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Goodbye Jesus

Why Do People Re-Convert?


chrisstavrous

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I have heard that some people return to christianity and I would like to talk about it and how it could affect us and our lives.

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I think one could go back only if they initially left for shallow, emotional reasons such as a "bad" church or are "mad at God" for some reason.  Those who have rejected the religion/Bible because of scholarly investigation and intellectual integrity can never again ignore the man behind the curtain.

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Florduh makes some good points about people leaving church for the "wrong" reasons.  But I would also add that the intensity of one's indoctrination might play a part as well.  I know in the early days of my deconversion I clearly saw what a lie it had all been; but I also had an overwhelming sense of guilt which I knew would be abated if I just went back to church.  I didn't want to go back, but my brain had incredible difficulty staying away.  Fortunately, I never did go back; but I'm sure there are many out there who did.

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Good question. My dad had a "crisis of faith" when I was in high school and later was "brought back into the fold." He said he no longer believed in god although I didn't really know all the reasons because I think my mother forbid him from talking to us about it. I remember being at college and having my prayer group pray for him...ugh. From my point of view now, I think my mother made his life so miserable that he eventually agreed to go to counseling with the pastor of our church. He was given books such as "Case for Christ" and back then the internet was brand new and there was not the wealth of information easily accessible as we have today. I think in times past peer pressure and lack of information may have been big reasons. But as Florduh pointed out, with all the information we have now, to ignore the compelling evidence against the religion and Bible would be very hard. Maybe re-converting will become a thing of the past. 

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Christianity (and I suppose other religions) make it so we don't have to think or take responsibility for our actions, which some people prefer.  They de-convert for obvious reasons but then realize how much work and hardship it will be so they decide to fall back into the cradle and just let the thinking be done for them.  This isn't the case with all of course, but many.

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It's difficult to imagine that someone would break free from Christian indoctrination, and then later on fall back into indoctrination, but I suppose it's not unheard of.

I think if someone was a Christian for shallow, cultural reasons (raised Christian), then left the faith, they could later rejoin the faith on a deeper level. But if they thoroughly know the bible, and are serious about their faith, and then come to a rational conclusion that it's myth.... There is no turning back for that person, unless severe mental/emotional disturbance wrecks their rational mind.

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The brainwashing has powerful emotional hooks.  This causes intense emotional pain and fear upon leaving.  In my opinion most people turn to Christianity for emotional motivation.  It's not like they think about the doctrine and are persuaded by the logic and evidence.  Their life sucks right now or their mind sucks right now and the christian witnesses are acting supper nice and supper supportive as part of an outreach.  I'm not surprised that some people have to leave Christianity a few times before it takes.

 

Actually I did as well.  The first time I left Christianity was as a child.  I came back and it took me decades before I left for good.  What brought me back?  My mom sent me to a fundie Bible camp where they told me all kinds of stories about people being attacked by demons.  Maybe I was 8 or 9.  I didn't realize those stories could be lies or halucinations.  The thought about being attacked by demons and not being able to protect yourself scared me.  So after a few days of camp indoctrination I rededicated my life to Jesus.  And I also was blessed with a demon phobia that stuck with me until the day I became an atheist.  Praying to Jesus was only partly reassuring against demon attack.  I couldn't tell you how many times I sat alone in my room chanting prayers to protect myself from things that don't exist.  What a horrible way to live.

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Ah yes, but can anyone return to Christ?

 

Hebrews 6 : 4 - 8, NIV.

 

It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit,

who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age

and who have fallenaway, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.

Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God.

But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned.

 

Therefore, a true rejection of Jesus is a one-way journey, from which there can be no return.

 

Nobody who leaves Christ returns to him.

 

Even though DavidL claims to have done so... twice!

 

http://www.ex-christian.net/user/21299-davidl/

 

Please draw your own conclusions.

 

Thanks,

 

BAA

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Let us also not forget people who have major life experiences such as being seriously ill or injured, experiencing psychological problems or dealing with death or divorce. Atheists and agnostics (throw in any other ideology you can think of) are still human beings at the end of the day running organic hardware and software with all it's flaws and idiosyncrasies. People can have these major experiences and make irrational conclusions and change beliefs based on said conclusions.

 

We see this being pushed on major news networks, with a current show dedicated to people who "see" heaven while having a near death experience. Even though all the evidence points to a physical cause, many of these people had such a "powerful" psychological experience that they believe in spite of evidence to the contrary. While not everybody when faced with said experience will change their beliefs, there is almost certainly a portion of the population that is likely to be more susceptible. We find this with brain stimulation experiments, where stimulating certain areas of the brain causes people to have what is described as a deeply spiritual or otherworldly experience. However, some people don't have said experiences and some people have very profound experiences with a spectrum between the two extremes. Richard Dawkins participated and is on video stating he didn't feel much of anything. This suggests some people are simply more prone to having such experiences.

 

Likely, reconversion is due to a complex interplay of psychological and genetic factors.

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Ah yes, but can anyone return to Christ?

 

Hebrews 6 : 4 - 8, NIV.

 

It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit,

who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age

and who have fallenaway, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.

Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God.

But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned.

 

Therefore, a true rejection of Jesus is a one-way journey, from which there can be no return.

 

Nobody who leaves Christ returns to him.

 

Even though DavidL claims to have done so... twice!

 

http://www.ex-christian.net/user/21299-davidl/

 

Please draw your own conclusions.

 

Thanks,

 

BAA

 

Perhaps Calvinism is right and those who return only do so because god predestined them to.  But then that would open up the whole "free will" can of worms again.

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Everybody's an individual with individual thoughts and reactions and feelings.  Just like I don't like all xians lumping everybody together into the same group like "Everybody should be a married heterosexual with children," I don't like all ex-c's being lumped into the same group of "Now that you are an ex-c, you will never return."  I'd imagine people go back (and forth) for a variety of reasons.  Guilt, fear, family pressure.  Maybe they keep attending church and it just sinks back in.  Or maybe their amputated limb miraculously regrows after they pray for it.  

 

I do think if people have some logical reasons why they have quit believing (as opposed to emotional reasons like being mad at their church or mad at God) it would be harder to ignore the logic.  But I wouldn't want to lump everybody into one category.  People are free to go back and forth on xianity, or learn about other religions and join them or not as they feel fit.  It's a journey, not a race and not a test.  I meandered around for years between agnostic, believer, agnostic, atheist.  I'm sticking with atheist because I'm tired of meandering and I've come to learn that the bible is mostly made up and god was created for some type of controlling reasons, but really, if god wanted us to believe in something he'd need to make things more clear to us in this day and age, not from an ancient book.  

 

Hebrews 6:4-8 is fucked up!

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I think one could go back only if they initially left for shallow, emotional reasons such as a "bad" church or are "mad at God" for some reason.  Those who have rejected the religion/Bible because of scholarly investigation and intellectual integrity can never again ignore the man behind the curtain.

 

Hi Florduh.  It's interesting that you make the connection to scholarly study.  I think it's true that many people leave Christianity for intellectual reasons of some kind.  Maybe even most, I'm not really sure what the statistics say on this topic.

 

Maybe I'm an oddball case, but I joined Christianity not because I was convinced by the weight of its intellectual arguments, but because of the effect I thought it would have on my life.  And I left for what one might call cultural reasons (which I won't go into here because I've already posted on this extensively).  So it's rather strange that while I believed in the claims of the Bible while I was a Christian, none of those objective claims had anything to do with either my conversion or departure.  Even I recognize that this can be seen as flaky, and one might rightly think that there's a possibility that I'll go back someday.  However, at the moment I can conclusively say that I don't see myself ever returning to Christianity.

 

I wonder if there's a subclass of people like myself who are predisposed to religiosity, for whom Christianity provides a means for religious expression.  Of course Christianity is harmful and should be avoided if at all possible.  So it may be that the best way to prevent re-conversion to Christianity is to replace it with something else (though hopefully not a religion with any fundamentalist component).  That makes it important, then, for people to examine why they became Christians in the first place.  It could be that for some, simple lack of religion is not sufficient to keep someone away from Christianity.

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Anyone who goes back was never a True Ex-C .

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Bhim, the following article may help to shed some light on the questions you raised above (I certainly found it illuminating):

 

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3125629/

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I wonder if there's a subclass of people like myself who are predisposed to religiosity, for whom Christianity provides a means for religious expression. 

 

I think it might be a majority rather than a subclass. In my experience, most people want/need some sort of supernatural belief and/or rituals that bond them with others in their tribe. In America, of course, that means most will default to some form of Christian culture and belief; at least as long as they don't really think about it too much!

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Florduh is spot on.

 

When I was younger, I was frustrated and mad at god. So I joined the military to get away from my social circle and "away from god." I was the only person in basic training who did not attend church on Sundays and when I got out, I still avoided the church. But internally, I was obsessed with god and all my "running" was in vain. I could not escape my own head. So of course I returned to god. But the truth was, I had simply left church. I never stopped believing that there was a god that I needed to get away from.

 

It wasn't until twenty years later when I started objectively examining the faith as a whole that I was able to recognize that there is no god. This conclusion came not as a result of someone else's writings but because I read the Bible starting at Gen 1:1 and asked the hard questions. It was the Bible that caused me to realize reality.

 

Once that line was crossed, there was no thought of going back. I can no more "return to the faith" than I can start believing in Santa again. 

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Bhim, the following article may help to shed some light on the questions you raised above (I certainly found it illuminating):

 

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3125629/

 

I just read the abstract.  This would certainly explain the propagation of religiosity.  But I find it more interesting that the author recognizes the existence of a genetic predisposition to religiosity.  I'll have to take a look at this article more closely, thanks for posting it!

 

 

I think it might be a majority rather than a subclass. In my experience, most people want/need some sort of supernatural belief and/or rituals that bond them with others in their tribe. In America, of course, that means most will default to some form of Christian culture and belief; at least as long as they don't really think about it too much!

 

Your statement about communal affiliation is definitely one reason that I am religious (despite not entirely believing in God).  This would also explain why Christianity didn't really do the trick for me.

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I have heard that some people return to christianity and I would like to talk about it and how it could affect us and our lives.

 

Old people fearful of death can fall back into Christianity. Logic and reason is great when you're living but unless you've done some psychological planning about the happiness of non-existence then a religious belief system may make you feel better as the time of death approaches. :-)

 

--

 

Other than that I'm of the opinion that anyone can at anytime switch from Ex-c to C or C to Ex-c just because they want to or feel they need to. Life circumstances may tend to direct whether a person is more left brain thinking or right brain thinking and a momentary change could push that person to the other side. To say 'it could never happen' is foolishness.

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I think it's mostly out of fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of an afterlife, fear of whatever. Vulnerability kind of goes with the territory of fear, since you're not likely to be at your best in making decisions in a mindset like that.

 

Acceptance may also be another factor. If you're living in an area where xtianity is basically the only game in town, then it's like if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. They know the desperation someone's feeling, and they play into it. Manipulation and mind control are really potent weapons, and they know it (at least on some level).

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I think it may also be out of loneliness; when I left I was leaving 18 years of a whole personal social construct, and I didn't immediately find a new one.  Still haven't really, and while I never went back I can see how it might be easier to do so.

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I doubt reconverts fit into one neat explanation, I'd guess there's at least ten main categories of reconverts and a bunch of really small additional categories. 

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"I think one could go back only if they initially left for shallow, emotional reasons such as a "bad" church or are "mad at God" for some reason. "

 

Don't forget "for money and/or power."   bill

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Florduh is spot on.

 

When I was younger, I was frustrated and mad at god. So I joined the military to get away from my social circle and "away from god." I was the only person in basic training who did not attend church on Sundays and when I got out, I still avoided the church. But internally, I was obsessed with god and all my "running" was in vain. I could not escape my own head. So of course I returned to god. But the truth was, I had simply left church. I never stopped believing that there was a god that I needed to get away from.

 

It wasn't until twenty years later when I started objectively examining the faith as a whole that I was able to recognize that there is no god. This conclusion came not as a result of someone else's writings but because I read the Bible starting at Gen 1:1 and asked the hard questions. It was the Bible that caused me to realize reality.

 

Once that line was crossed, there was no thought of going back. I can no more "return to the faith" than I can start believing in Santa again. 

That's exactly right. There's a point of no return and it's a point only reached by intellectual honesty. Many of the rebellious kids that I went to private school with are now involved with the church as either pastors or just active participants. I see it on facebook all the time. They all have one thing in common, which, of course, and as expected, is that they are people who never reached the point of intellectual honesty and were therefore eventually sucked right back into the fold, given enough time. Guys that were drugged out in the 90's, chasing tail to no end, partying their asses off, and then settling down getting married and heading right back to church again. And the few of us who actually had intellectual interests in the Bible are immunized against ever returning again.

 

This really is a situation comparable to returning to belief in the Tooth Fairy, Easter bunny, Santa Claus, etc. etc.

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^^^Reaching the point of no return.  Yeah, once you get there, that's it.  Intellectual honesty . . . seeing the man behind the curtain . . . once you get that far, that's it forever.

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