Would You Take a Pill That Could Turn Atheists Into Believing Christians?


For this post, we will consider a brief but interesting hypothetical scenario. At some point in the not-too-distant future, a pharmaceutical company reveals a new drug they have been working on for decades without telling anybody about it. It has now been tested extensively and works startlingly well with no side effects whatsoever. What does it do? Someone who takes a single dose of this drug shortly before bed will wake up the next morning feeling well-rested and...um...thoroughly Christian. You see, this drug has the power to turn atheists into believing Christians overnight, and the effects are permanent. If such a drug existed, would you take it?

If I put the same question to myself and demanded honesty, I'd have to say that my answer would be "no" most of the time but not all of the time. I'd say "no" most days and feel confident about doing so. But every once in a while when I was feeling particularly exhausted and fed up with all daily indignities associated with being an atheist in an oppressively Christian region of a predominately Christian country, I'd give it serious consideration. I'd be worried about the permanence of the effect, and that would mean I'd try to avoid making the decision impulsively. But yes, I think I would consider it on those days.

I disagree with those who will interpret this as meaning that I am not a "real atheist" or that I'm having doubts about atheism. The only way "doubts about atheism" would seem to have meaning is if I starting to think there might be gods. That hasn't happened, and I can't imagine it happening. No, I think all it means is that there are moments when I'd happily trade the sort of reality that leads my neighbors to view me as a monster for the delusion that would remove many barriers.

Of course, there is at least one thing preventing me from saying I'd definitely take the pill: I don't have particularly fond memories of being a Christian. As nice as the acceptance and other perks of Christian privilege would be, Christianity seemed toxic even when I was a Christian. The pill might prevent me from noticing that, but it would change the underlying facts. Living in a toxic reality without the ability to see if for what it was doesn't sound terribly healthy, does it?

I suppose my answer to the question of whether I'd take the pill would have to be something like, "Probably not. At least, I hope not." How about you?