Author Topic: Why We Argue With Religious People  (Read 6194 times)

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Offline median

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Why We Argue With Religious People
« on: July 23, 2013, 10:23:54 AM »
Many religious people often ask the question as to why we argue with them. "Why bother?" "Why spend so much time arguing/debating with someone for whom you disagree?" "Isn't it just a waste of time?" "You're not going to change anybody." "Why are you trying to tear down the beliefs of others instead of focusing on your own beliefs?" I wanted to respond to this and perhaps some of you might feel compelled to chime in.

First, there is a distinction between what most people call "arguing" and what I call debating. Rational interchange (even if sometimes passionate) is not the same as arguing (i.e. - verbally fighting) even though they sometimes can look similar to some people. For those religious folks who may be reading this, please understand that it is not our intention to "argue" (most of the time) but to debate, and that most often requires rational "sparring" (which of course requires the use of logic, reason, and evidence). Since the best and virtually only reliable method for separating fact from fiction has been demonstrated as the use of logic, reason, and evidence - and since most of us atheists care about whether or not our beliefs are actually true - it makes sense that we want to debate/argue. In short, we care about truth and that sometimes requires an exchanging of disagreeing concepts in the marketplace of ideas. So don't get all bent out of shape when we want to debate with you. We like it. It's challenging, educational, and fun. And since many of us value education and higher learning we enjoy the activity of debate.

Now, why do I decide to engage you Christians, Muslims, and Jews in debate regarding your religious beliefs? In short, because beliefs have consequences. No one holds their beliefs in a vacuum. Your beliefs effect countless influential decisions you will make; including (but not limited to), who you will vote for (both locally and nationally), what rights you will fight to protect (and what rights you won't defend), what science you will support or oppose, what companies you will support or work for, where you will put your money and how you will use it, how you will treat children, how you will respond to criticism, what justifications you will make for your deeds, and so on and so forth.

So then the main reason I debate with you theists is because your beliefs effect me (both directly and indirectly - and especially when it comes to law, policy, education, and personal rights). Due to the fact that I strongly disagree with most religious belief (it is in fact superstition etc) I would like to see those views either modified or overturned. So there, now you know my motives and intentions when I debate with you on these forums and the question no longer needs to be asked.

median

p.s. - To those who think, "You're never going to change anyone" I say BULLOCKS! I changed my mind (about Christianity and the bible) as a direct result of debating online and with ex-Christian friends, who I am now very grateful to have in my life. Change DOES happen, all the time.
« Last Edit: July 23, 2013, 10:27:51 AM by median »
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Offline jdawg70

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Re: Why We Argue With Religious People
« Reply #1 on: July 23, 2013, 11:43:48 AM »
So then the main reason I debate with you theists is because your beliefs effect me (both directly and indirectly - and especially when it comes to law, policy, education, and personal rights). Due to the fact that I strongly disagree with most religious belief (it is in fact superstition etc) I would like to see those views either modified or overturned. So there, now you know my motives and intentions when I debate with you on these forums and the question no longer needs to be asked.
Very clear explanation of where you are coming from and what your motivations are for the conversations you have on this board.

I confess that I'm more selfish; I think the argumentation for the sake of injecting more rationality into the world, moving society away from superstition, and kicking faith out of the room of virtues are all very laudable goals.  Part of why I question and argue is for the same purpose.  But for me, the main motivator is personal...

I have a set of beliefs about reality.  These sets of beliefs are, of course, in a constant state of flux, ebbing and flowing as I gain more knowledge, learn more life lessons, and interact with other people and their sets of beliefs and viewpoints regarding reality.  In a sense I am testing what it is I have come to understand about reality - I am trying to put myself on the epistemological chopping block and seeing what sticks and what doesn't.  I can go on about how a better understanding of reality helps me to interact better with reality, make better decisions, and generally be better at helping myself and my fellow sentient creatures survive and thrive.  And all of that is certainly true.

But mainly I bum around here because, quite selfishly, I just want to know things.  I want to know if I'm right about something.  I want to know if I'm wrong about something.  There are different viewpoints that pop up around here.  Sometimes those viewpoints run somewhat or entirely contrary to things that I believe to be true.  Finding out why those discrepancies exist is one part of helping me determine the truth-value of my own beliefs.
"When we landed on the moon, that was the point where god should have come up and said 'hello'. Because if you invent some creatures, put them on the blue one and they make it to the grey one, you f**king turn up and say 'well done'."

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Offline Nick

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Re: Why We Argue With Religious People
« Reply #2 on: July 23, 2013, 02:18:22 PM »
When I argue with a theist it is not so much to change minds.  It is more to point out how wrong it is to try and impose their set of beliefs on the rest of us...usually thru laws/politicians.  Also, how hypocritical they often are on many levels.
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Offline Tero

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Re: Why We Argue With Religious People
« Reply #3 on: July 23, 2013, 03:19:14 PM »
I only argue when some physical reality us involved. Occasionally I point out that their book is not CNN reporting but heavily edited oral legend, collected decades after the supposed events.

Offline Energized

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Re: Why We Argue With Religious People
« Reply #4 on: July 23, 2013, 03:49:53 PM »
If they're being genuine in our discussions, my hope is that the doubt will fester to the point they start to question the rest of the bullshit they believe.

When I argue with a theist it is not so much to change minds.  It is more to point out how wrong it is to try and impose their set of beliefs on the rest of us...usually thru laws/politicians.  Also, how hypocritical they often are on many levels.

Do you get favourable responses? Every time I point out how their religion affects me personally, I am told "majority" rules. Funny how when it goes the other way it's labelled persecution but meh - whatever...

E.
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Bringing torment and pain to others.
O damned soul wallowing in your sin.
Perhaps it is time to die?'

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Online nogodsforme

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Re: Why We Argue With Religious People
« Reply #5 on: July 23, 2013, 08:18:51 PM »
Majority rules? What is that supposed to mean? You can't force other people to submit to your religious practices--not in the US. Have these people ever read the constitution or the bill of rights? This is not a dictatorship, not Saudi Arabia or the Vatican, thank Durga. &)

Anyway, I argue/debate with religious people because I had to listen to their illogical, bogus, made-up inaccuracies my entire childhood. I had to read, memorize and repeat back stuff that I barely understood (and once I understood it, I did not believe it). Plus I had to proselytize every weekend, telling other people this same stuff.  :(

If there had been blogs like this, more spokespeople like Dawkins, Neil Degrasse Tyson, and even casually but openly atheist comics like Paula Poundstone and Bill Maher when I was a kid, my life would have been very different. We had Carl Sagan and Isaac Asimov, but they were not even allowed to say the word "atheist".  :P

So, as part of a group of people who are openly voicing atheist ideas in a positive way I am "being the change I want to see in the world", etc. etc.
Extraordinary claims of the bible don't even have ordinary evidence.

Kids aren't paying attention most of the time in science classes so it seems silly to get worked up over ID being taught in schools.

Offline Mooby

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Re: Why We Argue With Religious People
« Reply #6 on: July 23, 2013, 08:57:51 PM »
I debate with religious people because it's fun and it messes with atheists' heads.
"I'm doing science and I'm still alive."--J.C.

Offline Bereft_of_Faith

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Re: Why We Argue With Religious People
« Reply #7 on: July 24, 2013, 12:09:54 AM »
I debate with religious people because it's fun and it messes with atheists' heads.

It's true.  When I read your posts, God seems to materialize before me, then I wonder 'how can I believe GOD doesn't exist?'  You confuse me and make me question reality.  Please stop  ;)

Offline Bereft_of_Faith

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Re: Why We Argue With Religious People
« Reply #8 on: July 24, 2013, 12:11:46 AM »
So, as part of a group of people who are openly voicing atheist ideas in a positive way I am "being the change I want to see in the world", etc. etc.

 ^^^^^^^ This is my number one reason, far ahead of number two: fun

Online nogodsforme

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Re: Why We Argue With Religious People
« Reply #9 on: July 24, 2013, 12:21:10 AM »
So, as part of a group of people who are openly voicing atheist ideas in a positive way I am "being the change I want to see in the world", etc. etc.

 ^^^^^^^ This is my number one reason, far ahead of number two: fun

Oh yeah, there is that. ;D
Extraordinary claims of the bible don't even have ordinary evidence.

Kids aren't paying attention most of the time in science classes so it seems silly to get worked up over ID being taught in schools.

Offline median

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Re: Why We Argue With Religious People
« Reply #10 on: July 24, 2013, 01:03:25 AM »
I'd like to add that I can anticipate a possible theist response to this OP. One might argue that they debate with atheists because "beliefs have consequences" (hinting at the notion that atheism leads to murderous, totalitarian/communistic regimes such as Stalin's Russia). Should this kind of response materialize on these boards let it be known that there are many countries (currently) which have very low percentages of theistic belief (and which DO NOT have such atrocious totalitarianism). In fact, the opposite is true. They have general freedom, lower crime rates than the US, and wider healthcare. So this argument from theists really fails as a reason for debating with us. Furthermore, Stalin (like Kim Jong Il of North Korea) was worshiped like a god (in fact many people thought he was godlike etc). Had the citizens actually been critically minded atheists, not being so susceptible to credulity and superstition, perhaps Stalin's regime would not have lasted (or better yet never started at all).

It is superstition that we fight against, and particularly religious superstition (of all kinds). For that I am glad to participate.
Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Carl Sagan

Offline LoriPinkAngel

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Re: Why We Argue With Religious People
« Reply #11 on: July 24, 2013, 03:05:11 AM »
This will be sort of new territory for me.  I not been traditionally religious.  I have witnessed what I never want to do - which is to ridicule anyone's belief or call them stupid or an idiot.  I will try very hard not to respond with sarcasm or bitterness.  I want to never dissect someones post and point out the fault or error in every phrase.  I think I will just do what I did as a theist and show how god does not exist in my life.  Sometimes I currently feel hurt and anger over my situation I'm in.  But I have to take a step back and admit I can't express hurt and anger at an entity that does not exist.  Crap just happens. And I will get out of this crap.
It doesn't make sense to let go of something you've had for so long.  But it also doesn't make sense to hold on when there's actually nothing there.

Offline Anfauglir

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Re: Why We Argue With Religious People
« Reply #12 on: July 24, 2013, 07:31:47 AM »
Every time I point out how their religion affects me personally, I am told "majority" rules.

Shame they didn't abide by "majority rules" in 1st Century Roman Empire.

And I'll bet that when the majority shifts from being "Christian" to "non-Christian" (as its about to do in the UK) they won't be so keen.
Just because you've always done it that way doesn't mean it's not incredibly stupid.
Why is it so hard for believers to answer a direct question?

Offline Anfauglir

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Re: Why We Argue With Religious People
« Reply #13 on: July 24, 2013, 07:39:34 AM »
Why do I debate?  In part, because (as I've always said) if there is a god out there, I want to know about it - it is potentially the most important news I would ever hear in my life.  So I'm always up to hear about "gods".  What a lot of believers don't seem to grasp though is that I've had so many possible gods presented to me, that its now nowhere near enough to say "this is god".  Before I can even consider their chosen god as a possibility, they need to have convinced me that there is some evidence behind it, and that their beliefs are coherent.  Sadly, I've yet to even be convinced to the point where I think "hmm - that all makes sense, and I understand exactly what I should do next, and what will happen".

For purposes of full disclosure, I should also go on record as saying that I enjoy the intellectual challenge of trying to piece together the snippets I get told, and to point out and try to reconcile the holes in their beliefs.  In the main, if someone thinks "I believe this", and it is good for them, then good luck to them - in the "real world", I likely wouldn't do more than nod and smile politely.  But this is a debate forum, so I'm here to debate!
Just because you've always done it that way doesn't mean it's not incredibly stupid.
Why is it so hard for believers to answer a direct question?

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Re: Why We Argue With Religious People
« Reply #14 on: July 24, 2013, 08:45:38 AM »
I'm here mostly for fun. Needless to say this indicates that I don't have much of a life. So while I certainly agree with the lofty ideals of the OP and all, I'm not so naïve as to think that we'll make great strides in the repair of ignorance.

I do enjoy hearing the many excuses of the theists, offered disguised as theology. In the christian case, one book cannot possibly have all those meanings. But billions of wishful-thinking believers somehow conjure up pimped versions daily. It is quite entertaining to be fed a new dollop of crap several times a week. As long as I don't actually have to taste it.

And while some of our conversations with theists do fall to the level of "debate" upon occasion, I see most of them as a free-for-all. I certainly don't give much though to applying the rules of logic, etc. in my discussions with theists. That would be cheating.

Besides, I get to let my imagination run wild about my various atheists friends here as well. I get to picture each and every one of you as not only intelligent, but incredibly good looking. And I get to imagine that each of you is on the verge of winning a Nobel Prize for something. Because that's the kind of crowd I've always wanted to hang with.

See theists, atheists can make stuff up too!  ;D
Not everyone is entitled to their own opinion. They're all entitled to mine though.

Offline jdawg70

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Re: Why We Argue With Religious People
« Reply #15 on: July 24, 2013, 09:56:18 AM »
Besides, I get to let my imagination run wild about my various atheists friends here as well. I get to picture each and every one of you as not only intelligent, but incredibly good looking. And I get to imagine that each of you is on the verge of winning a Nobel Prize for something. Because that's the kind of crowd I've always wanted to hang with.
If you put me in that pack I will more than happily support this particular delusion.
"When we landed on the moon, that was the point where god should have come up and said 'hello'. Because if you invent some creatures, put them on the blue one and they make it to the grey one, you f**king turn up and say 'well done'."

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Offline Mooby

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Re: Why We Argue With Religious People
« Reply #16 on: July 24, 2013, 09:56:31 AM »
I debate with religious people because it's fun and it messes with atheists' heads.

It's true.  When I read your posts, God seems to materialize before me, then I wonder 'how can I believe GOD doesn't exist?'  You confuse me and make me question reality.  Please stop  ;)
^^ Missed the point.
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Offline Traveler

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Re: Why We Argue With Religious People
« Reply #17 on: July 24, 2013, 11:43:00 AM »
...Besides, I get to let my imagination run wild about my various atheists friends here as well. I get to picture each and every one of you as not only intelligent, but incredibly good looking. And I get to imagine that each of you is on the verge of winning a Nobel Prize for something. Because that's the kind of crowd I've always wanted to hang with.

See theists, atheists can make stuff up too! ;D

Nonsense! Each and every one of us IS all of that!!!  ;D  In fact, I'm packing my bags right now to go get my latest Nobel Prize.  8)
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Offline earthfreak

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Re: Why We Argue With Religious People
« Reply #18 on: July 24, 2013, 05:11:18 PM »
Interesting question.    I dont', so much.  Mostly I don't have theists in my life at all.  Or, at least, not ones that believe in a lot of dogma.  Have a fair number of discussions, I guess.    as a liberal quaker, I run up against a "movement" within my branch to bring us "back to Christ" or some such thing.  I argue with THAT because it feels somewhat like a direct attack on me, though mostly we're all pretty civil (I think?)

My ex's brother is a pastor (methodist? I don't even know)  we're friends on facebook.  He used to be quite conservative, and has "come around" quite a bit (to embracing her same sex relationship, to voting for Obama) but is still quite grounded in his christianity, I guess.     Occasionally we will get in a discussion on facebook and he will OFTEN end up coming to me with something like, "see? you're a good, ethical person who cares about the poor and downtrodden.  You're more or less a Christian, why not just admit it?"  - I find it fascinating, and I try to explain.  it's just a wild, neverending (though often paused) exchange.   Feels somewhat worthwhile.

The other day he posted something about gender-specific legos, and one of his other friends essentially responded "God made boys and girls different, so they should have different legos" (ok, it wasn't quite that blatant. ) - I responded with all the reasons that I think he's wrong, and mentioned as an aside that I don't believe in God, so we're obviously coming from different places.   He asked me something like why I would choose death when life is offered.  I have no idea how to even respond to that (hostile, "how can you be such a moron?" type responses aside)  I offered to have that discussion eventually, and he said he was busy for a while, and hasn't gotten back in touch.




Thinking about this forum, though, I was here a while ago, and checking it out again.  I had been active on IGI for a while, mabye a year  ago.  For me over there is too crazy, over here seems like we all almost agree, and what's the point? 

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Re: Why We Argue With Religious People
« Reply #19 on: July 24, 2013, 07:31:13 PM »
He asked me something like why I would choose death when life is offered.

When I am asked this question, I respond this way:

Some say life is offered, but it isn't. There is an illusion offered, and that isn't much. I, for one, do not plan to live this life in preparation for the next one when the next one doesn't exist. If others need to comfort of thinking they get to hang around for infinity, fine. But I'm not one to lie to myself for the sake of artificial comfort. My fear of death is much smaller than my fear of playing make-believe my whole life. Pretending to pour tea stopped being fun when I was around four.

And even if it were true, and an infinity in heaven were an option, I would hope there would be an opt out clause. Because I don't think christians realize how long forever is.

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

Offline Hatter23

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Re: Why We Argue With Religious People
« Reply #20 on: July 25, 2013, 02:34:49 PM »
I do so here for a rotten stinking reason:

Because I am surrounded by people who spew religious nutzo crap and would find myself an outcast and unable to function well in society without their cooperation.

So I go where people are 'asking for it' by posting to an atheism board where I feel no compuction to coddle their delusional minds.

An Omnipowerful God needed to sacrifice himself to himself (but only for a long weekend) in order to avert his own wrath against his own creations who he made in a manner knowing that they weren't going to live up to his standards.

And you should feel guilty for this. Give me money.

Offline SkyWriting

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Re: Why We Argue With Religious People
« Reply #21 on: July 26, 2013, 12:08:22 AM »
I do so here for a rotten stinking reason:    Because I am surrounded by people who spew religious nutzo crap and would find myself an outcast and unable to function well in society without their cooperation.   So I go where people are 'asking for it' by posting to an atheism board where I feel no compuction to coddle their delusional minds.

It's quite fair to say us delusional Kooks receive great benefit from non-believers as well.  I think Christianity recognizes that benefit and so created the US where all forms of thought and expression are tolerated as much as is practical.

Offline SkyWriting

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Re: Why We Argue With Religious People
« Reply #22 on: July 26, 2013, 12:15:22 AM »
In short, because beliefs have consequences. No one holds their beliefs in a vacuum. Your beliefs effect countless influential decisions you will make; including (but not limited to), who you will vote for (both locally and nationally), what rights you will fight to protect (and what rights you won't defend), what science you will support or oppose, what companies you will support or work for, where you will put your money and how you will use it, how you will treat children, how you will respond to criticism, what justifications you will make for your deeds, and so on and so forth. So then the main reason I debate with you theists is because your beliefs effect me (both directly and indirectly - and especially when it comes to law, policy, education, and personal rights).

That is a Christian mandate as well:
"To be ready to give reason for the faith that is in you". 
http://biblehub.com/1_peter/3-15.htm

Offline nebula

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Re: Why We Argue With Religious People
« Reply #23 on: July 28, 2013, 09:22:31 AM »
Your beliefs effect countless influential decisions you will make; including (but not limited to), who you will vote for (both locally and nationally), what rights you will fight to protect (and what rights you won't defend), what science you will support or oppose, what companies you will support or work for, where you will put your money and how you will use it, how you will treat children, how you will respond to criticism, what justifications you will make for your deeds, and so on and so forth.

Bold mine.

Correction - your beliefs affect countless decisions you will apparently make.
« Last Edit: July 28, 2013, 09:24:37 AM by nebula »

Offline LoriPinkAngel

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Re: Why We Argue With Religious People
« Reply #24 on: July 28, 2013, 09:47:26 AM »
Your beliefs effect countless influential decisions you will make; including (but not limited to), who you will vote for (both locally and nationally), what rights you will fight to protect (and what rights you won't defend), what science you will support or oppose, what companies you will support or work for, where you will put your money and how you will use it, how you will treat children, how you will respond to criticism, what justifications you will make for your deeds, and so on and so forth.

Bold mine.

Correction - your beliefs affect countless decisions you will apparently make.

I have to say I am the giant exception to that.  Just about a  month, even weeks ago I believed there was a god.  Now I don't.  But nothing else has changed.  The faith I no longer have will not affect who I vote for now any more than it did before.  My vote was always based on what I thought a candidate stood for.  Not whether he/she thought about god the same way I did.
It doesn't make sense to let go of something you've had for so long.  But it also doesn't make sense to hold on when there's actually nothing there.

Offline nebula

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Re: Why We Argue With Religious People
« Reply #25 on: July 28, 2013, 10:12:10 AM »
I have to say I am the giant exception to that.  Just about a  month, even weeks ago I believed there was a god.  Now I don't.  But nothing else has changed.  The faith I no longer have will not affect who I vote for now any more than it did before.  My vote was always based on what I thought a candidate stood for.  Not whether he/she thought about god the same way I did.

OK.   Then correction - people don't make decisions.   They appear to make them.     
 

Offline median

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Re: Why We Argue With Religious People
« Reply #26 on: July 28, 2013, 10:20:50 AM »
To respond to both nebula and LoriPinkAngel, in general beliefs inform deeds. That is what was meant by the statement, and it wasn't blanket, and it didn't indicate any specifics or any degree level. However, the overwhelming majority of the time (whether small or large) people's beliefs inform their actions (and by beliefs here I'm talking about worldviews and strongly held convictions). So, please do not misconstrue what I said. If (for you) a fairly insignificant belief changes then it may not be the case that your deeds will change very much. On the contrary, for someone whose entire life is (in general) focused around God belief (Jesus worship, literal interpretation of the NT, etc) a change in those beliefs likely will have a dramatic impact on life choices (albeit perhaps not at first).

So, pointing to a perceived exception to the rule doesn't really effect the general principle. Beliefs inform deeds.
Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Carl Sagan

Offline nebula

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Re: Why We Argue With Religious People
« Reply #27 on: July 28, 2013, 10:28:38 AM »
To respond to both nebula and LoriPinkAngel, in general beliefs inform deeds. That is what was meant by the statement, and it wasn't blanket, and it didn't indicate any specifics or any degree level. However, the overwhelming majority of the time (whether small or large) people's beliefs inform their actions (and by beliefs here I'm talking about worldviews and strongly held convictions). So, please do not misconstrue what I said. If (for you) a fairly insignificant belief changes then it may not be the case that your deeds will change very much. On the contrary, for someone whose entire life is (in general) focused around God belief (Jesus worship, literal interpretation of the NT, etc) a change in those beliefs likely will have a dramatic impact on life choices (albeit perhaps not at first).

So, pointing to a perceived exception to the rule doesn't really effect the general principle. Beliefs inform deeds.

Bold mine.

...on apparent life choices.   You do realize people have no control over their deeds or what they believe, right?     

Offline median

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Re: Why We Argue With Religious People
« Reply #28 on: July 28, 2013, 10:34:01 AM »

...on apparent life choices.   You do realize people have no control over their deeds or what they believe, right?   

People have no control over their actions? Is that what you are arguing? If so, I smell an equivocation coming. But please do elaborate.
« Last Edit: July 28, 2013, 10:36:05 AM by median »
Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Carl Sagan