Were You Really?

Are we what we do, what we say, or what we think and feel? Would the real me please stand up?

I usually take folks at face value regarding their claims. I accept that they are what they say they are. Why not? However, when I observe their behavior, I may become skeptical, or I may decide they lied. It happens.

I have met and heard of several people who, once firmly spirited into religious life, claim that they had been atheist before they found God, or vice-versa.

And things do change: “I once was lost, but now I am found, was blind, but now I see,” etc. Are people less likely to be honest, or more likely confused, when they use past tense? Maybe so. I also know people who will not say the word wretch when they sing the hymn, Amazing Grace. I agree. They probably never were miserable wretches.

I read a blog post where a former minister, now an atheist, theorized that most Christians who claim to be converted former atheists were probably not atheists, but were nones. He made a good case for his opinion. I have no way of knowing, but I’ve decided that I agree for several reasons.

Were they really atheists? Were they just ducking religion as so many claim atheists are doing? Did these people openly embrace atheism during the period of their lives when they claim to have been atheist.

Were they agnostic? Were they once practitioners of some religion before they left, sometimes angrily? Did they mentally equate some religion with the existence of God where they tossed the baby (God) out with the dirty bath water (religion)?

Setting aside false claims of unlikely death bed conversions, or someone laser-locking onto a flippant comment (like okay, maybe there is something), or confusion with the meanings of words, I suspect it is extremely rare for a convinced atheist to reach another conclusion and embrace any religion, much less Christianity. I suppose it happens. But very seldom.

The whole sociological and psychological phenomena of human religion and other beliefs are fascinating to me. When I openly declared my atheism, my wife’s comment was, “I’m not ready to go that far yet.” I doubt that she will ever say she is atheist.

Since I believe there is no god in the sense claimed by Abrahamic religions, virtually all religion becomes an interesting, often bizarre, form of human behavior for me.

I am not in the dark. I am informed and aware. I am neither lost nor wretched. I am happier being openly atheist than I ever was as a pay, pray, and obey Christian. While I may have been atheist in my thoughts and practices (or lack of) long before I said I was, it is hard for me to imagine someone like me honestly jumping back on the believer band wagon.

They were nones.

May you have a wonderful year 2022,

Bill

9 thoughts on “Were You Really?

  1. No true atheists comes to close to the no true scotsman fallacy for me. If someone gives clear reason to believe they were not what they professed to be that is one thing, but we needn’t disown every atheist who takes up a faith. It is enough to disagree with their reason for doing so.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m not sure if I agree or not. I am also not sure if there is such a thing as a “true” (or false) atheist. But walking away from religion is not the same as doubting the existence of gods. Right?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Your mother’s comment — “I’m not ready to go that far yet.” — is not so unusual.

    Unless a person is truly a hardcore atheist, the religiosity in this world tends to keep many (most?) folk concerned about what will happen at their death. So they hedge their bets.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I haven’t read anything by Anne Rice, primarily because I’m not into “vampires.” However, I have taken note of some blog conversations about her and her “back and forth” Christian beliefs.

        According to Wikipedia, she was noted as saying:

        “Today I quit being a Christian…. I remain committed to Christ as always but not to being ‘Christian’ or to being part of Christianity. It’s simply impossible for me to ‘belong’ to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group. For ten years, I’ve tried. I’ve failed. I’m an outsider. My conscience will allow nothing else.”

        It sounds to me like she mostly just rejected Christianity, per se, and therefore didn’t want to be associated with it. Not so much that she was actually an “atheist.”

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Yes, I’ve seen that.

        She refers to her 38 years (1960 to 1998) as her time as an athirst. Her call. But she loved the Catholic Church as a child and teenager. That longing to return never left her.

        I have not read any of her novels, but I may (my TBR list is long). As with her memoir, I have the advantage of know how things end.

        I think her last stop was “secular humanist.” She always had good things to say about her Humanist friends. I wish I knew her.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. It’s funny. I’m thinking my father was a nones (though not American). He was never baptized or had any religious affiliation whatsoever. When my parents married in 1962, they were the first “mixed” couple to get married in St. Kevin’s Catholic church in Montreal. He had to, of course, promise his children would be raised Catholic and since he didn’t care either way, agreed.
    He never admitted to having any faith whatsoever and religion was frankly not really a subject of conversation unless we were doing our First Communions et al (still unsure why my mother insisted). On his death bead, or in the weeks preceding it, he half-assed jokingly said, maybe I should have had something?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. My grandfather was Presbyterian (Welsh) but raised my mother and her sister Catholic after my grandmother died in 1916. He then married a Lutheran and all those kids were raised Lutheran. That family went to three different churches on Sundays.
      When my mother was in hospital dying I offered to get her a priest. She said, “No. I walked away from my religion a long time ago. I don’t plan to start now.” We had never talked about it, but I suspected she stopped caring.
      I had all the Catholic Sacraments (6) and almost had Holy Orders.
      Happy Friday, Dale.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Wow re: your mother.
        and bigger wow re: you.
        I always wondered why my grandmother still believed in the church when the nuns that taught her kids called her a whore for leaving her alcoholic husband. She was way before her time and had oodles of guts, did my grandmother/godmother. Nothing makes me happier than when I’m compared to her (other than when she was grouchy – that part I didn’t get!).

        Like

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