By Inside_my_head.jpg: Andrew Mason from London, UK derivative work: -- Jtneill - Talk (Inside_my_head.jpg) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
Reading Time: 2 minutes By Inside_my_head.jpg: Andrew Mason from London, UK derivative work: -- Jtneill - Talk (Inside_my_head.jpg) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
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In another thread, Dave Armstrong, Catholic blogger here at Patheos, asked this:

Will atheists admit that there is good reason to leave atheism and adopt Christianity?

I find this an interesting question, and it can be split into two areas: the psychological reasons for leaving any belief system and the rational reasons. I will deal with the former and then the latter.

I would say that there can be good psychological reasons for leaving atheism for religion of any sort. But I would attach lots of caveats. This is person and context dependent. Atheism can be a tough sell for some people, and some find leaving the comfort blanket of eternal life, heaven and ultimate purpose (in a divine sense, not a personal sense) difficult to deal with. Religion, especially if they have once experienced this in some way earlier in life (perhaps), can offer a psychological comfort to people in need of such. Religion, after all, is functional. It has developed over evolutionary history for a reason – it’s not that it is some weird random hangover from our past – it is functional. We (naturalists) rationalise its existence.

Of course, “good reason” here might perhaps need more closely defining, but certainly, I can see how some or many people might be powerfully psychologically attracted to religion. This is a truism, after all, since literally billions of people believe in religious worldviews, and these are (by and large in the population at large) for psychological reasons. But, you ask, are these psychological reasons irrational or even a-rational? This might even be part of the definition of “psychological” in this particular context.

However, in order to give in to psychological persuasion, one must be pretty weak on the rational side of things.

And s we come to the other side. Rationality. I am, for obvious reasons (see my books, chapters, public talks and well over a thousand blog posts), very rationally comfortable in my position of (agnostic) atheism. Indeed, if I were to be someone who went through a torrid time (losing those close to me, getting a terminal illness, etc.), even if I was psychologically tempted with religion, my rational foundations for my atheistic beliefs are so solid that I severely doubt they would crumble.

Moreover, I am very self-reflective: there is always a meta-conversation going on behind the scenes. When I feel or believe or do something, I always reflect on why. I believe that I simply would never have a good reason to leave atheism. In order for me to do so, there would have to be new data. Really very good new data. Because as it stands, for me, I cannot see there possibly being a good reason to leave atheism.

For others, as mentioned, psychologically you could argue there might be a “good” reason, or at least powerful emotional reasons. But otherwise, no. And this is obvious. If I did think, after all, that there was a good reason to be Christian, I would be Christian.

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Jonathan MS Pearce

A TIPPLING PHILOSOPHER Jonathan MS Pearce is a philosopher, author, columnist, and public speaker with an interest in writing about almost anything, from skepticism to science, politics, and morality,...