Religious conversion of educated Atheists to Christianity in six contemporary Western countries

Harmon, Jana S. (2019). Religious conversion of educated Atheists to Christianity in six contemporary Western countries. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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This thesis proposes a model for religious conversion which incorporates a substantive component as part of a more complete understanding of religious conversion, specifically in an intellectually-driven population of educated Atheists. Review of the social science literature confirmed a predominant functional approach to religious conversion, effectively reducing a complex phenomenon to a partial explanation. In response, the chief focus of this dissertation was a mixed-method research study evaluating a broad range of functional (socio-cultural, psycho-emotional, existential, experiential) and substantive (intellectual and spiritual) variables influencing religious conversion from naturalistic Atheism to Christianity. An original set of data was collected through survey and interview investigation illuminating and informing the debate on religious conversion.

Based upon extensive data collection and analysis, this thesis concluded that without incorporating substantive content, the comprehensive nature of conversion cannot be adequately represented or properly understood. Further, in-depth narrative analysis demonstrated the integrated, transformative nature of religious conversion in areas of sensemaking, identity, experience, meaning and purpose, community, language, and spirituality. Therefore, this thesis advances the case for using an inclusive, transformational perspective in future description, conception, modeling and research of religious conversion in naturalistic Atheism to conservative forms of Christianity.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
Licence: All rights reserved All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of Philosophy, Theology and Religion, Department of Theology and Religion
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BR Christianity


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