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I’m a member of the community site ThinkAtheist, and one active forum discussion [NOTE: this discussion is not available any longer 🙁 ] was sparked by question to atheists who “used to be deeply religious or who used to really have faith, especially those of view who have de-converted recently.” I will post my response below, but I’d like to hear your reactions as well.

Question: [W]hat chance do you give to the possibility of reconverting or going back to the religion you left? My [non-believing] friend maintained that many people for whom religion was a fundamental part of their life will eventually go back to their old faith, and possibly in a big way.

I think that of course, it will depend on the person, and how convinced they were when they became atheists in the first place; also, I think people who have had very bad experiences with their religion, and have finally escaped, will never go back to it.

Would I go back?

Since I left faith because of an intellectual search instead of an emotional reaction or difficult experience (such as Christians being mean to me, being angry at god because of a death in the family, etc.), I don’t think it’s likely that I will ever return to being a Christian like I was before. I was sincerely passionate in my belief and I studied a lot, read much, and loved being a Jesus-follower.

But since I don’t see any evidence for a deity, do not believe there is a higher power, and above all I absolutely reject the deity portrayed in the Christian bible, I don’t see why I’d return to being religious. I don’t think any man-made religion would satisfy me or make sense.

Plus, atheism is freeing! There’s nothing wrong with it. Nothing is lacking. Why would I switch back to something so ridiculous and make-believe?

Would you go back? Let us know in the comments.

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73 thoughts on “Would You Go Back to Faith?”

TheSecretAtheist · January 6, 2011 at 11:57 pm

I’ve only been able to admit to myself my disbelief for just under a year now, but I doubt that I could ever go back to Christianity. I have seen enough proof that the Christian religion is false, and that the god of that religion does not exist, that I couldn’t go back there. Even were there to be something that proved that god’s existence, as impossible as that would be, I don’t think I could worship him.

greateighthsin · January 7, 2011 at 12:00 am

I was by no means a strong believer, but would I go back to that, or even consider going deeper? No. I am naturally skeptical of everything and naturally use science and logic to justify the world around me. I need hard evidence to believe in any claim, not someone’s first or third person story. It’s not even just religion that I’m like this with: bigfoot, UFOs, ghosts, and so on. Even scientific claims and fellow atheists get my grimace at times.

Kirby Clendenon · January 13, 2011 at 4:51 pm

Though I am somewhere between a soft atheist and an agnostic, I very much agree with you that I could not go back to faith. At least not the God of the Christian Faith. I was raised and continued in a conservative Christian faith until I was 50, then I became a Charismatic Christian/Bible Thumper (Elder for 3 years), and finally decided that I had given it my best but could not with good reason continue the charade. I feel free as you do, howbeit, a little naked when I attend Christian funerals :-), but it feels good not to be relying upon and believing a lie. I have written a book and published it on how and why I made this change in a book called “Surrender of Sovereignty.” It is available on Amazon.com. Sorry for the shameless plug, but blogs like yours are the main places I find allies and friends. Keep up the good work and enjoyment of your freedom. P.S. I didn’t find Blogger on your RSS feed options. Is there any way you can include it?

dasunrisin · April 8, 2011 at 5:26 pm

First of all, thank you for this question, and your lovely blog.

I don’t think anyone can know for certain what they will do in the future. I certainly would have never thought as a young person that I would give up my “spirit-filled” Christianity in my late teens to early 20s.

That said, I don’t expect that I would ever return to that belief structure, though life in my extended family would be a lot easier if I did.

I would not pull the wool back over my eyes, knowing what I know now. There’s no retreat from the naked truth.

pumpkinic · May 17, 2011 at 3:37 am

I remember completely believing in god as a child – I had been told about him, I read about him, I prayed to him daily and we went to church every Sunday. I was baptised, then confirmed (at the age of about 11 or 12) into the church of England, and there was no reason for me to think any other way. I’d never been completely comfortable with the explanation for why dinosaurs don’t feature in the bible, but I’d sort of ignored that until early to mid teens, when there were other things that either didn’t feature or weren’t explained either. It didn’t take much longer for me to question the whole lot, and realise there was a world of alternative. It really is freeing to be atheist, but I have a very limited number of friends and family with whom I can discuss anything like this. At school my mates there thought I merely wished to be ‘different’ (braces, bad hair, and glasses like patio doors, I really needed something else to mark me out), one even going so far as to accept my decision, but wishing me to offer up a prayer on my deathbed ‘just in case’. Missing the point by a country mile.
So it’s not really a question of would I go back, as there is nothing to go back *to*. If I wanted to live in a fantasy world I’d be Buffy the Vampire Slayer, not a follower of religion.

Craig · May 31, 2011 at 6:47 pm

I struggle with all the labels. It feels as if they limit people.

BUT

I have faith. I think we need it to get out of bed in the morning. I just have faith in simpler, more immediate things, and things I cannot always articulate to others… nor do I feel compelled to do so… We all are entitled to see and feel and believe as we choose, but I don’t think we’re entitled to force that on others uninvited. Exchanging ideas is wonerful, until it becomes oppressive.

jessica · June 4, 2011 at 8:54 pm

i was baptized catholic & i also made my first communion. i remember always talking to my grandmother about religion/god. i clearly remember every time i would ask her a question about the bible or god she would ALWAYS give me the same damn answer every time. she would say to me, “don’t think about it. you just have to have faith.” yeah, well i did do that for many years, but as soon as i learned to think for myself, & started to read and study the bible, needless to say that is when i said to myself that all of this is complete nonsensical bullshit, so now i’m an atheist. thankfully i wasn’t completely brainwashed. christianity is vile & the “holy” bible is anything but holy & good. it is disgusting. it’s full of hypocrisy, contradictions, genocide, homicide, racism, sexism, slavery, discrimination etc., etc. in my honest opinion, religion is purely for control, and striking fear into the hearts of its followers. i will NEVER go back. i’m living a much happier life being an atheist.

    Clae · June 25, 2011 at 4:53 am

    You sound so happy you could burst.

    Baggs · August 29, 2011 at 3:10 pm

    The first and last time I asked a theologian a similar question I was very satisfied. I think that makes me glad that I didn’t consult a sunday school scholar about things that a theologian spent years studying. I wish you had done the same, although I doubt catholic groups still hire theologians on staff.

    But hey, we have the internet and google.

    Personally I got a problem with organizations controlled by humans and thus I consider myself without ties to a specific denomination while still holding the basic beliefs of Creation/Salvation/Trinity/Salvation through Grace alone.

    Enough of that.

    With the case of what you stated, you are talking about the OT most likely since you mentioned genocide etc.

    My personal version when I asked the theologian was.

    Why would God command “Thou shalt not kill” and then himself send the Jews to destroy entire cities.

    He said to me.
    All those were fought in self defense , EXCEPT ONE.
    And that was when God commanded them to police the world.

    I was still young when I asked that, but I thought to myself, where does he get these stuff?
    Aside from the obvious theology school and all that.

    I then later found out about chat rooms and forums for that kind of discussions, and plenty of people were actually eager to help with my questions, theologians and theology students and just plain fans of theological discussions who took it as their hobby.

    With your version, my gift for you would be something I recently just picked up.

    Why were people killed for little things (supposedly)
    What we do not know today in our modern society, was the culture back then.
    Back then, people would create covenants, promises,and the likes.
    We have a similar thing in my country. However we don’t take it seriously.
    In the case of the Jewish people/Hebrews.
    They made a covenant with God.
    A covenant is somewhat a “Super Promise”
    breakable only with the death of one of the involved parties.

    In the Philippines, we often say “Peksman Mamatay man”
    Meaning – Promise even if it means my death.

    Well, back in those days. People really did bind their lives to their promises.

    Now I know what you might be thinking but before you judge them for being “stupid”. Realize that looking at a culture and thinking that yours is superior to them is what we call ethnocentrism according to anthropology.
    They can as easily look at our culture and simply say that we are people whose words have no value, whose promises are never kept, those who live without honor and thus do not deserve to live.(Or worse- inhuman)
    -Kinda like the Japanese who fall on their swords when they cause dishonor to their family.-

      Baggs · August 29, 2011 at 3:15 pm

      Oh yes, they also mentioned that it is part why the OT is not what Christians are tied to compared to the Jews. Because technically one of the involved experienced death (Jesus) and thus the Old Testament/Old Covenant was now done and the New Covenant was formed. which is why people pulling rules and regulations from the OT were kinda suspicious. (Plus those covenants were for those specific group of people- the Hebrews who came out of Egypt)

limey · June 21, 2011 at 4:55 am

I really can’t see myself ever going back to believing in God. My reasons for abandoning my faith are like yours, purely intellectual.

I’ll likely still go to church on occasion, but that’s a whole other story.

Clae · June 25, 2011 at 4:52 am

There’s a certain kind of derisive sarcasm that can only come from an atheist talking about a theist. Everyone here pretty much has that down to a tee.

OriginalGeek · June 29, 2011 at 5:40 pm

Hey Clae, Have you ever really really really really really loved a thing and then found out that thing was not what it was all cracked up to be? Where you horrified to find that Rock Hudson was gay? Did it ruffle your feathers to find out Bill Clinton was unfaithful to his wife? Are you an atheist who has found proof there is something out there after all? Where you never ever sarcastic about any of the things you loved after you found you didn’t love them any more? Because you sound like you have the potential to have been. SO give the atheists here a little break. I am willing to bet most all of them were religious at one time and stopped believing. So they have seen both sides. I wonder, though, how many theists have seen both sides before they sarcastically deride atheists for lack of morals and lack of faith and lack or socially redeeming qualities. Don’t you dare act like they don’t.

Anyway, to answer the actual question: I find it VERY hard to believe I would go back the independent, fundamentalist baptist church I grew up in. It is _slightly_ more likely that I would find comfort in something else. One of my friends from the Christian High school I attended 30 years ago has become a Yuan Buddhist. I confess I love talking to him about his beliefs – mostly because he doesn’t want to talk about them. Wait, I said that wrong – he will HAPPILY discuss his beliefs with me or anyone else – but you gotta ask. So much nicer than the knock on the door to be told I’m going to hell.

atheistslant · July 21, 2011 at 3:07 pm

I have to say that I will never return, but will admit that there is this feeling I got in church or more accurately listening to certain music that is not recreated in anything else. So I see the pleasure of faith, but could feel like a fool if I returned, kind of how I feel writing this post:)

atheistslant.com

    Baggs · August 29, 2011 at 3:18 pm

    Haha, looks like they added some drugs to them Hillsong music you got there.

      Baggs · August 29, 2011 at 3:18 pm

      What was your fav song/band?

articulett · August 2, 2011 at 2:47 am

I would need evidence for souls- before I’d ever try to make sense of gods. I don’t see how consciousness could exist absent a material brain. For me, trying to believe in god would be like trying to believe in Santa.

    Baggs · August 29, 2011 at 3:24 pm

    You might have to re route the power to the phase cannons..
    Somewhat…

    I kinda mean, there is more than one way.

    When trying to smell the color 9 doesn’t work.

    We have to realize that 9 is not a color,
    and even if it was, you can’t smell a color.

    God’s existence does not depend on our comprehension of a soul.
    Just like playing starcraft doesn’t require me to understand the difference between a dual core and a hexacore processor and how electricity powers it all.

    We don’t need a full comprehension of the phenomena of individuality and consciousness in neuroanatomy before we accept that we are capable of morality, love, good, evil and so on.

      Isabel · September 15, 2011 at 12:49 pm

      Some people CAN smell colors, though (if they have synesthesia).

CherieW · August 26, 2011 at 9:09 pm

I never imagined I would leave fundemental Christianity, and thought it wasn’t even possible. Due to an ernest search to know Christ better, all my enquires led me to my current belief that Christianity is basicly mythology.

Though I have reached this decision I have decided I will never say never, but will always open myself to hard questions and hard answers (approaching each with great scrutiny and reason). I sincrerly doubt that I could ever find evidence to support my past beliefs but in my constant search for truth I will never be as closed minded as I was when I was a Christian.

    Baggs · August 29, 2011 at 2:43 pm

    Knowing Christ better necessitates that you knew Him to begin with. In turn would contradict the stance of disbelief.

    I am curious though how you lived your life. What you did and now what of those things you stopped doing.
    -That kinda shows a little, your views on what a Christian is-

    prayer bible study church
    singing and going to camp
    attending the weekly/monthly missions trip

    or was it something else?

    Which fruits of the spirit did you produce?
    Are you still producing them now?
    Why/Why not?
    (Are they now irrelevant to your life, now that you left?)

Baggs · August 29, 2011 at 2:31 pm

I am intrigued at the “Intellectual” statement and the “portrayed in the Bible”.

I spent years with those topics- obviously not 24/7 since I had to go to class, sleep and work and do other things too.

However I did spend time asking questions and having discussions with people. I also spent time in chat rooms, forums and other sites like those.
Rather than break down my faith, I came to see more and more that there are indeed good answers to all those questions if you are sincere in asking them.

The problem is when you ask a question and follow it up with 10 more questions and overwhelm the person who is only trying to help you.
Even if he does have all the answers, it just frustrates people that you couldn’t at least pace yourself or even google the very question for your own self at least for a couple of times.

That is, if it really mattered that much, leaving it wouldn’t have depended on coming up with a question, tossing it at someone, then walking away before hearing the answer.
Or in most cases, asking a theologian level question towards a Sunday school teacher level or even at new converts.

Patience · September 26, 2011 at 2:08 pm

Just curious if going back to being “spiritual” is more likely than going back to being “religious.” Because that’s kind of where I’ve ended up. I don’t think I could ever go back to organized religion, but I find comfort in spiritual stuff, I guess.

Jim · October 3, 2011 at 2:01 pm

No, I don’t think I would go back. The whole reason I left Christianity after decades of devout service was because I could no longer force myself to believe something that I knew wasn’t true. I really, really wanted Christianity to be true. But trying to force my mind to believe something I realized was false had started to take a toll on me.

Depression and anxiety resulted from the guilt and fear over my doubts and inability to control my thoughts and force myself to believe. I cried myself to sleep at night, praying and begging for god to reassure me it was all true. I never got an answer.

Finally I came to accept my atheism and there is too much emotional baggage for me to ever go back to faith.

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