How to De-convert a Christian
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17-06-2011, 11:03 PM
 
How to De-convert a Christian
I want to figure out what exactly it would take to de-convert a person who can and often does think rationally and employ sound logic in their lives, but is also a Christian who exempts their beliefs from criticism or has convinced him-/herself that these beliefs are supported by evidence and/or logic.

Whenever I've talked to a Christian about their beliefs, there seem to be uncountable avenues for escape from any question or challenge posed to them about Christianity. I also know this because I can still remember the way I thought as a Christian, and it's something that always bothers me about any website, video, or explanation about why these beliefs are ridiculous. Usually, it's because there is always something ambiguous that they can hide behind, and behind that there will always be more shelter from logic and reason. To give an example:

Bring up the famous problem of evil quote. The Christian will respond that we cannot understand God, and that him not preventing these evil acts is part of the infamous "divine plan". Then we'll get into how God is timeless, you can't judge God, etc. Bring up any biblical atrocity, same reaction. This ambiguity makes many beliefs incredibly resistant to reason, and it should be addressed first if one wishes to discuss religion with a religious person.

So, to this end, I want to lay the groundwork for a proper discussion/critique of religious ideas(specifically Christianity - although it should be applicable to other religions), aimed at the aforementioned intelligent Christian. The problem I see with making something like this is that it has to spell things out as clear as 2 + 2 = 4, so unambiguously that anyone with half a brain cell could read it, understand it, and have to agree with it or concede that they are incapable of rational thought.

So, I guess what I want to know is... is this possible? To lay a groundwork for examining the Bible so that one cannot hide behind the innumerable, vague cop-outs that are so popular among apologists? I'm also not sure what needs to be established in this groundwork. So far I have:

-Morality is relative, regardless of whether a God exists or not. This is something that I think is relatively easy to demonstrate. TheoreticalBullshit did an incredible video on it, and the clarity with which he explains his position is probably the closest that I've seen to the unattainable perfection I'm after in creating an argument like this. With relative morals established(provided the theist doesn't decide to follow the logic of some apologists regarding this issue and go on a killing spree first Tongue), we can now judge God and his biblical actions, so one big excuse for his imaginary atrocities goes poof.
-I'm wondering if it would be necessary to give an in-depth explanation of logical fallacies, since they're bound to come up. Even if their definitions were established, it might still be necessary to give a long explanation of why a particular theist argument is or contains a fallacy.
-Establishment of a skeptical approach. This shouldn't be too hard, if the person wishes to argue against skepticism, then I can't wait to tell them about my psychic powers and His Noodley Greatness, the one and only Flying Spaghetti Monster!
-Nothing that supports Christianity and Islam(or any other religion opposing or contradicting Christianity) should be taken for evidence as Christianity and not Islam. If every mention of Jesus, Bible, Christianity, and God in their argument can be replaced Muhhamed, Koran, Islam, or Allah, then their argument is probably worthless.

I really haven't thought of what else would need to be established in order to have a discussion of religious texts with a minimal amount of bullshit. But I think it'll be quite a long list. Any suggestions would be welcome. I don't know if I'm even going to do this considering how impossible my goal seems, but I think it would be an interesting project. And if I do a decent job it might even be useful to other people Big Grin
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18-06-2011, 01:27 AM
RE: How to De-convert a Christian
Although I have never tried this, I wonder if the first step is to approach it from a position that does not include religion. For example, Begin to discuss other supernatural phenomena, UFOs, crop circles, palmistry, astrology etc using the same critical reasoning that you would use for religion.

That would begin by reinforcing the logical framework for when you switch onto religion, perhaps making it easier for the religious person to understand the arguments (or at the very least you can point out that you cannot use logic for one subject and not for another. Logic does not magically alter when a deity comes into a discussion.)

Why won't God heal amputees?
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18-06-2011, 03:57 AM
RE: How to De-convert a Christian
(17-06-2011 11:03 PM)Zach Wrote:  I want to figure out what exactly it would take to de-convert a person who can and often does think rationally and employ sound logic in their lives, but is also a Christian who exempts their beliefs from criticism or has convinced him-/herself that these beliefs are supported by evidence and/or logic.

Whenever I've talked to a Christian about their beliefs, there seem to be uncountable avenues for escape from any question or challenge posed to them about Christianity. I also know this because I can still remember the way I thought as a Christian, and it's something that always bothers me about any website, video, or explanation about why these beliefs are ridiculous. Usually, it's because there is always something ambiguous that they can hide behind, and behind that there will always be more shelter from logic and reason. To give an example:

Bring up the famous problem of evil quote. The Christian will respond that we cannot understand God, and that him not preventing these evil acts is part of the infamous "divine plan". Then we'll get into how God is timeless, you can't judge God, etc. Bring up any biblical atrocity, same reaction. This ambiguity makes many beliefs incredibly resistant to reason, and it should be addressed first if one wishes to discuss religion with a religious person.

So, to this end, I want to lay the groundwork for a proper discussion/critique of religious ideas(specifically Christianity - although it should be applicable to other religions), aimed at the aforementioned intelligent Christian. The problem I see with making something like this is that it has to spell things out as clear as 2 + 2 = 4, so unambiguously that anyone with half a brain cell could read it, understand it, and have to agree with it or concede that they are incapable of rational thought.

So, I guess what I want to know is... is this possible? To lay a groundwork for examining the Bible so that one cannot hide behind the innumerable, vague cop-outs that are so popular among apologists? I'm also not sure what needs to be established in this groundwork. So far I have:

-Morality is relative, regardless of whether a God exists or not. This is something that I think is relatively easy to demonstrate. TheoreticalBullshit did an incredible video on it, and the clarity with which he explains his position is probably the closest that I've seen to the unattainable perfection I'm after in creating an argument like this. With relative morals established(provided the theist doesn't decide to follow the logic of some apologists regarding this issue and go on a killing spree first Tongue), we can now judge God and his biblical actions, so one big excuse for his imaginary atrocities goes poof.
-I'm wondering if it would be necessary to give an in-depth explanation of logical fallacies, since they're bound to come up. Even if their definitions were established, it might still be necessary to give a long explanation of why a particular theist argument is or contains a fallacy.
-Establishment of a skeptical approach. This shouldn't be too hard, if the person wishes to argue against skepticism, then I can't wait to tell them about my psychic powers and His Noodley Greatness, the one and only Flying Spaghetti Monster!
-Nothing that supports Christianity and Islam(or any other religion opposing or contradicting Christianity) should be taken for evidence as Christianity and not Islam. If every mention of Jesus, Bible, Christianity, and God in their argument can be replaced Muhhamed, Koran, Islam, or Allah, then their argument is probably worthless.

I really haven't thought of what else would need to be established in order to have a discussion of religious texts with a minimal amount of bullshit. But I think it'll be quite a long list. Any suggestions would be welcome. I don't know if I'm even going to do this considering how impossible my goal seems, but I think it would be an interesting project. And if I do a decent job it might even be useful to other people Big Grin

Hi Zach. I will share my 2c worth on this. I will confine my comments to Christianity.

The ultimate source of Christian dogma, the one thing all Christians have in common, is the Bible.

If we can discuss with them
-who wrote the Bible, when and why
-whether there is genuine historical truth in it
-who the main characters were, particularly those key characters of the New Testament; Jesus, Paul, Peter and James

Then if they are capable of listening it seems to me they will be dumbfounded. Your average Christian has NO IDEA about these topics, because they have been taught to simply assume the Bible is the word of God. It is important that they understand that you do not accept that assumption, so it is pointless for them to repeatedly quote the Bible to justify their position.

I have written a book on these topics, and feel thoroughly equipped to counter any argument they may put forward. I don't know how successful I will be, but that is the tack I am taking. Hope this helps. Cheers, Mark
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18-06-2011, 11:12 AM
 
RE: How to De-convert a Christian
You're approaching it from a completely different angle than I was thinking of, but yours makes more sense. If it can be demonstrated that the Bible is a useless source of accurate information, then that pretty much nips the problem in the bud. No Bible, no basis for any of this harmful belief system.

I don't know that much about the Bible's origins, but I would be interested in learning. I'd love to read the book you wrote, any kind of research or information that I could trace back to an original source or verify myself would be very helpful.

I do have one concern, however. Explaining the inaccuracy of the Bible to someone who wishes to believe it's accurate might still be difficult. You can provide evidence and convince a person how long after the supposed resurrection the gospels were written. But they won't accept that this makes them inaccurate. You would need to explain why eyewitness testimony is unreliable, why retelling a story for decades will alter the story significantly, etc. These may be facts, but when pressed to do so a person can retreat very far into ignorance trying to cling to a belief.

edit: I took a look at your website. Disappointed the book isn't out yet, but I can't wait to get it when it is released Smile
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18-06-2011, 01:43 PM
RE: How to De-convert a Christian
I don't really have anything of my own to add to the discussion, but I'd like to share this link, since it may be relevant (it's long tho) :

http://youarenotsosmart.com/2011/06/10/t...re-effect/

The God excuse: the last refuge of a man with no answers and no argument. "God did it." Anything we can't describe must have come from God. - George Carlin

Whenever I'm asked "What if you're wrong?", I always show the asker this video: http://youtu.be/iClejS8vWjo Screw Pascal's wager.
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18-06-2011, 02:02 PM
RE: How to De-convert a Christian
I think the stuff at IronChariots is pretty good material.

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Disclaimer: Don’t mix the personal opinion above with the absolute and objective truth. Remember to think for yourself. Thank you.
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18-06-2011, 02:13 PM
RE: How to De-convert a Christian
Why would you even want to try? Just to be mischievous? It'd be like telling my daughter there is no Santa Claus, or Easter Bunny, or Tooth Fairy. I didn't need to say anything, she figured it out on her own. They'll catch up on their own. It's just taking them a little longer than expected. Wink

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18-06-2011, 02:26 PM
RE: How to De-convert a Christian
I actually have de-converted a few Christians by accident before. It took a few years and a constant barrage of irrefutable logical arguments, but slowly they started doubting, then claimed they were deists, and now label themselves as a "secular humanist"... though they occasionally regress to old beliefs when they realize that "no on can explain what happened before the Big Bang."

Like Bruce Banner was overexposed to gamma rays, you must overexpose Christians to logic. Strap them to a chair if you have to. Eventually they won't be able to contain the intellectual hulk lurking in their subconscious, and he will come through, smashing down the wall of ignorance they had built around themselves. Because as we all know, Hulk smash.

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18-06-2011, 02:40 PM
RE: How to De-convert a Christian
(18-06-2011 02:26 PM)Buddy Christ Wrote:  Because as we all know, Hulk smash.

Hulk smash.


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18-06-2011, 09:42 PM
 
RE: How to De-convert a Christian
(18-06-2011 02:02 PM)The_observer Wrote:  I think the stuff at IronChariots is pretty good material.

I've been there once or twice, I know they do a good job at addressing various well-known arguments, but I haven't really looked through the site too much. I should see if they have anything along the lines of what I'm going for.

(18-06-2011 02:13 PM)GirlyMan Wrote:  Why would you even want to try? Just to be mischievous? It'd be like telling my daughter there is no Santa Claus, or Easter Bunny, or Tooth Fairy. I didn't need to say anything, she figured it out on her own. They'll catch up on their own. It's just taking them a little longer than expected. Wink

Because I'm a God-hating, baby-killing, anti-American, atheist heathen who likes to ruin everyone's fun Tongue

And because like a tumor, religion isn't always benign. This would be for my own interest in the subject, but it would also help me or someone else, if the way I organize my thoughts is convenient for that person, to have a more rational conversation with a Christian or other theist who really needs to question their beliefs.

(18-06-2011 02:26 PM)Buddy Christ Wrote:  I actually have de-converted a few Christians by accident before. It took a few years and a constant barrage of irrefutable logical arguments, but slowly they started doubting, then claimed they were deists, and now label themselves as a "secular humanist"... though they occasionally regress to old beliefs when they realize that "no on can explain what happened before the Big Bang."

Like Bruce Banner was overexposed to gamma rays, you must overexpose Christians to logic. Strap them to a chair if you have to. Eventually they won't be able to contain the intellectual hulk lurking in their subconscious, and he will come through, smashing down the wall of ignorance they had built around themselves. Because as we all know, Hulk smash.

If my magic de-conversion essay thing doesn't work I'll definitely try your approach Big Grin
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