September 2007

Thanks for the reply. Its nice to have a thirdparty view on such matters. It’s two in the morning so my message may be nonsensical but here it is…

Undeniably, yes, that was an argument and that explains much of the reaction on both sides. My response was intended to show her up to a point and it intentionally poked fun at a very simplistic view of god. I know thats not the way to discus things or change peoples thought. I wanted a bit of a view into her reasoning while under pressure and if thats really what I got I am rather disappointed. It seemed to be she had one answer that justified something she likes to do and she never thought any further.

I don’t know to what extent her reasoning if based on the bible but thats not really the point. I’m not try to say all Christians are stupid and or nonthinking. And I think you got that from my last message. My grandparents believe the bible as fact and they seem to be very intelligent and reasonable. It’s just that people explain anything they want with god. My mother believes in a god (not the bibles god) and attributes various things to it(him/her). She is also intelligent and somewhat-rational(from the point of view of her teen aged son, however much that means for a mother). She attributes all morals and all good to that god. She also thinks that people have souls and those souls give us emotions. Thats extremely aggravating as an atheist with moral values. All of the good I do and all I feel is chalked up to something I don’t believe in. So basically I don’t think religious people are nonthinking at all but can take on some less than logical explanations for things.

Really I guess what I dislike about the girl’s (we will call her Sarah since I forgot to “name” her) response was that it wasn’t proof of her view and at wasn’t an admittance of defeat(as if that would happen). It was just saying that the argument was over. She didn’t crumble under rock solid proof that we shouldn’t eat animals, she just didn’t want to talk anymore. I think I could carry on an actual discussion with her and understand her thinking. If I do I will send in what ever I remember of it.

I agree the imaginary friend was a cheap shot and I guess that just can’t be justified. However I put it, my motives boil down to the fun of mocking what I see as a crazy belief. And that is no way to view things you are tying to understand. An open mind is the best if not the only way to grasp some things. Like theories about the universe. However theoretical, most theories I have read about perception and the structure of the world around us, make more sense that explaining them with god. e.g. the holographic universe theory, big bang etc…. We know our perception is all we have to go on and we have shown it can be off a fair bit. Being blind does not mean light doesn’t exist.

If I did have this discussion with her it wouldn’t be to change her mind or convince her than only one way is right. In unprovable hypothetical conversations all you can hope for is the admittance of the possibility of your view not the acceptance of it as fact. I have seen that people take it as if they must believe the view as fact not just a possible alternative to their view. I don’t know how to keep people form thinking I’m forcing my views on them. If I wanted people to ignore me the best I can do is force apposing views on them. Any advice? Am I just too aggressive?

It’s tempting to verbally lash out at someone you thoroughly disagree with, particularly if they are setting out to annoy you. We’ve all done it. It’s part of being human.

But still, you obviously realize that there is a difference between what a person will say under pressure and what they will say at a more thoughtful time. I’d say that the latter is far more important, so you should strive to avoid the former.

You are right that in a conversation about the unprovable all you can hope for is an admission that your position is not impossible. What I would ask you to do is consider such an admission a victory condition. Right now, many religious people probably view your atheism as being as ridiculous as you view their theism. It might take a big shift in their thinking to get them to admit that you have arrived at your opinion rationally.

My suggestion would be that you start by not worrying about whether you can get others to recognize that you make sense, and concentrate on trying to find out whether the views of those you disagree with make sense. If you talk to Sarah, see if you can get her to dig out the roots of her belief. If she believes the Bible, why does she believe the Bible? If she believe in a creator, why does she think there is a creator? If her beliefs don’t hold, she needs to change them and you are doing her a favor. If her beliefs do hold, then at some point you will get down to a few facts that she is taking as a given and cannot prove (this is true for everyone, by the way, not just theists). Once you have uncovered those givens, you can show that you disagree with one or more of them and built your own — completely logical and consistent — philosophy on top of them. Since you are both thinking rationally and the only difference between your core beliefs is a matter of opinion, she can’t condemn you for thinking as you do. You’ve turned an investigation of her beliefs into proof that she must accept yours.

This is, in my opinion, an excellent way to go about gaining acceptance of your views. It takes a heck of a lot of time, patience, and thought, but it helps both people involved in the discussion. I’ve also seen it convince many people that they need to examine their own views more closely, perhaps leading them to see that you were correct all along.

As for your mother — I wouldn’t let her difference in belief get to you. It’s possible to have a logical, completely consistent belief system and believe as she does, so you don’t have to worry about how rational she is (or isn’t). You’re right that people can explain anything with God, and that’s fine so long as they apply that type of explanation consistently (which most don’t do).

I hope that, somewhere in there, I answered all your questions. Let me know if there’s anything else you’d like to hear my opinion on.

Posted on September 24, 2007 at 1:20 pm by ideclare · Permalink
In: Dealing with religious folks

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