The simple and straightforward answer to this statement is a solid “no.” I know that you are looking for more than just a single-word answer to this question, so I will explain in more detail.
There are many lifelong atheists. I have had the privilege of meeting many of them during my travels and online adventures. I receive email from them all the time. Non-theists or very liberal theistic parents that did not brainwash them when they were children tend to have raised these lifelong atheists.
The lifelong atheists often fall under criticism sometimes because they never had to cross the flames, so to speak. The lifelong atheists never had to shed the burden of religious thought or go through the stages that accompany religious rejection; such as shame, anger, frustration, depression, fear and others. Some recovering post-religious atheists are quick to point out these things.
While the statements are generally true, they are an unfair criticism. Should we criticize the child that lives without pain or harm and given every opportunity just because we did not? Criticism of such items is only a reflection of jealousy or misplaced anger.
Our paths make our character and define whom we are. Our challenges are just as much a part of us as our accomplishments and triumphs. To criticize someone for not having the same challenges as us is ridiculous.
We should not criticize the lifelong atheists for never having to go through the de-conversion struggles and challenges. We should congratulate the lifelong atheists on their luck at never having had to go through such struggles and challenges.
It is safe to say that many atheists were once believers in one god or another. Many atheists had to go through the struggles and challenges of de-conversion or post-religious recuperation. The phrase “Recovering Catholic”, while humorous, has a serious tone to it that fails to do justice to what people must go through to recover from religious brainwashing or must endure as they realize they were duped and misled all their lives.
I have met ex-Christians (including ex-preachers), ex-Muslims, ex-Hindus, ex-Wiccans, ex-Deists, and many others.
I have met atheists that have come from moderate religious backgrounds and I have met atheists that have come from very radical fundamentalist backgrounds.
I have met atheists that believed in Jesus as The Christ only to one day drop that belief and find that they only accepted Jesus as a man.
I have met atheists that worshiped Vishnu and his incarnations and they finally accepted the silliness of a god incarnating as different animals and as blue humanoids.
I have met atheists that embraced Gaia only to one day understand that just because we are all made of the same material matter doesn’t mean that material matter talks and communicates with each other on a conscious level.
I guess the root of this question is not really that atheists were once believers, but why they left in the first place. I have talked to many atheists in person, at meetings and online and that answer is as varying as the sea is vast. Understand that there is no single cause for one’s atheism.
Atheism, as a destination, is a journey filled with many twists, turns, towns, villages, and information kiosks, if you will.
If you were to press me into giving you a single reason for why I left the god crowd I would answer that actually reading the sacred texts and understanding their histories led me to where I am today. Of course, that is just a pat answer for a question that does not have one answer. It is an answer that allows the answerer a way out and leaves the questioner satisfied.
However, mutual gratification at a question and answer does not mean that the question was valid or the answer truly honest or that it contained all the necessary information.
As I stated before as to why I am an atheist, you must read the answers to all the questions to get to that answer. The same holds true for the majority of atheists out there.<img class=”size-full wp-image-205″ title=”Visitors Near the of Kamakura” src=”https://blairscott.files.wordpress.com/2010/10/religion041.jpg” alt=”” width=”250″ height=”167″ /> Or perhaps a religion with a less violent past (but still engaged in some violence)?
Are there examples of atheists becoming believers? Yes. I have often heard theists use these examples as some sort of testimony for the validity of their particular religion. If atheistic “dissenters” are proof positive of a religion’s validity, then theistic “dissenters” are proof positive of a religion’s fallacy equally.
The use of conversions or de-conversions as a way to prove one’s side is not a valid argument because there are losses and gains on both sides.
Of course you also have to look at the overall trend of “losses and gains” to see where society is going and what the religious preferences of any given society are. Data taken over the last 100 years on religious affiliations, and especially data taken in the last 35 years (recently collaborated by Gallup and Barna in 2001 and 1998 respectively), indicates that Christianity only gained a tiny bit in those years. The last 35 years saw a .8% increase worldwide of Christians (slightly more for Islam). Non-theism saw an increase of over 125% during that same time.
I am not saying that atheism is “truer” because it is on the rise or that Christianity is “false” because it is getting close to a decline. You cannot make that kind of statement with such data. However, it rather makes you wonder, does it not? ;-)