Where Ex-Atheists Come From

The blue pill is religion. The red pill is atheism. Cypher represents an ex-atheist.

Where Ex-Atheists Come From

Every once in a while, we read or hear about an atheist who has converted to Christianity or Islam or Judaism. I just can’t wrap my mind around what that process must entail. How do you move from atheism to religion: rationality to superstition? It just doesn’t make sense. However, it’s a bit easier to understand if the ex-atheist became a Buddhist, deist or pantheist: these belief systems aren’t really full-blown religions – they don’t have a personal God who meddles in human affairs or performs miracles or answers prayers.

Atheists have, ostensibly, reasoned their way free of superstition, religion and God(s). This implies an aptitude for the application of logic. Yet we sometimes run across atheists who see conspiracy theories everywhere they turn . . . or who soak up Islamic, vegan, or other extremist propaganda without critical analysis . . . or who get suckered into New Age bullshit, like pyramid power . . . or who are prone to anthropomorphizing . . . or who reason viscerally, by feelings, rather than logic. These kinds of things make me question if their atheism is well grounded in reason. If they reason so poorly with other issues, how well did they reason with God and religion?

Then it struck me . . . this is where those inexplicable ex-atheists come from. They never really grounded themselves in freethought. They may have wanted to . . . but simply failed. Fortunately, ex-atheists are a rare breed. I guess that’s testimony to the staying power of enlightenment. So now I have a plausible theory for what might actually be happening: some people identify with freethought but have never really freed their thoughts. Their atheism was never really solid in the first place. It’s not so much that they’re ex-atheists; rather, they’re failed atheists.

I know that nobody has actually ‘freed their thoughts’ entirely. We’re human, not Vulcan. So I suppose it must be a matter of degrees. Nonetheless, I think most atheists are reasonably grounded in logic and that there’s no chance in hell they’ll ever renounce logic in favor of superstition — not even for an 11th-hour, or death-bed, conversion.

Most ex-atheists who adopt a formal religion probably never really shook themselves loose from God’s grip. To them, God is a meme they can’t ignore.


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13 thoughts on “Where Ex-Atheists Come From”

  1. I’m not familiar with the “life comes from life” (i.e. biogenesis) theory you speak of. I am, however, familiar with its opposite: abiogenesis. It’s the “life comes from non-life” theory. And it is, indeed, speculative. Darwin’s Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection, however, is NOT speculation. Evolution itself is a fact as certain as gravity. It’s the natural selection part that’s a theory (albeit backed up by mountains of consistent evidence from diverse scientific disciplines). The Big Bang theory has not been proven but the expansion of the universe clearly points to the singularity it undoubtedly comes from. It’s a pretty solid theory. But you can call it speculation if you want.

    I would suggest you continue your education and, by the time you get to high school, I think you might have learned enough to know how foolish you are to be so ignorant of your ignorance.


  2. so is darwins theory, life comes from life theory, big bang theory – all speculations… every human have these defects imperfect senses,mind, – who have tendency to commit mistakes, who can be under illusion and who have cheating propensities…

    Life has come from life in the past, is coming in the present and will come in the future… but scientists say life came from chemicals in the past and they’ll do it in future… so past will happen in future but not in present?!!

    “never run behind a bus,woman or cosmological theory, one goes another follows” – pluto part of solar system, its not – sun is stationary, its not … our solar system is vortex… there is nothing concrete from the side of science.


    1. Kelvin spoke of God, spiritualiy and religion in the same pantheistic way that Einstein did. This quote, for example:

      “The most beautiful and deepest experience a man can have is the sense of the mysterious. It is the underlying principle of religion as well as all serious endeavor in art and science. He who never had this experience seems to me, if not dead, then at least blind.” ~Albert Einstein

      Here’s some more quotes for you . . .

      “Gods are fragile things; they may be killed by a whiff of science or a dose of common sense.” ~Chapman Cohen

      “Our ignorance is God; what we know is science.” ~Robert Ingersoll

      “Believers can have both religion and science as long as there is no attempt to make A non-A, to make reality unreal, to turn naturalism into supernaturalism.”~Michael Shermer

      “Religion is something left over from the infancy of our intelligence; it will fade away as we adopt reason and science as our guidelines.” ~Bertrand Russell

      “ID creationists don’t really expect to win arguments with scientists about science, but they do want to have arguments with scientists so the public might think they have a substantial case. They want the public, not scientists, to judge. What could be fairer? Unfortunately, it’s easy to sound like a scientist among people not well versed in a particular specialty.” ~Bruce Grant

      “Nobody, certainly, will deny that the idea of the existence of an omnipotent, just, and omnibeneficent personal God is able to accord man solace, help, and guidance; also, by virtue of its simplicity it is accessible to the most undeveloped mind. But, on the other hand, there are decisive weaknesses attached to this idea in itself, which have been painfully felt since the beginning of history. That is, if this being is omnipotent, then every occurrence, including every human action, every human thought, and every human feeling and aspiration is also His work; how is it possible to think of holding men responsible for their deeds and thoughts before such an almighty Being? In giving out punishment and rewards He would to a certain extent be passing judgment on Himself. How can this be combined with the goodness and righteousness ascribed to Him? The main source of the present-day conflicts between the spheres of religion and of science lies in this concept of a personal God.” ~Albert Einstein

      “The more a man is imbued with the ordered regularity of all events the firmer becomes his conviction that there is no room left by the side of this ordered regularity for causes of a different nature. For him neither the rule of human nor the rule of divine will exists as an independent cause of natural events. To be sure, the doctrine of a personal God interfering with natural events could never be refuted, in the real sense, by science, for this doctrine can always take refuge in those domains in which scientific knowledge has not yet been able to set foot. But I am persuaded that such behavior on the part of the representatives of religion would not only be unworthy but also fatal. For a doctrine which is able to maintain itself not in clear light but only in the dark, will of necessity lose its effect on mankind, with incalculable harm to human progress. In their struggle for the ethical good, teachers of religion must have the stature to give up the doctrine of a personal God, that is, give up that source of fear and hope which in the past placed such vast power in the hands of priests. In their labors they will have to avail themselves of those forces which are capable of cultivating the Good, the True, and the Beautiful in humanity itself. This is, to be sure, a more difficult but an incomparably more worthy task.” ~Albert Einstein

      “The most beautiful and deepest experience a man can have is the sense of the mysterious. It is the underlying principle of religion as well as all serious endeavor in art and science. He who never had this experience seems to me, if not dead, then at least blind.” ~Albert Einstein

      “Think of how many religions attempt to validate themselves with prophecy. Think of how many people rely on these prophecies, however vague, however unfulfilled, to support or prop up their beliefs. Yet has there ever been a religion with the prophetic accuracy and reliability of science? No other human institution comes close.” ~Carl Sagan


  3. I have encountered this a few times on this site, and I feel it’s also very important to look at from the aspect that the ex-atheists were probably atheists out of some sort of principal than research – and if they didn’t know or understand the research in the first place, it would be easy for them in their own minds to reasonably go back to religion.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. They are not failed atheists, they are failing theists. If you never shake off the superstition you are still a theist. It is not impossible for a free thinker to change their mind and accept religion. Never underestimate the ability of anyone, including yourself, to do dumbass shit.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If they claimed atheism, then later adopt a formal religion, I call them failed atheists. But your point is well taken . . . except that, for a while, they were closer to atheism than theism; at least outwardly. Deep down they did not commit. They were undecided or perhaps agnostic.

      But I’m talking in general terms. It’s not like it’s impossible to be a committed atheist and convert to Islam or Christianity. It would be most unusual . . . but not impossible.

      We have examples of renowned atheists, like Anthony Flew, who abandoned atheism for deism, saying that DNA was too complex to not be designed. If a philosopher can get derailed, I suppose it could happen to anybody . . . except you and me, of course 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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