Ive read and heard people over the years claiming that they were once an atheist, but no longer. This is a curious statement to make. Of course, I’ve never met anyone who’s said that to me, these are all articles I’ve read or people on some television show making that claim. No one ever seems to want to challenge what is said.
Occasionally those same people are asked what made them want to leave atheism, as if being an atheist is akin to leaving one job for a new one. If I were the interviewer though, I would want to know a few things first:
Why did you become an atheist in the first place?
I think the answer to this question is crucial. People are atheists for varying reasons. There is no one answer. It’s possible the person came from a repressive religious household and when they were old enough, were able to break away. The experience could easily explain a rejection of god.
Why did you return to belief in god?
Based on the answer to the first question, it becomes more than possible that there never was an actual disbelief, just anger or possibly disappointment in religion. This is why so many non-atheists consider us to just be angry at god. It was easier to blame a god for their circumstance than the actual villan.
Of course, this answer automatically answers the third:
Why did you leave atheism for religion?
The person never actually lost their belief. They never actually considered what being an atheist is and referring to themselves as atheist actually meant nothing.
There may be many more reasons other than the example I outlined but I find it reasonable to accept that these people having made this claim were either hurt, or maybe just disappointed with their religious belief. I think these people looked at atheism as being just another religion, just one that is non-theistic. They became disillusioned that atheism is just what it purports to be: a non-belief in any god. There are no rules to live by, there is no book of philosophophy that atheists quote. We have no mythology.
People are looking for something to believe in. Religion for most, fills whatever void is in their lives. I understand that, having been there myself. I realized, as probably others have, that religion didn’t actually provide any answers I was actually looking for and that it was up to me to provide those answers in my life. No one, no religion, no god, can do that.
Atheism isn’t about unconditional love and forgiveness as religion preaches; it’s simply a person not accepting that there is something greater out there than themselves. We appreciate this life for what it is and live our lives accordingly. Right and wrong are not written in a book, and ethics isnt just a word.
Atheism isn’t a light switch and those that cavalierly think it is, don’t really underatand atheists.
11 thoughts on “Atheism is Not a Light Switch”
I’ve been an atheist for 38 years and have no inclination to go back to any organized religion. I know it’s all based on bovine effluent designed to keep people down.
If find that people who may not have had much of a religious upbringing are those who when they find a religion, will claim they were atheists. Lack of religion does not mean one is Atheist.
Similarly, people who grew up with a religious background but may have rejected it for one reason or the other, became “atheist”… and then later on in life went back to religion… it’s really not for me to say if they were truly “atheist” at some point. Although I do have to question the switch from “there is a god” to “there’s no god” to “there is a god” again 🙂 Maybe they just questioned their faith at some period of time.
Good thoughts in your blog, Thanks for writing!
Another example I was considering, but didn’t want to pursue in this post are those on social media that claim they were atheists and then converted to Christianity. The reason is that those claims don’t actually have any credibility in my mind is usually they are people just looking to poke at atheists, looking for some sort of discussion/debate and an affirmation of their ego.
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Some people simply must keep looking for something that fills their empty spot and that they think will make them whole. Trying on religions and other such “soothers” takes them from one addiction to another. It may well be thought of as an atheism phase when they are there and rabidly defending their choice.
Still…if I were to have an “experience” of God, I would assume that I was not on stable mental health grounds and act accordingly; at least call my sister. I would not begin to believe again.
I caught a little criticism for this post because I supplied no “proof” of my assertion, so I immediately wrote another, supplying just that:https://consskep.com/2018/03/23/why-do-some-people-leave-atheism/
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