Regaining Faith

Has anyone here ever experienced a really sustained change in their beliefs for several years, and then gone back to believing what they did in the first place? I was feeling curious as I decided to say a prayer today for the first time in years despite being a staunch atheist, and thought how weird it would be for me if it ended up going full circle.

So has anyone gone from atheist > religious > atheist, or whatever is applicable to your beliefs? If so what drove your decision and what was it like?

Posting here to help bump it: I would be interested too. Personally I have been back to church a couple of times and felt like face-palming at what was going on and the fact I used to believe it.

My faith life has been pretty boring thus far, which I've found makes it difficult for me to witness. I was raised in the church, and then toward the end of high school and the beginning of college I took more control of my faith and got more into it. No big epiphanies, no lights from above, no life-changing events that spurred some sort of inner revival. It just...felt right. So I stuck with it and dug in deeper.

So you can see the dilemma I face when trying to give people reasons to give it a try, lol.

As far as religion, no. My reasons for non-belief are such that if I was able to be converted, just about every atheist and religious person would be converted.

It might happen concerning which ethical philosophy I will in the end support, but it might as well not.

I didn't 'lose my faith' like you lose some toy.

I gained my senses when I did the painful task of questioning something that was just 'common sense' to me.

The funnies thing on my road to atheism is that it started out as me trying to PROVE that Catholicism was the one TRUE faith and that the other Christian sects were heretics.

Funny how actually READING your bible, and doing research on your religion's history, can turn you because FACTS have a way of disproving FAITH.

I don't fall under the criteria myself, but I do personally know several people who claim that they went full circle in that manner. That said, they tend to characterize their experience as a 'phase' (their phrasing, not mine) rather than a true theological conversion. To hear them say it, they were 'lashing out at the heavens' rather than changing faith due to theological concerns, and in hindsight they treat the transitions simply as a rebellious phase of life associated with late adolescence. Given that, it's somewhat questionable as to whether they truly fit the bill or not.

Nah, not too much happened to me in that regard. That said, a ton of Creationists claim to have made that sort of journey (from being a Christian to being an "ardent Atheist" and then back again). I think they (falsely) believe it adds credibility in the eyes of the people they try to convince when they say "I was just like you"...?

I suppose I went atheist -> religious -> religious zealot -> atheist. I didn't care much, but it changed during primary school with religious education. Then of course I got taken to the Reformist church and stayed there more for social reasons than anything else at first, and it has a really creepy way of turning you into one of them if you do. From there, the way back to being sensible as I grew more mature was a pretty violent one, and I have all the answers I need and all the morals I need, so I exclude the possibility of becoming religious again as extremely unlikely. Been persuaded to go to a church once or twice since then because it was supposedly fun, but I really felt like a complete waste of time and stupid on top of that.

You saw it happening more often though, that Reformist kids completely shunned the church and later on started going to a much more liberal church. Something eucomenic or something. Then again, it may well be a social and moral thing that leads to the circle. The Reformists are extremely old-fashioned and bigoted and like with any conservative religious group there are so many problems caused by religion there that any moral person can't do anything but be extremely disgusted by it. That probably leads them to throw the faith as far away as they can when they grow up, without ever really acknowleding that no gods exist. My wife for instance had the same kind of awakening to sense from reformism, but became a 'somethingist' who think "there is something" but doesn't care to subscribe to any particular religion, even though I'd describe her as a Christian based on what form that god-figure and the morals it imposes takes.


I think we need to separate social and moral moves from the religious ones. One can abandon a faith without becoming an atheist, or even become an atheist without leaving a religion (by that I mean: hanging around in religious groups and their sermons for social considerations).

I was raised for a little while in the Roman Catholic faith but by the end of Elementary school we'd switched over to a small Methodist congregation. By the end of high school I mostly ascribed to atheism due to my circle of friends. After moving away to college I sort of came back to faith as it were. I guess I came back to it for a few different reasons. How close I was with my Grandfather and how much of a wonderful man he was and just how I feel and want the world around me to be 'run' as it were as opposed to how I can prove it to be run.

Esotera:
So has anyone gone from atheist > religious > atheist, or whatever is applicable to your beliefs? If so what drove your decision and what was it like?

I actually did just that back in high school. Was atheist, then put into a situation where I thought I was going to die, and started to believe in a higher power. Few years later I lost the only person that cared about me and ended up atheist again (mostly). About a month ago, it turned back to religious, and oddly, everything in my life made sense then.

Fear is a powerful emotion, and can in many cases override rational thought. So you might find people lapsing onto comforting myths rather than face cold, unfeeling reality. It's human nature.

Esotera:
Has anyone here ever experienced a really sustained change in their beliefs for several years, and then gone back to believing what they did in the first place? I was feeling curious as I decided to say a prayer today for the first time in years despite being a staunch atheist, and thought how weird it would be for me if it ended up going full circle.

So has anyone gone from atheist > religious > atheist, or whatever is applicable to your beliefs? If so what drove your decision and what was it like?

Not that dramatically.

I believe that the best way to build your Faith (in whatever you believe, whether religion, or atheism, or agnosticism) is to question it. Why do I believe this? Then search for the answers. Faith is a journey through life.

I use to be a staunch Creationist. Then I studied the evidence. Then I studied the Bible further on the subject, and realized that (depending on how you interpret Genesis) that Theistic Evolution was possible. Long boring discussion and debate, my favorite, message me if your interested in reading that wall of text. ;-) Now my go to answer for any science vs. religion debate is "God did It".

But this took me years of personal and internal reflection and external debate with people I trust to be honest with me and my intellectual curiosity.

So that is my answer, be open-mined to God, but be cautious of snake-oil salesmen pretending to be ministers. I suggest reading the New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs, to see if you can find answers there.

If I ever regain faith I want someone ready with a gun to either convert me back or kill me.
I am very serious.

If I were to ever change from this I wouldn't consider that person to be me, nor would I want that person to exist.

I was born as an atheist, was converted into the church in my infant, toddler, and grade school years, and as I moved through high school and university, I became atheist again.

In order to be intellectually honest, you must consider the possibility of God to at least exist in some form. This is an extremely remote possibility and it doesn't even have to mean anything if there is a God. God might not care, might lack personality, or may exist solely as a force that just does what it does.

So yeah, God possible, but I see neither the evidence or the necessity of existence. Even if existence were likely, that doesn't mean that God has to give a damn about us or care what we do.

Not really, I've pretty much stayed as an Atheist my entire life. From an early age the first school I went to tried to drill Christian beliefs into me but they never really stuck. I was lucky enough to be born into a family who didn't force any beliefs onto me but who also had no problem with me following Religion if I wanted to, I was given the freedom to work it out myself.

Well I was born an atheist. Forced to do the whole religious stuff, called myself a catholic out of convenience but never really believed, then went back to being an atheist.

I guess if I never actually believed I was always an atheist though. Huh.

I went religious -> atheist -> religious myself, and found the whole journey to be really strange ride, frankly.
It's why I have a lot of respect for atheists who just say "I don't believe in God" because frankly, I understand their position.
It's also why I don't have a lot of respect for atheists who play the "You can't believe in God because [reasons]" card, because even when I didn't believe, I still had enough common decency to respect the beliefs of others even if I disagreed with them.
Your free to believe whatever you want, and as long as you extend that courtesy to others, I'm happy to listen to whatever you have to say.

Regaining faith is a pretty common thing after a near-death experience, or other traumatic life experience that leaves you reeling for answers and direction. I was fortunate enough to not have to go through that, and came to my own conclusions when I started to question what I believed and why.

I'd have to question anyone who never really stops and asks "Why?" once in their life. I did it twice, and completely flipped both times. God only knows what'll happen if/when I do it again :)

Tanis:
I didn't 'lose my faith' like you lose some toy.

I gained my senses when I did the painful task of questioning something that was just 'common sense' to me.

The funnies thing on my road to atheism is that it started out as me trying to PROVE that Catholicism was the one TRUE faith and that the other Christian sects were heretics.

Funny how actually READING your bible, and doing research on your religion's history, can turn you because FACTS have a way of disproving FAITH.

Must... resist... urge to argue... capital letters... too powerful... but thread... otherwise civil... I let the oppurtunity pass. Sigh.

OT: I'm a Catholic who hasn't and won't be anything else, so I guess I had no real reason to comment in here.

Used to be spiritual. Not belonging to A religion, still dont understand how people do, but pure deism. My views where that there is a god. It doesnt have a personality. It doesnt demand our attention nor does it become petulant and angry when we dont writhe and caper for its weird amusement in just the right way. It just sits and is. I always envisaged it as a God more like a computer than a person. A god of pure logic, lacking any sort of innate morality or desires or anything, a force that created the universe and then sat, perhaps it had an appreciating for neatness or reason or logic since its entire universe seems framed around it. Maybe watching but definitely not caring in any tradition sense about us specifically over the sun of a distant galazy. I assigned ZERO human traits to it at all. Sometimes i talked to it in my mind, my form of praying, about things i wanted to reason through myself. I never expected or wanted a response of any kind or any imagine "Input" from the machine god. I assumed IF said god had any wishes it would be to appreciate and explore its universe in a way that might be interesting. To attempt to interact with the vast cosmic playground available to us.

Basically i believed in (But never worshipped, i cannot abide worship of any kind. Anything that DEMANDS or WANTS worship already has an inherent egotistical flaw which disgusts me), in some aspects, the Omnissiah. The machine god. It always appealed to me.

I didnt "Drop my ignorance" or whatever or anything dramatic like that. People always talk about this in the most dire of ways like they suddenly cast down infinite ignorance. I just slowly stopped believing in such a being. I shifted my stance to saying "My god of logic would be surprised to know i believed it existed when no substantial evidence exists to prove it", "Logically my stance should be one of NEEDS MORE DATA". So i become an agnostic atheist. Twas, from my perspective, a logical move. I think deism though, PURE deism, without the bells and whistles is a VERY defensible position. I appreciate and respect it. Not really so understanding of this worship stuff though. Worshiping freaks me out. I find the concept a little obscene.

I've kind of been an atheist all my life.

However, lately I've been hoping that I'll, someday, find somekind of proof of existence of god.

Or just a sign that'll inspire me to believe in something.

It's hard though, after all the thinking and all the years I've been an atheist.

WouldYouKindly:
In order to be intellectually honest, you must consider the possibility of God to at least exist in some form. This is an extremely remote possibility and it doesn't even have to mean anything if there is a God. God might not care, might lack personality, or may exist solely as a force that just does what it does.

So yeah, God possible, but I see neither the evidence or the necessity of existence. Even if existence were likely, that doesn't mean that God has to give a damn about us or care what we do.

Only as much as I need to consider the possibility that aliens are controlling everything, including my thoughts about them. Or that they will be displeased if I get up from this chair. Generally it fits among other possibilities that I don't even bother to consider through every moment of the day. Indeed not even ones I tend to acknowledge.

I suppose I simply find it annoying that someone says I need to consider the possibility when they don't advocate for the other myriad possibilities I don't have time or reason to consider. For some reason God gets a higher place than angry aliens ready to blast me for every possible choice to act or not to act.

i went to Sunday school and church but eventually the Sunday school kind of expelled me when i was about 5 or 6 or something because i asked to many questions they couldn't or didn't want to answer. (on a side note i was getting a row about this on the way home and basically said that should be able to answer the kinds of questions a small boy would ask if they expected me to go along with it all and my mum actually backed me up.).

anyway through most of my teenage and young adult life i've had zero interest in religion and to be frank its had zero impact on my life except when other peoples beliefs have touched on my life via their influence on public policy.

you could call me an atheist (but i prefer apatheist) but i was never militant and some of the nicest and happiest people i knew were Christians and i never grudged them that, it just wasn't for me. (i knew my high school physics teachers family very well and they were all in the salvation army and very hands on but also non-proselytizing.).

in my twenties and up i read a lot of philosophy and other stuff (trying to understand the universe as people do) and eventually ended up reading Taoism and coming to the conclusion that a lot of it sounded a lot like the kind of "folk wisdom" or "shit my Gran said" that i grew up with.

recently however, ive become aware that i'm mentioning a lot of biblical passages in conversation especially the actual words of Jesus and biblical comment on the likes of money and attitudes towards the less fortunate and outcast in society.

this is undoubtedly because of modern politics and i'm by no means a Christian but i find it interesting that even that short time in the church managed to impress upon me that Jesus himself was an probably a impressive individual (if he existed) with strong moral messages i appreciated and even today passages from the Bible still chime.

i'm just not inclined to swallow everything else that's piled up on top of it.

but what a world we could build if we just followed the son of man rather than the son of god eh ?...

sorry, i must have came over a bit funny :P

i'm inclined to remember the line from Douglas Adams..."And then, one Thursday, nearly two thousand years after one man had been nailed to a tree for saying how great it would be to be nice to people for a change, ..." and the somewhat infamous Gahndi quote "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ".

so to answer the OPs question: nearly but at the same time not nearly enough.

Dijkstra:

WouldYouKindly:
In order to be intellectually honest, you must consider the possibility of God to at least exist in some form. This is an extremely remote possibility and it doesn't even have to mean anything if there is a God. God might not care, might lack personality, or may exist solely as a force that just does what it does.

So yeah, God possible, but I see neither the evidence or the necessity of existence. Even if existence were likely, that doesn't mean that God has to give a damn about us or care what we do.

Only as much as I need to consider the possibility that aliens are controlling everything, including my thoughts about them. Or that they will be displeased if I get up from this chair. Generally it fits among other possibilities that I don't even bother to consider through every moment of the day. Indeed not even ones I tend to acknowledge.

I suppose I simply find it annoying that someone says I need to consider the possibility when they don't advocate for the other myriad possibilities I don't have time or reason to consider. For some reason God gets a higher place than angry aliens ready to blast me for every possible choice to act or not to act.

If you'll look at my history, I'm solidly an atheist. It's mostly a thought exercise, the same way I consider nihilism and many existential questions: Fun to think about and discuss, not much use in the real world. Apply similarly to the potential existence and nature of God.

I believe C.S Lewis followed that path, christian to atheist (thanks to a teacher) and then back to atheist (thanks to Tolkien). As for myself I don't think I could see myself getting back into a particular religion though I won't say never.

Technically, yes.

I was born unaware of a god, thus a non-believer.
Then I got raised, was spoon fed that god was there, so I was a Christian.
Then I stopped believing and was a atheist again.

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