A debate with my Uncle.
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20-05-2012, 11:39 PM
A debate with my Uncle.
Recently me and my great uncle were talking about a subject I cannot recall and eventually the topic shifted into Religion. He's a Atheist turned Christian and often our conversations do this. Several of his arguments stopped me dead in my tracks. Firstly, we debated whether or not America is a secular nation. He stated that the separation of Church and State had nothing to do with whether or not America was a secular Nation and told me to read through the Constitution because it mentions God several times. After pushing that aside, we had a few other debates and eventually he asked me "Do you want to believe in God?". That question had taken me aback since I had never before thought about that. After thinking back on the Old Testament, I decided that I wouldn't. A god as arrogant and evil as the being in that book is not someone that I want to be my creator. Well naturally, my answer turned us to the topic of morale. I told him that belief in God had nothing to do with morale. Now here's how it went.


"What's to stop me from shooting you in the head for disagreeing with me?" Him.


I thought back to the debate between Shelly Kagan and William Lane Craig on the subject, because Shelly Kagan's argument is something that I agree with.

"Well, you're looking for reason on a cosmological scale. Why does the reason need to be Universe-affecting? Why can't the fact that I can feel pain be reason enough not to?"


And then what he said next is what took me aback.

"Well what if I don't care?"


I didn't know how to reply to this....I froze up. Other than "Then you'd be Immoral"(Which I didn't actually say) I couldn't think of a convincing answer to that question. I'd like to hear what you guys think on this.




Another subject we got into was the Second Law of Thermodynamics. He told me that science was beginning to point towards creation. I asked him what in science pointed to that, and he naturally went to the law. I explained to him that it only works in a closed system, and then he came back with something that I hadn't expected. He said that what they were finding in other galaxies were showing those traits of Order to Chaos. He had no evidence to back up that claim so I went onto the internet and started searching, yet I failed to find anything stating this, but that doesn't mean that's not out there. I was hoping someone here could clarify.


And back to the subject of the old testament, he gave me a reply that I hadn't heard before, but wasn't very strong. I wasn't stuck on this one, i just felt like stating my opinion. I asked him how he could condone the acts of that God to all of those people, innocent or not, and he stated that "These people would be given a chance at redemption, and thus his actions to them did not matter". Why did they need redemption? A man's arm is cut off by another. Who needs redemption? The one committing the crime, or the one whom the crime was committed upon? This reply is simply ridiculous. Anyways, pushing that faulty logic aside, what does it matter if he grants redemption to these people? A crime cannot be undone. Whether or not a man asks the mother of the child he murders for forgiveness, his crime is not erased. The evil he had committed will live with him for the rest of his life.


Anyways, there's the debate, my questions, and my thoughts. Tackle them.
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21-05-2012, 12:15 AM
RE: A debate with my Uncle.
about what stops him from shooting you, if you take away the law and the love he may feel for you, nothing stops him from doing it, the only preventive strength morality has is the threat of a penalty after the crime is done. But that doesn't mean we have to believe in a universal law provided by some god in order to justify our actions.

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21-05-2012, 03:55 AM (This post was last modified: 21-05-2012 04:01 AM by Hafnof.)
RE: A debate with my Uncle.
1. If he is really proposing he would shoot you in the back of the head if not for God, then perhaps you could suggest he seek counselling. People aren't moral due to a god. They are moral due to personal and societal norms. They are moral because of shared DNA, shared culture, and because of a shared survival strategy called "society".

When people can't play their normal moral role within society, we lock them up or worse. That's how we deal with people who don't care about our shared survival strategy.

2. When people quote science to you, ask for their source. If they're unable to produce one you can safely ignore their input. If they are able to produce the science you'll be able to read it yourself and come to your own conclusions, perhaps informed by commentary about the science from other sources. You are correct about the laws of thermodynamics. The only problem we have on an intergalactic scale that I'm immediately aware of is the problem of what dark matter and dark energy really are. They aren't thermodynamics questions.

3. The problems I have with the old testament aren't to do with the laws about how humans are to behave towards each other. It's the murder and genocide and harm that God itself is supposed to have performed or required. Any application of the moral argument to identify this individual as the source of all moral good is clearly wrong, as the morality of ordinary modern humans is objectively better. We know what genocide is, and that it is wrong. Why doesn't the god of the bible?

Give me your argument in the form of a published paper, and then we can start to talk.
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21-05-2012, 04:52 AM
RE: A debate with my Uncle.
You really ought to be a little less credulous. The Constitution doesn't use the word God, not once, not even slightly. If he wants to claim otherwise, he should cite his source. The phrase "separation of church and state" isn't there either, at least not literally -- it's a paraphrasing of the first amendment's establishment clause.

You're right about the second law of thermodynamics only applying to a closed system, because systems using energy that keep receiving energy don't break down. Consider, for example, a Newton's Cradle. It dies down after a few trips back and forth, unless it's one of those that takes a battery, in which case it can keep doing its thing until the battery dies. The stuff your uncle came up with is something that requires citation, and again it's totally made up. You really shouldn't take him at his word.

The fact that he "doesn't care" about whether he shoots you or not is silly. He didn't shoot you, and he wouldn't shoot you, because there are natural consequences such as going to prison for life. That's a perfectly good reason not to do it. Sins that Christians care about such as coveting, love of money, and blasphemy don't hurt anyone, and you shouldn't care about whether you're committing these sins, and it's perfectly fair to ask back why you should. You can point to the consequences of his sinful (and more importantly illegal) action and there's little there to debate. There are plenty of sins that you can point to that don't have visible consequences. Even if he suggests some that are less obvious (coveting may lead to stealing) they are unlikely to be actual consequences and more along the lines of "this could be the case, and I'm going to posit it as if it will definitely be the case". Remember: if he suggests something that is less than obvious, it requires citation! Don't just take his word for this one either.

My girlfriend is mad at me. Perhaps I shouldn't have tried cooking a stick in her non-stick pan.
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21-05-2012, 05:19 AM
RE: A debate with my Uncle.
Smile


I love this game...

http://www.house.gov/house/Constitution/...ution.html

Here is the whole Constitution, click Ctrl+F on you keyboard and type GOD and guess what... No a SINGLE mention of God. Now try RELIGION. Nothing. There, one down, care to continue?

Smile


As for his morality... That's a bad man, if he really think that way. Bad like Charles Manson bad. Look, if your reason for not killing anyone is God and the Bible, then you are immoral as you can be. You have no empathy, you have no sympathy, you care for no one and nothing, you are evil as the word can describe. You only obey law out of fear, or respect, but that does not come from within you, from your soul, it comes from the writing on a piece of paper.

I am a heathen, a heretic, an Antichrist, an atheist, they tell me I eat babies, I am immoral, I care for no one... Why? Just because I don't believe that a fucking snake can talk? Fuck that shit man! I know it is wrong to smack you in the face, because it will hurt you, I might even broke something on your pretty little face, it will hurt you as it would hurt me. I do not like hurting anyone, as I would not like that anyone would hurt me.

Be free to read this to your uncle, he could find this interesting, and since it came from me, not you, he can not get angry at you. You should respect him, of course and I know he did not mean what he said, he only used it as an example. Probably.

As for the Second Law Of Thermodynamics, that one is the easiest to explain. The Earth is not a closed system, so this Law does not apply to the planet Earth. Period. No other explanations about other planets have anything to do with this Law and the fact that it can not be taken into consideration for this or other planets. They are not closed systems.

You uncle is sneaky, he is using his seniority and he does not explain himself pretty well, because it is expected of you to trust him, without too much questioning. If he said it IS, then it IS. Well it is NOT. Question everything, ask for quotes and evidence, never give up, never surrender!

Smile

Any more help needed?

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I have a theory that the truth is never told during the nine-to-five hours.
-Hunter S. Thompson
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21-05-2012, 06:07 AM
RE: A debate with my Uncle.
(20-05-2012 11:39 PM)pppgggr Wrote:  Recently me and my great uncle were talking about a subject I cannot recall and eventually the topic shifted into Religion. He's a Atheist turned Christian and often our conversations do this. Several of his arguments stopped me dead in my tracks. Firstly, we debated whether or not America is a secular nation. He stated that the separation of Church and State had nothing to do with whether or not America was a secular Nation and told me to read through the Constitution because it mentions God several times.
That's funny, I thought the Constitution never mentions God and the only reference to religion is in the 1st amendment, where it says "there shall be no religious test to hold a public office"...
Although in court Americans mention God and swear on Bible in abstract, ceremonial sense, like it doesn't matter which God. The founders of American state were deists, not even theists in classical sense. They left Europe and tried to estabilish a religion-free state administration so that we avoid religious wars. A religion-free state is under no obligation to start a holy war with a state of another religion, no matter what GWBJ says. To put religion into state offices is like to bless a car with holy water, to make the engine will run better. Or to pay ransom to a non-existent mafia.

(20-05-2012 11:39 PM)pppgggr Wrote:  After pushing that aside, we had a few other debates and eventually he asked me "Do you want to believe in God?". That question had taken me aback since I had never before thought about that. After thinking back on the Old Testament, I decided that I wouldn't. A god as arrogant and evil as the being in that book is not someone that I want to be my creator. Well naturally, my answer turned us to the topic of morale. I told him that belief in God had nothing to do with morale. Now here's how it went.
Good answer. I'd tell him that it doesn't matter what we want to believe in, we must follow the evidence where it leads, if we don't want to be called irrational.

(20-05-2012 11:39 PM)pppgggr Wrote:  "Well what if I don't care?"

I didn't know how to reply to this....I froze up. Other than "Then you'd be Immoral"(Which I didn't actually say) I couldn't think of a convincing answer to that question. I'd like to hear what you guys think on this.
Things like love or empathy do have a real representation in our brain. Not only we have brain centers to simulate what other people think and feel (so-called theory of mind), we can predict the effect of our actions on them and social feelings to help them out. This is the healthy state and may be observed even in children less than 2 years old.
Then there are people who's neurology is somehow impaired and they are literally incapable of empathy and will hurt others readily if they find it profitable. They are however not stupid and know very well that the society's wrath and legal punishment would descend on them. (neither they feel any special urge to hurt others, that's a different disorder)

If your uncle doesn't care, he might be one of such people with this kind of brain disorder. They may be often found as succesful stock market brokers making large sums of money through their ruthlessness of investment.

(20-05-2012 11:39 PM)pppgggr Wrote:  Another subject we got into was the Second Law of Thermodynamics.
When someone starts using the Second Law of Thermodynamics as an argument, just ask him how many of these laws are there and what do they mean Smile
If he says three laws, tell him it's thermodynamics, not robotics Big Grin
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21-05-2012, 09:12 AM
RE: A debate with my Uncle.
The religious arguments are so easily debunked it makes me wonder how many people in our society are just functionally insane, meaning that they can function normally in most matters then loose it with religion.

The old gods are dead, let's invent some new ones before something really bad happens.
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21-05-2012, 02:34 PM (This post was last modified: 21-05-2012 02:49 PM by pppgggr.)
RE: A debate with my Uncle.
I'd like to state right now, since some of you are getting the wrong idea, that this was a calm intellectual conversation. When he brought up the gun, he was using it as an example, not stating that he would actually do so. My Uncle is a very good man, and he's not an idiot either. He was an Atheist for a long while until he read "The Case for Christ". He's a very intelligent man by my standards......He just gets it wrong when it comes to religion. His body is being ravaged by cancer, his wife has left him, and he's lost his home. He's currently living with my grandmother. He takes comfort in religion. This post was to assist me in debunking his arguments, not to make him look like an idiot or a bad man. I do care about him.
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21-05-2012, 02:46 PM
RE: A debate with my Uncle.
(21-05-2012 06:07 AM)Luminon Wrote:  That's funny, I thought the Constitution never mentions God and the only reference to religion is in the 1st amendment, where it says "there shall be no religious test to hold a public office"...
Although in court Americans mention God and swear on Bible in abstract, ceremonial sense, like it doesn't matter which God. The founders of American state were deists, not even theists in classical sense. They left Europe and tried to estabilish a religion-free state administration so that we avoid religious wars. A religion-free state is under no obligation to start a holy war with a state of another religion, no matter what GWBJ says. To put religion into state offices is like to bless a car with holy water, to make the engine will run better. Or to pay ransom to a non-existent mafia.
I don't know where he got that from, then. He was actually telling me to read it.


Quote:Things like love or empathy do have a real representation in our brain. Not only we have brain centers to simulate what other people think and feel (so-called theory of mind), we can predict the effect of our actions on them and social feelings to help them out. This is the healthy state and may be observed even in children less than 2 years old.
Then there are people who's neurology is somehow impaired and they are literally incapable of empathy and will hurt others readily if they find it profitable. They are however not stupid and know very well that the society's wrath and legal punishment would descend on them. (neither they feel any special urge to hurt others, that's a different disorder)

If your uncle doesn't care, he might be one of such people with this kind of brain disorder. They may be often found as succesful stock market brokers making large sums of money through their ruthlessness of investment.
He didn't state that -HE- didn't care. He said "Well what if". This was a very calm conversation. We weren't yelling or anything like that, though when it came to him saying that America isn't a secular nation, he got somewhat passionate. He was using that as an example, not stating that he didn't care.



Quote: When someone starts using the Second Law of Thermodynamics as an argument, just ask him how many of these laws are there and what do they mean Smile
If he says three laws, tell him it's thermodynamics, not robotics Big Grin
I did say that, but he ignored me and continued to explain. It's probably because I said it rather passively. As stated before, it was a calm conversation and the two of us respect each other a great deal. It's hard for me to get passionate about my beliefs around family, because all but one member, whom doesn't even live in the state, are perfectly willing to accept me. We still care for each other a great deal, and I don't like being aggressive with anyone unless they become aggressive with me. I don't even remember for sure whom started the debate. I think it may have been me.
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21-05-2012, 07:09 PM
RE: A debate with my Uncle.
The case for Christ is essentially a statement of the moral argument, that:
1. If there is an absolute morality, then there must be an absolute morality giver
2. There is an absolute morality
3. The absolute morality giver is the Christian god
Each of these presuppositions is essentially false Smile

Steve likes to curse is currently reading and critiquing this book. You might be interested:



If you are interested in morality in general, I like QualiaSoup's series:



Give me your argument in the form of a published paper, and then we can start to talk.
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