Reasons for Why Christians Do Not Deconvert
Think of this as the average on the street Christian. They often go through the motions of a Christian life and don't rock the boat in other people's lives. They are content to live their religion. Their ignorance stems not from stupidity or lack of intelligence, but from being unaware of certain branches of science and philosophy, believing there are adequate counter arguments, and never doing extensive research into such areas.
- Unaware of Science
- This was me. I thought I knew and loved science but had serious misunderstandings of science, such as the difference between a law and a theory, even though both, scientifically, are considered fact.
- Unaware of Philosophy
- This is not the same as not understanding, or not studying, or not knowing philosophy. This point references misunderstandings that Christians have in philosophy, such as when Christians (old and new alike) have said that some philosophical problems have been solved--or just ignoring them (Solipsism's Problem).
- Belief in Counter-Arguments
- Argument from Morality - claiming necessity of a god because without him/her there would be no morality.
- Arguments from philosophy, including the Ontological, Kalam, Pascal's Wager, Aquinas, etc.
- Argument from Ignorance or Incredulity - just because god couldn't be non-existent in your view or you find there to be no other way than for there to be a god, does not automatically mean he exists.
- Proof by Lack of Evidence - and this might be the most grievous one yet - a misunderstanding of the burden of proof; the Christian claims there is a god and fails to see why he has to provide proof of such a claim; he believes it is up to the opposition to prove that god does not exist.
- Too often conversation with a Christian--when all other arguments have been blunted--turns to anecdotes as "evidence" of god. "When Aunt Sally learned about god her gland's swelling was reduced..."
- The argumentation from anecdotal evidence can most clearly be dispelled by rehearsing the same story from the point of any other religious person. If it is unable to prove their god, why should it prove the Christian god?
- Serious Consideration/Introspection
- This is the unchallenged arrogant Christian, which I was as well. I had never been adequately challenged as a Christian on my beliefs by someone who actually cared and would try to convince me otherwise. I did a handful of street preaching, but that only led to small doubts--doubts I was taught to suppress.
I think of an elderly gentleman at a church who has gone there almost his whole life. He is so ingrained in the doctrines and teachings that even consider stepping outside them is ridiculous. Such a practice would go against his very nature, much less he hates the idea of trying it, as it would be "giving the devil a foothold."
- One God Further
- As I wrote earlier and borrowed from Richard Dawkins, we all are atheists about some gods, some of us just go one god further. Such an idea has probably not entered the head of someone who stubbornly holds on to their belief in god. They think that their belief is justified and completely reasonable, without any error. However, if they were to seriously evaluate why they dismiss other gods, they might have to reconsider why they have justified belief in their god so readily.
- Argument from Incredulity
- As with our previous Christian, the idea that god could not be part of the equation boggles his mind and is thus left unconsidered. It does not help that he is unwilling to step into such a mindset either.
Second only to the first point, I previously most aligned with this one. This might be a seminary student who has found a life and meaning in Christianity that he has not found elsewhere, a true purpose and joy of a life wholly devoted to Christ. His identity has become being a Christian, a life abstaining from sin and selfishness, service to others, and worship of god. Never mind what is true--it has given his life purpose and meaning and is therefore justified.
- Galatians 2:20
- I do not make this point up. As a Christian, I easily spouted off this verse to characterize how my life should be lived as a Christian, "I have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. The life I live in the body I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." Such a verse, to the uninformed, refers to the Christian life as one replaced by a life in Christ, where service--even to the point of death--is the Christian calling.
- Though not noticeable, the Christian whose life is characterized by identity in Christ, fears losing this purpose and meaning. I was this way when I first realized I was falling away from faith. My life was full of depression and frustration. And then, there was the fear of death and Hell. I believed I was unsaved (as I fell away) and was fearful of God's eternal wrath.
- Comfort and Love
- Needless to say, a life of purpose and meaning is very comforting. It becomes intoxicating, which might be why the Pentecostal church has had such success.
- On top of that (and this is especially true for the more emotional people), God's love is unconditional, which seems amazing and too good to be true (it is).
An older woman, late forties perhaps, might best summarize this persona. Her belief and faith and doctrine are not what ties her to church, it is the social environment of friends who care about her that draws her. I do not for a second believe she would continue going if there was threat of death. However, where there is no social repercussion, her belief is Christianity.
- Friends - her social web is all within the church, and she does not desire to make friends that don't go to church.
- Family - she begins to distance herself from family that deride or mock or are indifferent about church. Very soon, her family has become those she goes to church with and not her biological family.
- Possible Rejection
- The first sign of doubt about her faith is immediately squelched in light of the fact that to reject Christianity, she might be rejected by all her friends at church. Such a prospect is terrifying.
- It is no secret that humans enjoy familiarity, and for this type of Christian it is no exception. She may have grown up in the church and so such a weekly gathering is commonplace and familiar.
If a Christian has just entered a secular college and is greeted with a textbook citing evolution, he is staggered. He has been raised to believe in the divinely inspired Word of God, and believes creation took place in six literal days and brought forth life. He immediately becomes a hindrance to the rest of the class for the semester. This individual does not understand logic or how to reason, and may in fact be a banality of Christian college freshman, who have been taught the Bible, but not logic, science, or philosophy. This is also why so many of them do deconvert, because by their third and fourth year, they have learned all those subjects and the Bible can no longer withstand their scrutiny.
- I see logical fallacies all the time. It was because I was taught to spot them. Unfortunately, most people don't and suffer as a result. Fallacies are what keep advertisements, conspiracy theories, political jargon, Ponzi schemers, astrologists, and psychics afloat. When people begin to think for themselves and can spot these fallacies, discernment is so much easier and clarity comes about.
- Null Hypothesis
- Christians of this fashion don't understand this hypothesis either, even though they use it. It is: there exists no relationship between two entities until such a relationship is proven. This goes hand in hand with the correlation versus causation discussion. Too often Christians assume something is true without sufficient evidence, even while in another realm they refuse to believe something until evidence is given. Irony much?
- Do not know how to argue
- When was the last time you were taught how to argue? Probably never unless you took law or debate. Such is the case with this Christian. They might be taught some apologetics, but argumentation is not part of their repertoire and upon a serious discussion into any philosophy and everything crumbles.
- Do not know how to think critically or skeptically
- Critical thought is another huge part of logic. Conspiracy theories are so much fun to pick on and represent what happens when one does not think critically, the only choice left is to accept any presented side. Critical thought is the art of weighing the factuality of any claim, and throwing it out if it does not measure up to par.
- Skepticism is also important, as the alternative is gullibility.
Bikeshedding is focusing on side issues when there is really a deeper issue that needs addressing first. The best example of a Christian who bikesheds is a Christian pastor. There focus is to arm their Sunday audience to take up arms against the vile teachings of the day. They bring up news story after news story of how our culture has abandoned faith and it is leading us more and more to immorality, until we will be like Sodom and Gomorrah. Here the pastor has missed the forest for the trees. There lies a bigger issue: Christianity is unproven. The Christian of this phenotype is most focused on side issues and cannot begin to contemplate a departure from Christian belief while such side issues remain undiscussed.
- Evolution vs. Creationism
- Here is a favorite. Christians of all types would much rather debate evolution than anything having to do with philosophy, whether or not there is a god, or the inaccuracies of Scripture. I have had numerous conversations with Christians regarding evolution when I could not care less if evolution were proven false. My main concern is whether we know and can understand the truth.
- Despite most churches non-profit status, politics plays a major role in the Christian church and not voting is seen as a sin. A Christian has trouble discussing philosophy with an atheist when most of them are the liberal political leaning.
- Probably only second to evolution in interest and while it is by some considered a moral question, it is to me a side issue. The bigger questions could be: what determines life? What determines personhood? Are all humans equal in value? Are some humans worth sacrificing for the greater good? etc. Bigger ethical conundrums. A Christian will flock to this issue before ever thinking through philosophy.
- Christianity has pointed the end of a barrel at feminism by advocating almost a complete reversal, that women should be in submission to their husbands, that woman are called to be mothers and homemakers. I wish I was making this up. Turning such a side issue on it's head will completely distract the Christian from deeper questions about why he thinks his religion is true.
- Church versus the World
- Christians are made to think that the world and those in it, are out to get them in a way. Deconversion becomes harder this way because Christians are then automatically on the defense whenever they are out in "the world."
- Government and Law
- Also, Christians are taught that the government and law are avenues where they have little control, even though they advocate that Christians should go into it and exert more control--to the point of theocracy. With the supposed "little control," Christians are left frustrated when the law is not on their side, when the ACLU "bullies" them, when the Ten Commandments are taken off of government buildings. This causes distraction for the Christian as well, a victim mentality, and prevents deconversion.
This seems to be the most common Christian online. They have already run into atheists and skeptics, but their impression is not positive, and they don't exhibit Christ's love in response. They rule the online banter with their hate speech, homophobia, ad hominems, red herrings, and ignorance.
- Jesus taught to love your enemies, but the biggest drawback for this Christian's deconversion is his hate. He hates that the atheist is attempting to speak truth to him, but he won't hear it because he hates that atheist.
- Further, this Christian thrives on creating mayhem and divisive conversation. The point of his conversations is not to change minds and hearts, but to win the debate and earn bragging rights to his Christian friends of how he humiliated that atheist.
- Can't Reason
- Too often the atheists will give up on this type of Christian because he is too stubborn and incapable of reason. Their cessation is taken by this Christian as admittance of defeat and the Christian becomes wrongfully more sure of his position.
- Usage of Ad Hominem
- Rather than pursuing meaningful conversation that will seek the truth, this Christian resorts to name calling, put downs, slurs and insults, because his argumentation is not working, and the conversation is a competition, and he is losing it. If he feels he can get under the atheist's skin or make him resign by insulting him, then he can feel he is winning.