Paul Smith - Numbers or Proportions?

----- Original Message -----

From: Paul Smith <>

To: <Steve Locks>

Sent: 07 February 2000 00:27

Subject: Leaving Christianity-

Dear Steve-

Greetings! I have recently become aware of your

survey re: "Leaving Christianity," and was wondering

if you might share some corollary information that

seems pertinent.

I am in fact a former atheist, but I don't think I

would meet your criteria strictly speaking - I

attended a single meeting of a local Ethical

Humanist Society chapter during my path to

becoming an Objectivist (a philosophy that,

incidentally, I would be comfortable returning

to should I ever discard theism). I did not,

however, formally join that or any other

'freethought' organization that I checked out

on my road to Christian conversion.

Anyway, since you are actively polling people to

survey their organizational affiliations prior to

conversion one way or the other, I suppose you

will be privy to a bit of data that I've long been

curious about. This is - What percentage of atheists,

versus what percentage of various religionists, actually

participate in societies organized around their belief


My own anecdotal experience and that of those I've

been able to ask leads me to believe that organizational

participation is significantly rarer among atheists than

it is among religionists. Now I would assume that if

this disparity is real and not simply perceived, it would

have some bearing on the inferences that can be

drawn from the statistics you are collecting. However,

this is not why I write; I am genuinely curious as to

whether my perception bears out in reality or not.

Thanks for your time, and if you would choose to

share any of this information with me, I would be

most appreciative.


-Paul Smith

----- Original Message -----

From: Steve Locks

To: Paul Smith <>

Sent: 07 February 2000 01:27

Subject: Re: Leaving Christianity-

Hi Paul,

A good question!

Jordan raised a

similar point, in that there are of course proportionally fewer atheists who

attend organisations than Christians who attend church.

In fact in my original email to atheist etc. organisations on this,

I deliberately asked what proportion, rather than how many, of their members

converted to Christianity (or any other religion). Later, I thought that

question looked a bit like I was being sarcastic, so I changed it to "how

many" when

writing to Christian sites.

Hopefully I could then work out proportions from finding out member numbers.

My point of asking for former members of organisations was that it should be

a guide to how well read they were on the pro/against arguments. This is not

guaranteed one way or the other by membership or not, I'm sure some

non-members will be better read than some members, but in general I was

expecting a trend. Anyway, I thought it worth a try.

As to your question:

<<What percentage of atheists,

versus what percentage of various religionists, actually

participate in societies organized around their belief


I'm afraid I haven't a clue! I am unaware of any statistics on this, although

it should be possible to estimate from the numbers of atheists and numbers in

an organisation in any given area. This is not work that I have done, but I

would guess that the proportion of atheists who join organisations is very

small. However, if you include the secular web as an organisation, then I

think that the on-line readership amongst atheists is quite high.

<< Now I would assume that if

this disparity is real and not simply perceived, it would

have some bearing on the inferences that can be

drawn from the statistics you are collecting. >>

Yes, I think you are right, unless I use proportions. Nevertheless, it must

still look odd when the local minister leaves Christianity. The local atheist

who joins Christianity is not quite the mirror image if Christ is leading him

to it because it is odd that Christ would not so aid the minister, missionary

etc. I think that true proportional symmetry would only mean equality on both

sides if we were talking about something like conversion between political

parties etc. Once the divine hand is postulated, it is odd that Christians

leave despite so much investment and resources etc, even if all the atheists in

societies become Christians. Meanwhile if the proportions are very different,

then that is even more odd.

Thanks for writing. I noticed there was a second entry in my "I am an

ex-atheist member of a freethought organisation, now a Christian" choice. Was

that you, or anyone you know of? I have heard no details or resources from

that person. The only one I have heard from is Jordan, whom I sought out


Meanwhile, as you will see, I am examining the resources that converts like

Jordan raise, to see if they have good reasons for converting to Christianity

that should convince others. I don't want to turn my site into another debate

site at all, rather I am investigating this due to my interest in the

conversion experience. Debates are probably inevitable, I've discovered, but

I'm not a keen participant, despite my feedback section!

Sorry I don't have full details for you, but I hope that's interesting.




Leaving Christianity:

----- Original Message -----

From: Paul Smith <>

To: Steve Locks

Sent: 08 February 2000 05:33

Subject: Re: Leaving Christianity-

Dear Steve-

I must say that I enjoy your cordial style, and

will investigate your site further as time permits.

I think we're largely on the same page with

regards to our thoughts on organizational

disparities, and I may attempt some research

on my own on the matter (which I will share

with you if I do).

I should let you know that I did hit "enter"

(accidentally) while on your form, but I cannot

say which pre-conversion option was selected at

the time. If your feedback form records the

IP Address of the submitter, I could discern

whether or not I am the entry in question!

As your criteria is phrased, I believe I would

^not^ qualify for the option unless reading

_The Worldly Philosophers_, a whole bunch

of Ayn Rand, and attending a single meeting

of the Evanston, IL, USA Secular Humanist

Society happens to qualify me by some stretch.

I do in some sense accept the notion that it is

easier to be a Xtn minister with little forethought

than it is to become an atheist with similarly

little forethought. Myself, I was raised Catholic

and had no particular problems with the propositions

of that system until about college age. I was, of

course, under the impression that my own embracing

of atheism was a permanent one. However, I am in

the strange position of finding theism rationally

superior to competing belief systems while at the

same time finding most of the currently-popular

arguments for that position to be rather lacking

and sloppy. (This is a tension I hope to ease with

the fruits of my own efforts, of course!)

Much like American baseball counts the dropping of a

ball by the outfielder as an "error" on the part of the

outfielder and not a "hit" on the part of the batter, I think

many Christians can justly accuse their brethren of

dropping the intellectual ball on them. However, in my

mind it does not necessarily follow that the opposing

belief system that was ready to "score" is therefore the

superior one. This ^may^ be true, of course; I simply

posit that it is not ^necessarily^ true that the one

follows the other.



Paul Smith

"His praise is lost who

stays till all commend."

- Alexander Pope


----- Original Message -----

From: Steve Locks

To: <>

Sent: 09 February 2000 21:32

Subject: Fw: IP address query

Hello Paul,

Looks like we can't check where you clicked!

The poll does register the IP address, but only to make sure you can't

click twice. Unfortunately it looks like we can't interrogate it to tell who

clicked where. Nevermind, I'm sure there will be others who might have

clicked on the wrong thing too (and maybe some cheaters!) but hopefully

that background noise will even out as I get more results.

Thanks for the suggestion anyway!



----- Original Message -----

From: Alxpoll <>

To: Steve Locks Steve Locks

Sent: 09 February 2000 17:52

Subject: SV: IP address query

Im sorry.. There is no way to do that.


Alxpoll Helpdesk


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-----Ursprungligt meddelande-----

Från: Steve Locks

Till: <>

Datum: den 8 februari 2000 21:19

Ämne: IP address query

>Somebody who visited one of my polls told me that he accidentally hit the


>button without noticing which choice he had selected.


>Is it possible for me to view the IP addresses of who selected what, so I

can see

>which option he selected so that I can modify the poll if necessary? Or is

there any

>other method?


>Thank you for any help!