Debates with father causing anxiety
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21-09-2016, 05:55 PM
Debates with father causing anxiety
I'll start off: I'm a minor. I still live under my parents' roof(strong Catholics, both), but I am lucky in that I felt safe enough to come out regardless. And I was right, they haven't kicked me out or anything.

Now my father's a philosophy teacher. Has had a strong interest in philosophical debate since he was a kid, as well as having been a Christian for his entire life. In contrast, I've been an atheist for a little under a year. My dad is insistent on me maintaining a "Catholic worldview" as a default until he's satisfied my beliefs are consistent. This means heavy, in-depth philosophical debate about once a week.

(mostly along the Kalam argument side of things, especially infinite regress, first cause, inability to traverse an infinite, rationalism, etc to name a few)

Now I feel, with him being my father and concerned for the safety of my soul and all, that this is a reasonable request. After all, if I cannot refute his arguments, I shouldn't be holding my position. I should be willing to accept counter arguments that might prove me wrong.

But the whole thing is causing me a ton of anxiety. I'm not a philosopher. I hate debates. I have confidence in my position when I'm not having to argue to him, but everything always just seems to fall apart once I'm actually debating him. I feel outmatched. My thoughts start to scatter, I end up falling for things I already know are incorrect and he ends up more convinced than ever that I don't know what I'm doing. And it also ends up shaking me up, playing on my already-difficult-to-suppress fear of "What if I'm wrong? What if I'm being closed-minded and leading people to hell?". This feeling takes forever to suppress. I feel the need to justify myself because of the utter importance of the harm I could do if I was wrong.

I'm tired of the cycle of fear. I'm tired from trying incessantly to understand issues like infinity and the first cause argument JUST TO MAKE SURE I'm not wrong. They're so complicated and so easy to confuse. I want to move on, but at the same time I don't feel like I'm justified in doing so. I should be rock solid in defense of my position so that nothing gives me pause, else I don't really have a valid reason to think what I think.

I guess I'm looking for advice for how to make this whole ordeal less stressful and anxiety-inducing. Because there are some stakes involved, too.

There's an emotional aspect to this, I will admit it. If I'm wrong, that means I, as a lesbian, have a severely restricted future in my own circles. It means there's something wrong with me. I thought that once, and it was horrible, and I will admit to never wanting to have to go back there. I know that's not an argument for/against theism, and it makes me worry that my personal stakes here are biasing me and preventing me from seeing something. Causing further anxiety and lack of confidence.

Ugh. Just having a rough time and needed to get this out in the open.

all hail the mighty glow cloud
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21-09-2016, 06:03 PM
RE: Debates with father causing anxiety
Hi mate.

STOP debating your dad. It's a pointless exercise.

The above is advice only and is in no way related to persons living or dead or related to TT or other fictional or non fictional characters, even if invented by George Lucas "Mercy be upon him", nor is it to be taken as gospel, Gene Roddenberry "mercy be upon him" nor carpets, floor wax or cat nibbles.

NOTE: Member, Tomasia uses this site to slander other individuals. He then later proclaims it a joke, but not in public.
I will call him a liar and a dog here and now.
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21-09-2016, 09:07 PM
RE: Debates with father causing anxiety
I think you are lucky to have a father who wants to have philosophical debates instead of doing all the usual horrific things parents subject their children to in your circumstance.

That being said tell your dad that you are just now beginning to wrestle with all the questions that have burdened all the great philosophical thinkers throughout history, that it would be presumptuous of you to think that you have any of the answers but that you certainly appreciate his willingness to discuss. Thank him for bringing up points that make you think.

You are just now beginning to form your metaphysical views and you have a lifetime to refine them. I’m sure his thinking has changed greatly from when he was your age and he should extend you the leeway to form your own opinions; especially if he considers that he has raised a thoughtful, well-rounded and curious young adult.

Do not feel you need to have the answers now (or ever for that matter), do not challenge him and do tell him you will seriously consider his point of view.

Chances are I’m older than your father and it has taken me a lifetime to arrive at where I am today with regard to my current personal philosophy and views on religion. It is a journey and your thinking will change throughout your lifetime.

Take a deep breath. Talk with your dad, and it is perfectly acceptable to answer any and all his questions by saying, “I don’t know but that’s an interesting point, I’ll definitely give it some thought.”

I hope this helps you and good luck.

“I am quite sure now that often, very often, in matters concerning religion and politics a man’s reasoning powers are not above the monkey’s.”~Mark Twain
“Ocean: A body of water occupying about two-thirds of a world made for man - who has no gills.”~ Ambrose Bierce
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21-09-2016, 09:40 PM (This post was last modified: 21-09-2016 10:00 PM by cactus.)
RE: Debates with father causing anxiety
Quote:I should be rock solid in defense of my position so that nothing gives me pause, else I don't really have a valid reason to think what I think.

No. All attempts to "prove" the existence of something that's unverifiable by definition are dishonest and only serve to distract from the real question: "Why is it important for one to feel correct about this?"

Unverifiable assertions DO NOT EVER necessitate belief, regardless of any scare tactics that people may use to try to convince you otherwise. The simplicity of the doctrine of hell just reeks of human desperation: "Be convinced by the unverifiable assertions that you hear from other humans, OR ELSE!" The intent behind this narrative, and the social manipulation that's inherent in its re-telling, couldn't be any more obvious. If I'm wrong about this, then at least I was humble, honest, and rational while being wrong. Those are fruits of the spirit, right?... wait... they're not?... What, "faithfulness" and "chastity"? Well shit, never mind then; that's a load of bollocks, too.

You do not need to feel correct, and you definitely don't need to justify your beliefs to anyone.

If we came from dust, then why is there still dust?
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21-09-2016, 09:46 PM
RE: Debates with father causing anxiety
(21-09-2016 05:55 PM)ErinRH2342 Wrote:  Now my father's a philosophy teacher.

My sympathies. Facepalm

Quote:Has had a strong interest in philosophical debate since he was a kid, as well as having been a Christian for his entire life. In contrast, I've been an atheist for a little under a year. My dad is insistent on me maintaining a "Catholic worldview" as a default until he's satisfied my beliefs are consistent. This means heavy, in-depth philosophical debate about once a week.

Tell him faith is a gift from god. Debates and philosophy are not.
Jesus "No one shall come to me unless teh Father draw him". Just tell him you wasn't drawn. Laugh out load

Quote:I hate debates.


Then don't do it. Tell him you're not interested, and "please change the subject". Tell him forcing you to debate is abusive. It may be his hobby. It's not yours. Set boundaries. Say no.

Insufferable know-it-all.Einstein God has a plan for us. Please stop screwing it up with your prayers.
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22-09-2016, 12:25 AM
RE: Debates with father causing anxiety
Yeah, just tell him to back off. As you said, you're not a philosopher, you don't enjoy these debates. He should be thankful you were honest enough with him to tell him what you think, but you shouldn't be under any obligation to discuss it. The whole being a minor thing is all fine, but he isn't there to do your thinking for you and it's not a mark of disrespect to ask him to leave you alone on this. He may be disappointed you're not a Christian, but that's really his problem.

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If you're perfect -- Alanis Morissette
(06-02-2014 03:47 PM)Momsurroundedbyboys Wrote:  And I'm giving myself a conclusion again from all the facepalming.
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22-09-2016, 12:40 AM
RE: Debates with father causing anxiety
(22-09-2016 12:25 AM)morondog Wrote:  He may be disappointed you're not a Christian, but that's really his problem.

If you're being intellectually honest, that is a 'him' problem. You cannot control how other people react, only how you act.

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22-09-2016, 04:36 AM
RE: Debates with father causing anxiety
(21-09-2016 05:55 PM)ErinRH2342 Wrote:  After all, if I cannot refute his arguments, I shouldn't be holding my position. ... I should be rock solid in defense of my position so that nothing gives me pause, else I don't really have a valid reason to think what I think.

What is your position? Are you trying to defend
a) god doesn't exist
b) there's no good reason to believe a god exists
How you approach the discussions would depend on what you believe.

You mention arguments like the Kalam and infinite regress... think about what those argument actually claim. Basically, they say "here's something we don't understand" and then their proponent plugs in a god to explain it. It is OK to admit not knowing or understanding something; it isn't OK to just make up an answer. There has to be positive evidence for the specific god in order to believe that it is a reasonable answer to an unknown.

Most theistic arguments boil down to an argument from ignorance or an argument from incredulity. You don't have to have answers to not be satisfied that his proposed answers are correct.

Atheism: it's not just for communists any more!
America July 4 1776 - November 8 2016 RIP
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22-09-2016, 05:33 AM (This post was last modified: 22-09-2016 05:38 AM by Sturm.)
RE: Debates with father causing anxiety
Yes, don't debate with him, it is pointless, because :
- it brings you anxiety (first big reason)
- you won't change his belief
- he is an adult, philosopher, and is experienced in debating, while you're not, so it is not fair.

Now, if I understand well, his arguments are to give you some unanswered questions, and tell you that because you don't have the answers, the existence of a god is the only explanation ?
That's what mankind has always done. You can't explain this ? it must be due to god. That's why there used to be gods for the storms, rain, tides, etc, before humans had the knowledge to understand them.
Of course, there are still unanswered questions (and maybe there will always be), does it mean people should use "god" as the only explanation, no.
You should not try to find the answers by yourself, if those questions are still unanswered that's because we probably can't answer them now, you'll just exhaust yourself trying to figure them out. Knowledge and progress are a collective work, just trust mankind to have more answers in a few centuries. Think about all the things we ignored a couple of centuries ago, and all the things we know now. Of course, we still ignore a lot, but since all we have discovered has never brought any hint of an existence of god, we should definitely stop using god as an explanation for the things we still ignore.

Btw, I understand your anxiety, I react the exact same way, I also came here because of that. It has helped me a lot to join TTA.
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22-09-2016, 05:53 AM
RE: Debates with father causing anxiety
Thanks for all the replies. I apologize if any of what I was saying came off as a bit melodramatic, as I was feeling especially anxious at the time I posted last night. I'm a bit better this morning. Smile

I do agree that I'm lucky to have not encountered any of the crazy issues that a lot of people face trying to tell their parents about their change in worldview. However, I also think the majority of posters here are correct: My problem is in trying to "prove" something I don't fully understand myself, to fill the same gaps he's trying to. I need to stop letting him deflect the argument and actually put some pressure on the arguments he's using, which seem deeply flawed logically. That's the main issue I keep having, is getting the burden of proof subtly shifted until I start using the same training that kept me religious and trying to fill in knowledge with something I don't have all the answers to. Facepalm

I also think I won't be doing these debates for much longer as many people here suggested, because it is causing me so much anxiety. It's great that he's willing to discuss these things but it's simply not healthy for me. No I may ask him to nail down an "end date" sometime in the near future, a last debate and then I'll ask him to please accept my beliefs and let the issue lie. Does that sound reasonable?

all hail the mighty glow cloud
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