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Thread: Do knowledgeable ex-atheists exist?

  1. #21
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    Default Re: Do knowledgeable ex-atheists exist?

    Quote Originally Posted by Calypze View Post
    Still, there still seem to be many more (knowledgeable) theists who become atheists rather than vice versa.
    I imagine that has more to do with the fact that theists outnumber atheists 20 to 1. The retention rate for atheism is actually lower than for theism, but since there's so few atheists out there, ex-theists will always outnumber ex-atheists. Off the top of my head I don't think I could name more than a handful of prominent atheists.
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  2. #22
    Akar's Avatar I am not a clever man
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    Default Re: Do knowledgeable ex-atheists exist?

    Deism is not Theism.

    Your relationship to the divine is irrelevant when trying to prove your religion to others.

    The number of Atheists has nothing to do with the facts of our beliefs and is a false benchmark for truth.

    I need you to provide a source for the "retention rate" for Atheists if you want anyone to believe your baseless claim.

    You being able to name prominent Atheists is completely meaningless as you aren't even an Atheist. And even if you were an Atheist, not knowing the names of very many prominent Atheists means nothing aside from you are proud of your ignorance.
    Last edited by Akar; March 02, 2020 at 12:19 AM.

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  3. #23
    mishkin's Avatar Comes Limitis
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    Default Re: Do knowledgeable ex-atheists exist?

    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclops View Post
    Good people (and bad people) find faith all the time, its not really a function of intellect but their relation to the divine which is an intensely personal experience. Finding God and joining a faith community doesn't mean a person switched off their brain or their hearts, there are a bunch of Catholics in Australia who tolerate homosexuality, use contraception, believe the world is a rough spheroid etc. Believers are not defined completely by their putative leadership.

    So I think OP is a bit mean and maybe seeks to mock belief "hurr durr only dummies believe in God" which is not right and not polite either.
    You seem to take it for granted that god exists, some find it and some don't. God does not exist, and no one has been able to prove otherwise. I can respect those who believe in it for being educated in that way, I can respect those who choose to believe in god voluntarily, trying to leave reason aside, because this world is madness and I definitely understand those who after a life of atheism or agnosticism embrace any religion desperate because of the death of loved ones or the proximity of their own. Not "only dummies believe in god", only people leaving reason aside does.
    Last edited by mishkin; March 02, 2020 at 05:51 AM.
    So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. (Revelation 3:16).

  4. #24
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    Default Re: Do knowledgeable ex-atheists exist?

    Quote Originally Posted by Akar View Post
    I don't think there's a single example of a prominent Atheist actually converting to a religion. You can try to argue the semantics of whether or not Deism is Theism, but at that point you've already lost.
    For that to happen you would have to have prominent atheists. Given the nature of atheism that is basically impossible.

    PS: No, the loudmouth asshats that preach at people on youtube or at book signings are not prominent, they're just loudmouth asshats.
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  5. #25
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    Default Re: Do knowledgeable ex-atheists exist?

    Quote Originally Posted by Settra View Post
    For that to happen you would have to have prominent atheists. Given the nature of atheism that is basically impossible.

    PS: No, the loudmouth asshats that preach at people on youtube or at book signings are not prominent, they're just loudmouth asshats.
    Hitchens? Dawkins?

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  6. #26
    basics's Avatar Praeses
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    Default Re: Do knowledgeable ex-atheists exist?

    Quote Originally Posted by Akar View Post
    Hitchens? Dawkins?
    Akar,

    What is knowledgeable about them?

  7. #27
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    Default Re: Do knowledgeable ex-atheists exist?

    C. S. Lewis is probably the best example.
    The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are so certain of themselves, but wiser people are full of doubts.
    -Betrand Russell

  8. #28
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    Default Re: Do knowledgeable ex-atheists exist?

    Quote Originally Posted by basics View Post
    Akar,

    What is knowledgeable about them?
    Is that a serious question? Do you genuinely not know who they are or are you just being intentionally obtuse? I don't care if you disagree with them but it's absurd to decry them as not being intelligent just because you don't agree with them. Are you really going to say that a best selling author and oxford professor is now knowledgeable?


    C. S. Lewis is probably the best example.
    I think that's probably the perfect example.

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  9. #29
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    Default Re: Do knowledgeable ex-atheists exist?

    Quote Originally Posted by Akar View Post
    Hitchens? Dawkins?
    They and Bill Maher were the three people I was thinking of when I spoke of loudmouth asshats that preach to others on a screen.

    PS: Dawkins is now agnostic and is steadily moving towards theism.
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  10. #30

    Default Re: Do knowledgeable ex-atheists exist?

    Quote Originally Posted by Settra View Post
    PS: Dawkins is now agnostic and is steadily moving towards theism.
    Dawkins has always been an agnostic atheist, there has been no recent change there.

    As for him moving to theism, let's see what evidence you have for that assertion.

  11. #31
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    Default Re: Do knowledgeable ex-atheists exist?

    I agree with Basics (!) that the OP's question is too vague on the point of what constitutes 'knowledgeable'. Furthermore, the controversy over deism vs theism is likely to descend into shallow turf wars over definitions. Anyway, why look for grey areas? Let's try something more 'objective'.

    Let's require of the individual in question that they
    - were raised without religion
    - have a career in academia as defined by having at least a PhD
    - have specialized in astronomy, evolutionary biology, geology or related disciplines like astrobiology or paleontology

    Let's require of the individual's that they
    - became outspoken followers of one of the world's religions including its views on the origins of the universe, the earth and human kind.
    "Lay these words to heart, Lucilius, that you may scorn the pleasure which comes from the applause of the majority. Many men praise you; but have you any reason for being pleased with yourself, if you are a person whom the many can understand?" - Lucius Annaeus Seneca -

  12. #32
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    Default Re: Do knowledgeable ex-atheists exist?

    Quote Originally Posted by Settra View Post
    They and Bill Maher were the three people I was thinking of when I spoke of loudmouth asshats that preach to others on a screen.

    PS: Dawkins is now agnostic and is steadily moving towards theism.
    Uh, no. No he's not.

    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/...Christian.html

    Richard Dawkins, the prominent atheist and scientist, has admitted that he is a “secular Christian” because he hankers after the nostalgia and traditions of the church.

    “I would describe myself as a secular Christian in the same sense as secular Jews have a feeling for nostalgia and ceremonies,” said Dawkins.
    There's a difference between putting videos of your lectures and debates online and "preaching to a screen" as you call it. Not that there is anything inherently wrong with either. I do agree though that Maher is a jackass, even when he's right he comes off as such a prick you don't want him to be right. There's a fine line between educating and ridiculing people, and I think Maher crosses the line into ridiculing people.

    Quote Originally Posted by Muizer View Post
    I agree with Basics (!) that the OP's question is too vague on the point of what constitutes 'knowledgeable'. Furthermore, the controversy over deism vs theism is likely to descend into shallow turf wars over definitions. Anyway, why look for grey areas? Let's try something more 'objective'.

    Let's require of the individual in question that they
    - were raised without religion
    - have a career in academia as defined by having at least a PhD
    - have specialized in astronomy, evolutionary biology, geology or related disciplines like astrobiology or paleontology

    Let's require of the individual's that they
    - became outspoken followers of one of the world's religions including its views on the origins of the universe, the earth and human kind.
    I think those are great criteria.

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  13. #33
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    Default Re: Do knowledgeable ex-atheists exist?

    Anthony Flew was a special case. Probably Flew himself wasn't exactly sure at what he believed, as his intellectual capacities had severely declined due to his advanced age. On one hand, Flew had always been quite conservative in political and economic matters, so his gradual shift towards a more moderate position regarding God's existence is not that difficult to imagine. However, he was also approached by several individuals with a suspicious agenda. The book allegedly co-authored by him is actually almost exclusively written by an Evangelical pastor named Varghese, who has been desperately trying to convert famous atheists to his cause. A critical analysis of its content and an interview with Flew revealed that the philosopher was not even aware of several positions expressed there, while he was easily manipulated by the selective information fed to him by his followers. Exploiting the senility of prestigious intellectuals is a pretty common phenomenon and does not always concern religious activists. Unfortunately, old men are sometimes extremely vulnerable to these tactics, if they are not protected by their family or trustworthy friends.
    Quote Originally Posted by Settra View Post
    PS: Dawkins is now agnostic and is steadily moving towards theism.
    This claim is definitely incorrect. Dawkins even in God Delusion described himself as technically an agnostic (6.9 in the 7-grade scale), because you cannot prove the nonexistence of a divine entity, in the same manner you cannot prove irrefutably any negative statement, like the fact that the Oval Office is presided over by Bolshevik lizards or that Obama is secretly a Shiite from Communist Somalia. His views have not changed however and has remained an avowed enemy of the traditionally defined agnosticism, as he justifiably considers the neutral compromise between the existence and nonexistence of God very fragile, from a scientific and logical perspective. Predictions about Dawkins converting into Christianity or any other religion are actually pretty old and date even before he gained international notoriety. Deathbed confessions is a historical tactic of the theist faction (perhaps inspired by Emperor Constantine?) and concern almost every prominent figure from the "evolution and atheism" camp, including of course Darwin himself. Dawkins predicted that the same posthumous fate awaits him and I'm confident his forecast will be eventually confirmed.

  14. #34
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    Default Re: Do knowledgeable ex-atheists exist?

    Quote Originally Posted by mishkin View Post
    You seem to take it for granted that god exists,
    My stated position on these boards is agnostic, and my arrogance leads to me to completely deny the divinity of Jesus. I am not so arrogant as to claim complete omniscience (and I think its very stupid to do so as it would prove the existence of a God, viz myself) hence agnostic and not atheist.

    Quote Originally Posted by mishkin View Post
    some find it and some don't.
    Actually in my experience people come to their faith (and change it and lose it) in may ways, through intellectual development, through tragic life changing circumstances, through emotional maturity and self knowledge.

    Quote Originally Posted by mishkin View Post
    God does not exist, and no one has been able to prove otherwise.
    While I agree emotionally, intellectually you would need to prove that no god exists to prove your point. Good luck with that.

    Quote Originally Posted by mishkin View Post
    I can respect those who believe in it for being educated in that way, I can respect those who choose to believe in god voluntarily, trying to leave reason aside, because this world is madness and I definitely understand those who after a life of atheism or agnosticism embrace any religion desperate because of the death of loved ones or the proximity of their own.
    ...but not respect them enough to refrain from calling them unreasonable.

    Quote Originally Posted by mishkin View Post
    Not "only dummies believe in god", only people leaving reason aside does.
    Ah, so "deliberately stupid" people.

    I feel like the subtlety of the discussion has eluded you. Are you polarising an incredibly complex constellation of experiences into extremely simplistic binary definitions amounting to moieties? "Religious, stupid, emotional, homecooking, scratchy woollen cardigan, emotionally broken" vs "atheist, rational, cool soccer guernsey, excellent coffee, manly and mentally well" or something like that?
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  15. #35

    Default Re: Do knowledgeable ex-atheists exist?

    Quote Originally Posted by Muizer View Post
    I agree with Basics (!) that the OP's question is too vague on the point of what constitutes 'knowledgeable'. Furthermore, the controversy over deism vs theism is likely to descend into shallow turf wars over definitions. Anyway, why look for grey areas? Let's try something more 'objective'.

    Let's require of the individual in question that they
    - were raised without religion
    - have a career in academia as defined by having at least a PhD
    - have specialized in astronomy, evolutionary biology, geology or related disciplines like astrobiology or paleontology

    Let's require of the individual's that they
    - became outspoken followers of one of the world's religions including its views on the origins of the universe, the earth and human kind.
    I think these are reasonable criteria.

  16. #36
    mishkin's Avatar Comes Limitis
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    Default Re: Do knowledgeable ex-atheists exist?

    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclops View Post

    Ah, so "deliberately stupid" people.
    I think you have misunderstood me. We all routinely leave reason aside in our lives, because leading a life strictly guided by reason would make us unbearable for others and most probably also make our lives unbearable. We all deceive ourselves, in a more or less voluntary way, that does not mean we are all stupid.


    I feel like the subtlety of the discussion has eluded you.
    I found it necessary to respond to your comment to clarify that I at least respect the majority of religious people. Carry on with the main topic.
    So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. (Revelation 3:16).

  17. #37
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    Default Re: Do knowledgeable ex-atheists exist?

    @Abdul The God Delusion happens to be the first time he calls himself as such afaik, and you wouldn't have caught him dead calling himself any kind of christian 15 years ago.

    Quote Originally Posted by Muizer View Post
    I agree with Basics (!) that the OP's question is too vague on the point of what constitutes 'knowledgeable'. Furthermore, the controversy over deism vs theism is likely to descend into shallow turf wars over definitions. Anyway, why look for grey areas? Let's try something more 'objective'.

    Let's require of the individual in question that they
    - were raised without religion
    - have a career in academia as defined by having at least a PhD
    - have specialized in astronomy, evolutionary biology, geology or related disciplines like astrobiology or paleontology

    Let's require of the individual's that they
    - became outspoken followers of one of the world's religions including its views on the origins of the universe, the earth and human kind.
    Alan Sandage, Alexander Solzhenitsyn (though he was a nuclear physicist and mathematician), Alister McGrath, Francis Collins, Rosalind Picard (computer science, depends if you want to consider it or not),
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  18. #38
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    Default Re: Do knowledgeable ex-atheists exist?

    Interesting that our resident atheists want an accounting of which prominent non-believers have converted to theism. As well they should know, the veracity of a claim is contingent neither upon the number (argumentum ad populum) nor the nature (argumentum ab auctoritate) of those who believe it.

  19. #39
    Akar's Avatar I am not a clever man
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    Default Re: Do knowledgeable ex-atheists exist?

    I believe this thread was specifically created in response to a question posed in a previous thread by a Theist.

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  20. #40
    Muizer's Avatar member 3519
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    Default Re: Do knowledgeable ex-atheists exist?

    Quote Originally Posted by Settra View Post
    Alan Sandage, Alexander Solzhenitsyn (though he was a nuclear physicist and mathematician), Alister McGrath, Francis Collins, Rosalind Picard (computer science, depends if you want to consider it or not),

    FWIW I chose those specialisms, because I believe those who practise them must come to terms with the dimensions of time and space, or fail. Many other studies can be conducted without the necessity to shake off an anthropocentric perspective.

    Nevertheless, a quick search suggests Sandage and Collins might qualify. It would be interesting to know how compatible their views are with religious doctrine.
    "Lay these words to heart, Lucilius, that you may scorn the pleasure which comes from the applause of the majority. Many men praise you; but have you any reason for being pleased with yourself, if you are a person whom the many can understand?" - Lucius Annaeus Seneca -

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