"I used to be an atheist just like you"

Fellow atheists, in discussions with theists, have probably heard a theist, at some point, saying "I used to be an atheist just like you." This 'move' is quite common in discussions I have with Christians and very recently occurred twice from a born-again Christian who started believing in God after he supposedly got out of a coma following a car accident and here: from an organizer of a local Michael Voris speech. Atheists often accuse Christians of the No True Scotsman fallacy (and rightly so) when they try to claim that a person isn't a 'true Christian' because they hold differing beliefs or committed a heinous act. Can the No True Scotsman fallacy happen the other way around when atheists say something like "You couldn't have been an atheist and then converted to Christianity?" While people who used to be atheists convert to Christianity, an atheist 'like me' should never convert to Christianity as a result of a bad argument.

To say someone is an atheist is only to say that the person does not believe in any gods. Atheism does not guarantee that a person is properly skeptical (as opposed to not applying skepticism globally as in the case of 9/11 truthers, believers in ghosts, conspiracy theorists, etc. who are atheists) and it does guarantee that an atheist really understands why arguments for gods fail or otherwise is able to pose counter-arguments. There are, of course, many atheists who never even really thought about belief in gods. There are also atheists who I would wager are atheists for the wrong reasons (watch the Zeitgeist movie, for example, and you'll understand). There are also atheists who were raised in a secular household without religion. Not all atheists are "like me" in that they can understand arguments for gods and show why they are flawed; my route to atheism was a philosophical one and philosophy greatly informs all of my work. Joe Blow Atheist might not believe in any gods because he sees corruption within the church, but this is not a stellar reason to lack belief in any gods; a god might exist, but its followers might just be disobedient, for example.

When Christians say that they were atheists just like me and then believe as a result of an argument from ignorance (I got in a car accident and survived, you can't explain that) or another weak reason, their critical thinking credentials are very questionable. Atheists like me recognize a bad argument for what it is and should never accept an argument from ignorance as a reason to believe in God. The Christians also aren't just like me because they haven't maintained a personal blog dealing with atheism, they haven't had 'training' in critical thinking and philosophy in the same way that I did in college, they haven't watched hundreds of debates and read many books dealing with skepticism, belief in god, and critical thinking. All of us simply come from different life situations and have very different backgrounds.

Christians see people like Lee Strobel who say "I used to be an atheist" and think that this somehow makes his arguments stronger, but this in no way does. It does not matter who is making the argument or what past beliefs a person had, but rather the arguments, evidence, and reasoning matters. For all (of most) of the 'I used to be atheists,' we can find people like myself who used to be Christians. This doesn't suddenly make our arguments stronger. Sure, we might be able to better understand the beliefs or why people believe because we were former believers or non-believers, but the arguments, evidence, and reason needs to be under scrutiny.

When Christians claim that they used to be atheists and then levy very poor arguments to support their positions, the 'atheists like me' should notice several red flags. If you were 'just like me' or even an atheist who can properly understand and defend his/her stances, you -- one would hope -- would never levy such bad arguments. There might be some exceptions including failures in critical thinking or some emotional reasons (although atheists 'like me' should still recognize bad arguments), but some exceptions ought not account for everyone. Can you really claim to be an atheist 'like me' and then spout bad arguments that are seen by atheists as tremendously fallacious? I know that my readers, if I posted why I suddenly came to believe in God, would eviscerate my arguments if they were bad ones.

The standard array of arguments for God are profoundly fallacious and have failed time and time again. These arguments have been taken apart again and again and apologists seem to neglect recognizing this. For me to believe in any gods, there needs to be some new argument, reason, and evidence - not some of the same old stuff. My objections need to be addressed, also. I can't just go back.

I understand why arguments for God fail and have several counter-arguments against belief in gods. Nothing should make me go back to belief on the basis of a really bad reason that, right now, I can recognize as being very bad. As I previously stated, I would believe if good argument, reason, and evidence were presented, but this has not been done. To you former atheists: you weren't just like me because, if you were, you wouldn't accept bad arguments as reason to believe and you would not ignore what the atheists are saying about the arguments.