Amusingly, my university's Theology department has a reputation of deconverting people, many of whom are studying the subject in order to become priests. Apparently the subject is taught in a very scientific and critical manner. E.g. the exegesis lectures talk a lot about how it was common to make someone seem more impressive by claiming that he was born of a virgin, or about how many pre-Christian religions had a god who sacrificed his son and Christianity may just have borrowed the popular motif. This can apparently be disenchanting.

I've heard similar stories (each one at least second-hand); there seems to be a binary split in the kind of people who go on to study theology in university: those who believe hard and those whose faith is already teetering.

It's also similar to my own experiences; while I never took a university-grade theology class, I did go through the Finnish school system and the associated nine years of exposure to religion.

I'll say this for religion and teaching it at school in a predominantly secular country: it's a great way to get people thinking. It was because o... (read more)

1[anonymous]8yAccording to Dennett Seminaries tend to deconvert people - or at least rock the foundation of their beliefs. Since studying theology means you have to engage in quite a lot of literal criticism of the bible. The evolution of confusion 17:20 []
15orthonormal8ySame thing at the academically best divinity schools in the US; they turn out a lot of non-theists, a fact that shocked me when (as a devout undergraduate) I took a "History of the New Testament" class and found myself surrounded my aspiring preachers who were losing their religion. One interesting facet of this: since they're exposed to all of these facts by a respected scholar who's not trying to turn them into atheists (i.e. a non-adversarial interaction with someone of higher status), they're much more susceptible to the ideas than they'd be if they were arguing with an atheist peer.

How can people be actually converted?

by yttrium 1 min read5th Feb 201294 comments


Have you ever convinced a religious person to become atheistic? How did you do this? How long did it take? Were the people in some sort of life crisis, or were they just living along?

This is probably a quite difficult task of persuasion. So stories how people were successful at it could be very interesting to improve ones' persuasion abilities.

Relatedly, it might be interesting to know what religious groups have gathered on techniques to convert people to their religion - are there some manuals/techniques floating around?