Former Atheists - What convinced you?

Getting to know more about a particular group

Moderator: Moderators

User avatar
rikuoamero
Under Probation
Posts: 6707
Joined: Tue Jul 28, 2015 2:06 pm

Former Atheists - What convinced you?

Post #1

Post by rikuoamero »

What I'm writing here is for those people who consider themselves to be former atheist i.e. at one point in life, they either lacked a belief in a god of any kind, or actively disbelieved there is a God (there's a difference between the two).
I'm hoping that at least some people who are of this group (and hopefully joined the usergroup called 'Former Atheist' on this site) are/were also skeptical, in that they demanded evidence for religious claims.

My question is - What is it that convinced you? If you were to somehow go back in time and meet your previous, atheist (hopefully skeptic) self, would you or could you use whatever it is that convinced you to convince that version of you? Or would your past self be skeptical and dismissive of what it is you present?

Just to be clear - This isn't restricted to Christians only. You can be a Muslim who considers him/herself former atheist or whatever religion or belief you subscribe to. I want to hear from you.
I also promise NOT to debate in this thread. All I want are responses and your thoughts on this question. I will probably debate elsewhere, but not on this thread. This thread is solely for me to gather information.

User avatar
Difflugia
Guru
Posts: 1028
Joined: Wed Jun 12, 2019 10:25 am
Location: Michigan
Has thanked: 147 times
Been thanked: 98 times

Re: Former Atheists - What convinced you?

Post #11

Post by Difflugia »

2timothy316 wrote: Mon Oct 19, 2020 8:52 amMany former atheist including myself, when faced with the evidence of abiogenesis/Spontaneous Generation vs superintelligent creator, we had to swallow the hard truth that there is no evidence of abiogenesis/Spontaneous Generation. Abiogenesis has never ever been observed in nature. However, there is plenty of evidence of life coming from intelligent lifeforms. If a person simply wants to follow evidence where ever it takes them like Mr Flew, then the decision tips toward life coming from intelligent creation.
You may be onto something, but not in the way you intended. According to a 2007 survey of religiousity (or lack thereof) of scientists by discipline, biologists were the least religious of the sampled fields, followed closely by physicists. Considering that the two "scientific" reasons often given for theism are incredulity about natural origins for life and the Universe, perhaps it's telling that the scientists most qualified to actually understand those topics are the least likely to be theist.

2timothy316
Prodigy
Posts: 2597
Joined: Wed Aug 10, 2016 10:51 am
Has thanked: 15 times
Been thanked: 25 times

Re: Former Atheists - What convinced you?

Post #12

Post by 2timothy316 »

Difflugia wrote: Tue Oct 20, 2020 11:58 am
2timothy316 wrote: Mon Oct 19, 2020 8:52 amMany former atheist including myself, when faced with the evidence of abiogenesis/Spontaneous Generation vs superintelligent creator, we had to swallow the hard truth that there is no evidence of abiogenesis/Spontaneous Generation. Abiogenesis has never ever been observed in nature. However, there is plenty of evidence of life coming from intelligent lifeforms. If a person simply wants to follow evidence where ever it takes them like Mr Flew, then the decision tips toward life coming from intelligent creation.
You may be onto something, but not in the way you intended. According to a 2007 survey of religiousity (or lack thereof) of scientists by discipline, biologists were the least religious of the sampled fields, followed closely by physicists. Considering that the two "scientific" reasons often given for theism are incredulity about natural origins for life and the Universe, perhaps it's telling that the scientists most qualified to actually understand those topics are the least likely to be theist.
Or least likely to be religious. One can accept there is an intelligence that made the first life form and yet be very UN-religious. This study doesn't surprise me at all. The Pew Research Center found that there is a decline in religious people among those that already believe in an intelligent creator. https://www.pewforum.org/2019/10/17/in- ... apid-pace/
They are referred to as 'nones'. When asked do you believe in God, the number of those that say yes is still very high. However, when asked what religion do they belong to, the answer growing is, 'nothing in particular'. People like Mr. Flew and other truthful thinkers that are not swayed by peers and family are finding religion to be more of a problem or just plain benign. Seeing either nothing or very little of anything useful come from religion.

So one not being religious I totally get from a logical POV. Being an atheist however made zero sense to me. According to the polls, this is the conclusion many others are coming to every year. More and more every year are becoming 'spiritual but not religious' according to the Pew Research Center. https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2 ... religious/

User avatar
Difflugia
Guru
Posts: 1028
Joined: Wed Jun 12, 2019 10:25 am
Location: Michigan
Has thanked: 147 times
Been thanked: 98 times

Re: Former Atheists - What convinced you?

Post #13

Post by Difflugia »

2timothy316 wrote: Tue Oct 20, 2020 12:50 pmOr least likely to be religious. One can accept there is an intelligence that made the first life form and yet be very UN-religious.
The response corresponding to what you're talking about, "I believe in a higher power, but it is not God," came in at 7.7%. The 41% said "I do not believe in God."

Of the categories in the linked paper, chemists are the most religious, with both fewer atheists (26.6%) and more answers of "I have no doubts about God's existence" (10.9%) than any other scientific field.
2timothy316 wrote: Tue Oct 20, 2020 12:50 pmSo one not being religious I totally get from a logical POV. Being an atheist however made zero sense to me.
Maybe ask a biologist about it?

2timothy316
Prodigy
Posts: 2597
Joined: Wed Aug 10, 2016 10:51 am
Has thanked: 15 times
Been thanked: 25 times

Re: Former Atheists - What convinced you?

Post #14

Post by 2timothy316 »

Difflugia wrote: Tue Oct 20, 2020 1:23 pm
2timothy316 wrote: Tue Oct 20, 2020 12:50 pmOr least likely to be religious. One can accept there is an intelligence that made the first life form and yet be very UN-religious.
The response corresponding to what you're talking about, "I believe in a higher power, but it is not God," came in at 7.7%. The 41% said "I do not believe in God."

Of the categories in the linked paper, chemists are the most religious, with both fewer atheists (26.6%) and more answers of "I have no doubts about God's existence" (10.9%) than any other scientific field.
2timothy316 wrote: Tue Oct 20, 2020 12:50 pmSo one not being religious I totally get from a logical POV. Being an atheist however made zero sense to me.
Maybe ask a biologist about it?
There could be more in the the biology field and medical field indeed. That would make sense, perhaps as those with less exposure to examining life and how it works would contemplate less how it came to be. Much like Sheldon on the Big Bang Theory. His focus on the how is more important the question than the why. In biology and other such sciences that deal with life, the question why something is becomes important. A biologist and physicist might both look at gravity very differently. While the physicist might see gravity as something that just is there and it glad its there. A biologist sees gravity as why some plants and animals act the way they do. The biologist might appreciate gravity and its importance to life more than the Sheldon Coopers of the world. The interesting thing is though, the mathematician that gave the world the first formula for the force of gravity was not an atheist. Isaac Newton saw an intelligent creator in physics as well in biology.

Like Newton, I too began to see the intelligence in the creation of physics as well. Without physics and chemistry there would be no laws that make it where life can exist. This realization was another contributing factor as to changing my mind as to the existence of an intelligent creator. What I used to think was just chaos, is not chaos at all but all very much intentional. To me, from supernova to atom, everything is doing exactly as it was designed to do. I had made a mistake in becoming comfortable in studying only one thing like Sheldon. Happy in my bubble and didn't want it disturbed.

Kylie
Student
Posts: 14
Joined: Thu Jun 04, 2020 2:19 am
Has thanked: 2 times
Been thanked: 1 time

Re: Former Atheists - What convinced you?

Post #15

Post by Kylie »

2timothy316 wrote: Mon Oct 19, 2020 8:52 am
Kylie wrote: Sat Oct 17, 2020 12:07 am
2timothy316 wrote: Mon Oct 12, 2020 4:24 pm Have you ever heard of Antony Flew?
https://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/04/maga ... lew-t.html
He was convinced by science.
Do a Google search and look up some of his videos. I actually use his reasoning when debating atheists.
What was his reasoning?
Quoting from the article in my post.

"Richard Ostling of The Associated Press wrote. “He now believes in God — more or less — based on scientific evidence and says so on a video released Thursday. At age 81, after decades of insisting belief is a mistake, Antony Flew has concluded that some sort of intelligence or first cause must have created the universe. A superintelligence is the only good explanation for the origin of life and the complexity of nature, Flew said in a telephone interview from England.”

Many former atheist including myself, when faced with the evidence of abiogenesis/Spontaneous Generation vs superintelligent creator, we had to swallow the hard truth that there is no evidence of abiogenesis/Spontaneous Generation. Abiogenesis has never ever been observed in nature. However, there is plenty of evidence of life coming from intelligent lifeforms. If a person simply wants to follow evidence where ever it takes them like Mr Flew, then the decision tips toward life coming from intelligent creation.
That doesn't really explain his reasoning. It just says, "Based on scientific evidence", yet it doesn't explain what that evidence is. And the abiogenesis argument is little better than an argument from incredulity.

2timothy316
Prodigy
Posts: 2597
Joined: Wed Aug 10, 2016 10:51 am
Has thanked: 15 times
Been thanked: 25 times

Re: Former Atheists - What convinced you?

Post #16

Post by 2timothy316 »

Kylie wrote: Fri Nov 06, 2020 10:45 pm
2timothy316 wrote: Mon Oct 19, 2020 8:52 am
Kylie wrote: Sat Oct 17, 2020 12:07 am
2timothy316 wrote: Mon Oct 12, 2020 4:24 pm Have you ever heard of Antony Flew?
https://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/04/maga ... lew-t.html
He was convinced by science.
Do a Google search and look up some of his videos. I actually use his reasoning when debating atheists.
What was his reasoning?
Quoting from the article in my post.

"Richard Ostling of The Associated Press wrote. “He now believes in God — more or less — based on scientific evidence and says so on a video released Thursday. At age 81, after decades of insisting belief is a mistake, Antony Flew has concluded that some sort of intelligence or first cause must have created the universe. A superintelligence is the only good explanation for the origin of life and the complexity of nature, Flew said in a telephone interview from England.”

Many former atheist including myself, when faced with the evidence of abiogenesis/Spontaneous Generation vs superintelligent creator, we had to swallow the hard truth that there is no evidence of abiogenesis/Spontaneous Generation. Abiogenesis has never ever been observed in nature. However, there is plenty of evidence of life coming from intelligent lifeforms. If a person simply wants to follow evidence where ever it takes them like Mr Flew, then the decision tips toward life coming from intelligent creation.
That doesn't really explain his reasoning. It just says, "Based on scientific evidence", yet it doesn't explain what that evidence is. And the abiogenesis argument is little better than an argument from incredulity.

Here is one video explaining the reason for his change of mind. There are others. Simply do a google search for Antony flew.

As far as abiogenesis/spontaneous generation there is no evidence of that happening in nature. Experiments attempting to prove abiogensis/spontaneous generation have all failed. All experiments to prove that nothing living comes from non-living material have been proven true.
Living things only come from other living things is the science fact as the stand today. To stand behind the idea that living things come from non-living things is to accept an archaic idea set back in the 4th century BCE.

User avatar
Difflugia
Guru
Posts: 1028
Joined: Wed Jun 12, 2019 10:25 am
Location: Michigan
Has thanked: 147 times
Been thanked: 98 times

Re: Former Atheists - What convinced you?

Post #17

Post by Difflugia »

2timothy316 wrote: Mon Nov 09, 2020 9:06 amAs far as abiogenesis/spontaneous generation there is no evidence of that happening in nature. Experiments attempting to prove abiogensis/spontaneous generation have all failed. All experiments to prove that nothing living comes from non-living material have been proven true.

Living things only come from other living things is the science fact as the stand today. To stand behind the idea that living things come from non-living things is to accept an archaic idea set back in the 4th century BCE.
To the contrary, equating the origin of life with the spontaneous appearance of complex cells is the archaic idea. It should come as no surprise, then, that biologists don't think that's what happened.

Khan Academy has an introductory lesson on the "RNA World" hypothesis of the origin of life. In my opinion, it offers a decent balance between complexity and understandability.

If that seems oversimplified, then you might find interesting the open access collection of RNA World papers in the journal Life here worth reading.

In short, if you actually think that a biologist's conception of the origin of life is in any way similar to maggots spontaneously appearing in meat or fully-formed bacterial cells arising in a flask of meat broth, then my advice to you is the same as it was earlier: ask a biologist.

2timothy316
Prodigy
Posts: 2597
Joined: Wed Aug 10, 2016 10:51 am
Has thanked: 15 times
Been thanked: 25 times

Re: Former Atheists - What convinced you?

Post #18

Post by 2timothy316 »

[Replying to Difflugia in post #17]

At anyrate, I never found any convincing evidence from experiments of spontaneous generation or abiogenesis. Because of this, as a former atheist, had to come to terms with that and it's one of the reasons I became convinced that the start of life must have had a creator. All experiments support that life doesn't come by accident from lifeless materials. Life is made by another life.

User avatar
Difflugia
Guru
Posts: 1028
Joined: Wed Jun 12, 2019 10:25 am
Location: Michigan
Has thanked: 147 times
Been thanked: 98 times

Re: Former Atheists - What convinced you?

Post #19

Post by Difflugia »

2timothy316 wrote: Tue Nov 10, 2020 2:40 pmAt anyrate, I never found any convincing evidence from experiments of spontaneous generation or abiogenesis. Because of this, as a former atheist, had to come to terms with that and it's one of the reasons I became convinced that the start of life must have had a creator.
So, god of the gaps?
2timothy316 wrote: Tue Nov 10, 2020 2:40 pmAll experiments support that life doesn't come by accident from lifeless materials.
This is patently false. It's true that scientists haven't identified a complete history of the transition from nonlife to life, but many, many experiments support the plausibility of such a transition.

I looked a little more since my previous post and found an open-access PhD dissertation that includes a quite comprehensive, but readable synopsis of the experimental evidence that existed as of 2016. Whether or not this is enough to squeeze out your own personal god of the gaps, the experimental landscape absolutely supports that the chemistry of life contains apparent remnants of a web of much simpler chemical replicators.

There are molecules that will spontaneously replicate and as far as anyone can tell, the difference between life and non-life is simply a degree of complexity. If that's the case, the "transition" from nonlife to life would be like picking the point on this gradient where red becomes blue.
Image
2timothy316 wrote: Tue Nov 10, 2020 2:40 pmLife is made by another life.
Your statement doesn't actually appear to be true, but for a different reason than you might think. Life isn't made by another life, but is an extension of the same life. As far as we can tell, life only happened once (or at least there's only one left). Every cell in existence is one of two halves of an earlier cell that split into two. All living biomass is part of a single chemical chain reaction that is simply so ubiquitous that it has never stopped in all places at once. Whenever a localized bit of it stops, the chemistry is complex enough that it won't start up again.

Creationists like to imagine that there are lots of little lives all around that their favorite god or gods started independently, but they're more like a bunch of little fires that were started by sparks of a first fire. After enough sparks, it looks like many fires, but it's just the same fire burning in many different places. It'll keep going as long as there's fuel, but it only needed a single, rare event like a lightning bolt to start it in the first place. And we now know that there's no Zeus at the other end of the lightning bolt.

Some of us do, anyway.

2timothy316
Prodigy
Posts: 2597
Joined: Wed Aug 10, 2016 10:51 am
Has thanked: 15 times
Been thanked: 25 times

Re: Former Atheists - What convinced you?

Post #20

Post by 2timothy316 »

Difflugia wrote: Tue Nov 10, 2020 6:52 pm
2timothy316 wrote: Tue Nov 10, 2020 2:40 pmAt anyrate, I never found any convincing evidence from experiments of spontaneous generation or abiogenesis. Because of this, as a former atheist, had to come to terms with that and it's one of the reasons I became convinced that the start of life must have had a creator.
So, god of the gaps?
2timothy316 wrote: Tue Nov 10, 2020 2:40 pmAll experiments support that life doesn't come by accident from lifeless materials.
This is patently false.
Present an experiment where, without human intervention, life came from something lifeless. Or show me where in nature this happens so that I may to witness it. Don't send me theories or papers. I want hard evidence. The burden of proof is on you.

Post Reply