How exactly, does one convert to atheism?
Is it more of an implicit agnosticism?
Is it simply admitting one was wrong?
Is "conversion" even the right word?
How can you be sure that niggling apprehension you might feel isn't just a way of hedging your bet?





Tags: adaption, conversion, faith, rejection, religion, secular

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Seeing we're all born without a belief in any god or gods, maybe a better term would be reversion. However, I'm not one to get all hung up about how a word is exactly used. The context in which a word is used is usually good enough for me. I see you're new here. If you want to start a mega-thread that goes nowhere, start one on atheism vs. agnosticism.

Read my original profile that contains my "de-conversion". Unlike you, many members here were indoctrinated and practicing well into their "age of reason". Reverting back to their original, born-again atheist state may feel like a de-conversion of some sort. After reading dozens and dozens of them for more than a year here, you'd be surprised how many go through the faith-doubt-not knowing-disbelief cycle, known to most as a de-conversion process.

Oh, and Welcome to the Nexus!
Thank You.
The main impetus(besides a previous discussion here)for this topic was reading many of the letters at the RDF site. All those stories about doubt and so forth, but the idea of "conversion" to atheism had never occurred to me before. ( "De-conversion" is really a new one to me.)
The logical contradiction of the idea bothered me.
I'd like to hear more stories.
I don't think people "convert" to atheism so much as de-convert. I was never a theist so for me it was a non-issue.

However, the people I knew appeared to fit into two groups:

1. People who never believed despite the indoctrination.
2. People who believed and then went through an actual de-conversion process which often consisted of:
Religion->
Deism->
Agnosticism->
Strong Atheism (denying the existence of gods as opposed to simply lacking a belief in gods)

IMO, we're all atheists by default. That is, we lack a belief in gods until someone attempts to indoctrinate us into that belief.

So, I'm not sure how the term "conversion" to atheism could apply here.

What would one "convert" to? That implies that one is converting to a positive belief which atheism isn't.
Exactly.
Which was why I found the letters to the RDF so intriguing. Again and again, there were stories of people describing their various processes of what they called "conversion".
Which might imply a great misunderstanding of atheism. Or they lack any other context for their experiences.
I became a non-believer at an extremely early age. I never had any reason to doubt my conviction despite my parents being practicing Lutherans. I went through the motions just to make them happy, even though they knew what I thought. Besides, I really dig the organ. The Lutheran hymnal was essentially all Bach. Anyway,
I fully realize that the term conversion doesn't apply. I'm interested in how so many people think it does.
Interesting.

I've never heard of RDF but it does sound like they have a basic misunderstanding which isn't surprising.

Theism seems to spend a lot of time misrepresenting atheism in it's ranks.

This is where a process of education is sometimes helpful for people who are going through deconversion.

In some cases, it can be a deeply emotional process since people are abandoning beliefs that formed a core part of their lives.
The Richard Dawkins Foundation. I doubt they misunderstand. It was the letters to the foundation I referred to where misunderstanding perhaps occurred.

This talk of "de-conversion" I find a bit unsettling. It reminds me of "de-programming", which is considered by many to be one psychological assault trying to undo another.
I think the difference is that deprogramming is imposed against the will of the person.

Deconversion is a voluntary process that the person chooses to undergo themselves and it will take as long as the person needs it to take.

People have different and interesting strategies.

For example, some people miss the cultural structure that religion provides and join the UU "churches" to replace that.

(And thanks for the clarification. I am familiar with the Richard Dawkins Foundation but just didn't make the connection between that and the initials).
I think the problem is the use of religious terminology to define atheism. That gives the sense of replacing one belief system with another. In contrast, I would say that atheism is not a belief system, just as non-belief in fairies is not a belief system.
What other choice is there?
The differences in the language between theology and metaphysics are virtually nil.
The fact is that in most of the letters I read(there were literally hundreds, of which I read 2 or 3 dozen) they describe exactly the replacement of one belief system with what they think is another.
It doesn't matter whether we find it logically consistent. They somehow do.

People can accept the non-existence of deity.
Yet so many seem unwilling to abandon faith. In some undefined "something", country, one's fellow man.
If one arrives at atheism through reason, why can't reason inform the rest of one's life?
I agree with the others here. "Converting" to atheism is just a verbal short-hand for expressing the fact that you dropped your religious beliefs.

"How can you be sure that niggling apprehension you might feel isn't just a way of hedging your bet?"

I have no idea what that means though.
I call that apprehension "creeping agnosticism".
Okay... I still have no idea what creeping agnosticism is.

Agnosticism is the philosophical position that holds that a certain question (in this case: God) is fundamentally unanswerable.

So how does it creep? :p

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