To start with: as you may have noticed I used the word "conversion" within quote marks. That means I use the word in the exact mode. To convert means to change to a different system, from centimetres to inches, Celsius to Fahrenheit, no more, no less. No values attached,,,
I compiled some replies and noticed 2 strains of answers.
1. About life-experience: the people that "converted" to atheism have "more" of something...
- "Those who convert or lose faith are much more firm, generally speaking, in their belief."
- "For one thing, some, perhaps most, of those who "converted" to atheism after once believing in god(s) have experienced some emotional pain, trauma, or other difficulties associated with that transition. For some, it was smooth and easy, but for many it was hard and difficult. So-called natural atheists typically have not had that sort of experience."
- Being a "convert" I can't really give you the whole perspective, but I find that I'm stronger and more active in my beliefs (or lack there-of) than some people I know who were just raised without religion. Its almost as if they're indifferent and we who lost our faith have a sort of hitch in our step, almost as if we resent the church for lying to us all those years.
- "Converted" atheists can be much more bitter. :P
Is this true? The "converted" atheists are much more active and/or determinated compared to the lazy "born-atheists"?
2. About "genetics" (maybe Dennett's "meme"..)
"What if the ability of the human mind to accept religious beliefs has been hardwired into "successful" human models, those that continue to live a life long enough to reproduce? Religion in history tends to protect the herd, so they survive more often than loners, and reproduce more. Can we really be 100% atheist? Are we overcoming the successful gene of religious belief?"
Does this mean that some people have more or less of the religious "meme" by birth? And if so, why would atheists survive at all if the "reli-meme" was succesfull? The question "Are we overcoming the successful gene of religious belief?" is worth investigating.
I like it when answers produce more questions. Do you?
Last but not least: one quote as a suggestion for a new thread:
"I don't know if anyone else here shares my view, but I find it quite unnatural and unnecessary to say "I am an atheist". Its not that there is a God and I don't beleive in him, but that the concept of God is itself made-up. So what is there to either beleive or disbeleive in?
In other words, if someone asks me "do you beleive in God?", my honest answer would be "what are you talking about" (meaning, what is it that you called God) rather than just "No".
I think that this isn't just semantics, but is an indication of one's approach to this whole question. However, its perhaps possible that others use the same words with quite a different meaning."