Please, I need some help with this discussion.
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05-03-2014, 11:12 AM
Please, I need some help with this discussion.
Hi all,

I would be really grateful for any help on how to deal with a discussion I have been having with a friend who is a theist.
It started with me responding to the Ray Comfort movie 180 degrees that he posted on facebook.
His brother also jumped into the fray and took over.
Any help gratefully received. Thanks in advance.

I'll paste the conversation below.
I am SW
The theist brothers are MW and EW

SW: Classic Ray Comfort........over simplification, manipulation, selective editing and choice A or B options.
3 March at 13:17 • Like

SW: Here, let me see if I can do the same. Hmmm, I'll ask you a question.
3 March at 13:17 • Like

SW: If, while you were visiting an IVF clinic, it caught fire, and you only had time to save one baby who happened to be in the room with you, or a 1,000 frozen embryos that were destined for implantation, which would you chose?
3 March at 13:17 • Like

MS: Amazed that you know Ray Comfort, he certainly has a way of winding up atheists like no one else!
3 March at 16:29 • Like • 1

SW: He doesn't wind me up at all.
Atheists I know tend towards the calm and rational approach.
For many of us I think it's the stupidity of his arguments that makes us feel weary and that give a sense of incredulity.
After all, you can't argue with dumb.
Personally It's more a sense of despair at the intellectual dishonesty he displays plus his utter lack of comprehension when it comes to the basics of science.
I've heard him trot out jaw droppingly ignorant statements.
3 March at 18:30 • Edited • Like

MS: Hey, I won't make it personal, I think you're a top bloke and I wish to stay amicable.
But I am amazed at what a difference world view makes! I maintain a completely rational, logical, balanced and open minded view of the world myself. I love science and am on a constant adventure of discovering the awesomeness of our existence from a grounded understandable viewpoint.
But shock horror I am a Bible believing Christian! I know you can't accept my view point and that is disappointing.
What you have said about Ray is just an atheist text book "ad hominem" attack. If we shoot down the messenger then his argument is rubbished too and we don't need to discuss it. The way to avoid having a intelligent discussion it to claim property of the side of logic and reason and close the door and that surely is the antithesis of science.
3 March at 20:57 • Like • 2

SW: Michael, I think you're a top bloke too and I would hate for this to be anything other than amicable. I have friends who are religious. I understand how important it can be to them. That's OK.
Personally speaking, there's much to be found to enjoy in some religions.

Disappointing or not, I can't accept a religious viewpoint because I simply do not find it a rational one. I have no belief in any of the gods.
Although, I am quite inclined towards Thor. All the thunder and lightning is kinda cool and that big hammer is pretty impressive..

As far as Ray Comfort goes, it was not an ad hominem attack.
You're actually trying to set up a straw man in stating that it was.
I said 'stupidity of his arguments'.......note, his 'arguments'
I didn't say he was stupid.
Not ad hominem.

I said 'intellectual dishonesty he displays'
This is just a statement of fact. To observe that someone is displaying intellectual dishonesty is not ad hominem.
p.s. very happy to give several examples of his intellectual dishonesty if you really want to go down that path.

I said, his 'lack of comprehension when it comes to the basics of science'
Again, pure statement of fact. No personal attack here.

For heavens sake, he doesn't even understand the meanings of, let alone the differences between, 'Theory' and 'Hypothesis'

When I said 'you can't argue with dumb' it was a general statement that is a tongue in cheek way of saying, for instance:
Water is two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen. What if someone says, "Well, that's not how I choose to think about water."?
All we can do is appeal to scientific values. And if he doesn't share those values, the conversation is over. If someone doesn't value evidence, what evidence are you going to provide to prove that they should value it?
If someone doesn't value logic, what logical argument could you provide to show the importance of logic?

If you love and get switched on by science then it's good to understand how its basic premise works.
It is that the world is logically consistent, and is describable by a set of logical constructions.
Science is merely the tool that is used to investigate.
The process of science is, and this is merely a skeletal explanation, is to observe, to form a hypothesis and to then test that hypothesis through data gathering and experiment. Expected results and observations coupled with actual results and observations. Interpreting data......supportive, contradictory, inconclusive.......this may inspire to revise hypothesis....and back to gathering and testing.......and so on. Then there will be feedback, peer review, discussion, replication, new ideas, questions.......and back to testing. Unusually if a hypothesis has been tested to the limits of our ability and been found to be scientifically sound then it may become a theory. A theory is a scientific heavy weight. It's as close as science will come to a truth. But, and this is the important bit, it is always open to question, examination and revision.......and, that's the true beauty of science.
The result is the building of knowledge, development of technology, solving of everyday problems, addressing social issues etc......and of course, satisfying curiosity.
It starts from a different standpoint to religion.
It questions and dispassionately works forward.
With religion, all you need is faith.
It tends to start with a conclusion and then tries to prove it.
That's not a valid way to honest discovery.
Anyway, all this is fraught as science and religion are two utterly different things.
Being an atheist simply means no belief in any of the gods and, has nothing to do with science at all.
Doesn't stop the likes of Ray Comfort wading in though. That's where some of the problems start.
Yesterday at 11:34 • Like

MS: Hey, glad to know we are reading off the same song sheet when it comes to science.
My father taught me from a young age to use my brains, question everything, think rationally ,logically and use my best judgement to understand the world, our existence and the purpose of it all.
Atheism is great for some, but it can't explain much without having a religious faith to believe in evolution. And I have applied the science we agree on to both evolution and creation, like a rational person should, creation comes up trumps for me almost every time. And that is where I stand personally. I obviously don't read from Ray Comfort for insight on science, he is an evangelist, not a scientist. I get my inspiration from the many proper scientists and academics out there.

The dogma of atheism in suppressing other viewpoints is what really scares me, as proven in the atheist communist states. Interestingly the Bible states exactly what atheists will say, why they say it and ultimately will do to Christians like me because of it.
I would be interested in knowing your personal story of why you rejected God yourself. I hope it wasn't because of some event or person. That would be sad...
But all that aside, Nick and I have agreed getting together for a drink is long overdue and I hope you are around when we meet up.
Yesterday at 13:12 • Like

SW: My personal story. Got fed religion at school, got fed religion at Sunday school, used to go to church.
That's usually how it works......get them when they're young and impressionable.
I always thought that it was a fabrication. Even as a child it never made any sense to me.
I always had an inquiring mind as a kid.......always asking how this, why that, what if….........and pulling stuff apart......ha ha ha
My father was a scientist.
I was never given the answer 'because god did it' or 'because god said so'
He used to enthuse about whatever it was and try to make me think critically, to try and find the answer and gently guiding with questions.
Frankly, teaching children the skills of critical thinking is the way forward for this planet.

Let me just address a couple of your points for clarification. Language is so important when talking about religion, science, philosophy etc......
It can be tricky to get right. I find I have to try and be precise...... I'm mostly not very good at it....but I try.

You: "Atheism is great for some, but it can't explain much without having a religious faith to believe in evolution"
Me: Atheism simply is a lack of belief in gods. Nothing more, nothing less. It doesn’t attempt to explain anything at all.

You: “The dogma of atheism in suppressing other viewpoints is what really scares me, as proven in the atheist communist states”
Me: Again, Atheism is nothing more than a lack of belief in gods. Beyond that nothing. You will find people speaking out against religious agendas and human rights abuses etc... but, that is usually done as humanists and secularists. It just so happens that they are usually atheists as well.
Atheism, doesn’t suppress other viewpoints. Dogmatic people do......and they don’t help free discussion.

I’m all for a good old roustabout discussion but, you need thick skin in this world. No viewpoint or held belief should be immune to criticism, question or open discussion. Especially so when it makes extraordinary claims to having the explanation to the creation of the world, how humans should live their lives, the laws of the land, moral codes etc.....
There should be no free pass given to religion, It makes extraordinary claims. If it can’t stand up and defend its teachings then it is surely on very shaky ground. Why should the questions not be asked.

This is exactly how the scientific tool works......rigorous to criticism.....peer questioning. If it has to, then it revisits its hypothesis and goes back to the drawing board. It’s the best model mankind has ever had. It’s why we are where we are with our evolution.
There is no faith tool in the science toolbox, there is no belief tool in the science toolbox. There’s a good reason for that.
For me, that is one of the problems with religion. It has never unilaterally revised itself from within. It has always been forced to by outside influence. In the face of wonderful scientific discoveries it has been forced to revise itself. Interestingly, those scientists stand on the shoulders of the brave men who went before them and were murdered by the church for heresy.

You:‘Atheist communist states’.
Me:This is a logical fallacy. It’s like saying Stalin had a moustache, you have a moustache ergo you’re a communist dictator. Communism was the driver here, atheism had nothing at all to do with it. Though interestingly, the communism you speak of had no religious orders, atheism was never a reason for anything. If you look all the communist regimes they are set up like a religion. The great leader, deified and worshiped with pledges of allegiance and fealty. Institutionalised authoritarian hierarchy. Systematic indoctrination of the public. Inquisitions to suppress heresy. Unthinking faith. The tracts, texts and revealed wisdom, the punishments for non obedience to the tenets. They simply replaced supernatural gods with god-kings.
It’s amazing how closely they mirror the abrahamic religions. To me, there’s no surprise at the inhumanity and barbarism they wreaked.
That’s a fascist regime for nothing to do with a lack of belief in gods. As an aside, and invoking Godwin’s Law, Hitler was a Christian.

You: “Interestingly the bible states exactly what atheists will say, why they say it and ultimately will do to Christians like me because of it”
Me: Again, atheism is simply a lack of belief in gods........nothing more. Frankly, I don’t have a great deal of time for what the bible says........that’ll lead to a whole other discussion.........mainly of me taking about the various revisions, old versus new, and mostly saying that it’s just a book...........generally those discussion are tedious in the extreme.

I’ve no idea what the bible says atheists will do to Christians, but if it’s anything harmful, then you’ll find me laughing out loud..
Just where are all the atheist murdering people across the globe? Where are the atheist burnings, the inquisitions, the atheists denying freedoms and human rights? Where are the atheists curbing civil rights, instigating shooting wars under an atheist banner?
Because there aren’t any.........not a single one.
Imagine reading the newspaper headlines tomorrow and seeing “Man beheads other man in street and shouts ‘Atheism forever’”
Yeah, it doesn’t happen. Atheism, the lack of belief in gods. Nothing more. You get good people and you get bad people. Some are atheist, some aren’t. Good people do good things, bad people do bad things but, it takes religion to make good people do bad things.

Incidentally, as a percentage of prison society, atheists represent the smallest percentage of prisoners by a very large margin. Statistically, you are far, far safer running into a group of atheists in a dark street than you are a group of christians.
And then you look around the world and see the murders, the genocide, the repression. Human beings being torn apart in a red mist..........because of what some book or other has mandated.
Throughout human history the earth has been soaked with blood because of those who believe in gods.
And, all of a sudden people like me who happen to be atheists are the problem and a you see the problem I have with this.
Believe me, there is no harm going to come to you from atheists.
Islam on the other afraid, be very afraid....
Anyways, I’ve got to get on with something or the whole day will slide by.
Beer sounds great, let me know when you and Nick are free. Be good to catch up buddy.
Yesterday at 15:39 • Like

SW: To be clear, freedom of speech is all important. Open, free rational discussion. It should be our very life blood. I stand firmly in the court of "I may not like what you say, but I would defend with my life your right to say it"
Yesterday at 16:00 • Like • 1

MS: No worries, see you soon.
Yesterday at 16:03 • Like

SW: I wish for a truly secular society. I belong to secularist, atheist and humanist societies. None condone any violence at all. Actually, a secular society would protect your right to practice your religion. Religious people should be all for it. But, they get whipped into some kind of mess by the religious leaders who see it as a threat to their power.
Yesterday at 16:03 • Like

SW: And, do give me a reply on all that. I bothered to sit there and type it all out. Talking is good. See you soon.
Yesterday at 16:04 • Like

MS: Haha, so give Ray Comfort some credit, he gets people talking!
Religion is a messy topic, no ways I can defend that. Give man or woman authority over others and he is bound to make mistakes unknowingly or intentionally. I know of no one who hasn't had a negative experience with it at some stage, everyone who would read this will have their stories to tell I am sure as you have had. The times they were let down, offended, brain washed, robbed, not cared for and so on. I would imagine most atheists have experience this, too.
To then step back and say, ok, let's erase all religion completely and assume those same issues won't arise is a pipe dream. A pure atheist or secular world will have to deal with those very same human flaws. We can all sit back and make rational reasonable decisions but at some stage they will suit some more than others. We are by nature selfish and competitive. And then we are back into the mire that religion is plagued by. A utopia of atheism or secularist society is not a logical possibility as long as humans roam this earth. The evolutionary survival of the fittest put paid to that long ago.
Atheism was the state religion (or world view) of most communist countries. I am afraid you can't divorce history. It is flawed but it is fact.
But we are duty bound to strive for the best and put in the effort to get it right for our life time and those of our descendants.
I choose the Christian life because that best fits what I perceive to be the way to live in a manner that is positive, hopeful, loving, forgiving and offers a clear, as far as I am concerned, answer to the meaning of life. I obviously aim for a Christian utopia like you do an atheist one. I have to keep to the fundamentals which are believing God made the world, man sinned, we had a chance to fix it through laws, that failed, God came as his son Jesus, to die on the cross for our sins to fulfil the law, and gives us the chance of restoration to the perfect model that God made, effectively heaven. To an atheist that is gibberish I bet and I am sure you laughed as you read it.
Once you accept and understand the fundamentals you have a different world view. You apply science to all that and see where it takes you. I love the ride. If I give up and say, "I don't know, God made it, God did it, who cares," I am a fool. I want to know why and how. I love the privilege of challenging God to prove himself. He either is a fairy tale or He isn't. C.S. Lewis famously said, "Jesus is either telling the truth about who he is or he was a complete mad man. He was not just a good man, he doesn't leave you that option."

That is the basic premise from which I work and think. I have seen no reasonable challenge to that worldview, including atheism. I won't make excuses for the flaws, even mine, but will seek to resolve them in the logical intelligent way we both would choose to.
22 hours ago • Edited • Like

ES: I respect agnostics who say they're distancing themselves because they're not happy with the options, but atheism is deliberately shutting a door that can't scientifically be shut. It's one thing to say you don't like the version of God being put out, but it's another thing to say Christianity is technically not possible. Science and the scientific method simply don't have the tools to measure the spiritual, they're handicapped.
Ray Comfort's cut-and-thrust approach certainly gets people into the issues very quickly - I guess he exposes people's biases more quickly than they're comfortable with. Ultimately truth doesn't depend on Ray Comfort, so for the sake of rational thinking, I wouldn't use him as an excuse to avoid the question of whether God exists and whether Christianity could technically all be true and relevant to us personally.
19 hours ago • Like • 1

SW: Michael, I don't laugh at you. I appreciate that yours are sincerely held beliefs.
5 hours ago • Like

SW: Eric, very few atheists would identify as pure atheists. Most atheists actually identify as agnostic atheists. You need to speak to more atheists.
5 hours ago • Like

SW: It may surprise you to hear that my primary target isn't religion, or even theism as such. Indeed, there are some forms of religion (and even some rare forms of theism, specifically deism) with which I have very little problem at all.
So, what *is* my problem? My problem is with dogma. With the belief that it is acceptable, even admirable, to believe propositions without good evidence or without good reasons for believing those propositions to be true.
The forms those dogmatically believed propositions can take are potentially infinite. One might dogmatically believe in the historical inevitability of a communist utopia, under which the State will wither away, after a brief but necessary period of a dictatorship of the proletariat. One might dogmatically believe in the existence of something called the Aryan race, in its inherent superiority to all other races, and in the inherent inferiority and perfidy of the Jewish race. One might dogmatically believe that the Creator of the universe called one's religion to convert the world or take it by force through holy war, that death in the defence of (or attempt to reconquer) lands so acquired is the greatest of all actions, and that such martyrs will go to paradise after they die to be attended by 72 virgin brides and joined in due course be all their family and loved-ones. Or one might dogmatically believe that the creator of the universe condemns contraception as a mortal sin.

What all four of these beliefs have in common is that there is very little or no evidence for them and that there is much good evidence against them. Yet all four beliefs have at times been passionately, ardently believed and acted upon by otherwise rational, sane and educated people - often resulting in those same people performing some of the most irrational, insane and barbaric acts imaginable.
Thankfully, fascist, Nazi and Communist dogmas have been so discredited that almost no-one believes them any more. That is a development to be celebrated. But as the events of New York and Washington DC and Bali and Madrid and London demonstrate; as demonstrated by the genocidally stupid anti-contraceptive policies of the Catholic church in Africa and the homicidally stupid stem-cell policies of Christian churches in the US ; religious dogmas are alive and kicking and at work in the world.
Reason and evidence and empiricism and science and liberal democracy - in short, the forces of the Enlightenment - have destroyed Communist and Fascist dogmas. Now it is time to do the same to the dogmas of religious faith.
5 hours ago • Like

SW: Guys, I'm sorry to do a cut and paste job on you with the below. But, I think it address the Atheist / communist fallacy quite well.........and I have to get in the car and drive for a few hours now so am running out of time after all the typing above. Please try and read this........I promise it is worth it. Take care chaps, speak soon.
It is an often heard refrain among less well informed Christians that Hitler and Stalin (those slightly more knowledgeable sometimes add Pol Pot and Mao Zedong) were atheists and that their atheism led them to commit atrocities resulting in the deaths of millions of people. These claims are demonstrably false.
Hitler was never an atheist. The available evidence points to the fact that he remained a theist throughout his whole life.
It is true that Stalin, Mao Zedong and Pol Pot, were all atheists. But the primary influences that led to their atrocities were not atheism per se but their dogmatic Marxism and communist ideas.
We see that in none of these cases could atheism be made to "take the blame" for the atrocities committed by these men.
Adolf Hitler (1889-1945), the Führer of Nazi Germany was probably one of the most evil men to have ever walked on earth. He was responsible for the death of millions in World War II and for the "final solution" that led to the chillingly efficient murder of six million Jews. It must also remembered that Jews were not the only victims of the ruthless Nazi killing machine. An estimated five to six million Russians, Poles, gypsies, Jehovah's Witnesses, homosexuals - basically anyone considered sub-human - were murdered as well.
Hitler, however, was never an atheist.
Hitler was born and baptized as a Roman Catholic. He served mass as a young boy and actually contemplated becoming an abbot. He never publicly repudiated his Catholicism, nor did he ever cease paying his dues. [1] He wrote in his Mein Kampf (1924) (My Struggle) that "faith is the sole foundation of a moral attitude" and that an attack against religion "strongly resembles the struggle against the general legal foundations of the state." [2] Although Hitler did persecute some Protestant churches and the Catholic Church later on [3] he never ceased being a theist. As late as 1938, he can be heard making this statement in a speech: "I believe today that I am acting in the sense of the Almighty Creator. By warding off the Jews I am fighting for the Lord's work." [4] [a]
Article 24 of Hitler's Nazi party programs calls for "Positive Christianity". Among the 25 points of the core values of this new Christianity, as explained by German philosopher Ernst Bergmann in 1934, is point number six which states: "The German religion is a religion of the people. It has nothing in common with free thoughts, atheist propaganda, and the breakdown of current religions." [6]
Thus Hitler and his Nazi regime were anything but atheistic.
Stalin, Mao Zedong and Pol Pot
While it is true that Joseph Stalin (1879-1953), Mao Zedong (1893-1976) and Pol Pot (1925-1998) were all atheists, this is not the only thing they have in common. They were also men, political leaders and communists. Merely citing common denominators does not establish the cause of their actions. It is important to consider what was the main driving force in their committing atrocities against their own people.
One could make a valid claim that since Stalin attended a Russian orthodox seminary (from 1894 to 1899) as a teenager in Tiflis, the dogmatic black or white outlook of the world influenced his subsequent actions. As the historian Alan Bullock in his book Hitler and Stalin: Parallel Lives (1991) explained:
The fact that it was a Church education helped to form the mind of a man who was to become known for his dogmatism and his propensity for seeing issues in absolute terms, in black and white. Anyone reading Stalin's speeches and writings will notice their catechistic structure, the use of question and answer, the reduction of complex questions to a set of simplified formulas, the quoting of text to support his arguments. The same Church influence has been noted by biographers in his style of speaking or writing Russian: 'declamatory and repetitive, with liturgical overtones.' [7]
However the main influence on all these three men were dogmatic Marxism-Communism. Joseph M. Bochenski in his essay "A Critique of Communism" in the book Outline of Communismclearly showed what the shortcomings of this system are. [c]
Firstly, communists are prone to oversimplification. Complex problems of the real world are explained in simplistic terms. Thus the communist eschatology of a classless society leads them to believe that collectivization is the main source of human happiness. Never mind the fact that each human beings have different - and opposing - dreams, goals and desires. They also believe that all problems of labor can be resolved by nationalization of all industries and the banning of private ownership. This saps the human spirit of the will to excel. This simplistic outlook spills into their belief about moral issues. Since communism is the ultimate good, anyone who is opposed to it must necessarily be evil. Like religious fundamentalists, to the communists everything is in black and white. "You are either with us or against us."
Secondly, as can be seen above, communism resembles very closely the dogmatic faith of religious fundamentalist. It has, like other fundamentalist religions, a list of sacred writings known as the "communist classics". Infallible authority is ascribed to these writings. It pretends to represent the absolute truth by calling itself a "science". Yet it proceeds, as Bochenski wrote, "in the manner of a faith." [8]
Note that in no case is atheism central to the building of these dogmatic positions. [d]
Indeed to the founder of communist doctrines, Karl Marx (1818-1883), atheism, was just a stage on the path to communism, and it was ultimately "unreal" and "no longer needed" by socialism and communism. [9] This is what Karl Marx himself said about atheism:
Atheism as a denial of this unreality; has no longer any meaning, for atheism is a denial of God and tries to assert through this negation the existence of man; but socialism as such no longer needs this mediation...[10] [Emphasis added]
It is important to pause for a moment and consider this statement carefully. If Karl Marx, the intellectual founder of Marxism and communism, repudiated atheism as meaningless and no longer needed, how then could atheism be considered the cause of the atrocities committed under communism?.
If we look in detail at the horrors committed by these men - Stalin, Mao Zedong and Pol Pot - we will see that the atrocities were the direct result of Marxist-communist doctrines that had nothing to do with atheism: collectivization, the idea of a classless society, a concomitant distrust of the bourgeoisie (i.e. the capitalists and the middle class - enemies of the classless society) and an intolerant view of dissent.
Estimates of deaths due to Stalin vary from as "low" as fifteen to as high as fifty million. Approximately twelve to fifteen million deaths were due the policy of farm collectivization. The farm collectivization, launched in 1929, was Stalin's Marxist solution to the problems of Soviet agriculture. In an attempt to improve output, Stalin merged all the small farms belonging to the peasants and put them under state control. Peasant land owners (kulaks) who resisted giving up their land were arrested and deported to labor camps. Many were summarily executed. Estimates of kulaks who were killed vary from seven to ten million. There was a large scale famine in these collectivize farmed in the years 1932-1933 resulting in about five million peasant deaths. These were exacerbated by the fact that Stalin diverted the food needed by the starving peasants for export or for use by the military-industrial complex.
Then in 1936-1938, Stalin started the "Great Purge" to get rid of all political opponents and anyone at all that he had reason to suspect were against his rules of policies. About a million people were executed during this purge. Many more were sent to labor camps (Gulags) in Siberia and elsewhere. The number of deaths in this labor camps, due to suicide, execution, starvation, or the harsh conditions, has been estimated to between twelve to fifteen million. [11]
The atrocities committed by Stalin were the result of a combination the communist dogmas and the paranoia of a wicked man intend on preserving his own rule against any opposition. As the historian Geoffrey Hosking explained:
The labour camps and the terror were an intrinsic part of Stalinist society. They resulted directly from the methods the party resolved to use and transform industry and agriculture to eliminate 'bourgeois specialists' and to appoint its own promising young men, as well as from the methods Stalin used to defeat his opponents. [12]
Let us move on to Mao Zedong. Like the case of Stalin, the total amount of those who died under the rule of Mao as a direct result of his policies cannot be known for certain; estimates again vary from sixteen million to more than sixty million. Like in the case of Stalin, the majority of the atrocities were due to a combination of blind application of Marxist or communist doctrines and the complete intolerance of dissent. Of course the first to go were the people who own any form of capital. In 1952, soon after taking power, about a million rural landlords (called "counter-revolutionaries") were liquidated. This paved the way for the Chinese version of collectivization: the commune. The bulk of the deaths occurred during the "Great Leap Forward" launched in 1958. The "Great Leap" was based on the communist ideal of developing the economy all at once. He organized farms into communes and intellectuals, engineers, technocrats, the educated elite were all forced to work in these communes. This was supposed to help them understand the lives of the proletariat better. The whole system was ill conceived and inefficient. This was exacerbated by poor weather which meant that harvest dropped precipitously from 1958 through to 1961. In those years the estimated number of deaths due to starvation was around 14 to 20 million.
The communist intolerance of dissent were responsible for the rest. Upon taking power in China the communist wasted no time in getting rid of anyone who could prove a danger to the new communist utopia. Many university students ("intellectuals") and dissidents were sent to the country side, bound hand and foot, and summarily executed in the paddy fields. Calling them "bandits", the official state radio proudly announced in 1952, that they have killed almost two million of them. [12]
In these cases, the reasons for these deaths are obvious. The idea that individual ownership of capital is evil caused many of the landlords to be murdered. Then the belief that collectivization would solve the problems of famine in the country actually exacerbated it. Finally intolerance of opposing views, or of people who were deemed capable of holding opposing views, resulted in the execution of many "intellectuals". These were heinous crimes - but communism and despotism, not atheism, were to blame.
As for Pol Pot, like Mao, he too wanted a classless society free from any outside or capitalist influence. It has been estimated that in his four years in power (1974-1978) Pol Pot and his regime was responsible for three million deaths, almost half of the Cambodian population of seven million. Pol Pot had a deep seated hatred of "intellectuals" and summarily executed many of these. These "intellectuals" include anyone with a college education, civil servants from the previous regime, Buddhist monks, Muslim leaders, Christian clergy, teachers and practically all members of the middle class. However the bulk of the three millions deaths he was responsible for happened in almost the same circumstance as Mao's "Great Leap Forward" - to try and achieve an ideal classless society where everybody is a plebian farmer! These people died in agricultural collectives due to starvation, disease, exposure to the elements and summary executions for not maintaining "discipline". [13]
Thus, again, collectivization and a rabid hatred of the bourgeoisie was the main dogmas that drove Pol Pot to commit his atrocities.
Let us now summarize what we have shown above.
The main dogmatic teachings of communism, that we find were responsible for the atrocities committed under the various communist regimes, namely:-
The idea that individual property ownership is inherently evil (i.e. the evil bourgeoisie)
The belief that collectivization is the key to efficient production
The complete hatred of people who were opposed to the ideas of communism
had nothing to do with, and were not in any way derived from, atheism.
Furthermore as the quotation from Marx above shows, atheism was considered ultimately irrelevant to the development of communism.
Given these facts, any critique of atheism that is based on atrocities commited by communist regimes can be summarily dismissed.
4 hours ago • Like

ES: That's all good, but it appears you haven't encountered the supernatural, like so many of us have. When it happens, all that rationale goes out the window in a moment. I can't explain why God doesn't just put all atheists through a few supernatural experiences to shake them up, but that's His choice - maybe it would take away your choice to believe in Him. Let's pray that your turn comes, not as punishment, but as revelation, or clarification.
4 hours ago • Like

SW: Yes, it is all good.....and can't be dismissed with a wave of a hand.
Please could you define what you mean by the supernatural.
3 hours ago • Like

SW: p.s. Nice passive aggressive finish to your post.
No need for that.
Have you heard of Pascal's Wager and how it's rationally countered?
3 hours ago • Like

ES: Sorry, I intended the opposite. It's easy for this to descend into a battle of who's right, but I'm more interested in getting to truth, and as such, if you experienced the supernatural and came to a revelation of God, it would be for your benefit, not to prove that I'm right and you're wrong.

I hadn't heard of the wager, but Wikipedia has given me a quick lesson. I understand the value of rationale, but when you've experienced a supernatural phenomenon, a lot of reasoning goes to the sword. For instance, viewing an undeniable healing, hearing God speak in a way you can't deny, seeing a miraculous provision that you know was impossible. I'm talking about stuff that you personally could vouch for as a cynic, and not be able to explain away with psychology.
My uncle for instance was healed miraculously from hepatitis. He was very sick in hospital, picked up the Bible next to him and started reading. He prayed for healing as suggested and it happened. He walked over to the doctors and asked when he could go home, to everyone's astonishment. Now you can argue any position you like to explain the scenario away, but imagine encountering genuine healing like that...
The mystery for us Christians is that God doesn't do it more often. It frustrates no end, but He does what He wants to do, and we choose to accept Him as He is or reject Him. There is such a volume of material in favour of miracles. I've experienced many of my own, not on the same scale, but profound nevertheless.
about an hour ago • Like
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05-03-2014, 11:13 AM
RE: Please, I need some help with this discussion.
How do I move forward with this?
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05-03-2014, 11:24 AM
RE: Please, I need some help with this discussion.
I recommend you start over without all this babble about communism and nazis.
Just talk about evidence and pursuit of truth.
As for his personal experience ask him to explain personal experiences of all other believers in all other religions.
Ask him if bible says the truth and how does it go together with other religions which say different things.
Ask him to explain what this personal experience was like and why does he think it was from god. Cause some people can see something completely ordinary and translate it as some sort of message from god.

Quote:ES: That's all good, but it appears you haven't encountered the supernatural, like so many of us have. When it happens, all that rationale goes out the window in a moment. I can't explain why God doesn't just put all atheists through a few supernatural experiences to shake them up, but that's His choice - maybe it would take away your choice to believe in Him. Let's pray that your turn comes, not as punishment, but as revelation, or clarification.
Then why did he put him through the supernatural experience? Did he take away his choice by his own way thinking?
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05-03-2014, 11:35 AM
RE: Please, I need some help with this discussion.
donotwant, Thank you for your input. I really appreciate it.
Great advice.
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05-03-2014, 11:37 AM
RE: Please, I need some help with this discussion.
Also ask him if there are lies in the bible or is it all truth. And if there are lies in the bible where do they come from and how does he distinguish between true and false statements.
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05-03-2014, 11:52 AM
RE: Please, I need some help with this discussion.
With regard to supernatural experiences, ask them how they can trust their brains. Everyone assumes that what you sense is what you get but this just isn't the case.

Can schizophrenics trust their brains for example?

Show them visual illusions and ask them if can trust their brains now?

Can people who are hypnotised by a stage hypnotist make objective interpretations? Do they want to?

Now ask whether in any of these miracles what the probability is of it happening to a single person and compare that to the size of the global population. Also point out the myriad of ways in which a 'miracle' can happen as well and how it would be statistically unlikely that these things did not happen at all, even though from an individual's perspective it is miraculous.

Ask if they use logic and evidence in their every day lives, for example, when figuring out which insurance policy is best. And then ask why you should stop using logic and evidence for evaluating the probability of an after-life, especially as it also impacts on your current life (e.g. tithes, finding meaning and happiness etc)
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05-03-2014, 11:56 AM
RE: Please, I need some help with this discussion.
Ok, good stuff. Thanks.
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05-03-2014, 11:59 AM
RE: Please, I need some help with this discussion.
This is exactly what I needed........thank you both of you.
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05-03-2014, 05:05 PM
RE: Please, I need some help with this discussion.
Is there a TL;DR version?

Like a summary of questions you need answering?

[Image: dog-shaking.gif]
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06-03-2014, 01:18 PM
RE: Please, I need some help with this discussion.
A couple things:

-It seems like the term agnostic for him is what we call atheist and what he calls atheist we called antitheist

-The problem with supernatural events are that we can never deduce what is supernatural if all we have to describe it is "impossible things happening"

Impossible is a term describing what can't happen based on what we currently know and is therefore limited and suspect. We think that things like cerebral palsy is impossible to cure, but this is a statement based on current knowledge. As such, if someone is cured of their palsy is it because they had a cure they inadvertently took or is it because of some spirit of power healing them? What is in fact supernatural and how do we differentiate a supernatural event from an event that cannot be explained with current knowledge?

-Ray comfort is in no way a conversation starter. anyone who jumps into the arena of religion are doing so because religion itself is interesting, as ray comfort has demonstrated he is in no way interested in compelling the mind, instead he choose to find unique ways to preach his message, and any christian who wants to be intellectually honest with themselves should abandon arguments made from people like sye, eric hovind, and especially ray comfort.

It's only a debate if both parties are willing to let each other's opinions change their own.
If you aren't willing to change in light of learning more about what you fight for, what the hell are you doing expecting the other party to want to change?
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