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You just can’t win against a believer.
Posted: 28 April 2007 04:29 PM   [ Ignore ]
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I have recently been listening to some fascinating podcasts that have been produced by religious zealots. “Miracles of Knowledge in the Nobel Qur’an,” is great if you want a laugh, but another one, ‘The Narrow Mind’ by Pastor Gene Cook, Jr., gives a rather good insight into how these people reason.

When arguing theology with an atheist, Pastor Cook uses something called “presuppositional apologetics,” which goes something like this:
Before beginning any discussion, the non-believer must understand that the theist “pre-supposes” the fact that “Jesus is Lord, and His word is truth.” I.e. everything in the Bible is truth. Furthermore the Bible says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,” which Pastor Cook interprets as “Man cannot have true knowledge until he believes in God.”
In short: if you don’t believe in God, your point of view is invalid.
Even shorter: Atheists are wrong.

They will only accept any of your arguments once you have already become a theist. With an attitude like that, they can�t loose any arguments!

But there is a back up plan too.
The Bible says, “Blessed is he who has not seen and yet believed”. I.e. belief without evidence is good.

Clearly, there is no amount of reasoning that can break down that way of thinking.

But there’s hope yet. Talking about religion with a Catholic friend of mine, he stated that he does not proselytize, but instead tries to be an example that people would want to follow. The irony is that the last time I saw him, he said that he wanted to be more like me (the atheist that I am)! I doubt that he’s going to convert to my worldview, but at least he might see that atheists are not the demons that some people say we are.

I believe that arguing with a Christian about faith is pointless, unless you have an audience of people with an open mind. Then, even if you have no chance a convincing the Christian, at least you might touch someone in the audience.

[ Edited: 18 May 2007 06:10 PM by Thomas Donnelly ]
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Richard

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Posted: 28 April 2007 04:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Oh I don’t know, I have a Christian Believer (the Second Coming kind) upset with me because she can’t win against me.  She ticked me off with her holier than though crap and I told her what Islamics thought of Christians- you know being infidels and all, not to mention because of that Christians were going to hell.  Anyway, I finally told her I’d see her in hell.  LOL  The thing is, if they are anti-intellectual, you can get them with what you know.

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Mriana
“Sometimes in order to see the light, you have to risk the dark.” ~ Iris Hineman (Lois Smith) The Minority Report

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Posted: 28 April 2007 07:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Not only can’t you win, it’s fruitless to try

I have a friend who is a fundamentalist preacher. I mean the kind that whack people on the head and send them crashing to the floor where they babble incoherently.

He and I have had some epic discussions about evolution. He would state something ludicrous like the purposeful misquote of Darwin about the eye, and I would spend a long time looking up the proper quote, putting it in context, write several pages of email about it…and get a two-sentence reply that “refuted” my argument.  After about the fifth time (I’m NOTHING if not stubborn), I finally realized that not only was he never going to admit that he was wrong, the concept of BEING wrong was alien to him. He Believes, therefore he is Right.

I stopped. Now the only emails we exchange are him sending me screeds off agape.com and me sending him links from atheist sites. He always says, “Why did you send this to me?” and I say “Why did YOU send THIS to ME?” and never get an answer.

You can’t ever win. Not with a True Believer.

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Kaa

You can’t reason someone out of a position they didn’t reason themselves into.

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Posted: 29 April 2007 03:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Yes, I finally said, I felt sorry for her, leaving unsaid that I thought she was delusional and mentally ill.  They can be way out there sometimes.  I think it is really sad when they display such wish fulfillments, as Frued called such dreams.  Sometimes Frued was a bit nutty with some of the things he said, but when it comes to wish fulfillments, I think he was dead on with that one.

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Mriana
“Sometimes in order to see the light, you have to risk the dark.” ~ Iris Hineman (Lois Smith) The Minority Report

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Posted: 29 April 2007 03:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Well, you certainly can’t win by rational argument. Yet there are True Believers who change. Just having our ideas visible and living as examples of faith-free lives may be of some more general value to those particularly enmeshed in religion, even if we can’t seem to directly affect them.

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You cannot reason a person out of a position he did not reason himself into in the first place. 
Johnathan Swift

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Posted: 29 April 2007 09:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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You’re right Zeffer7, they almost never can be convinced, so I don’t start arguments.  They always think they can convert me so they put me in the position of having to respond. 

The three reasons I bother are: 1) As you said, to let some in the audience who happen to be more open minded hear the other side; 2) For the nasty fun of frustrating a theist :twisted: ;  and 3) To get them to agree that both of us believe or disbelieve by faith.  Although I think I have good reasons for it, by agreeing to this and getting them to agree to it, I think it weakens their absolute certainty.

Occam

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Posted: 29 April 2007 11:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Define winning

You cannot win against a believer.
You cannnot win against a non-believer.
Why try to win at all?

Acknowledging that neither side can triumph, since victory here means getting someone to change what the very definition of themselves is, can we try something other than trying to beat each other into submission?

Which one wins when an unstoppable force meets an unmovable object?

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Posted: 29 April 2007 02:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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You would think rational thinking would work on everyone, but I guess they have a wall up that blocks rationality.

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Mriana
“Sometimes in order to see the light, you have to risk the dark.” ~ Iris Hineman (Lois Smith) The Minority Report

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Posted: 29 April 2007 03:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Re: Define winning

[quote author=“AlbanyDave”]You cannot win against a believer.
You cannnot win against a non-believer.
Why try to win at all?

Perhaps “win” is the wrong word.  I would just like simple acknowledgment when I point out that what they’ve been told to think about evolution is a straw man. *sigh* I know it’s a losing battle, and yet…. *sigh*

[quote author=“AlbanyDave”]Acknowledging that neither side can triumph, since victory here means getting someone to change what the very definition of themselves is, can we try something other than trying to beat each other into submission?

People DO do it, although I know it’s not common. I guess maybe I’m an optimist. smile

As far as trying something else, I do try.  I have another (closer) friend who IM’d me one night and eventually started spouting all the straw-man evolution stuff that he’d been told or read online.  Since he types so slowly, I was able to formulate calm, rational refutations, and even give him URLs to read that explained why what he had said was a complete logical fallacy.  Whether it did any good or not, I don’t know. He suddenly had to go to bed right in the middle of the conversation.  But he took a logic course in college, so maybe some small part of it got through. Maybe.

[quote author=“AlbanyDave”]Which one wins when an unstoppable force meets an unmovable object?

They annihilate each other. smile

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Kaa

You can’t reason someone out of a position they didn’t reason themselves into.

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Posted: 18 May 2007 05:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Well, it’s a little hard to get past the whole blind faith thing…

But I once challenged my Christian friend to debate the existance of God with me without resorting to faith and she admitted that I was winning…. until she stopped listening, covered her ears and sang “la la la la la la, I can’t hear you…”

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1. God is omnipotent.
Source: Several incidents where I’ve annoyed fundamentalist Christians by challenging God’s power.
2. If God is omnipotent then he can travel faster than the speed of light.
Modus Ponens
3. Nothing can travel faster than the speed of light.
Source: Einstein
Therefore, God is nothing.
QED

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Posted: 18 May 2007 07:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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I like this Sam Harris quote which sums up the uphill battle non-believers face:

“There’s a profound difference between acquiring a picture of the world through dispassionate analysis of the facts and acquiring it through patent emotionality and wishful thinking and only then looking to see if it can survive contact with the facts. Given the gaps in science and the elasticity of religious thinking, it will always be possible to reconcile the most gratuitous nonsense with our modern scientific world view.”

I always think of that elasticity when I’m discussing religion with people. Apologists really hate it when you point that out…..

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“If you want the truth to stand clear before you, never be for or against. The struggle between “for” and “against” is the mind’s worst disease.”
- Sent-ts’an

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Posted: 21 May 2007 10:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Kaa - 29 April 2007 03:32 PM

Perhaps “win” is the wrong word.  I would just like simple acknowledgment when I point out that what they’ve been told to think about evolution is a straw man. *sigh* I know it’s a losing battle, and yet…. *sigh*

Well, they can’t admit that, because then they would have no argument left!  Seriously, they’ve already decided that evolution “goes against the Bible”, so nothing you can say is going to change their minds.  If you’re not careful, they’ll start to question whether YOU have the facts straight!  They will actually claim that the evolution website where you got your information is written by atheists, and therefore is probably full of lies.  Some will even go so far as to tell you that YOU don’t really believe in evolution yourself!

You can’t “win”, if “defeating the other side” is what you mean by winning.  The best you can do, if you’ve managed to find somebody with an open mind, is to calmly and rationally get them to see that you are not as evil as their preachers have always told them you are.

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Posted: 21 May 2007 07:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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I presuppose that people will not change their minds in front of me so i don’t expect to change minds immediately. Ill let them marinate on the thoughts we share, hoping for a glimmer of clarity to happen later at night. I think it has to do with a persons ego, most people don’t like to say they are wrong so so quickly in the face of reason, even after given all the information in front of them. I don’t take it personally, I’m just hoping to plant a seed.

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Know Thyself

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Posted: 23 May 2007 09:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Mriana - 29 April 2007 02:45 PM

You would think rational thinking would work on everyone, but I guess they have a wall up that blocks rationality.

“Methinks we have hugely mistaken this matter of Life and Death. Methinks that what they call my shadow here on earth is my true substance. Methinks that in looking at things spiritual, we are too much like oysters observing the sun through the water, and thinking that thick water the thinnest of air.”  Herman Mellvile Moby Dick

Unfortunetly religion is a matter of perspective.  The sad thing is, even though the bible and it’s message has many verses and teachings about love, compasion, and forgiveness, and understanding they tend to show none of these things.  Automatically because you either do not believe or have a different belief you are some how already judged, and put on a lower platform (not all typically true believers).  Then your subjected to the ever so lovely “I’ll pray for you”  rolleyes  That’s when you know you can either try, and try, and try, or walk away….

soap box-getting off- trying-can’t-help!

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“Truth persists, whether you believe it or not.”

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Posted: 23 May 2007 11:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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advocatus - 21 May 2007 10:16 AM
Kaa - 29 April 2007 03:32 PM

Perhaps “win” is the wrong word.  I would just like simple acknowledgment when I point out that what they’ve been told to think about evolution is a straw man. *sigh* I know it’s a losing battle, and yet…. *sigh*

Well, they can’t admit that, because then they would have no argument left!  Seriously, they’ve already decided that evolution “goes against the Bible”, so nothing you can say is going to change their minds.  If you’re not careful, they’ll start to question whether YOU have the facts straight!  They will actually claim that the evolution website where you got your information is written by atheists, and therefore is probably full of lies.  Some will even go so far as to tell you that YOU don’t really believe in evolution yourself!

You can’t “win”, if “defeating the other side” is what you mean by winning.  The best you can do, if you’ve managed to find somebody with an open mind, is to calmly and rationally get them to see that you are not as evil as their preachers have always told them you are.

Aye, it’s about context and frames of reference - even the evil word paradigm. Getting people (including myself) to regularly question the basic premises of one’s world view is a good exercise and habit. This has beneficial results on the quotidian scale, as well.

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the universe may be as grand as they say
but it wouldn’t be missed if it didn’t exist (ph)

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Posted: 23 May 2007 12:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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That is why in regular life, I don’t enter discussions and don’t announce my stance. On the internet,however, I do indeed engage in discourse.I ,too, find their presuppotitins silly.And they bray that I merely assert whenever I put forth challenges to them.

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Fr. Griggs rests in his Socratic ignorance and humble naturalism.He might be wrong!His cognitive defects might impact his posting. Logic is the bane of theists.‘Religion is mythinformation.“Reason saves, not that fanatic Galilean!
  ’ Life is its own validation and reward and ultimate purpose.”

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