Considerations In Talking With Theists
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17-08-2012, 02:34 PM
RE: Considerations In Talking With Theists
A belief that a claim is true becomes rational when you can justify that belief with evidence.
I believe that I am sitting in my kitchen typing on my keyboard. I hold this belief to be true and I have evidence to back up that belief. That belief is rational. It is justified.

If you cannot justify your beliefs, then they are not rational. You may still hold on to those beliefs if you wish. I'm not going to stop you, but you cannot claim they are rational.
They are a product of delusional thinking. It is irrational to believe that something is true when you cannot justify your reasons for believing it.
If a certain action fits the definition of a word, it's perfectly acceptable to use that word, unless that word will cause unreasonable distress or harm, as in the case of hate speech.

I personally don't like being called ignorant when it comes to other languages, but the truth is, I am. I can only fluently speak English and sometimes, even that's in doubt.
Ignorant and Idiot are terms that can accurately describe a persons mental state or knowledge about a certain topic, but more than likely they are used as an insult.

Delusional may accurately describe what theists do, but I think we can extend the courtesy to simply say that they believe something that we don't.

When we both observe reality and can say the sky is blue, the ocean is wet and the sun shines brightly on a clear day, we both have accurately described and can rationally justify what we observe. But when one of us, adds something more to the observation, then we have a disagreement. When one of us says, the sky is blue because there is a magical blue force field around the earth, but yet there is no evidence for this, one might begin to believe that this persons belief is created in their own mind. It's a mental idea tacked on to observed reality.

A a theist, looking at the example I gave purely from a rational perspective, how do you view someone who believes that the sky is blue because there is a magical blue force field around the earth ?

Don't try to extrapolate this onto your own belief about god. Measure it on it's own merits, rationally.

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17-08-2012, 07:41 PM
RE: Considerations In Talking With Theists
(17-08-2012 02:34 PM)Rahn127 Wrote:  A belief that a claim is true becomes rational when you can justify that belief with evidence.
I believe that I am sitting in my kitchen typing on my keyboard. I hold this belief to be true and I have evidence to back up that belief. That belief is rational. It is justified.

If you cannot justify your beliefs, then they are not rational. You may still hold on to those beliefs if you wish. I'm not going to stop you, but you cannot claim they are rational.
They are a product of delusional thinking. It is irrational to believe that something is true when you cannot justify your reasons for believing it.
If a certain action fits the definition of a word, it's perfectly acceptable to use that word, unless that word will cause unreasonable distress or harm, as in the case of hate speech.

I personally don't like being called ignorant when it comes to other languages, but the truth is, I am. I can only fluently speak English and sometimes, even that's in doubt.
Ignorant and Idiot are terms that can accurately describe a persons mental state or knowledge about a certain topic, but more than likely they are used as an insult.

Delusional may accurately describe what theists do, but I think we can extend the courtesy to simply say that they believe something that we don't.

When we both observe reality and can say the sky is blue, the ocean is wet and the sun shines brightly on a clear day, we both have accurately described and can rationally justify what we observe. But when one of us, adds something more to the observation, then we have a disagreement. When one of us says, the sky is blue because there is a magical blue force field around the earth, but yet there is no evidence for this, one might begin to believe that this persons belief is created in their own mind. It's a mental idea tacked on to observed reality.

A a theist, looking at the example I gave purely from a rational perspective, how do you view someone who believes that the sky is blue because there is a magical blue force field around the earth ?

Don't try to extrapolate this onto your own belief about god. Measure it on it's own merits, rationally.

I see religion the same way that you do -- a belief based on faith rather than evidence... but it isn't necessarily false just because it lacks evidence. We ought to apply skepticism in order to find where to stand when evidence is lacking, and I'm glad you've done that, but we ought not to apply dogma. Let's stick with skepticism; it's reasonable.

If you see a case in court where the prosecution simply can't prove that the defendant is a murderer, we are justified in agreeing with the judge that the defendant is not guilty. The lack of evidence, along with the burden of proof, amounts to us being rational to take this point-of-view. But it is not rational to hold a certainty that the defendant must be innocent just because the prosecution couldn't make its case. If evidence does turn up to prove the prosecutor's case, would you accept it? Could you be reasoned with?

This is why I'm totally in agreement with the OP of this thread. The case for Christianity (along with other religions) is weak and should not be accepted... but we shouldn't be prejudiced against Christians and assume that they are weak-minded, irrational, delusional, or stupid just because they disagree with us. They could, after all, be right. Let's just stick to pointing out the flaws in their conclusion, not their character.

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17-08-2012, 08:06 PM
RE: Considerations In Talking With Theists
(17-08-2012 07:41 PM)Starcrash Wrote:  
(17-08-2012 02:34 PM)Rahn127 Wrote:  A belief that a claim is true becomes rational when you can justify that belief with evidence.
I believe that I am sitting in my kitchen typing on my keyboard. I hold this belief to be true and I have evidence to back up that belief. That belief is rational. It is justified.

If you cannot justify your beliefs, then they are not rational. You may still hold on to those beliefs if you wish. I'm not going to stop you, but you cannot claim they are rational.
They are a product of delusional thinking. It is irrational to believe that something is true when you cannot justify your reasons for believing it.
If a certain action fits the definition of a word, it's perfectly acceptable to use that word, unless that word will cause unreasonable distress or harm, as in the case of hate speech.

I personally don't like being called ignorant when it comes to other languages, but the truth is, I am. I can only fluently speak English and sometimes, even that's in doubt.
Ignorant and Idiot are terms that can accurately describe a persons mental state or knowledge about a certain topic, but more than likely they are used as an insult.

Delusional may accurately describe what theists do, but I think we can extend the courtesy to simply say that they believe something that we don't.

When we both observe reality and can say the sky is blue, the ocean is wet and the sun shines brightly on a clear day, we both have accurately described and can rationally justify what we observe. But when one of us, adds something more to the observation, then we have a disagreement. When one of us says, the sky is blue because there is a magical blue force field around the earth, but yet there is no evidence for this, one might begin to believe that this persons belief is created in their own mind. It's a mental idea tacked on to observed reality.

A a theist, looking at the example I gave purely from a rational perspective, how do you view someone who believes that the sky is blue because there is a magical blue force field around the earth ?

Don't try to extrapolate this onto your own belief about god. Measure it on it's own merits, rationally.

I see religion the same way that you do -- a belief based on faith rather than evidence... but it isn't necessarily false just because it lacks evidence. We ought to apply skepticism in order to find where to stand when evidence is lacking, and I'm glad you've done that, but we ought not to apply dogma. Let's stick with skepticism; it's reasonable.

If you see a case in court where the prosecution simply can't prove that the defendant is a murderer, we are justified in agreeing with the judge that the defendant is not guilty. The lack of evidence, along with the burden of proof, amounts to us being rational to take this point-of-view. But it is not rational to hold a certainty that the defendant must be innocent just because the prosecution couldn't make its case. If evidence does turn up to prove the prosecutor's case, would you accept it? Could you be reasoned with?

This is why I'm totally in agreement with the OP of this thread. The case for Christianity (along with other religions) is weak and should not be accepted... but we shouldn't be prejudiced against Christians and assume that they are weak-minded, irrational, delusional, or stupid just because they disagree with us. They could, after all, be right. Let's just stick to pointing out the flaws in their conclusion, not their character.

Ah, but which ones are right about what? They aren't all right. And the probability that any of them are right about much of anything is vanishingly small.

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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18-08-2012, 04:57 AM
RE: Considerations In Talking With Theists
(17-08-2012 08:06 PM)Chas Wrote:  Ah, but which ones are right about what? They aren't all right. And the probability that any of them are right about much of anything is vanishingly small.

We have tools for analyzing existing data and coming to reasonable conclusions. I mentioned skepticism because that's a tool that I think is highly effective. Logic is also helpful. But no matter how we get to "what's right", it isn't helpful to presume that you methods are perfect and your conclusion definitely follows from those methods, because if you're wrong you won't be open to fixing your methods/conclusion. If you come to the discussion with an open mind, you can benefit from analysis of your thought.

I thought I'd share this video, because it's new and relevant to the topic.



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18-08-2012, 09:19 AM
RE: Considerations In Talking With Theists
(16-08-2012 03:41 PM)ideasonscribe Wrote:  
(16-08-2012 02:20 PM)Vosur Wrote:  Jokes aside, have you ever debated with an adult fundamentalist/creationist/... and caused him/her to change his/her point of view by one bit? I have yet to experience that.

Same here.
Haven't ever actually caused an adult atheist [fixt capitalization] to change his/her point of view.

I don't really expect to though. Unsure

You'd need a good argument to do that. Most of us *have* changed our views (from theism) and many are open to the idea if there's a good argument behind it. I've yet to hear one...

That said, one of the reasons argument is so ineffective at changing theists' position on their beliefs is that they were never reasoned into their position to begin with. Their beliefs aren't based on reason and evidence to begin with, they're emotional, traditional, or experiential based beliefs passed down from their parents, pushed onto them by proselytizers (usually utilizing emotional pleas rather than evidenced arguments), or based on a personal "revelatory" experience (KC Big Grin). I've yet to talk with any theist where one of these wasn't the case...

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18-08-2012, 10:00 AM
RE: Considerations In Talking With Theists
Since we are discussing consideration... why is consideration the sole responsibility of the Non-Theist? Expectations often seem unbalanced...
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It can be frustrating especially for Non-Theists still "in the closet", while their counterpart has full family support of their world view.

Theists who would generally be very divided, often unite to distribute misleading information about, and provoke Non-Theists. Seems to be one -IMO, the main - reason that many Non-Theists have begun to be more militant or at least appear so.

Far be it for me to say Boo-hoo, though some might. Then again, the simple fact that I'm on this forum contributes my boo-hoo to the fast growing movement of this Declaration of Reason.

That really is what this is about, in case it's not clear.

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18-08-2012, 10:43 AM
RE: Considerations In Talking With Theists
(18-08-2012 10:00 AM)kim Wrote:  Since we are discussing consideration... why is consideration the sole responsibility of the Non-Theist? Expectations often seem unbalanced...

Theists who would generally be very divided, often unite to distribute misleading information about, and provoke Non-Theists. Seems to be one -IMO, the main - reason that many Non-Theists have begun to be more militant or at least appear so.

This is where it starts. You point at the other side and say "they started it" or "they're not playing fairly", when the problem starts with assuming that some such trait is true about the entire other side. Take it on a case-by-case basis. Sure, if the specific person that you're debating with isn't being fair, then perhaps playing fairly puts you at a disadvantage. But if you start with the assumption that they won't be fair, and you are rude, insulting, or prejudiced before you make your first argument, then you've made it into a self-fulfilling prophesy: that person won't feel the need for fairness because you weren't fair, and thus they'll act like you expected them to. That's why the cartoon makes a bad analogy -- the theist and the atheist are meant to represent all of them, pushing a stereotype on those who aren't like that.

Remember, these debates on forums take place in the public eye. Even if you think that you've been provoked into acting childishly, spectators will just see both sides are childish and write you both off. And it's very likely that your opponent, blind to his or her own mistakes, will also see your attitude and write you off as well.

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18-08-2012, 12:34 PM (This post was last modified: 18-08-2012 12:37 PM by kim.)
RE: Considerations In Talking With Theists
(18-08-2012 10:43 AM)Starcrash Wrote:  That's why the cartoon makes a bad analogy -- the theist and the atheist are meant to represent all of them, pushing a stereotype on those who aren't like that.
I don't know if the cartoon necessarily makes a bad analogy, but it does make a general analogy - one that is widely recognized. Which is the job of political humor; appeal to the extreme of both sides, and make both moderate sides chuckle in recognition... thereby cooling their respective inflammatory rhetoric.

(18-08-2012 10:43 AM)Starcrash Wrote:  Remember, these debates on forums take place in the public eye. Even if you think that you've been provoked into acting childishly, spectators will just see both sides are childish and write you both off. And it's very likely that your opponent, blind to his or her own mistakes, will also see your attitude and write you off as well.

To an extent, I agree. It has been my idea for some time to alter the face of the everyday Non-Theist, if that can even be considered a Rolleyes goal. I fumble between "playing nice" and just not caring at all, which is actually fine with me.

From a distance, simply being on this forum or any forum for that matter, often instantly establishes one as either an "extremist" ... ha - or somewhere down the line, a pioneer or veteran ...of whatever. Public forum activity or just living out loud seems to be a territorial affront to what was once considered firm ground of the establishment.

Personally, I see the OP of the thread as fairly innocuous. However, it might irk some who feel they are quite practiced in the area of self control, to then be given a list of suggestions of how to further restrain the self. Some might see this as the control freak continuing to try and maintain control. Hmm...

It's enough for me to just be here; being a life long Non-Theist, it's just something do to. However, I am able to imagine why it's not enough for others. I can actually understand why people let themselves get out of hand, but before I delved into internet territory, I could not. I viewed both sides as childish. Often I still do. It is very rare for me to participate in anything but conversation, rather than actual debate. Not only am I ill equipped, it's rarely of interest to me.

My point being - if I even have one; I could not really see what becomes labeled "extreme", until I became extreme... to a certain extent. It then becomes a matter of how far one lets one's self get out of hand.

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18-08-2012, 01:08 PM (This post was last modified: 20-08-2012 10:31 AM by Logica Humano.)
RE: Considerations In Talking With Theists
(16-08-2012 10:52 AM)Impulse Wrote:  1. If you want to be respected, then be respectable. It is important to be respected if there is any chance at all that the person you are addressing or debating will be open to considering your arguments. Theists often accuse atheists of having little or no morals. Why prove them right by acting like a rude buffoon? I think even small things like swearing should be avoided when talking to theists or talking in a place where theists might be paying attention. Doing anything else diminishes respectability and only lends support to the misunderstanding and misrepresentation of atheists regarding morals.

It has been my personal experience that the nasty stereotypes spread by the multiple Christian sects have demonized us in a manner that, no matter what we say, it sounds as though we're being offensive. Far too often, Christians pull the victim card. I will not, however, deny that there are atheists who need to watch what they say, because some of their words are like venom.

(16-08-2012 10:52 AM)Impulse Wrote:  2. Part of being respectable also means withholding the insults (tempting though the insults may be at times). But this point also goes beyond the respect. If your goal is truly to have an intellectual discussion where a theist might really start thinking about and considering your position, the surest way to ensure they listen to nothing you have to say is to insult them - whether the insult is about their faith, their god, or about anything else that would offend them. That doesn't mean you can't say something like "the god you believe in punishes in cruel ways, displays many imperfect emotions in Biblical passages, and condemns people to eternal torture just for not believing in him", but it does mean you should avoid phrasing the same thing as "the god you believe in is a cruel tyrant". Additionally, it's far more effective even with the softer phrasing if you have the scriptural citations to back up your statements. (The example I gave was in talking with a Christian, but of course the point applies to talking with someone from any faith.)

Again, far too often Christians use the victim card. For instance, the majority assume that I am saying they are stupid because I imply that their faith is exactly what the churches want. I constantly say it is a large con, but they interpret it as an attack on their character.

See here for a full explanation of my feelings towards this subject.





(16-08-2012 10:52 AM)Impulse Wrote:  3. Know what you are talking about or at least be willing to admit when you don't. Don't enter a conversation positioning yourself as some sort of expert when you have little more than an opinion to base your side of the debate upon. I see atheists doing this a lot. Then they get backed into a corner and end up just insisting they are right and frankly looking just as silly as theists do when theists do the very same thing. You don't have to enter a conversation at all on a topic that you know little about. Or, if you do, enter it from a learning perspective, not a debating perspective. Or, if you're confronted with an argument that you can't refute in the moment, simply admit it. You can acknowledge that it's a good point and tell them, while you don't agree with it, you'll have to go find out more information before you can properly reply to it. Then do so; go learn more about it so you'll know your answer next time. You'll gain far more respect that way than stubbornly insisting you're right when you have no argument to support that claim with. Again, without respect, you have zero chance of changing anyone's mind.

I fully agree with you here. Far too often atheists demonstrate a supreme level of arrogance, primarily because they feel as though they are superior. In a sense, and don't take this the wrong way, they are. They are far more capable of second-guessing themselves when it comes to their faith-based convictions. Is that a justification? No. An explanation? Yes.

(16-08-2012 10:52 AM)Impulse Wrote:  4. Get your facts straight about the opposing side. Too often, atheists (and theists) think they understand the opposing side and heatedly argue against something that is just plain factually wrong to begin with. For example, it is factually incorrect to say that Christians believe the Trinity means three gods are really one god. In fact, Christians believe the Trinity is one god, period, not three gods. There are supposedly three persons in that one god and each person is wholly and completely the one God. How this can be is somewhat of a mystery even to Christians and one of those things that is supposedly not fully comprehensible to our "limited human minds". But it is pointless to argue about three gods when that isn't what they believe in. Worse yet, when corrected by the theist, some even go so far as to insist that the theist has it wrong. If you do get caught in an error, just admit it so you can get on with discussing what they truly believe instead of something imaginary that they don't believe.

Far too often a theist does have the idea "wrong". Too many of them do not understand their own faith, and it is quite obvious when you claim you are a Christian, and then remain a middle-class citizen. No person is a Christian, and no false Christian knows what they believe.

(16-08-2012 10:52 AM)Impulse Wrote:  5. Avoid simply parroting what you read from other atheists. If that is what you do, then chances are you don't really completely understand what it is you are parroting and debating. If you read or hear what seems like a good point and want to use it in a future discussion, go research it first. Even make sure you still agree with it after researching it before bringing it up in a discussion.

I completely agree with this. This idea, however, does not simply apply to this argument, but any argument that has ever taken place about any subject.

(16-08-2012 10:52 AM)Impulse Wrote:  6. Finally, a word regarding Bible contradictions and atrocities: Not all Bibles are the same. Specific wordings, translations, and even which books are included can be different. For instance, I have seen many examples of atrocities in the Bible with the book, chapter, and verse all given. When I have looked some of these up in a Catholic Bible, the wording is different there and the atrocity is therefore not present at all. For example, one verse that instructed us to kill our neighbor simply says the neighbor must perish in the Catholic Bible. That wording could simply mean the person will go to hell rather than that we would personally be required by God to do the killing. Yes, hell itself is an atrocity by God in the atheist's view, but that is not an atrocity by God in a Christian's view. So, if you brought up this verse to a Catholic where God instructs you to kill your neighbor, you'd be guilty of arguing something that, in their world, is factually incorrect. They may not realize the different wording offhand during the discussion, but when they look up your verse later, they will probably laugh about your "error" and lose all respect for any of your related points that they might otherwise have been pondering.

Yes, not all Bibles are the same. This is evidence enough for its unreliability, and if you need to go farther than that, so be it.

(16-08-2012 10:52 AM)Impulse Wrote:  Thanks to any of you who stuck with me through that long post. Smile

I enjoyed your post, and I agree with you for the majority of it. I hope you post more frequently on here.

(17-08-2012 06:28 AM)ideasonscribe Wrote:  
(17-08-2012 05:36 AM)Vosur Wrote:  Yeah, you shouldn't expect someone to become delusional after you've had a rational discussion with them. Drinking Beverage

Right, having a rational discussion with people should not lead them to delusion. It should lead them to rational thinking.

But since your opinion is that my worldview is delusional, my guess is that your presumption is that I am incapable of rational discussions.
It's the average atheist mindset.
I understand Drinking Beverage

You are ignorant. Delusion is the point of no return.

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Like dat^

Delusion:





Ignorance:





I mean, come on. The guy obviously doesn't know how it happens, right?
Just messin' with you man.

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18-08-2012, 02:12 PM
RE: Considerations In Talking With Theists
(18-08-2012 01:08 PM)Logica Humano Wrote:  You are ignorant. Delusion is the point of no return.

I mean, come on. The guy obviously doesn't know how it happens, right?
Just messin' with you man.

??

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