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Did CMI mischaracterize the motivation for atheists’ ‘deconversion’?

Elliot L. from the United States wrote to CMI, concerned that we were mischaracterizing the motivation of atheists who “deconvert” from Christianity. His letter is printed in full, followed by a point-by-point response by Lita Sanders.

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Hello,

I will start by saying that although I do not agree with your views, I respect them. I am a converted atheist (converted from Catholicism) and came to my religious conclusion by way of making a pact to myself to have no religious influence for a year and look at all the evidence from both sides. I expected to confirm my beliefs, but I could not deny the evidence, and the lack of evidence for creationism. So I wonder how you or your web site could say that atheists are afraid of a creator that they would have to ‘face-up’ to (I am talking of the e-book Refuting Evolution chapter 9 and the answer given to discussion question 4) if you (obviously) are not an atheist yourself. I could say that the theistic are that way because they are afraid of being alone in the world, or are afraid of simply not existing, or both. I do not use this argument because I do not hold theistic beliefs. I ask you to please not talk of the workings of my mind. You do not know my mind and I do not know yours. I hope that you could use this as a learning experience, and that later on down the road, you will not talk of things you know nothing about.

Dear Elliot,

I will start by saying that although I do not agree with your views, I respect them.

Excluding religious influence is not really looking at both sides.

That is a rare enough attitude among atheists.

I am a converted atheist (converted from Catholicism) and came to my religious conclusion by way of making a pact to myself to have no religious influence for a year and look at all the evidence from both sides.

With all due respect, if you were excluding religious influence, then you were not truly looking at both sides! That would be like me saying, “I will exclude all Catholic influences and see whether Catholicism or Protestantism is correct.”

I expected to confirm my beliefs, but I could not deny the evidence, and the lack of evidence for creationism.

Just because you did not see evidence for creation does not mean that there was none; you may have been looking in the wrong places, or with the wrong assumptions.

Of course, if you’ve read our site at all, you will know that we disagree. Just because you did not see evidence for creation does not mean that there was none; you may have been looking in the wrong places, or with the wrong assumptions, etc.

So I wonder how you or your web site could say that atheists are afraid of a creator that they would have to ‘face-up’ to (I am talking of the e-book Refuting Evolution chapter 9 and the answer given to discussion question 4) if you (obviously) are not an atheist yourself.

It would have been helpful if you had given a more precise quote from the book; I took a quick look through the chapter and found nothing that communicated that atheists were afraid of a Creator. Likewise, the discussion question would not have automatically inspired that response when asked along with reading the chapter.

Although none of us who work for CMI are currently atheists, many of us once were, and were converted to Christianity out of atheism by precisely the evidence for creationism that you claim does not exist. The author of Refuting Evolution, Jonathan Sarfati, is an example of someone who was converted to Christianity because of the strong evidence that the Bible’s claims, including those it makes about origins, are reliable (you can read more about this here).

I could say that the theistic are that way because they are afraid of being alone in the world, or are afraid of simply not existing, or both. I do not use this argument because I do not hold theistic beliefs.

Saying that those who believe in God do so for only one reason is as simplistic as saying that those who do not believe in God do so for only one reason. People hold beliefs for many different reasons; I don’t presume to know why you hold yours.

I ask you to please not talk of the workings of my mind. You do not know my mind and I do not know yours. I hope that you could use this as a learning experience, and that later on down the road, you will not talk of things you know nothing about.

Perhaps you might consider that, as people who once were non-Christians, some of us might know something about some of the motivations that underlie the atheist worldview. I was also once an unbeliever who was convinced that Christianity was true in part by the evidence for creation.

Frankly, I might have learned more from your email if there had been more substance to your correspondence. I hope you take the time to read through our site, and see some of the things we think point to creation. The Design Features Questions and Answers page as well as the Young Age of the Earth and Universe page would be good places to start.

Sincerely,
Lita Sanders
Information Officer
Creation Ministries International

Published: 5 March 2011