Faith or mid-life crisis?

“My basic position hasn’t changed since I was 26, and I turn thirty in a week and a half. I’ll let you know if I have a religious experience before then…”

Question from Asylum:
I’ve notice a theme among atheists: many, including myself, start to question faith/reaffirm faith as they approach thirty. Is it more likely for a person to begin to reaffirm their faith and after thirty deconvert?

I have no idea.

My basic position hasn’t changed since I was 26, and I turn thirty in a week and a half. I’ll let you know if I have a religious experience before then, but otherwise I’m evidence that what you’re describing isn’t a hard and fast rule.

If there is some kind of trend towards late-twenties reaffirmation, it’s too subtle to show up in hard statistics. For instance, reports that only 6% of self-proclaimed “born-again” Christians say they had their “again” part after the age of eighteen.

I can see why some people might return to their faiths as they approach thirty, though. If they’ve deconverted as teenagers or young adults, in college/university or just after leaving home, and the deconversion was influenced as much by rebellion, peer pressure, would-be intellectualism and/or contrarianism as by actual reason, the age of thirty might well be when those other factors are no longer as important as whatever had them believing in the first place.

You’ve apparently got several people in mind who follow this “theme” of yours. Want to carry out some research? Go and ask them why they believe again, and let us know.


7 thoughts on “Faith or mid-life crisis?”

  1. Suggest it may may be useful for you to find out what “born again” means (just because I know you like to be well informed on what you’re talking about). The way you’ve used it in this answer is wide of the mark. Try John 3 if you want to know the origin of the phrase…

  2. Thanks Rob. I’m not surprised if I haven’t captured all the subtleties of the term, but the Christians who filled out the survey certainly knew what they meant by it, and it generally happened to them before they were adults. And I can be reasonably confident that whatever it truly means to be born again, I’m still not.

  3. There aren’t subtleties to the term, really. Jesus uses the term to say that “unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God”. He goes on to say that this means spiritual rebirth. A spiritual corpse has new life breathed into it (fulfilment of Ezekiel’s famous valley of dry bones). The important thing, therefore, is to say that “born again” is not a category of Christian. It is the beginning of every Christian’s life as a Christian.

    I guess this excludes people who claim “christianity” by virtue of their ethnicity or cultural background. So don’t judge Christianity by what people may claim is their “version”, because so often their applying the label to something they have invented, and they find the words of Jesus offensive.

    Incidentally, I would agree with your self-assessment, of course. And I would say that to expect any pattern of conversion based on age is pretty far-fetched. Except in that the reality of death starts rearing its ugly head and can force people to think about bigger issues, as can the arrival of children and the need to make responsible decisions about what you want for them as they grow up.

  4. True dat, and perhaps the children thing in particular contributes to people’s thoughts on the subject when they’re thirtyish.

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