Author Topic: What is the best way to convince a theist their beliefs are wrong using a forum  (Read 6043 times)

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Online wright

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As others have said, it's useful in looking at this forum as one step in the process of deconversion. That's how it was for me, several years ago.

velkyn's suggested approach has some merit: a one-on-one discussion / debate for theists new to the forum. That might encourage some of them to stick around long enough to grow thicker skin.

Live a good life... If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones. I am not afraid.
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Online ParkingPlaces

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(Since he apparently has access to an unlimited supply of laptops, I know Frank isn't going to go for this...  ;D.)

I like the idea of having a section where new theists and a small group of atheists converse with the goal of staying on topic and civil.

With that available, if a new theist were to show up and post something that would normally cause us to gang up on him (or even post something reasonable but discussion worthy), one of our friendly resident atheists could respond like this:

Quote
Hello Newbie. Welcome. Normally at this point your post would make you fair game for any and all members to offer their various opinions, some of which could end up being disagreeable to you. Unpleasant even. In an effort to contain the number of responses and maintain a mutually appreciated level of decorum, we sometimes offer new theist posters an opportunity to converse on the subject of their choice in a controlled environment with a small, unnaturally civil group of our member atheists.

Should you find this option of interest, note that our willingness to behave well assumes that you, as a theist who probably disagrees with us very much, would do the same. Our standards for judging your behavior would be as high as they would be for ourselves. However, if both sides manage to be respectfulness and respectability, perhaps the experience could be more satisfying for all.

If you can represent theism well and we can manage to represent atheism in a fitting manner, maybe this forum can become a place where both sides can feel they are speaking their mind without concurrently contributing to the disintegration of dialog. That might be nice.

If this option isn't appealing, we might have to send Frank after you.

Let us know.

Not everyone is entitled to their own opinion. They're all entitled to mine though.

Offline BSD MAN

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I ask for your personal opinions, since I don't think there is any data regarding the question. Notice the question is limited to using a forum, not in person or other means, because that is the tool we have available here to use.

I'd like all opinions and experiences posted, so step up to the plate. What's the best way - what's the worst way, and why you think so.

God would have to tell me He doesn't exist. 

Seriously... St. Thomas Aquinas explained it best,“To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.”  It's taken me 6 years to realize this. 

Old fogies like me are WAY to set in my ways to tell me otherwise.  There is NO ONE and nothing, not even Hutchins or Sheryl Crow or Dave Matthews, or Lance Armstrong, or HAL, or Janeane Garofalo or Bunny who can convince me, and that is because you don't accept the supernatural can exist without scientific evidence.  I believe it can and does exist above our experience (I am still trying to determine what qualitfies as evidence in your eyes, because most of you reject personal experience as evidence.  See converted atheist science fiction author to Catholic John C Wright http://www.scifiwright.com/ and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_C._Wright_(author)  he witnessed the virgin Mary several times over several months). 

You need to canvas the high schools and colleges to find someone who is willign to listen... wait...  atheist teachers and professors are already convincing students for you (this is not sarcasm, I believe this to be the truth).  So in a sense, you should be encouraged.
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Offline HAL

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I believe it can and does exist above our experience ...

Why do you believe this?

Offline Tero

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You show them the forum on your laptop then you pick it up and repeatedly hit them about the head with it until they come around to your point of view. I have had some good results with this method. Of course the theist tends to end up as a dribbling vegetable but I tend to think that's a step on the road to enlightenment.
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Offline Ambassador Pony

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BSD MAN, there is a field of science that deals with experiences like the ones you have had. It turns out it's all about labelling.
You believe evolution and there is no evidence for that. Where is the fossil record of a half man half ape. I've only ever heard about it in reading.

Offline shnozzola

When I came stumbling in here, Velkyn and Airyaman were quickest to point out my particular SPAG, which helped.  I was also not prone to be sure of anything (how can anyone be really), but had already whittled god down to something pretty small.  I appreciate the fact that I could post anywhere with anyone, so I don’t think limiting a person is correct.  I also think the mix of niceness and hatchets is necessary - (and I was wondering what happened to your bleeding keyboard avatar, Frank).     I can see where Davedave’s brand of “tell your closest relatives now or get out” , along with his and Kcrady’s excellent arguments, actual helped sway me while infuriating me.  I think age may have something to do with the ability to stick around, unless you're young and leaning atheist anyway.

I wouldn’t change very much of the site frankly – it’s really the relentless rationality and science that make this site what it is.  Keep in mind I’m much more of a reader/agree-er  than a debater.  I don’t have the brutal intelligence of many around here.  But while it was easy to jettison god, I intend to keep my pacifist side.
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Offline rickymooston

Good question.

My guess.

Start by undrrstanding where they are coming from.

"i had learn to focus i what i could do rather what i couldn't do", Rick Hansen when asked about getting a disabling spinal cord injury at 15. He continues to raise money for spinal cord research and inspire peoople to "make a difference". He doesnt preach any religion.

Offline Poseidon

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There are only a few committed theists who will consider arguments based on reason, logic, science, history, etc. There are more of them who are not the least bit interested in having us, or anyone else, persuade them that they have been bamboozled by the purveyors of all that religious mumbo-jumbo.  We may be able to reason with a few but not with the majority. We have a couple of participants right now who will surely continue to stone wall any and all arguments that we make.

It is true that we have sometimes been pretty impatient with jesus folk who have ventured to this forum. The now defunct ATT  displayed  similar impatience.  I suggest that we treat visitors with courtesy. When it becomes apparent that there is no chance for reasoned discussion, we should let the thread die. That means that we simply do not continue to post to that thread.

.

Offline Dante

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Ricky, where are they coming from?

Posieden, why should we let the thread die? To what end?
Actually it doesn't. One could conceivably be all-powerful but not exceptionally intelligent.

Online JeffPT

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Old fogies like me are WAY to set in my ways to tell me otherwise.  There is NO ONE and nothing, not even Hutchins or Sheryl Crow or Dave Matthews, or Lance Armstrong, or HAL, or Janeane Garofalo or Bunny who can convince me,

If there was a God, I would pray to Him every single day to never, ever let me get so old that I no longer allow my own thoughts to be challenged.

This is so sad. 
Whenever events that are purported to occur in our best interest are as numerous as the events that will just as soon kill us, then intent is hard, if not impossible to assert. NDT

Offline rickymooston

It depends on the theist

To understand that, you have to actually say

You also might find some of theirvemotional trigger points by doing this.

Humans sometimes have biases so deep that certain tactscarecdoomed to failure.

Atheism isntva position. Non belief starts with understanding the nature of belief

Some ppl will never be convinced by the way
"i had learn to focus i what i could do rather what i couldn't do", Rick Hansen when asked about getting a disabling spinal cord injury at 15. He continues to raise money for spinal cord research and inspire peoople to "make a difference". He doesnt preach any religion.

Online ParkingPlaces

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You need to canvas the high schools and colleges to find someone who is willign to listen... wait...  atheist teachers and professors are already convincing students for you (this is not sarcasm, I believe this to be the truth).  So in a sense, you should be encouraged.

I never have figured out where this came from. I decided to be an atheist when i was 11. So I knew what one was before I started going to the university. I spent four years in college and only heard atheism discussed in two philosophy classes. I asked my son (also an atheist, so much for rebelling against daddy), who graduated from college a few years ago, how much atheism he was taught while in college, and he said he doesn't remember it ever coming up.

Now if you're thinking it's all done subcutaneously or something (I was looking for subconsciously, but decided I liked the other word better) by hypnotizing students and shoving Darwin down their throat while they think they're in Music Appreciation 101, I should note that several professional hypnotists have tried to hypnotize me and failed. So the chances of my university being full of more competent hypnotists seems unlikely.

But I know how you feel. I'm an old fogie too, and nobody is going to change my mind either. So we are in a standoff.

May the least wrong man win.



Not everyone is entitled to their own opinion. They're all entitled to mine though.

Offline Add Homonym

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Seriously... St. Thomas Aquinas explained it best,“To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.”  It's taken me 6 years to realize this. 


The youtube poster Evid3nce3 had lots of faith, and one day it sort of evaporated. (I posted a thread about him recently.  --> http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forums/index.php/topic,21685.0.html  )


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(I am still trying to determine what qualitfies as evidence in your eyes, because most of you reject personal experience as evidence.  See converted atheist science fiction author to Catholic John C Wright

We don't like personal experience, because 'god' appears to be non-denominational. He comes to schizophrenics, people using the drugs DMT, LSD, peyote. He comes to wiccans, muslims, New Agers and Zoroastrians. You could be just lying your arse off, or have misobserved something. The people who wrote the gospels were patently lying their arses off, so it's the most common way to get the joke across. Once you subscribe to the anecdote way of thinking, then you can be got at by liars. If it's not reproducible, you are just making stuff up.


If Evide3nce is a guide; he lost faith mostly by interacting with a professor who he respected. I think when people respect the person they are arguing with, they are more likely to convert to a new peer group that they respect. This is where arguments on this forum are a bit doomed. People don't convert either way for logic or truth, they do it for emotional reasons.

Humans, in general, don't waste any opportunity to be unfathomably stupid - Dr Cynical.

Offline Add Homonym

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Seriously... St. Thomas Aquinas explained it best,“To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.”  It's taken me 6 years to realize this. 


BTW, that's a lie. If it took you six years to realize a lie....

The lie is designed to get you to accept a lack of evidence as normal.
Humans, in general, don't waste any opportunity to be unfathomably stupid - Dr Cynical.

Offline Jake

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This is indeed a toughie.   

I'm gonna go forum browsing here with this conundrum in mind and see if I see anything that leaps out at me about this.
"I don't respect your religious beliefs and I don't care if this offends you." - Pat Condel and myself along with him.   I do respect intelligence, rationality and logical consideration, however.    Humor's always good too.

Offline Death over Life

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Maybe we could have some of the more-recently-deconverted WWGHA members try to remember exactly what was going through their mind as they were gradually(or perhaps suddenly) convinced that their previous beliefs no longer held up to scrutiny. Maybe DeathOverLife or TruthOT could chime in on this thread and help.

Ask, and you shall receive!  ;D

As a former theist turned atheist/LaVeyan, I can give the testimony story, or the straight to the point story.

I think with all former theists, since theism plays dearly into emotions, I will admit that the initial emotion and reaction is shock, and confusion. The reason of such is, the longer you cleave to this belief, the harder it is to let go. It has been almost a year now since my de-conversion, and yet, all the years of being lied to still toy with my emotions, so I do have a much greater disdain on religion than from a traditional atheist.

Pretty much for a testimonial, it started with as a Christian, wanting to get to know God more. Long before I even thought of atheists or atheism (pretty non-existent in the Bible Belt) I read not all of the Bible, but was reading it at the time. Let me mention that reading the Bible needs to be encouraged, because the Bible started the shaking of my faith, and I still remember to this day that the name which-must-not-be-named, started the shake due to contradictions of how he died.

He-who-must-not-be-named, is Judas Iscariot, also a badass black metal band as shown here:

http://www.metal-archives.com/bands/Judas_Iscariot/915



I apologize for the sham less advertising as I tend to always do this at times. Anyways, I could go on about how Judas Iscariot was actually the 1st step in causing my road from theism to atheism, but wikipedia has already done that work for me, so I’ll post it here. It perfectly explained everything that had me up in question marks:

 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judas_Iscariot

The main part to concentrate on are Death and under Theology, The Betrayal Of Jesus. It was through Judas Iscariot did my eyes start to open that Christianity may not be the Truth that I was so willing to seek. Once Judas could not loosen it’s grasp on me, it started the chipping away and revealing what Truth was all about.

Fast forward through a few loss of faiths at times, and you end up with me here as a Theist debating. Fast forward here now, and you get to where I am at today.

I made mention that my 1st step from theism to atheism was Judas Iscariot, but waay before then, the 1st thing that made me show that I could be wrong on a belief was that of the rapture and 7 year tribulation, which I debated with other Christians.

Overall, starting with the Rapture, Going into Judas Iscariot, and just seeing the downward spiral of faith from reading the Bible, since Christianity really does not follow the Bible it claims to base it’s beliefs on, led to my loss of faith and now my atheistic, yet nihilistic, yet Satanic views of life. Satanic in this case not meaning Devil-Worship, but as LaVey mentioned, Hebrew for Adversary. Adversary to Christianity and the other Semitic faiths.

I will never know how it actually feels to be a believer coming to this site and being bombarded with so many killer arguments against my faith in such a short time. I think it would be some good reading if some of the more-recently-deconverted WWGHA residents could provide some insight on this. Maybe they could even provide reference to some of our archived discussions that they were involved in.

Since you mentioned me earlier, and since I fit the description, no problems if I give my insight.

When I initially came, it wasn’t even of my own decision, but I had a friend join 1st named Hguols. I saw the hostility that they were showing him and it pissed me off to the point to come in myself. Atheists have a stigma from theism that atheists are always angry, upset, miserable, etc and the constant hostility didn’t not only rebound the stereotype, but it actually gave evidence to such claims. As a theist, who appeals to emotions and not logic nor reason, saw this as a blanket to show that atheists are not happy people by any means, and that they are upset for being wrong or lied to.

So, I did decide to try engaging anyway because I was still one of the most open-minded theists that came. I agreed to the fact that I could be wrong, but I didn’t see the views as wrong. Concerning the posters here that I argued, the biggest names I can think of now are Alzael, and ParkingPlaces. In fact, we still have my short lived debate with Parking Places here:

http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forums/index.php/topic,17210.0.html

And the commentary thread here:

http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forums/index.php/topic,17212.0.html

Had life not interrupted either of us, I would have liked to see where this was heading when I was a theist.

Other than this, I don’t really remember or if they even exist anymore the debates I’ve had with Alzael, other than I remembered it was Bible debating.

The whole de-converting process didn’t really happen from the site, but after the site where I did my own researching. I didn’t have 100% faith, as I was shaky even during the time I did debate and argue for God.

As I have said before to others when I very 1st de-converted that the hostility made it very off-putting. However, being on the atheist side seeing theists, I can also see how the hostility is actually much needed because the theist tends to refuse to listen.

Overall though, this is my problem 1st and foremost, but I think there will be 2 things from both viewpoints that will help out the discussions and that would be open-mindedness and patience. I will admit I think I lost some of my open-mindedness with the de-conversion, but that is logical as atheism tends to raise your bull-shit detector A LOT! In addition, I’ve always been impatient, but deep down, you can only debate with what one personally views as bullshit so much until it starts becoming hostile, but that’s why we need more patience, and I’m the 1st person I’m pointing at to be honest.

In addition, I wish to end it on this note as many have been seeing, I seem to have lost the flame on debating theists due to my no longer interest to let us say continue preaching to the choir, but have gotten way more into politics recently. Although I’m now far more political here than I ever dreamed I would be or would want to be, I still do tussle with theists in real life, since theists exist in real life and none on wwgha. I’m giving my friend a few days to answer the question I proposed about Cupid vs. Jesus. Either way, the extreme lack of theists on this site who are willing to discuss are why I haven’t been around much other than the politics threads.

Offline lotanddaughters

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Maybe we could have some of the more-recently-deconverted WWGHA members try to remember exactly what was going through their mind as they were gradually(or perhaps suddenly) convinced that their previous beliefs no longer held up to scrutiny. Maybe DeathOverLife or TruthOT could chime in on this thread and help.

Ask, and you shall receive!  ;D

Thanks. That was a very interesting post.

Quote
Had life not interrupted either of us, I would have liked to see where this was heading when I was a theist.

I understand exactly what you mean. At least you have something to look back on.

One of the things I do remember about when I was a Christian is that I remember every single occurrence that had to do with nonbelievers. I remember this kid saying, "I don't believe in God or the Devil or any of that". I never pressed him to further explain himself. I can remember 4 similar experiences . . . vividly. Looking back, it was probably that uncomfortable feeling that is explained in the video "10 Questions Every Intelligent Christian Must Answer". I wanted to stop thinking about it at the time, but somehow I am able to remember every hint I sensed of my rare(but  memorable) interactions with nonbelief. It is certainly true that even the existence of nonbelievers is a strong argument against theism. Otherwise, why would I remember every single instance . . . vividly?

Are we gonna get TruthOT? I'll start the chant:


TruthOT!!!

TruthOT!!!

TruthOT!!!

TruthOT!!!

. . .
Enough with your bullshit.
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Offline ungod

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I think the Romans did it best, using a Forum and some lions....
Reason is a whore, the greatest enemy that faith has.
Faith must trample under foot all reason, sense, and understanding. - Martin Luther

"What good fortune for those in power that people do not think." - Hitler

Online ParkingPlaces

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I think the Romans did it best, using a Forum and some lions....

PETA would be all over us for that. You know, the lions might get scratched a little by the terrified humans they were eating, and that would be terrible.
Not everyone is entitled to their own opinion. They're all entitled to mine though.

Offline inveni0

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The only way to get the roots of critical thinking into their brain is to wait until they ask why you don't believe in god.  At that point, you answer with a simple statement: "If you tell me why you don't believe in Santa Claus, I'll tell you why I don't believe in god."

Once they answer that question, you can respond accordingly.  That's how someone cracked into my brain 15 years ago (paraphrasing), and while I became more religious between then and leaving religion entirely, it always stuck with me.  It was what set me on a journey to get the answer to all of my spiritual questions.
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Offline HAL

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... you answer with a simple statement: "If you tell me why you don't believe in Santa Claus, I'll tell you why I don't believe in god."

Sounds like a good title for a spin-off forum. Hmmm ...

But yea, they don't believe in Santa because the indoctrination stopped when they reached a certain age. Before that age they were told Santa existed, and they believed it. If the indoctrination had continued and they were never told that Santa didn't exist, and most everybody they associated with believed in Santa, they would still believe. It ain't rocket science, people believe all sorts of ridiculous things as long as they receive positive reinforcement from a group/cult leader. They will even kill themselves fro a false belief.

Offline dloubet

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It reminds me of a reality show I saw that put an atheist in with a Christian family. At one point the Christian said "I can't understand how you don't believe in god." The atheist responded with some weak philosophy, but I wanted to respond, "Do you believe in Odin? Zeus? Shiva? No? then you understand exactly why I don't believe in god."

The question really is how do we get non-self aware people to step into other people's shoes for even a moment.
Denis Loubet

Offline monkeymind

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When I initially came, it wasn’t even of my own decision, but I had a friend join 1st named Hguols. I saw the hostility that they were showing him and it pissed me off to the point to come in myself.

How is HGUOLS by the way? I remember him, and being afraid that him de-converting would lead back to drinking (since his beliefs seemed based upon the 12-step variety of Christianity). I was much more concerned that he not get back on the juice than him getting off the Jesus juice. I asked him to leave and explained this as my reason.

Most of the hostility, as I recall, was a result of his insistence in defining atheism as a belief system...
Truthfinder:the birds adapt and change through million of years in order to survive ,is that science, then cats should evolve also wings to better catch the birds
Mailbag:On a side note, back in college before my conversion, I actually saw a demon sitting next to me in critical thinking class.

Offline HAL

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Think of it as marketing.

We have two "products" - atheism and theism

One product offers a trip to eternal happiness if you just believe, no proof or evidence is even needed, just have faith and you will live forever.

The other product, atheism, offers, well, nothing.[1]

The inculcated person looks at these two products and picks eternal life. Theism has the ultimate product, and it's free.

How do we compete with that?

 1. Yes it does offer critical thinking skills but to the theist that's nothing

Offline Ambassador Pony

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10 million dollars and reality.
You believe evolution and there is no evidence for that. Where is the fossil record of a half man half ape. I've only ever heard about it in reading.

Offline MadBunny

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If you can get a Christian to think about his religion using words instead of just 'feelings' then they have to think about it.
Christianity, or at least 'bible based' Christianity doesn't really stand up very well under inspection.

Give a man a fire, and he'll be warm for a night.  Set a man on fire and he'll be warm for the rest of his life.

Offline jetson

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10 million dollars and reality.

I'll take the cash, reality can go straight to hell.   ;D

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Back on the sub-topic of jaybwell32's suggestion, I propose that until we can organize ourselves in the manner proposed by jaybwell32 (assuming that everyone goes along with it), we should try to keep any atheist versus theist discussions two/three on one, rather than six/seven on one.
The truth is absolute. Life forms are specks of specks (...) of specks of dust in the universe.
Why settle for normal, when you can be so much more? Why settle for something, when you can have everything?
We choose our own gods.

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