Thursday, September 06, 2007

The Atheists Interviews

I’ve made a commitment to do interviews here with adults who have recently declared to be atheist. Several people have kindly offered their time to be questioned on various aspects of their skeptical thinking on religion and other issues. I’ve specifically asked for folks who have become rational free thinkers just within the past couple of years. Some of the people I will be talking to have had certain levels of doubt for many years, but would not have described themselves as atheists until more recently. The first interview will appear here sometime this week and then I’m going to try to do a new one every week or two in the coming months.

Hopefully, this can be enlightening for all of us – long time atheists, new ones and people who are willing to question their faith. But I particularly wanted to do this for the “old timers”. I’ve been an atheist for 35 years and can barely remember the thought process that led me away from my religious upbringing. I know why I think the way I do now – it’s second nature. But what were the factors that got me thinking about it in the first place? How difficult was it to tell friends and family that I no longer believed in any god? How did it impact my life back then? I don’t really remember. Those who were raised in secular homes have an even greater obstacle to understanding, in that they have no point of reference whatsoever when dealing with people of faith.

It is easy to get frustrated when dealing with acquaintances who are stuck in the faith modality. We tend to think that you can never change a persons mind. And, in a sense, you can not. They have to alter their own consciousness, and they virtually never do it based on a debate about religion. You can make the best arguments ever made, and see little or no effect on their thinking. And yet, we know that people do indeed change from faith to free thought. Most current atheists were not brought up as complete secularists.

My argument is that you can almost never change a persons thinking, but you can be a part of the change. You might never see the actual transition, yet these realignments are happening all the time. I would postulate that people hear and digest many arguments, sometimes over years or even decades, and one day realize that they don’t believe in god. Someone you debated with 20 years ago and you gave up on as having a shred of rationality may have just this year finally freed themselves of mysticism. You wouldn’t even realize that you had made a small impact on that person, decades ago.

I will strive to shed some light on these matters, to encourage those who might tend to give up on others, and to demonstrate which paths are the best to follow while trying to lead others to a natural view of the world we live in. Hopefully, we can learn from these new atheists.

5 comments:

ordinarygirl said...

I look forward to reading these. :)

PhillyChief said...

Cool idea. Where do you find them?

I'd be interested in hearing recent realizations. I too have been a skeptic for a long time so I'm interested in how someone believed for so long and then what triggered the change. Quick change, gradual change, what?

John - Evolutionary Middleman said...

PhllyChief - I requested them! I posted about a week ago, asking if anyone was interested and got several nice replies - some from folks you're familiar with, some not. I think it will be an education - I know it is for me.

Sillysighbean said...

What I find puzzling is the other way around. How can a long time atheist become a believer in religious dogma. For example, the eminent professor, Francis Collins.

Jeremy Thacker said...

I would agree to be interviewed. I became an atheist at the beginning of this year. Prior to that, I was a committed Christian. After researching and reading, I changed my mind.

You can reach me at jeremy@jeremythacker.com. I've, also, started blogging some of my journey. You can see it at www.jeremythacker.com