When do you stop the argument?
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20-01-2013, 06:27 PM
When do you stop the argument?
So, I've been debating a good
friend of mine for about six years. After high school I went to college and he
went to bible college. By that time he was already an evangelical christian
while I was starting to questioning my faith (I was raised catholic and taught
never to think about anything that would put strain on my faith.) It took about
a year for me to go from catholic to christian to deist to agnostic to atheist
(busy year.) So during his bible college days I would debate him on the phone
and hear things like "you’re going to go to hell" etc (you know... “The good
news.”) After college it took about a year for him to stop saying people are
going to hell (he just says that he doesn't know now... An improvement I think)
and a few years later I have -I think- changed his mind about evolution. Small
victories... But now I am at a point where I'm noticing no progress (I do
realize I am fortunate to have any progress at all) anything he says about the
validity of the bible is easily refuted and the same arguments about the same
topics keep coming up. I can point out, for example, that the idea of
scapegoating (Christ dying for our sins) is archaic and terrible, or that a lot
of what is commanded/approved of in the bible would no longer be accepted in
civil society or even the problem that there is more than one set of ten
commandments (just to name a few) and he will either switch topics or say he
doesn't understand the mind of god.
We are really good pals and we try to
get together as often as possible. So what I'm asking is... Because he seems
happy, and we are friends should I do my best to just avoid the argument or is
there more "ground to be gained?"

The person who is certain, and who claims divine warrant for his certainty, belongs now to the infancy of our species.
-God Is Not Great
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20-01-2013, 07:41 PM
RE: When do you stop the argument?
Hi, welcome to the forums.

"Ground to be gained"? Do you mean, can you convince him to give up his religion? I can't relate to giving up religion, I never had to, but you have so my question to you is what was it that convinced (deconverted) you, and would the same things convince (deconvert) him?

But you've probably already tried that.

So my next suggestion is, keep on debating as long as the two of you are enjoying it and as long as it is not interfering with your friendship. I have Jehova's Witness friend that I debate with all the time. It's fun, and we get along great. However, most relationships seem like they can't handle that kind of strain, so if you feel like you're losing your friend over this difference of faith, stop debating. Or, if it just gets old and tired and no fun anymore, find something more fun to do together.

If you're looking for the magic red pill that will kick your friend out of the matrix and into reality, well, I'm afraid there is no such thing. Or, I sure don't know of one and I lost a beautiful, intelligent, wonderful woman because she's a Mormon and I'm not so if there ever is such a pill, I'd ram it down her throat in a heartbeat. Sadly, no such pill.

Say, uh, if you happen to find one, let me know, I'll pay an arm and leg for it. Dunno why you'd want an arm and a leg, but they're yours for the pill...

"Whores perform the same function as priests, but far more thoroughly." - Robert A. Heinlein
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20-01-2013, 08:12 PM
RE: When do you stop the argument?
Thank you Aseptic Skeptic,

I suppose I really should be looking into what my long term goals are. Giving up
his religion is unlikely and I wouldn't want him to do it just because I said
it was a good idea. What I think I would really like is for him to stop the senseless
justifications of the terrible crimes committed by god in the bible. And yes,
you are right; I did talk him through my de-conversion on several occasions. I,
unfortunately, have the impression that he doesn’t listen (considering he still,
to this day, thinks that I made my decision over night.) I am sorry to hear
about the women, though I'm sure life without joseph smith is probably a little
more gratifying. I do very much enjoy our little debates. But I think I am, sometimes,
the only one who enjoys them. I will take your advice and continue our little
conversations because it really hasn’t negatively affected out friendship.

again for your prompt response.

The person who is certain, and who claims divine warrant for his certainty, belongs now to the infancy of our species.
-God Is Not Great
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20-01-2013, 09:41 PM (This post was last modified: 20-01-2013 09:51 PM by Logisch.)
RE: When do you stop the argument?
I had to read your post a few times and really give this one a think before I could really tally a response I felt was worth the time your question deserved. I've been in a weird place lately just grumpy and tired and not really probably composing myself as I normally would.

It sounds as if you care about your friend a great deal or I don't think you'd be bringing this thing up.

I very much have a hard time watching loved ones stumble through their life completely oblivious and listening to every bit of confirmation bias they find who willfully ignore reality to make stuff fit.

All in all... if that were the only thing they did, I might shrug and not worry. But some of my loved ones very strictly hate gay people, they want to remove good science from schools and condemn others for their actions simply because they don't agree with their beliefs. I would say in this sense, it is a reason that religion is frustrating to me.

My wife was catholic much of her life but never really was a strong believer. She much prefers to call herself "apatheist" (nice way of saying she doesn't give a shit one way or another) but cares about what is true.

I would say keep a few things in mind:

- Religion cannot be tackled simply by pointing out why a religion is bad, or an overall argument
- Every person personalizes their belief differently than others. The reasons are personal and likely would not 100% agree on everything another would...
- Sometimes you can throw the most rational and logical thing at a person and it's like you tossed a piece of popcorn at a brick wall. Nothing. Don't get mad, just be willing to talk. REMEMBER that a person who tosses up walls isn't doing it necessarily because they are going "LA LA LA" but their brain is going LA LA LA. It's called cognitive dissonance, look it up.

I would ask: What is the reason you find your friends beliefs damaging to them? Does it cause them to discriminate? Does it cause them to make poor decisions that are harmful to themselves or others? Does it cause them to disregard the livelihood of others?

Identifying the actual reason I would say is the most important. Technically speaking, believing in a god all on it's own is just the supernatural belief in a being or a thing. It is the dogma, doctrine and writings that usually follow that are the most damaging things. So is it that they believe in a god that really bothers you? Or is there something about their day to day beliefs that you identify that you feel are the reason it bothers you?

If you have specific reasons perhaps point those out to your friend. Perhaps relate those to things that you see from an outside perspective and perhaps rationalize those with him and bring up logical points.

Example: "You know, I've noticed you seem to have a thing against x. Why is that? Did you know that it doesn't have to exclude the proposition of a deity? I guess I don't understand the disconnect."

I've found that actually showing the logic behind why the idea would still be compatible with their beliefs helps them be more willing to look at reality than try and cherry pick things just so their ideas are compatible. I think it would be more beneficial to help people understand what is true, than what sounds good to them... Now... with that said, pushing them along and showing them that their ideas don't have to be exclusive one might say, "why even INSERT the possibility with them and just tell them there is no god?" but often times religion is not dropped overnight. It sounds like your deconversion was very quick, with other people it takes a lot of time to process and think about things. Giving them something interesting to think about and rationalize can help them slowly make a logical decision.

In the end, I would say it depends on the person. As people are able to postulate how ideas don't necessarily have to be inclusive or exclusive and can start understanding reality a bit more or making more rational decisions or ideas it becomes easier for them to ask bigger questions and harder questions and begin their own journey. I think I find more often than not as atheists it is annoying to us the belief of god but I'd say more annoying to us is what it causes people to do. So remember that the personalized idea of their god and belief is a lot of things here and there that comprise it. Attacking why a god does or doesn't exist doesn't necessarily or logically help them learn things. Pointing out the failed logic of a behavior or idea that is part of that doctrine or belief on the other hand may help them slowly realize how silly the whole thing is or make better decisions.

It is the journey for each of us to decide how we want to understand life.

For me, I cannot say that a god never existed or doesn't exist. I guess I'd call myself defacto atheist, or I guess you could say agnostic atheist. But I'm also a defacto ucornist and defacto leprechaunist.

Unicorns and mythical creatures have just "sort of always been around" since we can look back at mankind. It would also seem that so is the idea of a god or gods. I don't know who came up with the first concept but it is safe to say there has been a shit ton of them flying around. I didn't propose the idea, it isn't my responsibility to go out and prove that unicorns exist, nor leprechauns. I can tell you that in my entire life I have never found rainbow colored shit in my back yard, or a shed horn off of one, nor a pod of gold. Thus far it would appear that in this reality, in this time and place that unicorns do not exist.

I can probably postulate a million ways they could. I can't prove it though. But I do not feel there is any compelling evidence, so I don't worry about their mythically fuzzy rainbow farting asses.

I feel the same way about a god.

Why do you? Why does your friend? What is the relevance?

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20-01-2013, 10:15 PM
RE: When do you stop the argument?
(20-01-2013 06:27 PM)cejl Wrote:  What kind of Bible School did he attend? Did he do historical critical analysis there or was simply devotional stuff?If he did historical analysis then he will already know that the Bible as taught in church is BS and is simply employing cognitive dissonance to allow his devotion to survive. If you want to engage him then I would start with 'why do you believe'. A simple question which will allow you to understand what drives his belief and give you something to address.

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20-01-2013, 10:21 PM
RE: When do you stop the argument?
I agree that the relationship needs to be considered first and foremost unless you cannot abide it. I'm in the south surrounded by staunch theists, and they have the right to their opinions. You're generally not going to change someone's mind on this subject, so you have to not cross that line into hurtfulness. If your friendship is strong, it certainly has more to it than this one issue. It's usually not worth losing a friend over (unless they disrespect you or hurt you irrevocably). Proceed with caution and don't lose your respect and compassion. Take it from someone who dates a theist, works all day with them, has theist friends, and has lived 48 years in the south. You seem like a nice person who values the relationship.

Godless in the Magnolia State
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21-01-2013, 06:30 PM
RE: When do you stop the argument?
Thanks for all the suggestions... It's actually been quite helpful.

This friend is a good guy in almost every way and I generally don't mind theist's until
they say something ignorant or anti-science just because it doesn't mesh with
their religious world view (they have to say these things proudly too, that’s a
piss off.) My friend is against gays, female leaders and other retarded things
that is the direct result of his faith. Everywhere else in life he uses logic.
He will not take anyone’s word on anything. He genuinely enjoys taking time out
of his day to read up on subjects he knows nothing about. It's just in this one
area that he won't apply the same life skills (I guess that’s called
"compartmentalization.") I have religious debates frequently with
people mostly my family, my Dad is incredibly stubborn and won't listen to
anything I say while my mom let's the information go into one ear and out the
other. In fact almost everyone I know has faith of some kind (some of them
don't bother me in the least.) But this friend of mine I've known since I was
very young and we are very close and in just a year of him going to that bible
college he would say that us being friends might not be the greatest idea
because it might be damaging to his faith (he didn't hold that position long I
am glad to say.) I guess I should just ask; do you know a theist who clearly
shouldn't be? (not that I should be the judge) I mean their faith makes even
less sense than the usual.... oh and the Bible College was called "Word of
Life" they specialized in "training, discipleship andevangelism"....

The person who is certain, and who claims divine warrant for his certainty, belongs now to the infancy of our species.
-God Is Not Great
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21-01-2013, 07:45 PM
RE: When do you stop the argument?
I think you should give up, if he's happy I guess he'll remain where he is, but if he really wants to keep debating then you might be able to change him. (But if he's happy then he doesn't really need to change.)

Bury me with my guns on, so when I reach the other side - I can show him what it feels like to die.
Bury me with my guns on, so when I'm cast out of the sky, I can shoot the devil right between the eyes.
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22-01-2013, 01:50 AM
RE: When do you stop the argument?
I stop arguing when I have nothing or no reason to argue.

It all depends on you, dude.

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22-01-2013, 04:29 AM
RE: When do you stop the argument?
You can usually tell when a person has finally anchored their feet into the ground and aren't going to be swayed any further. That's when I usually let it go. No use beating my fists against a brick wall.

Through profound pain comes profound knowledge.
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