Has the SDMB ever converted a theist to atheism or vice versa?

Can anyone recall a genuine “conversion” of a doper either to or from atheism? Not just an “I see your point” but
an honest-to-goodness “I’m gonna go tell my priest to fuck off” conversion.

Polycarp has certainly reflamed my respect for theists which was somewhat dimmed before. So I am much more theistic than atheistic these days.


The SDMB was responsible to a large extent for my deconversion from fundamentalist Christianity. I have always been a trivia fan and one day I stumbled upon the Straight Dope. After reading all the articles by Cecil (PBUH! :wink: ) I started looking for something else to read. I found the message board, which was a new media to me, not being so internet savvy at the time. Given that I enjoy a vigorous debate, I found myself browsing through Great Debates and reading the religious discussions. For the first time in my sheltered fundamentalist life I discovered that there are people who reject the traditional claims of conservative Christianity for sound, well thought out reasons. I was confronted by questions that I did not have the answer to, namely “why should anyone accept the truth claims of the Bible?”. I investigated, went to educated apologists at my local fundagelical megachurch, and read all the books by McDowell, Strobel, etc. Needless to say, I found their reasoning lacking. I searched further, and read up on other views of Christianity - specifically the liberal view as espoused by folks like Jack Spong, et. al. These views were more satisfying on a fundamental level - at least they admitted to the inconsistencies in the Bible and offered a reasonable way around them (although some posters disagree, see the current mess in the Pit), but I was still struck by theism’s lack of necessity. I can posit the same compassionate, open minded way of life as your best Unitarian or liberal Christian, but without all the effort required to maintain such a religion. So I am an atheist, of the weak kind if you know what that means. But some of my best friends are Christians! :wink:


Damn this is good to hear. If either of you could link to threads that were seminal in your change in point of view I’d love to see them.

Yes, at least in part. I came here basically looking for in-depth discussions of religion because my faith was faltering. Since I’ve been here, my faith has officially gone on vacation.

So, you could say that the SDMB just gave me the push I needed and that I would have “converted” anyway, or you could say that the SDMB converted me.

(If anyone cares, it’s the question of free will and evil that I absolutely cannot overcome. I can’t believe in any god I’ve ever been introduced to.)


Mars Horizon, do you have any previous thread titles that come to mind where you are taking the previous fundamentalist position? Because I too, would find them interesting to read from.

Bippy the Beardless, what specifically was it from Polycarp that reframed your position from atheist to more theist? I hope it wasn’t just his impecabble manners that did you in, and there was a good argument or two that you found convincing. And do you remember any previous threads where you were taking the atheist postion too? Just like to see one of these conversions taking place as I read some of the posts before and after the conversion.


I will look but FWIW, a lot of the process I described took place while doing my favorite thing - lurking. :slight_smile: There’s a reason I have 643 posts in 3.5 years - I like reading more than posting. But as I said - I will look.

I will look but FWIW, a lot of the process I described took place while doing my favorite thing - lurking. :slight_smile: There’s a reason I have 643 posts in 3.5 years - I like reading more than posting. But as I said - I will look.

I’ve been a weak atheist for thirty years, and while the SDMB hasn’t changed that, it has considerably raised my opinion of believers.

I can say that the SDMB has made me re-evaluate my positions. It hasn’t changed them, but has made me more willing to go in-depth into the tenets of my faith and figure out why it says what it does.

The SDMB is a very intelligent collective group of people. I’m not going to be worthy of this crowd if I can’t support my position beyond a few Bible verses.

I’ve gone from a wishy-washy agnostic to a hard atheist. I’ve referred to the SDMB more than once as an intellectual autoclave: If you subject yourself to it honestly, you can burn away the irrelevancies and the fat in your reasoning. As a result of the philosophical discipline enforced on the Dope, I’ve formed what I consider to be a well-informed and thoroughly consistent view of the world, supported by solid evidence and careful reasoning.

But at the same time, along the lines of what F. U. Shakespeare said, I’ve simultaneously worked on my perception of the faithful, such that I no longer think of religious people as stupid and/or delusional. Well, most of them, anyway; there are ignorant goons in every club, my own included. Along with my atheism, I’ve solidified a philosophy of human experience that permits me to believe what I believe while understanding why other people believe differently.

So, a conversion? Not exactly. But refinement and polish? Absolutely.

Sounds like you need to change your login :wink:

Well I had enjoyed and admired Poly’s theological and philosophical debating for a few months before I released he also belonged to a particular Episcopalian church. I had before believed such common sense debating was non existant in followers of organized religions. That linked to the fact that I have always been nominally an Anglican made me decide their wasn’t necessarily the divide between being ( logical, wise, and good ) and following an organized religion that I had noticed in so many other supposedly religious people.
My belief in a God is an evolving thing, and this board helps it evolve. My theories and beliefs are far from the mainstream of any religion I know, but Poly made me believe that religion doesn’t necessarily bind people to a set of blind faiths.
My naming of Polycarp does not mean that others here haven’t also helped changed or sharpen my ideas. Just I have a belief in what ‘good’ is and this extends to the belief that a God which does not meet my criteria of good is not a God worthy of worship or even respect. Poly ( despite being a member of an organized Christian church ) meets my definition of ‘good’ in a way that I would only hope to be able to meet my own definition of ‘good’.

I started an atheist and remain one, but like others here my view of theists has risen. My relatives, although I love them dearly, have some pretty ignorant views that colored my view of theistic thought.

For example, my Mom is against homosexuality because of that particular Leviticus line, but when I point out the same chapter has all sorts of other restrictions happily ignored by her church (clothes of multiple fibers and such), she can offer no explanation.

Because of SD, I have had to read more into things than I ever had before, and I found myself doing a lot more research.

SD made me study my Bible more, and from that, I have learned things I didn’t know were even in there and I am greatful for that.

Because of SD I have become a stronger Christian.

I started as a devout Mormon and now I’m a hard atheist.

And yes, I credit the SDMB for the change.

I could have sworn that I replied to this thread.

The SD hasn’t had that much of an impact on my relationship with God, but it has had an impact on my religion, defined as the cultural norms that surround my particular brand of Christianity. As an example, while I’m still not a fan of homosexuality, I’m now in favor of gay marriage. Stuff like that.

Well I am still a Christian even after reading many threads here, but my position on some issues have changed, eg I lean more to the evolution side rather than creationism.

I’m really glad that there are Christian intellectuals here defending the faith. It makes for really rigorous debate.

I was a nontheist before, and I’ve yet found no reason to change.

However, in contrast to others here, my opinion of theists in general has dropped, not risen.

I’ve had a few hardcore theist friends, and with most of them, we’ve reached an equilibrium- they don’t bring it up, I don’t argue it. One of them was a lapsing (probably Christian) before he got married, and was pulled back in. He now lives what appears to me to be a less-than-happy life being regularly and frequently browbeaten, henpecked and taken advantage of by his wife, his mother-in-law and his church.

But in general, my pre-SDMB opinion of theists in general was relatively middling; I didn’t think them necessarily dumb or hateful, perhaps simply confused at best, merely undereducated at worst.

IE, if you’ve never read any book but the Bible, you can’t really be expected to know any better.

Here, I have seen theists of various stripes argue at excessive length and with equally excessive vitriol, the absolute logical impossibilities of, for example, the Bible, as if they were hard, unquestionable, verifiable facts.

I have seen them shrug off inconvenient facts and reply with another Bible Quote[sup]tm[/sup].

When the tsunami of such inconveniences gets too much, they either duck and run, or simply say some variation of “that’s Satan trying to deceive us” or try to appeal to emotion and claim God is simply trying to show us His Love.

I have seen more drive-by proselyting here than anywhere else, even in real life.

I have seen Jack Chick. A phenomenon I was unaware of prior to visiting the SDMB, I could not honestly view the first few Chick tracts I read as authentic. I would have bet large amounts of money they were excellent and subtle parodies, doing for the Church what The Onion does for newspapers.

I can fathom no brand of religion that would allow someone like him to continue to speak in it’s name.

As I continued to read the SDMB and discovered more and more about the many fractions of Christians, and Baptists, and Protestants, and Jews, and Islamics, and even Buddhists, Shintoists and Wiccans, and the more I read about how each denomination considers the others, the lower my opinion of them dropped.

Doc Nickel writes:

> I can fathom no brand of religion that would allow someone like
> him to continue to speak in it’s name.

Does Jack Chick speak in anybody’s name except his own? Has anybody of any significance ever recommended Jack Chick as a guide to improving one’s faith? Chick has been around a long time, since I remember him from 1970, and I’ve never met anyone who took him seriously.