Conversion is a dirty word in atheist circles. We don’t attempt to convert, we tell ourselves and each other. We merely aim to — well, something else.
Plant a seed of reason. Promote logic. Support science.
Anti-theists may go a step further: Call out religious hypocrisy. Tear down clergy who steal and rape. Make mincemeat of superstitions.
All those things are worthwhile to do for their own sake, or I suppose we wouldn’t do them. But I suspect that few of us could honestly argue that we didn’t want to change minds — away from theism. Which we would legitimately and correctly call conversion if the word wasn’t weighed down with a ton of religious baggage.
I have a fairly close relative, on my wife’s side of the family, who, over the past few years, has abandoned his Christian faith. He came out to me as an atheist six months ago. I don’t know for sure if something I said or wrote might have set off or accelerated his drift, but if so, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t pleased. I’d be even happier if it was something I did or didn’t do — in other words, if his change of heart was precipitated by how I live… which I hope, despite the bite in my writing, is with love and without malice.
This hopeful blog post by J.M. Green over at Debunking Christianity, titled “Lighting the Fuse,” made me think about (de)conversion. (Funny thing, metaphors: Green talks about lighting a fuse, while the cover of ex-Christian William Lobdell‘s book shows almost the opposite image — a just-extinguished candle – to express the same idea.)