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EvC Forum Side Orders Coffee House Creationist Shortage

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Author Topic:   Creationist Shortage
Member (Idle past 3049 days)
Posts: 504
From: Juneau, Alaska, USA
Joined: 03-22-2004

Message 284 of 415 (668863)
07-25-2012 8:25 AM
Reply to: Message 277 by marc9000
07-24-2012 7:42 PM

Re: What's the purpose here?
If your goal is to find examples of people who have become atheists because they learned about the ToE or because they wanted be sexually active without guilt, I have no doubt you can find examples. But I do think it is a somewhat narrow view to find a few examples and claim an explanatory variable for the whole. My suspicion is that when someone goes through a conversion event, any conversion event, there is a complex story around it that is lost when summarized by "I became X when Y happened...". Here is an example.
My father in law went from being devoutly religious to an atheist about 8 years ago. His turning point came about a year after his wife of 40 years was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor, and the effects of a very long, painful, and degrading death were starting (almost three years of ever-increasing seizures, violent and profane outbursts, etc.). What is significant is that his church taught a version of the prosperity gospel, that through clean living, evangelism, tithing, etc. that people would not only have financial prosperity but also long and healthy lives. So while this was happening he went to talk to a church leader for counseling. He was told that while his faith was obviously strong, the fact that his wife was only getting worse was because her faith wasn't strong (it was a lot more complex than that, but I am trying to be brief). It goes without saying that he was livid.
Now to be fair, when he talked to other church members, they all agreed that the pastor he had spoken to was out of line and insensitive. But (and this is the important part) no one disagreed with the message, just that it was worded poorly and perhaps too soon. So over the next few months he starting finding fault with his church's doctrine, then Christianity in general, and finally all belief in the supernatural.
What I find fascinating about his ordeal is that he explained to my wife and I (we, at the time, were the only atheists he knew). that for decades he felt like he had a non-functioning part of his brain. He would hear something in church, and would think "Wait, that doesn't sound plausible..." but would immediately bury it and never think about again. These things were mysteries that he wasn't smart enough to understand. But during this tragedy all of it came under scrutiny. His wife's illness and passing was the starting factor, but it was a lifetime of being lied to that ultimately led to his rejection of belief.
Now to go back to the beginning of this post regarding over-simplification. After he publically left the church he found out that his deconversion was periodically mentioned in various sermons. They would give him a one line description such as, "one member became angry at God when his wife got cancer, and thought he could hurt his creator by claiming not to belive in him". No mention of the other factors. I suspect that every single testimonial that is summed up by "I became an atheist when I learned about evolution in college" carries with it a much longer and more complex history.
And on another issue, when you said:
marc9000 writes:
Again, obvious in those testimonials. "They want to be loved by people" - plenty of mushiness in those testimonials (and responses to them) to vouch for that.
I cannot help but be reminded of the dozens of church testimonials I heard growing up about how they had hit rock bottom before being saved. In retrospect there seemed to almost be a competitivness. The farther they had fallen, the more "amens" and mushiness they would get from the parish.
Edited by Lithodid-Man, : No reason given.

Doctor Bashir: "Of all the stories you told me, which were true and which weren't?"
Elim Garak: "My dear Doctor, they're all true"
Doctor Bashir: "Even the lies?"
Elim Garak: "Especially the lies"

This message is a reply to:
 Message 277 by marc9000, posted 07-24-2012 7:42 PM marc9000 has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 291 by marc9000, posted 07-26-2012 7:44 PM Lithodid-Man has not replied

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