March 4, 2008

Atheism Doesn't Always Strengthen Their Faith

It seems nearly impossible for Christians to discuss atheism without eventually making some claim about how atheism only strengthens their faith. Of course, this should be no surprise. Material which contradicts one's belief system will often strengthen one's belief in the "truth" one thinks one has, especially when one refuses to seriously question the assumptions behind this "truth" (i.e., refuses to exercise reason). And yet, many ex-Christians report that exposure to atheism had exactly the opposite effect, helping them eventually break free from irrational belief.

Those of us maintaining atheist blogs do sometimes wonder if we are preaching to the choir. If I were to analyze the readership of this blog, it is likely that I would find that the vast majority of my readers were atheists. Among the Christians with whom I have interacted here, there have been some curious visitors, many pesky trolls, and only a handful of regular readers who seem to genuinely engage the material without the not-so-subtle conversion ploys.

However, this group of Christians who do appear to be interested in real dialogue are a great bunch, and I wish I could attract more of them. They make me think, stimulate discussion in the comment thread, and provide cause for optimism. Indeed, this sort of Christian will always be welcome here.

I also happen to believe that they are among the least likely to report that atheism strengthens their faith. I base this speculation on the fact that I was once one of them. Exposure to atheism certainly did not strengthen my faith; it showed me that there was a viable alternative which made far more sense to my rational mind. Most of all, exposure to atheism provided me with a needed model of a life without superstition.

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