Is my friend's argument illogical reasoning?
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13-02-2011, 03:20 PM
 
Is my friend's argument illogical reasoning?
First off, hi to everyone! I'm a new user to this forum, and I actually just recently (started about a month ago) started considering myself an agnostic atheist. I've been questioning for awhile, so it was by no means a rash decision (that's at least what I'm hoping), but I've recently been having conversations with my Christian best friend. She continues to believe in god because it was what her grandmother taught her from a young age, and she holds it in high respect. She doesn't like questioning, even if my arguments (and I'm still learning them) make sense. One thing we were in disagreement about was the bible. She says that it's contributed to society many great things, our country was built on it, etc., and that if we reject that bible then we might as well reject the good things in it as well. I don't want to misinterpret anything she was saying, but I think that was the main point. Why use any good thing from the bible at all if we say it's bad? She basically said that if she thought something was bad she'd stay away from it entirely. I guess like an all-or-nothing deal. I told her that just because the bible has good things in it that are true doesn't automatically make the bible true. Like, in some places it may describe a good diet or reiterate good morals, but that doesn't mean all the other stuff (the garden of eden, talking snakes, sin, etc.) is true. I haven't read the Qu'ran or any other holy book, but I bet that they have tidbits of good things in them as well, yet I don't believe they speak the truth about everything. And what about all the bad stuff too? Like, god killing whole cities and pregnant women and babies and endorsing all sorts of horrible things! So, you guys tell me, does my argument or hers sound like solid reasoning. And, if not (to either), what would be a good argument? Her argument doesn't make much sense to me and sounds like some sort of illogical reasoning she's rationalized to keep her faith or not question it, but I know I could be wrong. THANKS for reading this long question!
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13-02-2011, 03:36 PM
RE: Is my friend's argument illogical reasoning?
Origin of Species is a good book, but Darwin made some mistakes. Aristotle had some good ideas, but he had a limited scope and couldn't foresee a lot of things iin the future which might otherwise have altered his views. Mussolini made the trains run on time.

Every valid idea has to come from somewhere. That doesn't mean that the entire framework that buttressed that idea is valuable. The Colosseum is beautiful architecture, but people were slaughtered there. Butter is delicious, AND it causes heart attacks. Newton discovered the theory of gravity, and he believed lead could be turned to gold. A lot of people feel their lives are improved after reading Dianetics, but that doesn't mean Thetons are real.
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13-02-2011, 03:50 PM
RE: Is my friend's argument illogical reasoning?
Hi and welcome to the forum.
If you live in the USA , her argument that the Bible was the foundation ofr the country is meaningless : "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
That was the first amendment.
The bible speaks of slavery and was even used as a justification for this purpose.
Belief is something that doesn't rest upon questioning , so any doubts may come hard to her.
The bible is just a book , some things in it are good , some are bad , and there are many contradictions and historical inaccuracies as well - see the very site we're on for starters.
If we reject the bible how do we reject good things ? Name one secular positive moral value that can't be achieved without the bible ?

You're not wrong , your friend is between a rock and a hard place.She loves her grandmother , holds her in high respect , can't believe anything that comes from her is wrong and has faith ; you come along with disbelief and shatter that "faith".
It can emotionally painful to question belief and family members, past and present so I'd advise threading carefully and cautiously.

Atheism is a religion like OFF is a TV channel !!!

Proud of my genetic relatives Big Grin
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13-02-2011, 04:02 PM (This post was last modified: 13-02-2011 04:09 PM by Lilith Pride.)
RE: Is my friend's argument illogical reasoning?
Contributing to society and our country being built on it are very interesting suggestions. Morals didn't exist because of the book, but these things that are considered contributions are always awarded to the book. As far as how it helps, you need more than a blanket statement to really validate yourself, but she's not worried about being valid she just wants something worth believing. As far as claims to the country's origins there is plenty of evidence to the contrary in the idea that the country was built on ideals not faith and later faith wedged it's way in. To say that the morality of murder being wrong is a gift from the Christian bible *first of all ignores the fact that the Christian bible in that same book supports murder*. Murder being wrong is something that was agreed upon by people not enforced by a book. The book simply in some cases helps people to agree to the idea, but not because they believe murder is wrong, simply because they fear the consequences of sinning.

Just because it was written in a book does not mean that book gets to take credit for it. If you want to make an interesting argument, then ask how the bible, if it's been agreed by priests to not be a direct word of god through translations and deliberations. Is not in itself a false profit that "god" would not desire Christians to follow. If you can't take the book literally then what merit does it have? You can't even take it figuratively, and see a serious connection between ideas from front to back. Christianity is a plausible religion to some people because of priests own determinations and unwritten dogma that makes the book seem more logical.

And yes, Gaglamesh is correct in stating your friend has an emotional need for this belief as an attachment. A difficult thing about feeling you are correct, is determining when it helps someone to show them the answer, and when they don't want the answer because it is filling a hole for them. You can ask people questions that get them thinking, but if you forcibly remove religion from their lives they often don't have something to replace it with.

I'm not a non believer, I believe in the possibility of anything. I just don't let the actuality of something be determined by a 3rd party.
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13-02-2011, 04:10 PM
 
RE: Is my friend's argument illogical reasoning?
Thank you gamutman for your examples, they really helped! And thank you, gaglamesh731 for your insight. I agree with both of you, and thanks for the warning. I felt the same way when questioning my beliefs, but probably not to the degree that she does right now because in the back of my mind I had been questioning all along. I never bring the subject up unless she says something about it, so I hope not initiating it may help to just give her time to think about it if she wants. She still is my best friend, and not the type of person (I hope) to stop being friends with someone just because of their beliefs. So again, thanks for your input.
I saw your statement late, but thanks for your input too, Lilith Pride. That's an interesting point that I hadn't thought of before, so thanks for sharing it. I think my belief was based primarily on emotions too, so I can kinda see where she is with that. But you are correct, I don't want to force her and don't intend to, that's something I know she'll have to confront if she wants, and I'm always there with an open mind if she wants to talk. I just hate seeing people how I was, so "brainwashed" I guess. But I don't want to leave somebody in a state of hopelessness or worthlessness without god, so it's a "thin-ice" sort of situation.
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13-02-2011, 04:31 PM
RE: Is my friend's argument illogical reasoning?
I used to believe in conspiracy theories and I did so for 2 years.
I was paranoid the world would end or something and that kind of emotional belief is completely overwhelming . When you escape you want to show others the errors of their ways but this is hard to do.
What I'm trying to say is that many arrive at the theist conclusion for different reasons , not necessarily the ones you did and leaving is different for everyone.But the mechanism that keeps one a believer is usually the same.

Atheism is a religion like OFF is a TV channel !!!

Proud of my genetic relatives Big Grin
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13-02-2011, 05:03 PM
 
RE: Is my friend's argument illogical reasoning?
That's a very good point, I think my friend believes primarily because of her respect for her grandmother, but that wasn't the primary reason why I believed. Granted, I did take what my parents and others taught me when I was younger as truth, but I genuinely wanted my spiritual life to be full of god. My friend was not quite as dedicated (at least from what I know and seen through her adult life). I don't mean this to come off as me condemning her for not practicing what u teach or something like that, just that she kinda just believes but there's usually not much depth to it. We weren't friends during her childhood so besides what she tells me I have no idea about what happened or her spiritual life. I do love her as a friend though, and I hope she does challenge it sometime in the future, but it's fine even if she never does either, so long as neither of us are forcing our beliefs upon the other and we stay good friends.
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13-02-2011, 05:37 PM
RE: Is my friend's argument illogical reasoning?
Here's an interesting question to ask anyone who believes what they believe because the respected X and X believed it.

"Do you think that X felt that X was infallible?"

My father was a good man, but he was also a product of his time and had certain ill conceived thoughts about race. By the time he died, he had begun to reconsider a lot of his positions, however, had he died a few years sooner, I don't think he'd have gone expecting me to consider his racist ideas as carved in stone just because he believed them.
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13-02-2011, 07:25 PM
 
RE: Is my friend's argument illogical reasoning?
I suppose one thing that religions have right is that people are infallible. But that doesn't mean we have to be ignorant and gullible. The best thing about humans I think is that we are constantly learning and improving (in most cases). I can't believe how ignorant of science I was as a believer, just because I didn't want to "taint" my ideas. I had almost no concept of what evolution was. A common argument among Christians that I heard was the oh-so-popular "I didn't come from a monkey"! I have to question everything I believed and learn what actually is fact or at least verifiable. I am glad that I have an open (and less gullible) mind now. I want to be a scientist, so I'm glad I caught myself early on. Could anyone explain to me the major flaws in Creationism as well? I've heard arguments from Creationists that say that secular science is flawed or biased, and the means that we use to measure the earth is inaccurate (such as carbon dating could only be used to measure the living, not something such as volcano rock or etc.). They say that there is geological proof for the worldwide flood. I don't know the arguments in-depth, but I was hoping someone who had studied both the viewpoints could give some insight?
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13-02-2011, 11:32 PM
RE: Is my friend's argument illogical reasoning?
There are actually tons of good and informative videos about this on YouTube. I'll touch briefly on two quick points, the carbon dating and the evidence for the flood.

First, it's true that carbon dating can only date certain organic things. That's why it is only used to date the organic things it's good for dating. There are other methods used for dating other things. Often, different dating methods are employed to see if the cross over matches up. For more, look up the YouTuber potholer54.

As for the geological evidence for the flood, there are a few apologists who try to make a case for it, but they are so easily debunked it's not worth going into. ken Ham is the main one i am aware of. He claims that dinosaurs lived in the garden of Eden, that the various layers which scientists use to show geological epochs were all actually laid down in 40 days during the flood, that the flood waters came from both above (in a now non-existant canopy) and from below (in a hydro-plate of sub-terranian water which also caused the continents to drift apart,) that men used to live hundreds of years because the water canopy filtered out harmful UV light, etc.

The problem with all of these "theories" is that none of them are actual science. Science looks at the evidence, and then finds explanations. What Ham and others like him do is look at the bible, and then try to force the evidence to support it. His website, answersingenesis, will contradict one explanation with another and then claim that since both contradictory explanations support the bible, then the bible is true.

Sometimes science can't answer something. Rather than make up an explanation, marrying that idea, and then denying evidence to the contrary to make the question go away, science has a much more elegant response. Scientists say they don't know yet.
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