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Eight reasons why atheists change their minds…

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Closing our religion coverage a bit late today, here’s an interesting item on eight common factors as to why atheists change their minds.

One key reason appears to be that they are propagandized to think that theists are dumb. But then, as one witness writes,

And then there’s Leah Libresco—another atheist blogger turned Catholic. Leah recalls the challenging impact of reasonable Christians in her academic circle:

“I was in a philosophical debating group, so the strongest pitch I saw was probably the way my Catholic friends rooted their moral, philosophical, or aesthetic arguments in their theology. We covered a huge spread of topics so I got so see a lot of long and winding paths into the consequences of belief.”

Recalling her first encounter with this group of intelligent Christians, she writes on her blog:

“When I went to college…I met smart Christians for the first time, and it was a real shock.”

That initial “shock” stirred her curiosity and propelled her in the direction of Christianity. Leah is now an active Catholic. More.

Well, there’s that, and then there’s this: Guy asks obvious question: Why ARE the new atheists so angry? They score higher than conservative commentators on “certainty,” so maybe they are angry because the rest of us don/t listen to them when we supposedly should?

Then there was the time new atheists tried writing their own Ten Commandments, but…

And Sam Harris was trashing Francis Collins for no particular reason. As we said at the time,

And to think new atheists wonder why they are least liked! Is it just barely possible that it’s not about being an atheist after all but about, um, behaviour issues… (here, here, and here, just for example)?

Fundamentally, fashionable atheism sounds like a brainy crowd but not a fun or uplifting one, and people do get tired of that after a while. Not the place to be for long. Readers?

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"Mung will have tough competition at the awards ceremony." There's an awards ceremony? Prove it! CannuckianYankee
Unfortunately all my witticisms are primitive and there's no evidence they are about to evolve into anything more complex. Mung
unwilling participant (8): I nominate your comment for the wittiest post of 2015. It's rare that anything in these debates makes me smile. With you in the field, Mung will have tough competition at the awards ceremony. Timaeus
There are 3 reasons why atheist Antony Flew changed his mind-> D-N-A ;) :cool: Joe
Seversky: Your statement in post 3 is incoherent. How does sentence #1 connect with sentence #2? How does sentence #2 connect with sentence #3? If you can't handle the notion of "conjunction" well enough to write a comment that makes any sense, no wonder your mind isn't subtle enough to handle design inferences. Timaeus
Mark Frank claims: "– conversion to atheism – is at least as common,," Actually, even with a public education system severely biased towards atheism, No it is not!
The Facts: Atheism is Dying Out - April 8, 2015 Excerpt: Atheist “intellectuals” speak disparagingly about religion and predict that mankind is on the cusp of a new age in which religion will simply disappear as science, technology and reason are in the ascendant. The facts indicate exactly the opposite. It is religion which continues to grow around the world while the statistics indicate that agnosticism and atheism are dying out. http://www.patheos.com/blogs/standingonmyhead/2015/04/the-facts-atheism-is-dying-out.html#ixzz3X65NkTdg Why do atheists have such a low retention rate? - July 2012 Excerpt: Only about 30 percent of those who grow up in an atheist household remain atheists as adults. This “retention rate” was the lowest among the 20 separate categories in the study. https://uncommondesc.wpengine.com/intelligent-design/why-do-atheists-have-such-a-low-retention-rate/ 'Believers' gene' will spread religion , says academic - January 2011 Excerpt: The World Values Survey, which covered 82 nations from 1981 to 2004, found that adults who attended religious services more than once a week had 2.5 children on average; while those who went once a month had two; and those who never attended had 1.67. Prof Rowthorn wrote: "The more devout people are, the more children they are likely to have." http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/8252939/Believers-gene-will-spread-religion-says-academic.html
Mark Frank also claims: "it (atheism) is just a conclusion that people come to and then get on with their lives without much fuss." Actually, atheism is rooted primarily in emotion rather than reason (which is not surprising since reason itself cannot be grounded in materialism/naturalism)
Study explores whether atheism is rooted in reason or emotion - Jan. 2015 Excerpt: "A new set of studies in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology finds that atheists and agnostics report anger toward God either in the past or anger focused on a hypothetical image of what they imagine God must be like. Julie Exline, a psychologist at Case Western Reserve University and the lead author of this recent study, has examined other data on this subject with identical results. Exline explains that her interest was first piqued when an early study of anger toward God revealed a counterintuitive finding: Those who reported no belief in God reported more grudges toward him than believers." https://uncommondesc.wpengine.com/just-for-fun/fun-study-explores-whether-atheism-is-rooted-in-reason-or-emotion/ “One absolutely central inconsistency ruins [the popular scientific philosophy]. The whole picture professes to depend on inferences from observed facts. Unless inference is valid, the whole picture disappears… unless Reason is an absolute, all is in ruins. Yet those who ask me to believe this world picture also ask me to believe that Reason is simply the unforeseen and unintended by-product of mindless matter at one stage of its endless and aimless becoming. Here is flat contradiction. They ask me at the same moment to accept a conclusion and to discredit the only testimony on which that conclusion can be based.” —C.S. Lewis, Is Theology Poetry (aka the Argument from Reason) C.S. Lewis, Reason, and Naturalism: An Interview with Dr. Jay Richards - audio http://www.idthefuture.com/2012/12/cs_lewis_reason_and_naturalism.html
Moreover, the atheist's life is much more impoverished as a result of his conversion to materialism/naturalism:
The Heretic - Who is Thomas Nagel and why are so many of his fellow academics condemning him? - March 25, 2013 Excerpt:,,,Fortunately, materialism is never translated into life as it’s lived. As colleagues and friends, husbands and mothers, wives and fathers, sons and daughters, materialists never put their money where their mouth is. Nobody thinks his daughter is just molecules in motion and nothing but; nobody thinks the Holocaust was evil, but only in a relative, provisional sense. A materialist who lived his life according to his professed convictions—understanding himself to have no moral agency at all, seeing his friends and enemies and family as genetically determined robots—wouldn’t just be a materialist: He’d be a psychopath. http://www.weeklystandard.com/articles/heretic_707692.html?page=3
of related note:
The Atheist's Dilemma - Jordan Monge - 4/4/2013 I tried to face down an overwhelming body of evidence, as well as the living God. Excerpt: And he did something else: He prodded me on how inconsistent I was as an atheist who nonetheless believed in right and wrong as objective, universal categories. Defenseless, I decided to take a seminar on meta-ethics. After all, atheists had been developing ethical systems for 200-some years. In what I now see as providential, my atheist professor assigned a paper by C. S. Lewis that resolved the Euthyphro dilemma, declaring, "God is not merely good, but goodness; goodness is not merely divine, but God." Joseph also pushed me on the origins of the universe. I had always believed in the Big Bang. But I was blissfully unaware that the man who first proposed it, Georges Lemaître, was a Catholic priest. And I'd happily ignored the rabbit trail of a problem of what caused the Big Bang, and what caused that cause, and so on. By Valentine's Day, I began to believe in God. There was no intellectual shame in being a deist, after all, as I joined the respectable ranks of Thomas Jefferson and other Founding Fathers. I wouldn't stay a deist for long. A Catholic friend gave me J. Budziszewski's book Ask Me Anything, which included the Christian teaching that "love is a commitment of the will to the true good of the other person." This theme—of love as sacrifice for true good—struck me. The Cross no longer seemed a grotesque symbol of divine sadism, but a remarkable act of love. And Christianity began to look less strangely mythical and more cosmically beautiful.,,, http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2013/march/atheists-dilemma.html
Atheists cannot explain our existence, so tat would be one reason to change their minds. Joe
Conversions from atheism are often gradual and complex, no doubt. For many converts the road is slow and tedious, tiring and trying.
The opposite process - conversion to atheism - is at least as common but typically less dramatic. With the exception of the new atheist movement, it is just a conclusion that people come to and then get on with their lives without much fuss. Mark Frank
Seversky: "Even atheists can be seduced by The Dark Side. I wonder how many have converted to Islam or Hinduism or Sikhism or Buddhism or Taoism. Even I would be up for conversion to Jedi-ism if someone were able to demonstrate the power of The Force to me" I would convert to Jedi-ism just for the light sabre. It is the simple things in life that are important. unwilling participant
Not all atheists are ideological pseudo-skeptics. Many atheists are simply ignorant of the evidence and are convinced when they learn about the evidence. I started to have doubts about atheism when I read a magazine by a skeptical organization and saw it was all ad hominem attacks and very little substance. My doubts increased when I read about the persecution of Richard Sternberg. But I didn't give up atheism until I read a book about the evidential medium George Anderson. It seemed genuine so I read more about the subject and changed my views about the afterlife and God. I eventually took classes in mediumship and spiritual healing at a spiritualist church. I wrote about my experiences here: http://sites.google.com/site/chs4o8pt/psi_experience http://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/2012/10/what-is-it-like-to-communicate-with.html For me the best evidence of God comes from the fine-tuning of the universe to support life, the reports of people who have near death experiences (http://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/2012/09/evidence-that-god-exists-people-who.html) and the communications from evidential mediums. Jim Smith
Two things from Antony Flew: 3 peculiar observations on nature: "... it’s time for me to lay my cards on the table, to set out my own views and the reasons that support them. I now believe that the universe was brought into existence by an infinite Intelligence. I believe that this universe’s intricate laws manifest what scientists have called the Mind of God. I believe that life and reproduction originate in a divine Source. Why do I believe this, given that I expounded and defended atheism for more than a half century? The short answer is this: this is the world picture, as I see it, that has emerged from modern science. Science spotlights three dimensions of nature that point to God. The first is the fact that nature obeys laws. The second is the dimension of life, of intelligently organized and purpose-driven beings, which arose from matter. The third is the very existence of nature. But it is not science alone that has guided me. I have also been helped by a renewed study of the classical philosophical arguments. My departure from atheism was not occasioned by any new phenomenon or argument. Over the last two decades, my whole framework of thought has been in a state of migration. This was a consequence of my continuing assessment of the evidence of nature. When I finally came to recognize the existence of a God, it was not a paradigm shift, because my paradigm remains, as Plato in his Republic scripted his Socrates to insist: “We must follow the argument wherever it leads.”You might ask how I, a philosopher, could speak to issues treated by scientists. The best way to answer this is with another question. Are we engaging in science or philosophy here? When you study the interaction of two physical bodies, for instance, two subatomic particles, you are engaged in science. When you ask how it is that those subatomic particles—or anything physical—could exist and why, you are engaged in philosophy. When you draw philosophical conclusions from scientific data, then you are thinking as a philosopher...." And this familiar territory of late: "The other matter on which I changed my mind was free will, human freedom. This issue is important because the question of whether we are free lies at the heart of most major religions. In my earliest antitheological writings, I had drawn attention to the incongruity of evil in a universe created by an omnipotent, all-good Being. The theist response to this perceived incongruity was the claim that God gives humans free will, and that all or most of the obvious and scandalous evils are immediately or ultimately due to misuse of this dangerous gift, but that the end results will be the realization of a sum of greater goods than would otherwise be possible. I was, in fact, the first to label this the free-will defense. But whether expressed as a debate between free will and predestination or, in secular suiting, free will and determinism, the question of whether we have free will is of fundamental importance. I responded by trying to have it both ways, by introducing a position now known as compatibilism. The incompatibilist says that thoroughgoing determinism is incompatible with free will. The compatibilist, on the other hand, maintains: not only can it be consistent to say both that someone will make a free choice and that the sense of that future choice is known beforehand to some future party, but also that free choices could be both free and choices even if they were physically caused to be made in the senses in which they are made, and even when their being made in these senses was determined by some law or laws of nature. While still holding that people make free choices, in later years I came to see that you cannot at the same time consistently believe that these free choices are physically caused. In other words, compatibilism does not work. A law of nature is not a statement of a mere brute fact that one particular sort of happening will, as it happens, succeed or accompany some other sort of happening. It is, rather, a claim that an occurrence of one particular sort physically necessitates the occurrence of another sort such that it makes its nonoccurrence physically impossible. This is clearly not the case with a free choice" Flew, THERE IS A GOD Yes, indeed. CannuckianYankee
harry 2 Another good example is Bill O'Reilly, supposed defender of the faith. His book Killing Jesus left out the part about the disciples (and 500 other people) walking, talking, and eating with the resurrected Jesus. Instead, the disciples were supposedly galvanized into action & deeply transformed because Peter caught a lot of fish one morning. I wrote O'Reilly, who makes a big deal about defending the phrase "Merry Christmas", to ask what he thought was most injurious to Christianity. Was it the phrase "Happy Holidays", or the denial of the historicity of the resurrection? Crickets. anthropic
Of note: Shroud of Turin - Carbon 14 Test Proven False – - Joseph G. Marino and M. Sue Benford - video (with Raymond Rogers, lead chemist from the STURP project) https://vimeo.com/126080645 bornagain77
Even atheists can be seduced by The Dark Side. I wonder how many have converted to Islam or Hinduism or Sikhism or Buddhism or Taoism. Even I would be up for conversion to Jedi-ism if someone were able to demonstrate the power of The Force to me> Seversky
I was in a philosophical debating group, so the strongest pitch I saw was probably the way my Catholic friends rooted their moral, philosophical, or aesthetic arguments in their theology. ... When I went to college…I met smart Christians for the first time, and it was a real shock. -- Leah Libresco
A suggestion for atheists on the journey to Catholicism: Don't settle for pseudo-Catholicism that no longer believes in the historicity of the Scriptures where the Early Church Fathers considered them to be historical. Continue on your journey all they way to orthodox Catholicism. And what is the difference? Catholics who are orthodox, along with St. Vincent of Lerins, a 5th century Catholic monk, believe that Catholics cannot, if they are to remain orthodox, hold beliefs regarding the interpretation of Sacred Scripture that are contrary to the unanimous agreement of the Fathers. The phrase unanimous agreement of the Fathers had a specific application as used at the Council of Trent (Fourth Session), and reiterated at the First Vatican Council (Dogmatic Decrees of the Vatican Council, chap. 2). I refer such journeying atheists to Vincent's Commonitory, the documents of those councils, and Leo XIII's encyclical Providentissimus Deus in which he cites those councils where they insist that orthodoxy is to be found in the unanimous agreement of the Fathers. Why is orthodoxy to be found there? Because Christ promised that He would send the Holy Spirit to the Church to guide it into all truth. (John 14:15-17,26; 16:13) The unanimous consent of the Fathers was the beginning of the fulfillment of those promises of Christ, which is an ongoing work of the Holy Spirit in the Church. And what is the belief of pseudo-Catholics? I will let the late Raymond Brown, renowned pseudo-Catholic Scripture Scholar speak for himself, in an excerpt from his book Responses to 101 Questions on the Bible.
Q. 64. What kind of evidence can be offered for something so miraculous as a virginal conception? One type of evidence is theological in nature. Many Christians understand biblical inspiration to mean that whatever the writer thought was inspired by God and inerrant. Consequently, when I say that both Matthew and Luke were thinking of a literal virginal conception, they would respond that then there can be no doubt that such a conception happened, since God guided the evangelists in every message they chose to communicate. In my judgment, Catholics do not share such a simple sense of biblical inerrancy. ...
He goes on to say that he personally accepts the virginal conception of Christ but says that "there are some Catholic systematic theologians who do not agree ..." The net effect is to raise doubts in the minds of Catholics about the virginal conception of Christ. He raises doubts about the bodily resurrection of Christ in his answer to question 52. He ignores the fact that the Fathers unanimously believed in the virginal conception of Christ and in His bodily resurrection. Contrast Brown's drivel with Benedict XV's encyclical Spiritus Paraclitus. There Benedict cites the Early Church Fathers in his vehement defense of biblical inerrancy. Or see Benedict XVI's Verbum Domini, #35, where he warns that:
The lack of a hermeneutic of faith with regard to Scripture entails more than a simple absence; in its place there inevitably enters another hermeneutic, a positivistic and secularized hermeneutic ultimately based on the conviction that the Divine does not intervene in human history. According to this hermeneutic, whenever a divine element seems present, it has to be explained in some other way, reducing everything to the human element. This leads to interpretations that deny the historicity of the divine elements.
If you are going to become a Catholic, be sure to become an orthodox Catholic who believes that if God can bring the entire Universe into existence ex nihilo, we can believe everything else in the Scriptures the historicity of which the Fathers were led by the Holy Spirit to unanimously believe in. harry
Yes indeed, Why do the heathen rage? Psalm 2 : 1 Stephen Sparrow

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