Evidence
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05-06-2012, 07:09 PM
RE: Evidence
(03-06-2012 09:33 PM)Egor Wrote:  You think you can convert the religious, but you can't. It doesn't work that way. There is no "atheist" argument.

I was once a Christian, and now I'm an atheist. It can work that way, and I know I'm not the only example.

I'm glad that you have at least questioned your belief system. This is extremely hard to do -- for atheists and theists alike. Whatever conclusion you finally come to, at least you can say that you are responsible for your beliefs and came to them by reason.

My girlfriend is mad at me. Perhaps I shouldn't have tried cooking a stick in her non-stick pan.
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05-06-2012, 08:19 PM
RE: Evidence
Atheist arguments come in I think a couple of basic forms:
1. Identifying flaws in specific god claims, and
2. Granting permission to think

This is not a conversion strategy, but this second clause in particular is important in any transition away from dogmatic theism. Coming from fundamentalist belief groups there are questions that are simply not asked. There are ideas that are not explored. This happens because of groupthink that encourages an approach to things that is similar to those around you, but also because of an idea that some ideas are good while others are bad in a way that can condemn you to eternal damnation.

To me the fundamental moment in deconversion is when a theist first questions a long held belief that everyone in their group accepts. This first step, this first crack is the act that leads to further questioning. Over time these questions add up and allow a more broad-based shift in approach.

If it is your objective to break a dogmatic theism (and one should think closely on this before determining that this is a valid objective) then the optimal approach I think is to provide opportunities for questions. A couple of clear places this can happen when it comes to Christianity are to open up an exploration of creation myths or scientific origin theories that conflict with the Christian myth, or to examine the credibility of the modern bible. When a person of faith explores these topics with an open mind the first cracks can appear in their dogma. This is something they must do for themselves. A debate will almost never result in this as a result. Exploring topics together may well result in such a crack emerging, or simply providing material for a person to explore in their own time can sometimes lead to such a crack.

This is not necessarily a recipe for atheism, but at least a reduction of dogma can be a valid objective in its own right. That said there is no reason under most circumstances to attempt to break that wall. We can exchange ideas and we can live together as humans even if we deeply disagree on some points. Happy marriages can continue for decades even with radical mixes of religious and philosophical ideas in play. Friendships can last a lifetime despite contradictory belief systems.

I personally have great respect for the American Atheists mission explicitly not being a mission to deconvert the converted, but instead to simply advocate for the rights of the deconverted. Evangelism is only important in atheism to the degree that it ensures people who have been deconverted or are in the process of deconversion to enjoy equal rights and freedom to express themselves and to be themselves - and to the degree that public policy is made without fear or favour to any religion.

Give me your argument in the form of a published paper, and then we can start to talk.
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06-06-2012, 12:30 AM
RE: Evidence
(04-06-2012 03:14 PM)Ghost Wrote:  DLJ, Lucradis and BD.

I'm hearing a lot of combative, or perhaps, confrontational words in your posts.
  • destroy the theist
  • claim victory
  • make them come back to reality
  • get people to value evidence
  • expose the pyschological disposition of my assailant
The sense that I get is that the three of you, for various reasons, view this as a matter of engaging in combat with Theists. That engaging Theists is a matter of getting them to see reason as you see it; to convert them basically.

How do you respond to that?
I respond to that in the following way:
Please re-read what I wrote and I think you see that I deal with a combative assailant by NOT engaging on their terms i.e. by refusing to be combative but by challenging the basis of their beliefs. Call it "parrying" if you like the extended metaphor.
Hafnof put is as "2. Granting permission to think". Nicely put.

btw, Hafnof, I'm with you up until:

(05-06-2012 08:19 PM)Hafnof Wrote:  Evangelism is only important in atheism to the degree that it ensures people who have been deconverted or are in the process of deconversion to enjoy equal rights and freedom to express themselves and to be themselves - and to the degree that public policy is made without fear or favour to any religion.
Robert Ingersoll-style evangelism also serves the purpose of reaching the unknown audience, example being the original thethinkingatheist and the impact Hitch had in creating a few small chinks in the theist armour.
And that, btw, Ghost, is also a metaphor. No-one is making battle-plans!

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06-06-2012, 12:40 AM
RE: Evidence
But but but... we must convert them to worshiping the great lord! And the best way to do that is to pretend to be enlightened beings with no agenda other than human happiness. Then when we've got 'em by the short and curlies we yank and yank like there's no tomorrow Hobo Hobo Hobo Which eventually there won't be because we are also working on the apocalypse... Muhahahahaha! The great lord will shower us with babies to eat and young virgins because we do his will and bring more people to the dark side Big Grin
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06-06-2012, 01:11 AM
RE: Evidence
(06-06-2012 12:40 AM)morondog Wrote:  But but but... we must convert them to worshiping the great lord! And the best way to do that is to pretend to be enlightened beings with no agenda other than human happiness. Then when we've got 'em by the short and curlies we yank and yank like there's no tomorrow Hobo Hobo Hobo Which eventually there won't be because we are also working on the apocalypse... Muhahahahaha! The great lord will shower us with babies to eat and young virgins because we do his will and bring more people to the dark side Big Grin
Amen, brother!

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06-06-2012, 01:17 AM
RE: Evidence
There is an interesting book that I read once called "Quantum Legacy", it talks about the scientific community and the key people and key papers that were published and widely accepted and lead to Quantum Mechanics. It wasn't a deeply scientific book, it doesn't try to teach the reader how to understand Quantum Mechanics, it just references the key people and the key papers. But it talks about the people, their upbringing, their relationships with each other.

For me the interesting part was how reluctant these scientists were to hear new ideas. Someone comes up with a model and creates a visualisation e.g. Bohr and his model of the electrons orbiting the atomic nucleus. Scientists come to believe in this model, well of course, because it matches the observations and it seems logical. Heisenberg came up with a theory for the atom explaining them to a greater detail than Bohr's model however he used matricies to work it out. The scientific community didn't like Heisenberg's theory, they didn't like using matricies and they didn't like not having a visualisation. Plank came up with an alternative, which fit the evidence as well but his didn't use matricies, so the community liked his theory.
Anyway, what I got out of the book was that these scientists could see several theories, all of which fit the observations, but because of certain beliefs that they had, they threw some out the window and accepted others. Over time (years) the evidence finally showed that the ones thrown out the window were the right ones, so the scientists were forced to change their beliefs.
It seemed from the book that Albert Einstein was good at accepting theories that matched the observations and not hanging onto his own beliefs so much, he fell into the trap of beliefs at times too, but not quite as much as others.
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06-06-2012, 01:34 AM
RE: Evidence
(05-06-2012 08:19 PM)Hafnof Wrote:  To me the fundamental moment in deconversion is when a theist first questions...
It is interesting to me to observe, while hanging out in a theist forum. I don't go there to convert people, just to get to know better how they think.

But hanging out in there for months, I see that no-one really asks any questions. They all have the answers, but no questions.
They might ask is it moral to do such and such, which is fine, that is what they do. But no-one challenges stories in the bible or the existence of god or the nature of the god of the bible. No challenges.
Once a lady told me I had a black heart and that she wanted me to open it up to Jesus.
They talked about eucharist miracles and were proud to say they were all ab+ blood type. I asked if DNA tests had been done, then they come up with excuses.
They tell me the bread and wine become Jesus blood and flesh when consumed, I ask what would happen if we test the stomach contents and they say it will only test positive as bread and wine.
They tell me that god answers prayer so I ask them if a statistical analysis will show that god answers prayer and they tell me that sometimes god says no. So I say if god says yes sometimes, then there will be a statistical advantage. But they insist that although god says yes, the statistics will be the same as they would for unprayed for events.

I am sitting there wondering why it is only me asking questions.
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06-06-2012, 06:04 AM
RE: Evidence
(06-06-2012 01:34 AM)Stevil Wrote:  
(05-06-2012 08:19 PM)Hafnof Wrote:  To me the fundamental moment in deconversion is when a theist first questions...
It is interesting to me to observe, while hanging out in a theist forum. I don't go there to convert people, just to get to know better how they think.

But hanging out in there for months, I see that no-one really asks any questions. They all have the answers, but no questions.
They might ask is it moral to do such and such, which is fine, that is what they do. But no-one challenges stories in the bible or the existence of god or the nature of the god of the bible. No challenges.
Once a lady told me I had a black heart and that she wanted me to open it up to Jesus.
They talked about eucharist miracles and were proud to say they were all ab+ blood type. I asked if DNA tests had been done, then they come up with excuses.
They tell me the bread and wine become Jesus blood and flesh when consumed, I ask what would happen if we test the stomach contents and they say it will only test positive as bread and wine.
They tell me that god answers prayer so I ask them if a statistical analysis will show that god answers prayer and they tell me that sometimes god says no. So I say if god says yes sometimes, then there will be a statistical advantage. But they insist that although god says yes, the statistics will be the same as they would for unprayed for events.

I am sitting there wondering why it is only me asking questions.
That, sir, is a very astute observation.... which makes Hafnof's "fundamental moment" most telling.
btw, their gods always answer their prayers, 100% of the time. The answers are:
a) Yes
b) No
c) Wait
Fool-proof, isn't it?

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06-06-2012, 07:50 AM
RE: Evidence
(06-06-2012 01:17 AM)Stevil Wrote:  There is an interesting book that I read once called "Quantum Legacy", it talks about the scientific community and the key people and key papers that were published and widely accepted and lead to Quantum Mechanics. It wasn't a deeply scientific book, it doesn't try to teach the reader how to understand Quantum Mechanics, it just references the key people and the key papers. But it talks about the people, their upbringing, their relationships with each other.

For me the interesting part was how reluctant these scientists were to hear new ideas. Someone comes up with a model and creates a visualisation e.g. Bohr and his model of the electrons orbiting the atomic nucleus. Scientists come to believe in this model, well of course, because it matches the observations and it seems logical. Heisenberg came up with a theory for the atom explaining them to a greater detail than Bohr's model however he used matricies to work it out. The scientific community didn't like Heisenberg's theory, they didn't like using matricies and they didn't like not having a visualisation. Plank came up with an alternative, which fit the evidence as well but his didn't use matricies, so the community liked his theory.
Anyway, what I got out of the book was that these scientists could see several theories, all of which fit the observations, but because of certain beliefs that they had, they threw some out the window and accepted others. Over time (years) the evidence finally showed that the ones thrown out the window were the right ones, so the scientists were forced to change their beliefs.
It seemed from the book that Albert Einstein was good at accepting theories that matched the observations and not hanging onto his own beliefs so much, he fell into the trap of beliefs at times too, but not quite as much as others.
Interesting story to be sure, and it outlines one of the fundamental beauties of the scientific method, but I just wanted to point out that Einstein ended up being a bit of a laughing stock in the physics community towards the end of his career because he refused to buy into what is now very well-established quantum theory due to his refusal to give up his personal belief that "god doesn't play dice."

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I am the unconverted
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06-06-2012, 10:59 AM
RE: Evidence
I find it interesting that this thread has become about judgement and conversion. It would seem that many people find it hard to think in terms other than evidence.

I imagine that therein lies the great disconnect.

There seem to be some stories of just speaking to Theists for the sake of speaking, the nature of which is really what I've been after, but there seems to frequently be a "but" caveat that brings people right back to the primacy of evidence.

This just popped into my head, so take it with a grain of salt, but it's almost like there's a sense of stewardship over the Truth. That it is too important to entrust to those who don't believe in the primacy of evidence. And, perhaps, a presupposition that there is nothing to be gained by engaging with those that come to their truths through avenues other than evidence.

Perhaps it's simply a bridge too far, as some have already suggested. I hate to think that that's the case. Colour me an optimist Cool

Does anyone have any stories, a story, where someone offered a spiritual experience, a story of communion with God, suggested that a miracle had occurred, shared an undemonstrated belief, or anything of that nature, and where your reaction was to accept it? Not necessarily accept it as the Truth, but rather to entertain it in terms of not feeling the need to deconstruct it through the lens of evidence?

Hey, Stevil.

That was an interesting story about scientific bias. My understanding is that around the 70s or 80s or so, there was a similar rejection of black hole theory. It's an interesting subject.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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