No True Scotsman
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16-03-2012, 07:38 PM
No True Scotsman
Many of you are probably already familiar with this logical fallacy. As Wikipedia defines it, a person who is faced with a counterexample to their claim will change the claim so that the counterexample no longer fits the claim. The example it's based on goes like this:

Alice: All Scotsmen enjoy haggis.
Bob: My uncle is a Scotsman, and he doesn't like haggis!
Alice: Well, all true Scotsmen like haggis.

The point that I'm making here on an atheist/theist thread is this: when you try to make a statement about Christians to a Christian, it's almost certain that they will say you're straw-manning their position because the Christians you're referring to aren't real Christians.

I face this argument mainly when I tell Christians that I was once a Christian but am now an atheist. "I believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, but now I do not". And that's when I'm told that I must not have been a true Christian, because no true Christian de-converts.

Do any of you ever face the same argument? Have you had experiences where people claimed that your religious belief isn't real, even including being told that you're not a real atheist?

My girlfriend is mad at me. Perhaps I shouldn't have tried cooking a stick in her non-stick pan.
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16-03-2012, 07:46 PM
RE: No True Scotsman
All the time.

The difficulty lies in the idea that you really weren't a true christian. If you were you'd still be a christian because you would have ignored evidence and your own logic so that you could be one with your god.
It's the only time I agree.
The popular Scotsman example provided to describe this argument is one I do not agree with because to be a true scotsman would somehow be entirely decided upon this one persons definition. Which is why the argument itself usually just serves to irritate.
But a true christian would have to be someone who follows the ways of christ. So when someone turns their back to christ they couldn't have been a true christian they were just waiting for evidence to the contrary. The true christian cannot be swayed.

Sorry if that offends you but really I would like you to take it as a compliment.

I don't even really know what I'm saying.

"I think of myself as an intelligent, sensitive human being with the soul of a clown which always forces me to blow it at the most important moments." -Jim Morrison
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16-03-2012, 08:52 PM
RE: No True Scotsman
Think I recall KingsChosen getting the "No True Calvinist" from his Church not long ago.

As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
And I will show you something different from either
Your shadow at morning striding behind you
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;
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16-03-2012, 08:59 PM
RE: No True Scotsman
it's a retroactive tautology, I get this all the time. My mom usually says to me I never fell in love and that's why I'm gay, it's funny because she still feels I'm 5 Tongue

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17-03-2012, 02:57 AM (This post was last modified: 17-03-2012 02:57 AM by ALovelyChickenMan.)
RE: No True Scotsman
I get it a fair bit.

"Oh if you became an atheist so quickly you must have never been a true Christian!"

It's quite annoying but it doesn't stop there, they usually add a few more.

" if more people become atheist then they'll stop being rational about their arguments (yes really) then they'll lose all their morals and do bad stuff"

and the classic

"just be more open minded"

I don't know why I talk about these things with people. It makes me want to facepalm myself into a coma
I get it a fair bit.

"Oh if you became an atheist so quickly you must have never been a true Christian!"

It's quite annoying but it doesn't stop there, they usually add a few more.

" if more people become atheist then they'll stop being rational about their arguments (yes really) then they'll lose all their morals and do bad stuff"

and the classic

"just be more open minded"

I don't know why I talk about these things with people. It makes me want to facepalm myself into a coma

Sapere aude! Have courage to use your own understanding!
Take the risk of thinking for yourself, much more happiness, truth, beauty, and wisdom will come to you that way.


Enlightenment is liberating.
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17-03-2012, 07:53 AM (This post was last modified: 17-03-2012 07:57 AM by ClydeLee.)
RE: No True Scotsman
The best way I ever had countered that argument was to point out to that person. There is no such thing as a true Christian.

I've pointed out the reason why there exists 33,000 denominations of Christianity. How to various interpretations of different quotes you will get different understanding. Even try to help them specifically asking what they believe and how some go off of what Jesus supposedly said or what Paul wrote to justify what they find a true Christian.

As for the true Scotsman.. I think the answer is obvious, There can be only one! (Even though there are 2)
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17-03-2012, 08:07 AM (This post was last modified: 17-03-2012 08:13 AM by Starcrash.)
RE: No True Scotsman
(16-03-2012 07:46 PM)lucradis Wrote:  All the time.

The difficulty lies in the idea that you really weren't a true christian. If you were you'd still be a christian because you would have ignored evidence and your own logic so that you could be one with your god.
It's the only time I agree.
The popular Scotsman example provided to describe this argument is one I do not agree with because to be a true scotsman would somehow be entirely decided upon this one persons definition. Which is why the argument itself usually just serves to irritate.
But a true christian would have to be someone who follows the ways of christ. So when someone turns their back to christ they couldn't have been a true christian they were just waiting for evidence to the contrary. The true christian cannot be swayed.

Sorry if that offends you but really I would like you to take it as a compliment.

I don't even really know what I'm saying.

I think Christians would agree with you... but they would equivocate "someone who follows the ways of Christ". A Catholic, for instance, thinks following Christ involves rituals such as mass and confession. A Protestant may think that following Christ involves saying a "saving prayer" just once, or living "in the spirit", or any number of things... there are over 100 known denominations, and they tend to be seperated on this one issue of what "following the ways of Christ" looks like.

It's why I quote "I believed in the Lord Jesus Christ (therefore I was saved), but now I don't".
(17-03-2012 02:57 AM)ALovelyChickenMan Wrote:  and the classic

"just be more open minded"

I don't know why I talk about these things with people. It makes me want to facepalm myself into a coma

Before opening a debate with a Christian, it's important to ask "What would it take to get you to change your belief?" If they answer "nothing", the argument ends there. My little brother gave this exact response, and I said, "So you want me to be open-minded and willing to change my position but you don't offer the same. Game over, you cheater. I'm not going to argue with an unreasonable person." If they ask you back (which it's perfectly rational for them to do) you ought to have an answer. Mine is "give me an example of something that God did or does that was definitely by Him and could have no natural explanation." I haven't heard a good one yet, but duh, if there was one then we'd all have become believers by now.

My girlfriend is mad at me. Perhaps I shouldn't have tried cooking a stick in her non-stick pan.
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18-03-2012, 02:20 PM
RE: No True Scotsman
I'll admit that I've never been a true Christian, though raised Catholic.
So I never really fell for the bullshit completely.
Does this make my atheist position weaker?
I believe it makes it stronger.

I was sorting out the truth as a child and teenager.
Catholicism never had me sold, because I kept running into illogical argument for why it was correct.
So say to the Christian. I was never one of you and proud of it.

The old gods are dead, let's invent some new ones before something really bad happens.
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18-03-2012, 02:36 PM
RE: No True Scotsman
If you sincerely bought the kool-aid and drank it, then you were a true Christian imo - at least the guy who's accusing not can't be sure then that he himself is a true Christian.
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18-03-2012, 03:04 PM
RE: No True Scotsman
Maybe you should take a slightly different tac.

When they assert that you were never a true christian, why not just assert that you don't think they are either. Chances are this will annoy them. The only way they can prove they are is to listen to your reasoning in it's entiriety, if at the end they still follow christ then they are a true christian (in their mind at least).

It may be a bit manipulative, but that just means you are approaching them the way their ideology approaches society so we have a level playing field.

Maybe even feign some doubt in your beliefs, a good starter could be "can I tell you the arguments/reasoning/logic (whatever) that turned me away from Jeebus, you might be able to help." This is one way you can get your points across to a christian whilst they (in the state of trying to help) keep an open mind and pay attention, as apposed to going straight into their default argument with the heathen mode.

Clearly they will admit nothing, but who knows, if you can just plant one or two seeds of doubt you may be the catalyst for some future atheists.

"Belief means not wanting to know what is true"
Friedrich Nietzsche
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