Do atheists really think that everyone who claims they converted from atheism to theism?

based on an experience is either deluded or dishonest?

Is it fair of me to ask how you know that? How is dismissing such claims a priori consistent with willingness to go where the evidence leads you?

Update:

Wow, a lot of answers. Please note (I should probably have included this) that I'm not asking if such claims "prove" theism. There could well be alternate explanations that are equally plausible. I can even understand dismissing such claims out of hand. But claiming to "know" that these claims are dishonest or thoughtless by definition...

That doesn't bother you at all?

Update 2:

Narathzul: I’ll take your answer as representative even though it is far more thoughtful than most. A person who claims to have seen Elvis alive contradicts the fact that his body is still in its grave. Something I know with virtual certainty excludes their experience. I don’t doubt that people hear voices in their head. But so what? This ties in with alien abductees in that nothing in my world is affected by these stories. I don’t pretend to know that we are alone in the universe. More to the point: I don’t much care either way.

But God’s existence isn’t like that. Him existing or not matters a great deal to anyone who takes the question seriously. There is also the explanatory power of these disparate phenomena. Whether or not a given entity is part of the universe is simply not the same level concern as the ultimate origin of reality itself (assuming there is one).

So as an atheist, you should be able to tell me what you know that logically precludes God’s existence.

Update 3:

Or else you should be able to show that theism is trivial and so claims like the one we’re talking about don’t matter. But I seriously doubt you can do either.

None of this means you are required to take such claims seriously. That isn’t what the question is about. This question is about your judgment of another’s mental state without bothering to look at the data. It’s about your certainty, not your belief. It’s about integrity.

Let me put it this way. If what you all are telling me is true, then even God revealing himself directly to you wouldn’t change your minds. You would dismiss even this as psychosis on your part. That being the case, what is the point in talking with you? Literally nothing can change your minds.

I find that discouraging. It makes me wonder why I’m even wasting time on this site.

35 Answers

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  • 8 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    "Do atheists really think that everyone who claims they converted from atheism to theism

    based on an experience is either deluded or dishonest?"

    Technically, yes. Given my world view.

    Or that I'm deluded. Given my world view.

    Since I don't, can't, completely rule out the second line, I'm in no position to get dogmatic or superior over the first line.

    It's something still open enough for discussion, at least with a theist who thinks my position is deluded or dishonest but is not dogmatically superior about it.

    No a priori certainties, just starting from where I've arrived.

    Oliver Cromwell, in a letter to the general assembly of the Church of Scotland:

    "I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken."

    History does not record whether he had the rare gift of being able to take his own advice.

    Hoping for "... and I'll do the same" here, from Oliver, is probably being a bit optimistic.

  • 8 years ago

    Do you really think everyone who claims they've seen Elvis alive after his death is either deluded or dishonest? How about people who can hear voices talking in their head? Alien abductees?

    Is it fair of me to ask how you know that? How is dismissing such claims a priori consistent with willingness to go where the evidence leads you?

    Of course the answer is that these claims don't get a priori dismissed. They get evaluated and dismissed because the best explanation for the facts, that someone had such an experience like that, is either "delusion" (I don't like that word) or lying.

  • 8 years ago

    I would not say everyone who claims they converted to theism after being an atheist is lying. Well technically, if you agree that we are all born atheists, then every theist did. But obviously you are referring to adults who claim to have been atheist for a period of time and then converted to a religion.

    I am sure there are some, but I am also pretty sure it is quite rare. Many of the people who make this claim also mention several things about their experience as an atheist of which I have never heard an actual atheist claim. Or they have a fundamental misunderstanding of scientific theories that are often the backbone of an atheist's views on the world. These examples are paraphrased, but I am sure you've seen something like them in the past (generally with much worse grammar and spelling).

    -Examples-

    1. "I used to be an atheist, then I realized that we couldn't have come from monkeys. Have you ever seen a monkey turn into a person. It had to be god."

    2. "I hated god and converted to atheism."

    3. Other sayings similar to the above that are more often than not a religious person's mistaken view on what atheism is.

  • 8 years ago

    It depends, an atheist could become a Buddhist and still not believe in gods, but show me an atheist that became a worshiper of any god and I'll show you either a liar, or a mentally deluded person. Atheists will never accept a philosophy based completely on a lack of evidence.

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  • 8 years ago

    I think it's interesting that atheists claim nobody ever converted from atheism to theism, because they would have to suspend judgement. However, they get very upset when I tell them there is no such thing as an ex-christian. Why would they care if they never were something they don't believe makes sense?

    I think that's why most atheists refuse to look into things like ID and creation. They won't read books on apologetics, because they may find things they never considered before. They may even change their minds about their atheism. But, that would ruin the great hatred they have for God, ultimately manifesting itself in ignoring him, or saying he doesn't exist. I think it's really simple, but they get really upset when I point this out. Of course, their getting upset proves to me that I am right.

  • ?
    Lv 7
    8 years ago

    Yes, I believe people who believe in gods are deluded but that is not because I dismiss their claim a priori. Its because whenever anyone tells me gods are real I ask them why they think that and then look at their evidence being willing to be convinced if it ever actually is evidence.

    So far I have looked at the claims of loads of Christians, a fair number of Muslims and a handful of Hindus and read lots of books recommended by them. I have explored 'miracles' 'answered prayers' 'near death experiences' 'proof of creation' 'proof of souls' and so much more. At the moment, no one set of believers has any more miraculous experiences than any other or than chance. No gods have ever been known to appear in two cultures who have never met, no god has ever given any peoples accurate information of the universe and all of them have given false information. If any evidence of any gods ever emerges I will become a theist immediately.

  • Anonymous
    8 years ago

    I always wonder how they came to take the label "atheist" in the first place.

    I often wonder if they actually ever really considered religion before, or if they simply held no opinion on it so now they claim they were "atheist".

    Not saying there is no atheists that ever convert, but it just seems unlikely an atheist that really weighed the evidence before would then somehow find some great evidence to convert them self and then not be able to provide it to other atheists.

  • ?
    Lv 7
    8 years ago

    No.

    I don't bother to check out the vast majority of such claims, as they have no interest whatsoever for me. The very few that I have checked out *have* been either delusions, dishonesty, imagination, or ridiculously fallacious thinking.

    If somebody else claims to have some "experience" that comes from a claimed magical god-thing, then it's up to THEM to show evidence their claim has merit. Nobody has ever shown an evidence that any such claim has any merit -- so the claims are worthless. I "dismiss" them because nobody making them ever shows evidence to back them up.

  • 8 years ago

    I know it because when they talk about their supposed former lives as atheists they spout all the lies believers are fed about atheism. They don't seem to have any personal experience with atheism at all; all they know is the propaganda they were fed.

    Would you believe that someone was a former Christian if they talked about all the time they spent drinking blood, worshiping statues and beating up gays back when they were Christians? You'd probably immediately see that they had no first hand experience of Christianity at all, wouldn't you?

    Same with those supposed "former atheists."

    Sometimes people call themselves atheists when they stop going to church for a while, even though they still believe. Then when they start going back to church they say they converted to Christianity when that's not what happened at all.

  • Anonymous
    8 years ago

    Yep. And I think you ask this very question because you have a level of doubt in your own religion you are not willing to fully disclose here.

    How do "they" know their theism is true? The very answers they give are consistent with being deluded and dishonest in other areas of life as well. It's always vague, incoherent and avoids exact specifics.

    So, that IS where the evidence leads me. Time and again.

    -atheist

    .

    Source(s): Not at all. There are only so many explanations. Things tend to happen in similar ways. http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index;_ylt=Avr8J...
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