N00b with a question for former theists
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18-09-2013, 07:26 AM
N00b with a question for former theists
I usually do just fine when debating theists, and have actually had some success in opening minds, but there's one thing I run into that's like the proverbial brick wall: the theist who believes that any doubt at all is the influence of The Evil One. Evil_monster

It's a locked door that I'd really like to find the key to. After spending some time listening to people in the atheist community (I'm new to the community, but not to atheism itself), I don't accept that all such people can't be persuaded. After all, some atheists were once devout believers who honestly thought that questioning anything in their religion was as good as doing the devil's bidding.

I realize that de-conversion is a long process for most, with several defining moments along the way, but I've never heard anyone specifically detail how they let go of the notion that doubt was the work of Satan.

So, former theists, were you one of those who believed that any skepticism of your faith was the work of the devil? At what point during your de-conversion did you let go of that fear? Was it a conscious decision? It almost seems like it would have to be. At some point wouldn't you realize that you were thinking heretical thoughts, and feel squeamish about it? Why did you stop feeling squeamish about it? When did you stop thinking of doubts as Satan's whispers? Was it precipitated by an event, a particular bit of reasoning, or simply knowing an unbeliever who was obviously a good person, and you couldn't dismiss them as the devil's minion?
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18-09-2013, 07:39 AM
RE: N00b with a question for former theists
Hello,welcome abroad!
No,i have no answer to your question. I start to go to ignore when they say questioning the bible is evil. That means that even if science says x and bible says y,the scientists are obviously evil according to them.

I don't really like going outside.
It's too damn "peopley" out there....
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18-09-2013, 07:53 AM (This post was last modified: 18-09-2013 08:40 AM by KidCharlemagne1962.)
RE: N00b with a question for former theists
Welcome aboard! I've never been a theist but here are some thoughts.

I don't think there is a key to that door. If they truly believe any questioning is the work of Satan etc. then they'll just go into that deer in the headlights mode. People like this tend to eschew contact with others not of their ilk so they never face real questions.

Where we can have success is with people that are willing to engage and question. This does not mean they'll change their minds. The only reason I'll engage some of the religious trolls we get here is for the beneifit of other theists that may read the thread. Hopefully if we balance ridicule and well reasoned posts those on the fence will get something out of it.

" Generally speaking, the errors in religion are dangerous; those in philosophy only ridiculous."
David Hume
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18-09-2013, 08:03 AM
RE: N00b with a question for former theists
Hi Misspierce, I think I can help. This answer revert back to the circular reasoning they are engaged in. It goes like this, The bible is the word of God. Everything the bible says is true. The devil hates the truth. Anything against the truth is of the devil. Anything against the bible is against God because the bible is the word of God. Everything the bible says is true....and round and round she goes. The key to unlocking that door is to take it off the hinges. In this case the door hinges on "The bible is the word of God, everything in it is true". Study up on some textual criticism and challenge them on that, challenge them on the contradictions of the bible, challenge them to study its formation and how it became what it is today. Ask them why the NIV omits certain verses. Ask them about Mark 16:9-20, or John 7:53 - 8:11. I'll let you research it for yourself since you can see for your self and articulate in your own words. Also check out some of Bart Ehrman books or watch his lectures on You Tube. Richard Carrier is another you can check out. As you go on you will find more.

Hoped that helped. It is for the most part what finally drove me out of "The Faith".

"Now I don't want to be sane either, but I'm just saying there may be other delusions and hallucinations worthy of consideration before jumping to an irrational conclusion, that's all."
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18-09-2013, 08:08 AM
RE: N00b with a question for former theists
So... I was once a believer, and from my personal experience... I can tell you that my belief in Satan left when my belief in God left... they are Yin and Yang, Double-edged Sword, Different side of the same coin... how ever you want to phrase it.

You can't have Good without Evil is probably one of the best arguments a theist can use to re-assure the beliefs that person already possesses. (I remember saying it myself) It works this... You don't even need to start with a positive "god" claim... rather, a positive "evil" claim. We know there is evil in the world, just watch the news on any given night, but we wouldn't know any different from evil unless we have good... Since "good" is the better position, and we are typically making these judgements with the assertion that "I am good", then the context in your mind shifts to "Good" being the default position, and you can't possibly know what Good is without Evil... Therefore, we NEED Evil to know Good, thus justifying why God created Satan a reference for evil... And Badda-Bing, a eureka moment in which you have just justified the brilliance of god for thinking of this in the first place and re-assuring the belief you already have... thus, God is our reference for good, and Satan for evil... This only works when you were brought up with this type of religious belief. The really funny part about this is that Satan never lies or kills anybody in the bible... in fact, the only involvement he has is telling the truth about eating the fruit... but he's the bad guy?

It's a circular argument that you will never be able to break into... So you can't attack that one... It's better to stay away from this argument because these are the type of arguments that will never convince anybody in either direction that they aren't already facing.

To elaborate on my personal experience, I was first convinced by the lack of evidence, and/or evidence against the claims made in the bible (Exodus, Great Flood... etc etc)... Then I was even more convinced by looking into the history of the bible itself... authors unknown, previous stories with Yahweh being one of many gods, Council of Nicaea, gospels written several decades after Jesus died, no contemporary evidence, etc etc... then you combine that with other things we do know about stories written at that time, based on true events, but also included supernatural claims that even Christians will dismiss. Then you look at all of the other ancient civilizations and their religious beliefs which are now just Mythology... Then you move onto discoveries in science, tangible things like medical procedures, vaccines... other technological advancements like electric power, telephone, computer, GPS... then you realize that the same methods the brought those advancements are the same methods that provide the evidence that evolution is definitely true, and the "Big Bang" is quite plausible...

At some point in the process, it is absolutely imperative that the person going through the conversion identifies that "I don't know" is a perfectly acceptable answer... otherwise, they will always need some superstitious "filler" to account for things they want to believe, or just can't explain.
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18-09-2013, 08:09 AM
RE: N00b with a question for former theists
Interesting query - for which I personally have no answers. I'm also wondering if doubt itself might be a "set up", ever after conflating a measure of fear with doubt.

Believers always seem to be concerned with "tests of faith". It seems that if this belief is so "tricky", maybe one doesn't know if the next person to be met would be "the devil" or "the savior" in disguise. After such an experience or several, one would never even want to broach the subject of doubt and therefore, keep as close to the fold as possible. I suspect it's effectiveness to be a matter of lengthy, ongoing conditioning.

***
Good to see you here MissPierce. Feel free to pop over to the introduction forum and tell all a bit about yourself.

Welcome to the forum. Smile

A new type of thinking is essential if mankind is to survive and move to higher levels. ~ Albert Einstein
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18-09-2013, 08:18 AM
RE: N00b with a question for former theists
Sorry I can't answer the question having had no personal moments of Satan-belief but...

Consider

Opinion 1: Their god wants them have faith.
Opinion 2: Satan wants them to doubt.

Fact 1: There are doubters.
Fact 2: There are more non-christians (68.4%) than christians (31.6%)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_rel...opulations

Conclusion 1: Their god is not omnipotent
Conclusion 2: Satan is more potent

Question: If Satan is going to win out in the end would it not be wiser to either:
a) give in to doubt
b) stop believing in Satan.

Anyway, looking at the biblical body counts for the two... Satan is by far the nicer chap.

Smile

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18-09-2013, 08:37 AM
RE: N00b with a question for former theists
(18-09-2013 08:09 AM)kim Wrote:  Interesting query - for which I personally have no answers. I'm also wondering if doubt itself might be a "set up", ever after conflating a measure of fear with doubt.

Believers always seem to be concerned with "tests of faith". It seems that if this belief is so "tricky", maybe one doesn't know if the next person to be met would be "the devil" or "the savior" in disguise. After such an experience or several, one would never even want to broach the subject of doubt and therefore, keep as close to the fold as possible. I suspect it's effectiveness to be a matter of lengthy, ongoing conditioning.

***
Good to see you here MissPierce. Feel free to pop over to the introduction forum and tell all a bit about yourself.

Welcome to the forum. Smile

"I suspect it's effectiveness to be a matter of lengthy, ongoing conditioning."

Hit the nail on the head right there. When I was a fundie life was a series of events that could be summed up in 1 of three ways.

1. All good things come from God.
2. Bad things are a result of either a) God punishing you. b) Satan casting a stumbling block. or c) God is testing you.
3. All events are a part of God's larger plan for your life.

It took quite a while for me to challenge my own belief that when ever something bad happened that it did not result from some evil thought or "hidden sin" or even a devil out to get me. I had to dispute the automatic thought and challenge myself with a more rational explanation. Those initial automatic thoughts triggered emotional responses which would then direct my behavior. Even after I stopped believing there was quite a bit of residue due to the years of conditioning. But now, I no longer fear having my mind being read by an invisible entity.

I remember listening to Jerry Dewitt talking about how he will still sometimes speak in tongues while listening to music that affects him emotionally.

"Now I don't want to be sane either, but I'm just saying there may be other delusions and hallucinations worthy of consideration before jumping to an irrational conclusion, that's all."
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18-09-2013, 09:01 AM
 
RE: N00b with a question for former theists
(18-09-2013 07:26 AM)MissPierce Wrote:  So, former theists, were you one of those who believed that any skepticism of your faith was the work of the devil? At what point during your de-conversion did you let go of that fear? Was it a conscious decision? It almost seems like it would have to be. At some point wouldn't you realize that you were thinking heretical thoughts, and feel squeamish about it? Why did you stop feeling squeamish about it? When did you stop thinking of doubts as Satan's whispers? Was it precipitated by an event, a particular bit of reasoning, or simply knowing an unbeliever who was obviously a good person, and you couldn't dismiss them as the devil's minion?

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18-09-2013, 09:21 AM
RE: N00b with a question for former theists
(18-09-2013 08:08 AM)RedJamaX Wrote:  So... I was once a believer, and from my personal experience... I can tell you that my belief in Satan left when my belief in God left... they are Yin and Yang, Double-edged Sword, Different side of the same coin... how ever you want to phrase it.

You can't have Good without Evil is probably one of the best arguments a theist can use to re-assure the beliefs that person already possesses. (I remember saying it myself) It works this... You don't even need to start with a positive "god" claim... rather, a positive "evil" claim. We know there is evil in the world, just watch the news on any given night, but we wouldn't know any different from evil unless we have good... Since "good" is the better position, and we are typically making these judgements with the assertion that "I am good", then the context in your mind shifts to "Good" being the default position, and you can't possibly know what Good is without Evil... Therefore, we NEED Evil to know Good, thus justifying why God created Satan a reference for evil... And Badda-Bing, a eureka moment in which you have just justified the brilliance of god for thinking of this in the first place and re-assuring the belief you already have... thus, God is our reference for good, and Satan for evil... This only works when you were brought up with this type of religious belief. The really funny part about this is that Satan never lies or kills anybody in the bible... in fact, the only involvement he has is telling the truth about eating the fruit... but he's the bad guy?

It's a circular argument that you will never be able to break into... So you can't attack that one... It's better to stay away from this argument because these are the type of arguments that will never convince anybody in either direction that they aren't already facing.

To elaborate on my personal experience, I was first convinced by the lack of evidence, and/or evidence against the claims made in the bible (Exodus, Great Flood... etc etc)... Then I was even more convinced by looking into the history of the bible itself... authors unknown, previous stories with Yahweh being one of many gods, Council of Nicaea, gospels written several decades after Jesus died, no contemporary evidence, etc etc... then you combine that with other things we do know about stories written at that time, based on true events, but also included supernatural claims that even Christians will dismiss. Then you look at all of the other ancient civilizations and their religious beliefs which are now just Mythology... Then you move onto discoveries in science, tangible things like medical procedures, vaccines... other technological advancements like electric power, telephone, computer, GPS... then you realize that the same methods the brought those advancements are the same methods that provide the evidence that evolution is definitely true, and the "Big Bang" is quite plausible...

At some point in the process, it is absolutely imperative that the person going through the conversion identifies that "I don't know" is a perfectly acceptable answer... otherwise, they will always need some superstitious "filler" to account for things they want to believe, or just can't explain.

"You can't have Good without Evil is probably one of the best arguments a theist can use to re-assure the beliefs that person already possesses. (I remember saying it myself)..."

I've had this discussion with a theist friend. He claims that Monotheism was a great leap forward in consolidating morality and simplifying the world through the work of a single creator. I asked him when the so-called "problem of evil" became an issue in a theological context. It seemed to me that this concept implodes on itself by presenting a single God that is responsible for both, and yet is repulsed by and punishes only one side for it. It only becomes a problem for theologians and apologists. At least the Greeks and others could attribute good and bad to separate personalities and disputes among their gods with out "the problem of evil".

"Now I don't want to be sane either, but I'm just saying there may be other delusions and hallucinations worthy of consideration before jumping to an irrational conclusion, that's all."
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