I Get Why You Doubt God’s Existence–But Why Do You Doubt MINE?

Hold on tight to the arms of your chair, atheists. I am about to blow your minds. I am going to give you extraordinary evidence to back up an extraordinary claim which many of you regularly insist is too unbelievable to believe. Some of you actually have already seen this astonishing evidence and understood its implications, so this will not rock your world quite as much. But hopefully I have something of use for you too in what follows.

So what is this extraordinary claim that most atheists, being superior skeptics in all respects, simply refuse to believe? Before I state the claim, promise you will not stop reading. I know many of you will be tempted to see the claim and just leave the blog and never come back, thinking, “anyone who even tries to prove as ludicrous a claim as that should never be read ever again by anyone.” Please bear with me. I know the claim is extraordinary but I assure you, so is my evidence!

Okay, so here’s the extraordinary and unbelievable claim. Religious people are capable of critical examination of their beliefs. And they are even capable of actually abandoning and repudiating them too.

I know what you’re thinking but stay with me, please! I know that this is impossible to believe for many of you. You have come to the extremely rational, evidence based conclusions that religious people are stupid and so, on that account, incapable of learning. I know, since you tell me that you’re master skeptics, that this conclusion must be based on some rock solid evidence that it would take extraordinary counter-evidence to overturn.

Well. Behold. I am that evidence.

This is not something I talk about much. I am never sure how my fellow atheists will take it if they found out about it. But I was not always an atheist. I was not always one of the superior few who know the mystical ways of critical thinking that have only ever been documented to be known by atheists, practiced by atheists, or taught by atheists. I know this is not making any sense to you, but I was once a devoutly religious Christian. I was, a theist.

Now, I know your minds must be reeling. You must be thinking, “But, it’s impossible! We have seen Dan engaged in critical thought! How could he have ever been a theist? If he was, he would have never engaged in critical thinking and so would still be a theist. Theists cannot learn critical thinking. One must be born an atheist and trained by atheists in order to learn the dark art of godless questioning. Have we been deceived then by Dan’s apparent critical thinking? Was it a trick? Is he still a theist? Or, wait. No. Does Dan not really exist? Have we been duped into believing in Dan?”

I know these thoughts must be confusing. But I assure you, I exist. I also assure you that I am an atheist and that I was a theist.

I know that there are no known documented cases of the art of critical thought being practiced by religious people. But I thought it was time to put myself on the record. It is time that I informed my fellow atheists that critical thinking is actually not completely inaccessible to religious people. They can sense a variety of contradictions between their beliefs with amazing powers of logic comparable to your own. Sometimes, though always in secret and in shame, they have noticed discomfiture between their beliefs and the world and taken steps to modify their beliefs. Some have even very secretly changed their religions from those of their initial brainwashing because different belief events were happening in their brains.

Some have even become atheists. Yes. I said “some” and not just “I”. For I am not alone. There are others like me. They are just too ashamed to speak up. Or to remember their own past. You, atheist reading this. Even you may very well have once been a theist but forgotten. You may have actually engaged in critical thought to extricate yourself from your erroneous beliefs though you have since suppressed the memory because it is too painful to remember. All you see of religious people is such obvious stupidity, that you are sure you could never have actually been one of those evil and unteachable simpletons.

I come to remind you, that you were one of them. But you were not unteachable. You were not evil. You were not unreachable.

And neither are your former brethren.

Your Thoughts?

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About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.


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