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List of former atheists and agnostics

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This is a list of notable persons who were formally either atheists or agnostics, but then developed belief in a deity or deities. In some countries the percentage of those professing "no belief" is growing[1]. In one study of the United States 0.3% of Americans were listed as people who were former atheists. The same study indicated that 1.4% of Americans from non-atheist homes became atheists, and that in total 1.6% of Americans described themselves as atheists, 2.4% as agnostics and 12.1% as "nothing in particular".[2]


Converts and reverts to Christianity

See also: List of people who converted to Christianity from agnosticism or atheism

Converts and reverts to Hinduism

See also: List of converts to Hinduism from non-religious backgrounds

Converts and reverts to Islam

  • A. R. Rahman (Initially raised Hindu, but was atheist as a teenager until conversion to Islam) - Indian music composer[66]
  • Charles le Gai Eaton - British diplomat and writer.[67]
  • Silma Ihram - An Australian educator, author, and racial tolerance campaigner. After an agnostic upbringing she became "born again Christian" and then Muslim.[68]
  • Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens) - British musician and singer (had a nominally Christian upbringing, but never was a believer)[69]
  • Martin Lings - a widely acclaimed British scholar. He was raised as a Protestant, became an atheist, and later converted to Islam.[70]
  • Ilich Ramírez Sánchez "Carlos the Jackal" - Marxist terrorist who converted to Islam.[71]

See also: List of converts to Islam from Atheism

Converts and reverts to Judaism

See also: List of converts to Judaism From Atheism or Agnosticism

Other ex-atheists

Notes

  1. Demographics of Atheism
  2. Changes in American religious affiliation - Pew
  3. Grand Forks Herald
  4. Free Inquiry
  5. Seattle Times "In 1975, he threw off his atheism and became a Christian."
  6. Wall Street Journal
  7. The Guardian "I grew up, and stopped being an atheist, in my 20s, in the 1980s."
  8. [1] "Christianity Today: The Rebirth of Kirk Cameron "
  9. Heritage Foundation
  10. TruTV: "He had been an atheist and had been kicked out of Columbia University for writing a play considered blasphemous."
  11. Sunday Times "Collins was an atheist until the age of 27, when as a young doctor he was impressed by the strength that faith gave to some of his most critical patients."
  12. San Francisco Chronicle: At 8, she read H. G. Wells' "The Outline of History" and pronounced herself an atheist.
  13. Obituary at the Guardian
  14. Newsweek obituary
  15. St. Petersburg Times
  16. MSNBC
  17. Time Magazine obituary
  18. Interview in the National Review: FMG:You've mentioned that you now believe in God. How recent is that? Eugene Genovese: It's in the last two years. You know, in The Southern Front I still spoke as an atheist; one reviewer said that I protest too much. When the book came off the press and I had to reread it, I started wrestling with the problem philosophically, and I lost.
  19. [2] "Greenleaf ... set out to disprove the biblical testimony concerning the resurrection of Jesus Christ ... came to the conclusion that the witnesses were reliable, and that the resurrection did in fact happen"
  20. The Telegraph
  21. Spartacus Schoolnet
  22. Telegraph "She reacted strongly against her parents' beliefs and became a Catholic at 19, because she 'no longer found it possible to disbelieve in God.'" (pg 2)
  23. Obituary at the Catholic Worker
  24. "Finding My Religion" in the San Francisco Chronicle: "I don't think I look like the pope's favorite Catholic— at least not under close scrutiny." "Both my parents were agnostic. My mother was kind of a Buddhist."
  25. Time Magazine from July 19, 1963 "Lepp has the credentials to explain the mind of the atheist: he was one himself for 27 years."
  26. Catholic Net
  27. PBS special"His pre-university tour of duty in World War I only solidified his atheism,"
  28. Phenomenological approaches to moral philosophy By John J. Drummond, Lester E. Embree; pg 269
  29. Beliefnet article by McGrath Quote "When I was growing up in Belfast, Northern Ireland, during the 1960s, I came to the view that God was an infantile illusion, suitable for the elderly, the intellectually feeble, and the fraudulently religious"
  30. North County Times
  31. A Fierce Hatred of Injustice By Winston James, Claude McKay: "Prior to his conversion to Catholicism in 1944, his atheism was one of the most powerful and enduring threads of continuity in his outlook on life."
  32. Czesław Miłosz: conversations By Czesław Miłosz, Cynthia L. Haven; pg 145: Miłosz says that in his youth he came to take a "scientific, atheistic position mostly." Now he calls himself a Catholic who does not want to be thought of as a Catholic writer "Because if you are branded as a Catholic you are supposed to testify with every work of yours to follow the line of the Church, which is not necessarily my case."
  33. Interview for Christianity Today: I was so outspoken about not believing in God. I had real problems with Christians.
  34. Malcolm Muggeridge: A Life by Ian Hunter
  35. Chicago Sun-Times obituary
  36. Austin Chronicle
  37. Catholic Herald
  38. Marxism and Me by Marvin Olasky: My communism was based on atheism, and when I could no longer be an atheist, I resigned from the party.
  39. Creators Syndicate Profile
  40. Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture
  41. The American Spectator
  42. The Record
  43. The Guardian's obituary of Powell
  44. University of Bielefeld
  45. Chronicle of Higher Education article obituary(Copied by Gametheory.net) has the following "Because George was a fire-spitting atheist and Julia a devout Christian, their relationship was contentious from the beginning. After eight years, the marriage ended in acrimony." "On June 7th [1970] I gave in and admitted that God existed," he explained to friends.
  46. Antiqbook
  47. Dallas Morning News: Interviewer "You were raised as an atheist, trained as a scientist, came to Christianity as an adult and eventually became an Anglican priest."
  48. Christianity Today
  49. Article from the University of Wollongong
  50. The Australian
  51. University of Chicago "made a spiritual journey from atheism to agnosticism before eventually converting to Catholicism"
  52. Decibel Magazine
  53. Daily Herald
  54. "...he was an atheist arguing for religious values, a man writing an essay on religion 'in a spirit of irreligion.'... He would not convert to Catholicism for two decades, but his need for religious authority was acute even in 1930." Allen Tate: Orphan of the South, p. 167, biographer Thomas A. Underwood, Princeton University Press, 2000, ISBN 0-691-06950-6
  55. Larson's Book of World Religions and Alternative Spirituality By Bob Larson, pg 109
  56. PBS
  57. The Guardian Quote: Even though she was raised an atheist, in the past three or four years she has been going to church. In her eighth decade, she has even submitted to being baptised.
  58. New Statesman
  59. Advocates for self-government (A Libertarian site) says of him "A lifelong 'vehement, argumentative, proselytizing atheist,' Wright suffered a heart attack in 2003 and soon afterwards had a 'supernatural' religious experience that made him, he wrote, 'aware of a spiritual dimension of reality of which I had hitherto been unaware... I was altered down to the root of my being.' Wright at first became a Protestant Christian
  60. John C. Wright's livejournal "After three years of prayer, thought, and debate, and an honest attempt to follow where the spirit leads me, I am joining the Catholic Church this Easter."
  61. American Atheist
  62. Time Magazine
  63. Journeys East By Harry Oldmeadow, pgs 67-
  64. Interview at Space.com Quote: "So I became an atheist, a belligerent atheist. If anybody started a conversation about the subject, I was a belligerent atheist."
  65. Voice of Dharma: "I was born a Hindu. But I had ceased to be one by the time I came out of college at the age of 22. I had become a Marxist and a militant atheist."
  66. The Complete Biography of A.R.Rahman - The A.R.Rahman Page
  67. The Radical Middle Way - Hasan Le Gai Eaton
  68. FAIR (pdf)
  69. Daily Times article reposted at his site
  70. Martin Lings, a Sufi Writer on Islamic Ideas, Dies at 96 - New York Times
  71. BBC
  72. Profile of Anfinsen
  73. "Confessions of a Coward" in First Things
  74. Journal of Law and Religion Described his Jewish family as "passionate atheists" and he was active in Marxist groups until the 1930s.
  75. The National Review
  76. Holocaust Literature by S. Lillian Kremer
  77. "Finding My Religion" Boston Globe (July 30, 2006)
  78. The Jewish Week
  79. Bible Code Bombshell
  80. Amazon.com interview: Amazon interviewer: What brought you to Judaism after 20 years of being an atheist?
    • Russell: I became a mom...I became aware of the fact that my ethics and my morality were rooted in religion, and yet I could not bring myself to go back to Christianity.
  81. Jewish News Weekly
    • In summer 2001, she visited a “creation of the world” exhibit at a science museum and decided, “I don’t think I believe in God.” “But that night, I had the most remarkable dream, which told me, ‘If you’re going to reject something, at least find out what it is you are rejecting.’
  82. ABC Australia.
  83. The Australian
  84. BBC Interview Quote: "What I was converted to was the existence of an Aristotelian God, and Aristotle's God had no interest in human affairs at all."
  85. Moses Hess: The Holy History of Mankind and other writings
  86. Interview with Schulman: "After a thorough analysis of my previous life's experiences, and later experiences that lent validation, I concluded that the reality was that what had happened to me were really encounters with God -- therefore proving God's existence to me."
  87. Village Voice
  88. Sun Comics
  89. "Ted Turner apologizes, joins churches' $200M malaria fight". USA Today (Associated Press). 2008-04-01. http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2008-04-01-turner-churches_N.htm. Retrieved 2009-10-27. 

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