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Has anyone else helped a person leave religion or god belief?

I ask because some people over the years think its a fools errand to debate or talk with god believers, that they are all trolls trying to convert atheist and agnostics. how do you separate the trolls from the genuine people looking for answers?

By MichaelSpinler8
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16 comments

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0

I have aided in changing a person who is very close to me. In fact one related to me.They discussed religion with me over a period of 50 years and just recently stated they have left the Catholic church after having been raised and educated in the church. I think the reason they converted was because I did not pursue them rather they came to me. There were no arguments , just relating the factors that made change. I felt very good about their decision and the path they took over time.

Marine Level 8 Nov 14, 2017

thats always best. those are the ones i have helped as well, they came to me

1

I have been a significant part in the conversion of my older sister and my mother to atheism. I kept poking holes over the years and finally the dams broke. I can't take full credit though, because they are both intelligent and fairly rational people.

hotmess69 Level 5 Nov 10, 2017
1

Working on it ... probably going to fail miserably.

Indoctrination goes deep.

DeeTee Level 7 Nov 9, 2017

they have to come to you, you cannot make a person think or hold the standard we do as atheist, you have to build value into this line of thinking. the people i have helped were asking questions and went and read some of the material i was sending them. when a person is determined not to challenge god belief, there is nothing you can do.

1

I have a friend that we just reconnected after losing touch. When we were hanging out at 16, she was Catholic and I was Christian. Then we lost touch for idk 2 or 3 years. We started hanging out again during when I was finally realizing I wasn't religious anymore. I would talk to her about my doubts and she would agree and say she wasn't so sure herself but still said she was Catholic. Not that I was shoving anything down her throat and she wasn't to me, we were just open and close and for me learning about agnosticism and atheism made me feel alone since I couldn't openly talk about it with my family. I finally opened up about it with her again and told her I never would've thought at 16 that I wouldn't believe anymore at 21. She said she was still questioning and we would have nice discussions about it. A week or two ago she finally said she was agnostic too. I think it's a blessing that when we started being friends again we both were going through the same thing and were able to talk to each other about it since we both come from crazy religious families. And it helped each other and I think me coming out first helped her come out later.

Other than that I've never really discussed religion to others. I would really like to get my sister to not believe anymore since to be quite honest, she doesn't even practice the religion anyways and her boyfriend is atheist too. She's just not ready for the conversation but I want to be like how my friend and I were and just be open and listen to her concerns and give advice and such. That's how I'll be if others want to openly talk about it too. I don't want to force anyone out though, or come off condescending either. Just, be ready when they are. Although, sometimes it's hard not to get defensive when people attack you for not believing. Even though I haven't told my mom I'm not religious, she pretty much has come to the conclusion and her and my sister jumped down my throat when my mom said she was donating a huge amount of money to a church when she dies and not leaving much for my sister and I. I wasn't debating that my sister and I should get the money that wasn't my issue, it was that I would rather her give it to a good charity that will actually make a difference instead of a church. And oh boy, I didn't hear the end of that anytime soon. Got told I was terrible by both of them so I realized that I won't be able to talk about it anytime soon.

1

I got my wife out which got her 4 kids out, which will get the grandkids out, those are the only ones that I can say for sure but, I worked on many other some of them left organized religion but, was I the reason I can't say. I didn't do this on line.

well done.

Impressive. Very glad to hear you did that.

1

I never actively try to change people's beliefs, but I think it happens quite often. Or rather, I think I help people acknowledge the doubts they have and accept them. I'm really up front with being an atheist, and that lets people talk about the things they doubt. Since I used to actively read the Bible to look at the inconsistencies, I usually piggy back off of their comments and give them more to think about. There are tons of people I know who used to be actively/openly Christian who label themselves as "not religious" or "agnostic" now. I don't think I "converted" them, but I was certainly there to help them find their own answers.

CestMoi Level 3 Oct 26, 2017

thats all you can do. i don't seek to change someones beliefs, unless they make a claim that i know is not true, then i take them to task.
generally though when i help someone out of a faith based world view, into a logical one, its through demonstration, and passing on sources of information. because they want to learn. not the ones who want to argue with you, and call it a debate. what gets my goat the most is when they change the dynamic of what an atheist is, then argue about it. straw men tactics .

2

I wish. These people are so indoctrinated in their beliefs that even the good lard couldn't convince them. I read about a psychological term called 'the backfire effect,' which simply means that no matter how logical and sensible your arguments is, and no matter how good you are at arguing it, it will only serve to further reinforce those false beliefs that people hold dear. People are generally allergic to admitting they or their parents, teachers, preachers were wrong, and are not self-corrective like those on this panel. Like the great Mark Twain said, 'it's easy to fool people, but nearly impossible to convince them that they've been fooled." Enough said.

why they have to come to you, you can lead a god believer to information, but you can't make them think.

4

When I first moved into my neighborhood (in the bible belt) the first thing I was asked was what church I belong to. This woman went to church 4 times per week and belonged to a prayer group. When I said 'none' the neighbor insisted I come with her to her church, which I did out of politeness though I told her that I was an Atheist. She is the sweetest person ever, so I invited her for coffee. In my living room is a large oil abstract of a nude and she was shocked and said I really should it down. I laughed and ignored the statement. A couple of days she came over to give me a 'come to Jesus talk, saying that she was worried about my soul. I listened with genuine interest and then asked the usual atheist questions about her belief and she listened and answered. The seeds of doubt sprouted. Several months later, I asked her if she was OK, because she was home a lot more. She had stopped going to church. I asked her why and in essence she said the magic had gone out of it and that now she had more time for family and home. We are still friends and speak often. Several times she asked how to deal with her devout family and I simply tell her to love them, no matter what their beliefs are.

what a wonderful story, good on you.

1

My mother and sister. It took forever but both are Atheists now.

paul1967 Level 8 Oct 20, 2017
1

Not in a direct way, I suppose. I would never claim credit for that particular thing. I just give them a piece of my mind and let them be. Free will.

3

I have had a couple of friends over my lifetime who have engaged in discussion of such philosophical ideas with me, and eventually come to the conclusion that they agreed with my point of view.

nice.
i feel its a win, if i can at least get them, up to speed on evolution and the sciences. though a few have held on to their god.

4

The best thing to do to convert them is to ask them to read to book of Genesis and ask them if they believe:

  1. Humans came into being a few days after the universe was created.
  2. A talking snake tricked a rib-woman into eating a magic apple.
  3. Humans once lived for 1000 years, but god changed the number of telomere pairs in every cell of their bodies to reduce their life spans to 100 years.
  4. There was a global flood that left absolutely no evidence behind.
BD66 Level 7 Oct 8, 2017

LOL

And that works?! I think most of us spend our time trying to reason w/people who do actually believe those crazy things. Unfortunately, logic will not sink in to most zealots, and they continue to believe the priests, reverends, preachers, etc. and think the scientists are the eternal fibbers. I asked one of these people if they'd ever visited a museum, and he stated that all the old artifacts and reconstruction of dinosaurs and early man are a fabrication.

4

I would like to think I had a guiding hand for a couple of people. See the thing is, is I don't think it is possible to (de)convert random people on the street or the internet. This is something they have to figure out for themselves and on their own terms. All we can be is a hand guiding them towards the right answers. We cannot be harsh about it, we cannot be cruel, all we can do is explain to their our point of view or carefully point out flaws in their own.

Nicsnort Level 6 Oct 6, 2017

i agree, you cannot forse it on them, i have had people come to me, because they knew i was an atheist. i know i helped them leave theism, in some cases for a deistic belief, and in 2 cases out right atheist. they are far and few between experiences. i spent 14 years on pal talk owning an atheist based room, so i had the chance to help a few along the way. my view on most believers is you can't fix stupid. they have to want to learn.

4

As an apostate, I find the notion that no one can be convinced to be an over generalization. There are most certainly those who stubbornly cling to their bullshit and their hatred because closed minds gather no thoughts. But there are those who can be approached with logic and dissection of thought and process.

But to answer the question, no, I haven't lead to the deconversion of anyone else as of yet but I am open to that process.

3

I had an experience when I was ~19yrs old, and in college that convinced me to stop playing with 'de-converting' religious people. Seventh Day Adventism is all about religious debate, and I was attending my grandparents' church as an open atheist (I was living with my grandparents because it was cheaper than dorms), so I was not rusty wrt my Bible verses and general Bible knowledge. A pair of Mormon missionaries stopped me when I was on my way back to work, on a slow Saturday when I was really bored, so I invited them up to my office and let them do their spiel. Then I started poking holes in their beliefs, systematically. I had in fact been reading and dissecting the Book of Mormon the previous summer, so I knew more than they did about their own religious text, and I was good at those sorts of debates(or battles, as I saw them then). I won, at least enough that the younger one was very clearly shaken, and the older one was not that much better off. So, great, I might have saved a young man from religion, not just from the LDS church. But I hadn't given him anything to replace his religion with, and he was going back into a world steeped in Mormon teachings. If what I said stuck he would be in serious trouble, having just lost the foundation his life was built on, all at once. If he got over it, he will probably always still have that naggling doubt, but not necessarily the wherewithal to do anything about it. He wasn't happier, and I didn't gain anything more than a notch in my belt, and a guilty knowledge that that poor 18yr-old kid was perfectly happy till I got to him.
I still answer theological and philosophical questions thoroughly and honestly when people ask, but I no longer knowingly bait poor unsuspecting Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, Campus Crusaders, etc. into religious battles.

JamieB Level 5 Oct 3, 2017

i enjoyed your story, but i don't feel its our place to replace religion with anything. you did give him some critical thinking lessons, much needed. the idea that there has to be a substitute for religion is a religious notion. to use an analogy, what did you replace your santa belief with? assuming you believed in the santa myth as a child.

I happen to agree with Michael. Thank you.

4

I never engage in discourse on Christian blogs or on their social media pages, whose sole purpose is to proselytize. The only blogs authored by Christians I may interact with on their turf are those who post for other reasons and religion never comes up. I am an active blogger, and predominately blog about religion and it's impact on the brain and society. I've also shared my own personal experiences. Many of the people who follow my blog are evangelical / fundamentalists. I know this because when they subscribe, they are usually bloggers within the WordPress community. My email notification will give me a url to their blog. They'll get a notification each time I publish a post, but they rarely challenge me on my turf, and I've been blogging since 2010. I take no prisoners, and they know it. Lol

I've become acquainted with the resident Christian trolls from other atheists blogs and groups within the WP and social media community. I weed them out that way. I have helped people leave religion and god belief, but it was always on their terms. Usually, they will leave a comment or send me an email informing me that they'd been lurking for a while, and my posts and/or comments (on my blog and others) helped them with questions they had.

i agree , i don't go to their turf, i think that is no better then the christian trolls on atheist sites and blogs. i agree with the concept of letting them come to me, and pointing them in the right direction. be it answering their questions or pointing them to some scientific site or even a historical one, based on the types of questions they have.

Thanks for your feedback, Michael.

Communication is always a two-way street. If you find that everything seem to be going against you then certainly you are on the wrong lane. (Murphy's Law)

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