Daniel Everett, chair of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures at Illinois State University, and his wife went to Brazil in 1977 as missionaries to convert
the indigenous Pirahã people to Christianity. In an interview in the 19 January issue of the New Scientist, this is what he tells of his experience among the Pirahã:
They lived so well without religion and they were so happy. Also they didn't believe what I was saying because I didn't have evidence for it, and that made me think. They would try so hard to understand what I was saying, but it was obviously utterly irrelevant to them. I began to think: what am I doing here, giving them these 2000-year-old concepts when everything of value I can think of to communicate to them they already have?It was a mind opening experience for him:
Their concept of truth also changed my entire religious persona. I went from being a Christian missionary to an atheist.