Yes several successes. I started the Lake Superior Freethinkers in 1997. And gave several classes as 'Freethought is it for you' at our University for Seniors. One woman was very relieved that her doubts of jewish belief were shared and she has brought several new nonbelievers to our group. Another former catholic has joined and many others. The story is essentially the same, 'I have harbored doubts but have felt I had to be religious to be a good person and be included in the community. All very gratifying to me.
I always take the opportunity to challenge faith beliefs in person and by letters to the editor.
"The trick to *converting* delusional people is to get them to start thinking critically. But how do we do that? There must be a line of questions, or reason, that may tip someone into thinking critically without them knowing it."
I'm guessing it was Bertrand Russell, but someone said, "If it didn't get there by reason, it won't leave by reason."
It's hard, maybe almost impossible, but keep nibbing. Once a trigger of doubt creeps in, the rest will take its place. But, in the end, if the person wants to change, its going to be them who wants to change. I wouldn't get too too worked up on it. As long as its not destroying your mutual love for each other.
Golly, I think we are overstating the difficulties. Americans, especially youths, are increasingly atheistic and that had to come from somewhere.
I think guilt and shame and derision have a place too. People need to know in soft or strong terms that it is laughable and shameful to believe nonsense and ESPECIALLY TO BRAIN WASH TRUSTING CHILDREN WITH THAT NONSENSE.
Look what they are doing to our world; remember the awful results of competing religious groups and their hateful response to us and to science.
I have found that if people follow a lie, it is better to slowly implement our truth or their lie to them, bring up small point occasionally, that indirect, do not mention God, as the mention of her, will cause something bad. Instead, bring up the existence of Sasquatch and how no evidence - no belief... once a shred of doubt is there, time will take over
It is a problem we all athiest face. In the society I live, scale of the problem is more than in your society. Over the years of experience I came to the conclusion that it is not the discussion in the hand only which matters. But there are many other factors like educational background, social environment............... which are forbiding the persons from thinking critically.
In most of the cases desired level of the success is impossible to achieve. So we got to lower our expectations. For example to not expect a person think fully like an athiest but becoming less reigious etc. Yes our circle of friends try to do it on regular bases as a mission. I had success in two of the cases. But we don't work on everybody. Its is a complete wastage of time. Most of the people are not born to be critical thinkers. So only those people should be tried who show the symptoms, others should be left alone or one should lower his expectations for them.
I have to say I would not attempt to convert anyone. You wouldn't want them wasting your time and energy trying to convert you, so give them the same token of respect (and save yourself your own time and energy for more worthwhile things in your own life). While we may not believe we owe anything to any form of higher being other than ourselves, the beauty of life is free will, good or bad. Even if someone tries to impose on you, you have the free will to defend yourself. So allowing others to have their own delusional thoughts of their own choosing, while sad from our point of view, is a good thing because we have the same right to choose what to think.