Conversion Stories vs Deconversion Stories

Christians do seem to love conversion stories. It seems I can’t read the web pages of most (but certainly not all) apologists and ministries without reading some story about how an “angry atheist” found Jesus, and has found peace. It certainly seems to make other Christians feel good about their beliefs when other people also find reasons to believe.

While I grant that Christianity is growing, largely because of birth rates in Africa, and evangelical conversion efforts in east Asia, looking closer to home the picture isn’t so rosy, as the religious “none’s” have been growing significantly over the last two decades, mostly at the expensive of Christianity. I’m sure, if I looked hard enough, I could find at least two deconversion stories for every western conversion story that is presented.

But here’s the thing: These stories don’t tell us what is true. The fact that people are convinced of something, or that their life got “better”, is not good evidence that the belief is true. Similarly, deconversion stories, regardless of how prominent the person is, don’t tell us that Christianity is false. The truth value of a proposition isn’t affected by what people believe.

A few days ago Capturing Christianity posted something I agree with. He posted:

When a celebrity walks away from the Faith, it gives you this many good reasons to reconsider your trust in Christ: 0

The same is true when somebody converts. It also gives you no reason to believe that you have good reasons to “trust in Christ.” With this caveat, this is one of the few times I find myself agreeing with one of his posts.

My point is this: Christians, please stop posting your feel good stories about people converting to Christianity, as if it is a good reason to believe. As a skeptic, there’s only one reason I would ever want to hear about a conversion story:  They actually provided good intellectual reasons for their decision. As it stands every conversion story I’ve ever come across has been because of emotional reasons, or employed fallacious reasoning. Good objective evidence, and sound reasoning, for what they believe is still not there!

5 thoughts on “Conversion Stories vs Deconversion Stories”

  1. It’s funny how the deconversion stories I read are all different, with each person following their individual journey out of belief. But the conversion stories all sound pretty much the same, and follow this structure:

    1. I was a terrible person, did all sorts of awful things, and was promiscuous/a drug addict/an atheist.
    2. Then I had an incredible personal experience of Jeeezuz!
    3. Now my life is great, because I’m all full of the holy spirit.

    (Claiming to have also once been a Satanist was popular in the 80’s and 90’s, but that’s been so discredited that it’s mostly out of fashion now.)

    The fact that these stories sound so similar tells me that they are probably carefully coached, with loads of attention and praise for believers getting their “Testimony” just right. And it tells me they aren’t terribly honest, either.

    Those feel-good stories aren’t for us non-believers, anyway. They are for the flock, to reassure themselves that they actually have good reasons for belief, even though they don’t.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Those feel-good stories aren’t for us non-believers, anyway. They are for the flock, to reassure themselves that they actually have good reasons for belief, even though they don’t.

      Much like all apologetics. It’s all about feeling confident in your beliefs, rather than actually having good reasons.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Exactly. And you don’t have to do any years of studying to be able to rattle off a rehearsed “personal testimony”, so those are easier than complicated apologetics. But churches set up the same expectation in their sheep for both, that once the testimony or apologetic has been perfected, then either one can be used on non-believers with magic results. But they only work on people who are already in their club.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. And here’s the thing that believers seem to have a lot of trouble with: I’m willing to grant that they had a profound experience that convinced them that God was real. The problem is that such an experience is only useful (in the loosest of sense) to the person who had the experience, but is pretty much useless to me, and cannot confirm anything other than the fact that people have religious experiences.

          Anybody can be an atheist, and it takes pretty much no effort whatsoever. I don’t think the same can’t be said of being a skeptic, because human brains simply aren’t wired to be skeptical. It takes effort to remain rational, and look for rational explanations.

          I just finished listening to a radio piece about a journalist who investigated some claimed miracles attributed to the Virgin Mary. Randall Sullivan is referred to as a “skeptic”, but I don’t think a good skeptic should be swayed by such poor evidence. Not sure if the show is available outside of Canada, but you may be able to listen yourself (at your own risk) at https://www.cbc.ca/radio/tapestry/journalist-turned-believer-randall-sullivan-new-music-for-your-soul-1.5590397. Keep in mind that Tapestry aimed at people who believe they can have a “connection to something larger than yourself.” The host isn’t remotely a skeptic.

          Liked by 2 people

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