“As for the numbers, I thought we were talking about those who come from a non-JCI (as you called it) exposure converting to Christianity. The numbers toward which I was pointing you were those who converted from polytheistic/pantheistic/animistic backgrounds, not Western academic atheists.”
We started out with your statement, “This does not, of course, explain why adult atheists convert to Christianity.” I responded, “Presumably some atheists do convert back to Christianity and some convert to Judaism or Islam. Any atheists who do convert, and I doubt that the numbers are high, have lived embedded within a religious culture, which is precisely the point. Unless, that is, you know something that I don’t about conversions amongst remote hunter-gatherer tribes not previously exposed to the J-C-I monotheistic religions. If you have a URL to reputable research on actual numbers, I’d be interested to read it.”So, you were correct that we had moved on to non-JCI. I had forgotten during the delay before I responded.
Are you saying that conversion rates in Western academic atheists are low?
“I do understand and agree with your point about Pascal’s Wager, except that I would include with overwhelming evidence the more intangible reaction to religious experience. After all, Christians would say that mere intellectual assent to facts is not the same as belief and faith caused by responding to the Holy Spirit.”
This is why modern Philosophers of Religion seem to have ceased trying to generate proofs of God’s existence and are now emphasizing Fideism. I think that you and I agree on this principle because I consider the emotional benefits of faith the chief motivation for belief.
“As to your final point, I still counter with the experience of the early Church and the initial evangelisation of a non-monotheistic civilisation and beyond.”
Except that your latest example was of conversion from “polytheistic/pantheistic/animistic backgrounds”. I addressed this in My God is bigger than your god.
I think that monotheistic religions offer the theoretical advantage of Superior God over pantheistic religions because The One God could naturally be Boss God to a collection of subservient lesser deities. This is a replication of conditions in human society. The One God, in controlling all natural animistic forces, is theoretically superior to belief that only includes those natural forces. It’s not necessarily a question of truth, it’s a question of which product is easier to sell.
Because the WordPress system does not allow for modification of posting time, the following lengthy sequence is posted out of order:
Full sequence: Absolutist Fears, Comments; Bouncing back to Dave , Comment; No Things in Moderation; Creation Myths, Comments; Conversions, Comments; My God is bigger than your god, Comments; Of must and men, Comments; Transcendant rhetorical devices, Comments; The so-called creation versus evolution debate, Comments; Apologetic creations, Comments; From the Cradle, Comments; West of Eden, Comments; The Clash of Titans, Comments; The place of Emotion, Comments .
<i> I shall take that as your, “No, I do not have any numbers that support my position.”</i>
Well, as mission work it a bit of a fragmented process, I have not found a central repository of cumulative numbers. However, I can suggest sources like <a href=”http://www.adherents.com/”>Adherents.com</a> which, while not dealing directly with conversions do deal with the number of Christians (or other monotheists, if you are interested in expanding you research) distributed across the world.
Thanks for the URL. Obviously, there is a great deal of interesting information on the site, yet not any that is exactly numerical backup for your comment about atheist conversion to theism.
I did come across a discussion germane to this topic. It was pointed out that there are inidividuals who claim to have converted from atheism to theism but that these individuals have not left an electronic or paper trace dating from prior to their claimed “conversion”. I don’t think that this particular absence of evidence of conversion precludes the possibility that some atheist have indeed suddenly or gradually got religion.
On the other hand, there is ample evidence for individuals who have shifted to an agnostic or atheistic worldview while living in Western monotheistic societies.
I am not trying to win an argument when I say that I expect that more individuals exposed to religious belief have become disbelievers than disbelievers who have converted to belief.
Almost all atheists have been exposed to belief (the usual definition actually inheres this concept), so it is quite reasonable to say that atheists have moved away from or rejected belief in the supernatural.
However, as an atheist, I can assure you that once one does not believe, it would be difficult to genuinely take Pascal’s Wager. If one does not believe (does not hold to be true), then one cannot even choose to believe without some overwhelming evidence that will shift one’s worldview. Sure, those who have lost their convictions can feign belief, but they don’t really mean it, and it must be very uncomfortable for them.
Of course, this is what I meant by saying that we either believe when young or we are not likely to believe at all.
Part 2 of response to No Things in Moderation.