I used to be an atheist

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Many apologists, such as [[Kirk Cameron]] and [[Lee Strobel]] claim that they were once [[atheist]]s, before converting to their religion. The argument is that since they were once like you, the arguments that convinced them will likely convince you as well, and you should follow the same path that they took.
 
Many apologists, such as [[Kirk Cameron]] and [[Lee Strobel]] claim that they were once [[atheist]]s, before converting to their religion. The argument is that since they were once like you, the arguments that convinced them will likely convince you as well, and you should follow the same path that they took.
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This argument has a Biblical precedent, in the story of [[Doubting Thomas]].
  
 
==Counter-arguments==
 
==Counter-arguments==

Revision as of 09:29, 11 December 2007

Many apologists, such as Kirk Cameron and Lee Strobel claim that they were once atheists, before converting to their religion. The argument is that since they were once like you, the arguments that convinced them will likely convince you as well, and you should follow the same path that they took.

This argument has a Biblical precedent, in the story of Doubting Thomas.

Counter-arguments

This is an instance of the argument from authority, where the authority happens to be the person making the argument. As with other lines of reasoning, the important thing to do is to examine the arguments themselves and see whether they're sound.

In particular, ask which arguments and what evidence convinced the former atheist. Kirk Cameron, for instance claims that he was an atheist until he asked himself, "What if I'm wrong?" He may have been convinced by Pascal's wager, but that doesn't mean that you should be. Similarly, Antony Flew famously softened his atheist stance based on Intelligent design arguments based on topics outside of his field of expertise.

Consider, too, that the ex-atheist may mean something else by "atheist" than you do. Many Christians, in particular, seem to believe that everyone believes in God, though some people rebel against him; they may think that "atheist" describes such a person.

Conversion stories are as popular among theists as deconversion stories among atheists. The person may have started out as a lukewarm theist before undergoing conversion; but through retelling, the story has grown into "I used to be an atheist until I was saved." Thus, it may also be worth asking the person why they were an atheist to begin with. If their experience doesn't seem to match yours, the argument that "I used to be where you are now; you should follow my path" probably doesn't apply.

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