Posted: Feb 02, 2011 11:33 pm
by pelfdaddy
In two years of life as an atheist, I can easily count 8 people who were formerly born-again fundamentalists that I have successfully de-converted, and several others who are now staring into the black gulf of decision.

The process has involved their obervance of the fact that I have changed somewhat, that I behave differently, speak differently, etc. They become curious and wonder why.

I tell them that at one time I would have been afraid to question my beliefs about God, the universe, and salvation, but that I realize now the importance of objectivity. I tell them I think it is important to know whether we are right about things.

They sense that something profoundly non-Christian may have happened to me, but they are unwilling to be unfriendly, and so communication remains open. They have noticed that I have not been stricken with a deadly disease, at least not yet.

Personal conversations are then easily turned toward large questions about "what really matters", and "how the world really works". I lace these conversations with comedy at which they cannot not resist laughing, like: "We know the stars are huge and far away, but ancient people thought of them as lights ensconced in a kind of domed ceiling, so...did you ever notice that after everything else is 'created', the Bible says 'He made the stars also'? as if they were an afterthought? Of course, He did think it was important to tell Abram to cut off the end of his dick, so maybe the thing about the stars isn't all that stupid." They do not wish to be thought stupid, and they cannot help recognizing an absurdity when they hear one, so they think about it for a few days.

They read books by Christian apologists in an effort to help me, but they are also unwittingly trying to reaffirm that they are not crazy for believing. They start asking me deep and challenging questions designed by apologist writers to give them an opportunity to help me to seeThe Truth, but the responses I give are not the cardboard cutouts or the straw dogs that the apologists destroy in their books. They then begin to ask questions more out of curiosity and interest.

I remain friendly and just keep pouring on the humor, obviously enjoying my freedom to make fun of God.

One day a serious conversation will erupt and I will take time to ask them, "Imagine you live in a primitive tribe six thousand years ago..." during which I invite them on a journey through the evolution of a religion, pointing out how very much identical in nature is their God to all the obviously false gods in which they have never believed. "The need for a prieshood is a hallmark of a god who cannot speak without one..." for example.

Before long I begin to notice in them the one thing that will pry a person away from religion most effectively; an angry reaction against it. Lots of personal empathy ("hey, I've been where you are--I used to believe this stuff") combined with hilarious observations that cannot be effectively or easily dismissed, can cause them to--one by one--rethink the stupidity of minor, individual aspects of the thing on which they are wasting their life.

One day they start laughing about it too.