“I used to be an atheist”. What? Yes, I had turned on the television and there was a commercial for Prager U, a conservative organization that, as far as I know, produces short instructional videos about issues that conservatives, in general, are concerned about. The commercial has several young people in it, and one, a young woman, is the one that claimed to once be an atheist. A few seconds later, she’s back on the screen saying how she learned about god from Prager U.
I have to say that I’m skeptical about this young woman ever being an atheist. Maybe in name only, but not someone that embraced atheism and ever thought about what atheism really means. It is a personal choice and as I have written on other occasions, atheism is not a light switch that you can just turn on and off. I tend to belueve people like her became atheists because it was popular with friends or something else. It could be that she was forced, as a child to go to church and as soon as she was able to leave home, she did and at that point, disavowed her former church and belief. I know several people who have done this but none of them claim to be atheists.
The same with religion. I didn’t give up my belief without a long time considering everything about that belief. It wasn’t days, or even a few weeks. It was a long time before I could say that I didn’t believe anymore and longer before I referred to myself as an atheist. so excuse my skepticism when I see someone on television say that they used to be an atheist. I’m not calling her a liar, she may have thought, in fact, she was, an atheist. Just because you don’t go to religious services doesn’t make you a non-believer – just lazy. I know some that believe in god, even Jesus, that haven’t been to church in decades – not even on holidays.
It’s a nice soundbite for the advertisement though. “Look”, some will say, “the content at Prager can turn an atheist into a believer.”. It’s a slick ad though, with multiple young people, racially diverse, showing, without being overt, than conservatism is diverse (it is, but it bugs me when it has to be stated out loud in some way). I honestly do not know why they even included the “atheist” in the ad. I guess it’s because we atheists are viewed so poorly that it may have been an attempt to let atheists in general know that theres another way. Sure.
I’ve seen a lot of the same, online. someone, in their bio on Twitter that declares themself a former atheist. Sure. Of course it’s possible. I can’t discount all claims, but I tend to believe that even thse people were never really atheists. Again, it’s not something, from my own experience at that of many that I know, you just wake up one morning and decide you are. Unlike being a Christian, where you can just say a silent prayer and – whammo – you’re going to heaven! Most of us that came from some religious belief, well, it was hard to come to the conclusion that we just could not believe anymore. Some sacrificed family, Others? Friends.
It’s okay though because, at least for myself and some I know, we are finally where we believe we’re supposed to be in life. It hasn’t hurt me professionally, and only minimally personally, to be an atheist. I’ve actually discovered that most people don’t care. I may depend on your geographic location though. I do know some that are not “out” atheists simply because of the area where they live (very Christian). That’s okay. It’s called “survival” and I’d probably be the same way if I lived where they live. I just think that, well, it’s almost 2021 and time for people to get over it.
Your employer can’t legally fire you because your an atheist and if your family rejects you (BTW: mine DIDN’T), then maybe there’s another issue there besides you being an atheist. I don’t know. I try not to judge, but it’s difficult not to have an opinion. there’s certainly no upside to being an atheist – no bonus at work, no community awards pending.
Maybe it does this young women in the Prager advertisement well, for saying she’s a “former atheist”. Well, if it’s actually true, good for her. I wish her nothing but the best in her life. But please, please stop intimating that being an atheist is something bad. You don’t convert anyone with that attitude.