Does everybody get converted to another religion irrationally without a proper principled approach?

Richard Carrier a world renowned, author of several books as well as numerous articles online and in print with a Ph.D. in ancient history from Columbia University, he specializes in the modern philosophy of naturalism and humanism, the origins of Christianity, and the intellectual history of Greece and Rome, with particular expertise in ancient philosophy, science and technology. His parents were freethinking Methodists (mother was church secretary). He went to Sunday School and to church on holy days. He got converted to Philosophical Taoist at the tender age of 15 and then got converted Atheist (Secular Humanist) at the age of 21. He is reported to have done Extensive study of philosophy and world religions, formal and informal.

I wanted to inquire about this phenomenon and hence asked him the following question:

“I understand that you were born a Methodist Christian and decided to convert to Taoism at a very tender age of 15 years and then converted to Atheism at the age of 21 years.Under what principled approach you did that on both occasions?”

He replied and I quote from him:

“Taoism, I was converted the same irrational way all religious people are. Leaving Taoism? Reading, study, experience, and application of scientific knowledge and logical reasoning.”
A discussion ensued which could be viewed by accessing the following link.

April 30, 2014 at 2:36 pm (awaiting moderation)

@Richard Carrier : April 30, 2014 at 8:45 am

I don’t agree with you that everybody gets converted to another religion without a proper principled approach, irrationally.

I understand your observation, “There are thousands of false beliefs. We cannot read all their holy books nor should we.”
One could be born in any religion or even without a religion. It is beyond one to decide where to be born. Wherever one is born; that starts one’s journey towards truth.

The tools make easy for one to do a job. It is therefore important for one first to find a tool that gives equal opportunity to every religion to search.

Using a tool and then making a comparative study of religions to find which one, at a given period of time, is the most truthful religion is therefore most reasonable and rational.

I give here one such principle of comparative study of religions which was suggested by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad- the Promised Messiah 1835-1908 in the beginning of an essay that was read in a Conference of Great Religions held at Lahore in 1896; and was later published in a book form titled “The Philosophy of the Teachings of Islam” translated in many languages of the world.

I give below the principle in precisely his words:

“It is necessary that a claim and the reasons in support of it must be set forth from a revealed book”.
“I consider it essential that everyone who follows a book, believing it to be revealed, should base his exposition upon that book and should not so extend the scope of his advocacy of his faith as if he is compiling a new book.”

Since one changed one’s religion two times without a principled approach; I think one should check again the truthfulness of one’s worldview from the start.


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