I was recently asked, “How do you convert a theist to atheism?”
My answer: Very carefully.
You will never, ever convert an theist to atheism and in the unlikely event that you do it will not be the best conversion. There is only one effective way to convert a theist–make them begin to think rationally and skeptically about their beliefs. Theists are not going to become an atheist by you attacking their beliefs. Theists are not going to become an atheist because you insult their intelligence. Think about it. Many of you used to be theists! Did you suddenly stop believing when someone attacked your beliefs or insulted your intelligence? Probably not. There is no argument that you can make that will successfully convert someone to atheism either. I say successfully because if you actually change someones mind with an argument, what happens when they hear a better argument?
It is for this reason that a successful deconversion is a lengthy process of enduring cognitive dissonance and self realization. You need to treat every theist as if this is their first time talking to an atheist, unless they give you a reason to do otherwise. I understand that some people are lost causes and so far gone that nothing can bring them back. It is okay to accept that. However, the vast majority of theists have never had their beliefs examined or questioned, especially by their own mind. When a theist goes to a theist they are looking for reassurance, but when a theist goes to an atheist they are looking to have their beliefs questioned. This presents us with a unique opportunity to quell the stereotype of atheists being militant, emotionally empty, or purposeless. We have to share the positive side of atheism. My life has changed in amazing ways since I became an atheist and I want to share that with people that come seeking answers. I encourage you to do the same.
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