Speaking on behalf - appropriate, correct?
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18-12-2012, 04:50 PM
Speaking on behalf - appropriate, correct?
I don't know why I starting thinking about this... maybe it's because I spend so much time with you hellbound heathens... who knows.

Anyway, is it acceptable to speak on behalf of someone or a group of people?

You've seen the topic... someone comes by with a question for theists (Theists! Explain _______), and as everyone waits patiently for me to answer, a few heathens chime in and answer as if they were Christians.

"Well, when I was a Christian I believed _______."
"A Christian would probably say ______."

And, it's not just atheists doing this.... I know I answer for atheists all the time... because... like I said, I spend so much time here, I feel like I know how y'all think.

A few points are raised, though.

1) No True Scotsman (you can't answer for a Christian because you never really were a Christian because you're an atheist now).

This poses some validity because you now disassociate yourself from that group and no longer think like that group. It was your line of thinking that ultimately led you away from Christianity, which means that you never truly believed in the most absolute sense. Somewhere, there was some doubt. This doubt ultimately led to your atheism whether it was reached through rationale, logic, or simply reading the Bible.

Christianity requires an "engulfing, unshakable" faith... and anyone who does not have that will move away from it. Hence, No True Scotsman. You never were because you never had that type of faith.

2) Speaking from ignorance (this is contingent on the acceptance of my first point).

This isn't saying that you're stupid, unintelligent, or uniformed; however, this is simply stating that you are speaking from a point of view that was never reached or is unobtainable. If you were never really a Christian, but was under the guise that you were, then you can never speak on behalf or know a true Christian point of view because of ignorance.

Both of these points hold true for me as well. Upon further self reflection, maybe I was never an atheist because I still had faith... no matter how small... it was still there. I can't speak as an atheist because I was never an atheist because if I was, I would still be one - No True Scotsman.

Likewise, I can't speak on behalf of atheists because I'm not one... no matter how much I learn or how much I'm around them... I will always be ignorant because being an atheist and having an atheistic point of view is unobtainable for me; therefore, I can never give an accurate answer.

I mean... I know my wife well... I could answer for her and tell you what she's thinking, and she would probably vouch for it... BUT, I could never 100% be correct in what she is thinking or her point of view because I am not her and will never be her.

What do y'all think?

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18-12-2012, 05:19 PM
RE: Speaking on behalf - appropriate, correct?
What a great time for analogies! Big Grin

So, should pet activists not speak on behalf of pets? Or aboriginal rights spokes persons have to be aboriginal to explain their needs and how they feel?

How about the rights and feelings of babies and children... I used to be one, but I am not anymore- does this mean I don't understand them and therefore don't 'get' them?

I understand what you say about not having shakeable faith. But, if you were to understand atheists you'd know that an atheist likely agrees that there is no such thing as faith from God, since neither actually have been proven to exist.

Also, what you believe and another Christian believe- even someone as close as your wife- are two different things. I don't know two theists or two atheists who agree on absolutely every thing in regards to their non/beliefs.

Or two children, or two pets, or two women, or two aboriginal people.


ETA: I guess I should say, sometimes it is okay and sometimes it is not. Actually, forming second post now.
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18-12-2012, 05:22 PM
RE: Speaking on behalf - appropriate, correct?
To elaborate, a pet activist can speak on behalf of a pet, but it couldn't speak for exactly when a pet is lonely, hungry, happy, etc. It can generally speak for its rights though. I suppose it depends on the context in almost all regard. General vs. personal.
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18-12-2012, 05:23 PM
RE: Speaking on behalf - appropriate, correct?
I dunno, I used to believe pretty strongly -- I understood why I believed. I also know when that changed and probably why it changed -- but if someone asked a question, why do Catholics pray to Mary, for example, I can answer truthfully they don't. They ask Mary to pray for them (why Mary would need to pray is an entirely different question).

So my unbelief has nothing to do with it....that answer wouldn't change -- even if I did still believe.

Does that make sense?


Wind's in the east, a mist coming in
Like something is brewing and about to begin
Can't put my finger on what lies in store
but I feel what's to happen has happened before...


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18-12-2012, 05:25 PM
RE: Speaking on behalf - appropriate, correct?
1) I don't truly buy the "No True Scotsman" argument.

At it's simplest form applied to simple ideas, it may shed a little relevance. If I think I have an apple in my hand and I take a bite, and it turns out to be a peach, I think I can safely say it was never an apple - then I can go get my head shrunk to find out why I thought a peach was an apple.

But to complex ideologies, it's useless. Put 100 Christians in a room and ask them to write out everything they believe and you'll get just about 100 different belief systems. They'll have a lot in common, but they'll have differences. Then one of them becomes an atheist and the other 99 will say he was never really a Christian, but they'll all still (more or less) accept that the remaining 99 of them are all Christians. This is true even if they get to know each other before the one guy turns atheist - they might have all agreed that he was a Christian, right up until he renounces Christianity, then they all change their tune and say he was never a Christian.

It's just silly to me.

Yeah, sure, it's easy to say that some ex-Christian was never really a Christian because while he thought he was a member of the club he still had too many doubts, too much rationality, too many IQ points, whatever, so he was never really a Christian like "true" Christians. (sorry, couldn't resist the IQ thing - all in fun). It might even be true for some. In fact, I've seen some "coming out" stories that said "I was raised Christian but always had my doubts". Fine. That person was no true Scotsman.

But I venture that for some of them, maybe most of them, they believed fully, deeply, and truly, and it was only later that they began to have doubts. Certainly they were a true Scotsman for that first bit.

I would even say that most, maybe all, Christians have doubts from time to time. Most Christians I personally know well enough to discuss this topic have admitted to occasionally having doubts. Some doubting Christians find answers within Christianity, some don't. So saying "he was never a true Christian because he had doubts" strikes me as preposterous and hypocritical.

2) I completely agree, if a person is ignorant on a subject then he or she shouldn't speak up on it. If that person insists on butting in, then they should make it clear that they are speaking from ignorance.

But that's not what you're asking. You're predicating your second point on the first one which, as I mentioned, I find irrelevant to (almost) all ideological discussions. Since, IMO, the "No True Scotsman" fallacy really is a fallacy and not applicable to religious debates with ex-theists, then I think those ex-theists are perfectly welcome to share their experiences and to express their viewpoints on the subject. I don't think their current beliefs invalidate their previous beliefs.

"Whores perform the same function as priests, but far more thoroughly." - Robert A. Heinlein
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18-12-2012, 05:32 PM
RE: Speaking on behalf - appropriate, correct?
All good points.

Just to add... I don't necessarily believe what I typed... it was just a discussion point that was swirling in my head.

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18-12-2012, 05:45 PM
RE: Speaking on behalf - appropriate, correct?
It's not even appropriate for you to speak on behalf of yourself, KC. Angel

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18-12-2012, 05:53 PM
Speaking on behalf - appropriate, correct?
Yeah, as has already been covered, you're going to have a problem with No True Scotsman since I didn't begin to have doubts until I was around 40. But your premise isn't wrong. There are as many beliefs about God as there are people who believe in God. I used to think I could answer, "Well Christianity teaches that...", but the reality is, there are a lot of things that one set of Christians believed that I did not believe. Case in point, a Pentecostal could preach that true Christianity believes in speaking in tongues. As a Baptist, I would say True Christians don't speak in tongues or see Jesus on tortillas. When it comes down to it, it's pretty difficult for one person to speak for Christianity, just as no one person could speak for all atheists. The only thing they hold in common is a lack of belief. But then you start diverging as soon as you say lack of a belief in what?

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18-12-2012, 05:59 PM
RE: Speaking on behalf - appropriate, correct?
(18-12-2012 05:53 PM)Erxomai Wrote:  I didn't begin to have doubts until I was around 40.
I sometimes forget that a lot of you guys are old as shit. Drinking Beverage

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18-12-2012, 06:06 PM
RE: Speaking on behalf - appropriate, correct?
(18-12-2012 05:59 PM)Logica Humano Wrote:  
(18-12-2012 05:53 PM)Erxomai Wrote:  I didn't begin to have doubts until I was around 40.
I sometimes forget that a lot of you guys are old as shit. Drinking Beverage
Not to hijack KC's nice thread, but - old as shit? You'd think that shit is among the things that never get a chance to get old. All it takes is one flush, after all.

Sorry KC. So that you don't hate me too much, I'll chime in. I think that one can only speak for oneself and that - only for oneself at this particular moment. Today I'm not the person I was yesterday, nor the one I will be tomorrow. And even I can't know what me of a year from now will be like.

"E se non passa la tristezza con altri occhi la guarderò."
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