This is a line popular among apologists and evangelists. The most well known examples of this would be Kirk Cameron, Lee Strobel and Alister McGrath. What really rubs me raw about these characters, is that they don’t seem to understand what atheism is. If they used to be atheists, they must have been extremely out of touch. Let’s start with Kirk Cameron.
Kirk Cameron claims to be a former atheist, but the thing is, he converted to fundamentalist Christianity as a young teenager. Unless he was some kind of child genius (he wasn't) no matter what his views were, the chances are that he held them for the wrong reasons, or for no reason at all. My guess would be that he just grew up with no religious belief from his parents, and then was convinced by an evangelist that Christianity was true. Regardless, the arguments that he uses to support his belief are beyond ridiculous, and doesn't understand the first thing about any position he attacks. Crocoducks and Fronkeys... Enough said.
Lee Strobel claims to have been an atheist, and he also claims to be an investigative journalist. Two things which he seems extremely uneducated about. What I find perplexing about his situation, is that he apparently went from being an atheist to being a creationist. I simply cannot see how that could happen. Anyone who holds the atheist position for intelligent reasons, would not move from there to one of the most intellectually bankrupt views on the planet; creationism. Whatever his reasons for being an atheist in the first place, I don't care, as they were probably emotional.
Alister McGrath tells people that he was an atheist, but he doesn’t seem to get what atheism is about, and is guilty of throwing the ‘angry atheist’ insults around. He has said on many occasions that when he was at university, it was popular to be an atheist and to be a Marxist, and that he held those views. Something that he says that I cannot comprehend, is that he says that he became a Christian because it made more 'sense' of things, and that it illuminates his world-view. Sure, I get that part, he likes having magical significance to his life, what I don't get is how someone could move from a position that understands our insignificance, and that we don't need intrinsic meaning to have a meaningful life, to another position BECAUSE it has that. I find his argument for this to be incredibly weak and unconvincing. One could easily invent a world-view that provides intrinsic meaning to life, and illuminates the world-view, while simultaneously being completely false.
I never intend to make any arguments for atheism based on the fact that I used to be a Christian, the arguments should stand on their own merits, without any weak kind of personal testimony against one's former position. To all those who pull the 'I used to be an atheist' card: I don't care, show me your arguments!