December 31, 2008 | 216 Comments
I had planned to shutter this blog shortly after the end of this year. The day after the election, with so many of my friends depressed by the outcome, I announced that I would be publicly declaring my conversion to Christianity. Like me, many of them could barely drag themselves out of bed, read the newspaper or turn on the television. I hoped that it would cheer them to see The Raving Atheist go out on a faith-filled note, and encourage them to rise to the challenges posed by the incoming administration. I anticipating closing the blog with a few wrap-up posts, and then returning full-steam to the pro-life efforts that eventually brought me to this good place in my life.
The blog was essentially moribund due to an abandonment of fourteen months. I expected perhaps a dozen goodbye (or good riddance) comments on the conversion post. I did not bother to remove the Basic Assumptions or other trappings of godlessness because it seemed to me that would be like rearranging the furniture on the Titanic. The accompanying picture was selected by downloading the first suitably-sized result arising from a Google Image search for “Christ + Children.” I did not screen it for historical or political correctness because I assumed that the thought behind it would count enough for the handful of readers who would see it.
The deluge of comments and e-mails has persuaded me that some purpose might be served by an extended run of The Raving Theist. I have also been convinced, particularly by Jennifer of Conversion Diary, that sharing the story of my coming to faith might serve some beneficial purpose. It will be a maudlin, rickety, hole-filled, unconvincing narrative, in that respect not much different from the lives we lead in or out of the faith. For now, however, I will address (as time permits) some of the issues that have arisen more persistently in the comments, supplying additional observations where necessary.
(1) Yes, my conversion is real and sincere and heartfelt. It is not a mean atheist hoax or prank. At first I was offended that anyone could suspect me of such monstrous cruelty, but I realize that most people don’t know me well enough to understand how my character would so absolutely preclude such a charade. And having written my share of skeptical posts about the conversion of other atheists, I understand how impossible it would be for anyone who has perused my archives to conclude that I am anything more than fraud.
(2) Notably, there appears to be absolute certainty on both sides of hoax hypothesis. On the religious side the divide is not so significant: the believers who are convinced of my sincerity see my faith as a natural surrender to the truth, while those who think I am faking see it as consistent with the moral character or nastiness of many atheists, or at least those of my (former) ilk. Among the atheists, the divide is a little harder to explain. Those who believe it is a prank simply “know” that no one who has ever achieved their understanding of atheist concepts could ever possibly embrace the opposite conclusion. To them, the fakery is as obvious as that of a person who once believed that 1 + 1 = 2 suddenly renouncing that view in favor of the 1 + 1 = 3 conclusion. So one would think that every hardcore atheist would disbelieve my conversion. Nevertheless, two of the most militant internet atheists, PZ Myers of Pharyngula and Amanda Marcotte of Pandagon are fully convinced of my sincerity and predicted my conversion long ago. What the opposing atheists sides conclude as to each others’ sincerity regarding my sincerity I do not know.
(3) The atheists have justifiably pointed out that I have not supported my new thesis with anything more than a picture and an oath. As noted above, I will in time supply my reasons. I did not do so at first because the announcement was intended as consolation rather than argumentation. Furthermore, the calls for a full and immediate explanation of my beliefs and their justifications are unreasonable. I spent years on the exposition of my atheist views, and as I have noted, atheists disbelieve for a wide variety of reasons, and not all subscribe to the same rationales. I will pontificate at my leisure, in between silly headlines.
(4) Most of your demands for explanations are not so sincere, anyway. I will give you your fun nonetheless.
(5) Some of you are “sad” that I have abandoned my “principles.” What this means I am not sure. I know that when religious people tell you they are “sad,” you say that it is unreasonable to expect you to change yours beliefs to make them happy. So your atheist tears will not move me. Also, I do not know what principles you are referring to. If you are talking about my moral positions, you will have to be more specific about what I have abandoned.
(6) Various believers have expressed concern over the nastiness and obscenities directed at me. I don’t care. I did the same for years (albeit usually with a point somewhere) and am in no position to complain. And if I wanted to, I could out-nasty and out-swear any of them. I have lost my atheism, not my vocabulary. But I don’t want to. I do not even use the D-word anymore unless I am quoting somebody.
(7) I am not deleting the archives or atheist links. There is good mixed in with the bad, and lessons to be learned even from the bad. I will rearrange things so as to feature the links to religious blogs first. I have already added a bunch from those who commented and e-mailed me (click on “links” on the front page and scroll down to the bottom to “Theist Blogs”) If I have missed your blog please e-mail me (either ravingatheist-at-gmail.com or ravingtheist-at-gmail.com is fine).
(8) I believe in God, in the divinity of Jesus Christ our Savior, and that He was born and died for our sins so that we may have eternal life. God bless you all and Happy New Year!