliefs.

i have a story of conversion and inspiration--------------------------

i found that most atheists are missing the boat…they are rejecting a very narrow version of christianity …
sky-daddy is not where it is at…so i thought of the new definition of god that would include everyone…

the new modern definition is god=the ultimate reality of everything…
try and argue with that one…
the atheist is disarmed…we need this new definition of god for the future so that religion and science can
cooperate rather than fight about who is right…not many here will accept this…i think a lot of people want to believe

So you’re telling me the ultimate reality of everything was at some point personified and died for the sins of man?

You’re position is not a novel one. Atheists probably don’t argue with you because your definition of God is so ambiguous as to be meaningless.

The sad moment is going to come when you realize that the educated in the field, always knew that.
And even worse is the fact that I have told you so.
And even worse still is that it is too late for you to do anything constructive.

tell me what you believe in…

james— of course…i thought i told you…you cant speak for me and what i can do…

You didn’t answer my question. I believe in lots of things. You’ll have to be more specific.

i dont think i was telling you anything about the ultimate reality of everything…i was giving you the modern definition of god…

You know, Statik, the ultimate reality. Its voice speaks from burning bushes. It tells you who to vote for, and it might even tell you to murder your son. Though if it’s in a good mood, it will finally say “just kidding”.

Well…yeah. That’s the point to a large degree. If it’s just a matter of trading one epistemological failure for another, there wouldn’t be any point to atheism. The entire point of atheism is that (at least in theory, I’m sure there are counter arguments and I’m not saying there aren’t, but at least in theory) you’re trading bad epistemology in the case of Gods and traditions for a more consistent epistemology that you don’t only apply to Gods and traditions, but that you use all the time.

So, if you switch from faith in god to faith in no god, I’m not sure I would even call you an atheist. I mean, on paper, yeah, you don’t believe in God, but…you’re using the same failed epistemology as the rest of the religious, which is the biggest problem with religion (intellectually speaking) in the first place, so you’ve gotten rid of God without getting rid of the failed epistemology, so you might as well just keep your God, getting rid of it without getting rid of the failed epistemology won’t make you any better/more rational/etc.

I haven’t read it since I posted the link, but I’m pretty sure there was a good section dedicated to talking about him doing exactly this. No?

I think it’s interesting that you say that, given who we’re talking about. We’re not just talking about some random atheist blogger, at least not from my point of view. We’re talking about someone who is the second most prolific poster on LessWrong, a site dedicated to sharing and improving the skills of rationality. Many of those skills are explicitly contrasted against theistic ways of thinking. His writings have probably helped upwards of a hundred, perhaps a lot more, near-atheists decide once and for all that they don’t need to hold on to their deity any more. I can’t imagine, if you’d read as much by him and his crowd (those at lesswrong and the singularity institute) that you’d dream of thinking he’s that close to reconversion. I think you’d be as baffled as I am if someone else suggested so, if you’d read a larger sample of his stuff.

Totally. Plus, according to the Bible, the ultimate reality of everything is both angry and jealous.

i cannot believe the way this thread is going…i would like to give an idea of what i am talking about…

two things that need to be understood-------------------------------------

  1. the origin of the universe.
  2. the origin of life

we do not know about these things…maybe we will understand better in the future…

We need to? Or else what?

or else what----we may never know