Sometimes I start to reply to posts and by the time I get my point made I have written too much. I reread it and sometimes I scrap it. I have amended my viewpoint or thought of another angle. However I am happy with that because someone has said something to make me think.
That gave me an idea. Maybe rather that debating theists (I am always doing it) I will ask them to reply in writing to my points. After all they are always giving me crap to read.

So I did an interesting experiment today with some “doubters” before I tackled the deluded ones. I have been debating with them for a few weeks now. So rather than listen to more “But what if there really is a god?” or “How can you be so sure?” I suggested that they spend 15 minutes writing down what their beliefs actual were and WHY they believed them.

This compelled them into thinking about what they were writing. They had to “listen” to their own arguments. They were not just blindly repeating some mantra type answers.

They all found it more difficult to do than they had expected. I could see a lot of lines getting crossed out. However the surprise came when I asked each one in turn to read aloud what they had written. It sounded so immature. When one said “I believe in everlasting life after death”, he started laughing.

One could nearly hear them thinking “Is this what I actually believe?” I got more doubt sown today without saying a word. It would be interesting to see if these results could be replicated. Maybe I have been spending too much time perfecting arguments and rebuttals. Ok – they are needed but I will try this with the Witnesses next weekend.

The point is that because they were asked to write down what they believed they were forced to analyze it and confront themselves, rather than confront me and argue against me. If you analyze yourself you must use Reason, not Faith and the seed of Doubt is firmly planted – which is my only objective.

PS - Put up my “Science Dog” icon just in case anyone thought I was ugly :)

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This is sort of a very direct form of the Socratic method-- the ability to get an opponent to examine their own argument by example and disagree with themselves. But I don't see that working on any Christians I know, because they do say things like 'I believe in everlasting life after death' with a straight face.



I debate a lot of believers – all types of cults. I agree that the hardcore ones will say this sort of thing to me with a straight face. They can do this without seeing the cognitive delusion in it. What I do now is to ask them to write down their beliefs for me on one sheet of paper and to do it in bullet point format. Then I tell them I am looking forward to reading it next week.


They are now put in the position of having to think about what they are going to write. They probably will rewrite it a few times. They have the entire week to think about it. The straight face syndrome has disappeared when they return the following week.


Sometimes it is like they are waiting for my approval of what they have written.

It is actually a bit strange – but the seed of doubt is sown. They are trying to convert me and I am never aggressive with them – I don’t slam the front door on them. We are on amicable terms at this stage.


I think because they see it as a mission to convert that godless Atheist that they spend so much time going over what they are writing for me. Because I ask them to condense it the really have to think about it. I then go through each point with them. Some have never bothered to return to me so that has to be good.


Giving them the week to think is more effective than what they might actually write.


This is beautiful.  But the Christians in my family will never do it.  They feel that because I "never had any faith to begin with" I won't understand.  Furthermore, they feel no need to defend themselves or their beliefs, because the "love of God is simply enough" for them.  They have no need to prove.  They aren't trying to convert me and will not be deconverted themselves, and therefore it is a waste of time.  I do not go out of my way to insult them or their beliefs, but whenever I do point out some contradiction or "evil" verse, I am told that I am full of shit.  But will they go look for themselves?  NO! 


What's a girl to do?

Focus on the things they can't deny:


1. They believe in the "an invisible magic man in the sky did it" theory of cosmology.

2. All previous gods of the gaps in scientific knowledge, such as Atlas, turned out to be silly superstitions.  Why would anyone think the same reasoning will hold true this time?

3. If the Christian god is a god of love, then why would he be so mad at us that he just had to kill someone to get his anger out of his system?  For eating an apple?  Really?  Sounds crazy to me.

4. "Love me or I will torture you forever and it will be your own fault" is the reasoning of a psycho ex-boyfriend who is stalking his ex-girlfriend.  A loving god who can create whole universes thinks the same way as some of the worst examples of humanity?  Or is that thinking just a reflection of the disturbed individual who dreamed him up?

5. Speaking of disturbed individuals.  Religions are always started by them.  Why should we not assume that Jesus was simply the David Koresh of his day?


Here are some things she has actually written.... all of it in ONE discussion. 


You have to have faith in something bigger than yourself. You may not want to give it a name, but remember that faith is believing in something you can not prove, that's why it's called faith.   My faith says that my strength comes from my


I say little prayers all the time. "God, please get me through this. God, please give me strength. God, please keep my family safe." So far, these have all been answered for me.


[God lives] not in the clouds, above them. creating them so you can have your storms.


(to me in the discussion) Did you eat the rum ball mix Moria? Before it got to the rum ball stage? Good thing I love you or I would want to kick your little redheaded butt. Just for being such a stubborn little thing.


I will say that I believe more now that science and history have proven some of it, than I did years ago. There are still no answers for some things, but then, maybe we are not supposed to have ALL the answers….. check
discovery channel or the learning channel or the science or history channels
online. we are watching a program right now on the science channel that has
proven that at least parts of the story of Sodom and Ghamorra are true. Museums
are full of historic items that have been proven to be part of the bibles
history. and the gnostic books and the dead sea scrolls.


Religion was never intended to be logical, it is emotional, spiritual, not tangible.


I don't think I need to have all the answers proven beyond a shadow of a doubt. There is a reason for a seperation of church and state. It is not a court of law, it is a higher law.


Fittingly, she believes God resides in outer space at the pillars of creation. 

I am tempted to go through all these things and pick them apart, but sometimes you just have to realize that you cannot possibly get through to some people.  That can be hard to do, especially if it is a family member that you cannot avoid.  I moved far away from my family and the bible belt more than 30 years ago, so it has become a little easier for me to deal with.  But, even now, I can only deal with it in very small doses.  I try to remember that they are not in their right minds and that arguing with them would be as useful as arguing with the inmates of an asylum.  Then I try to throw in the occasional thought barb.  I don't even bother with the thought barbs for certain people who I know to be beyond all hope.


Here are some ideas:


"Faith" has more than one meaning.  Believing in something without proof is a delusion, not a virtue.  The thing I believe in is my role in my community--my responsibility to others.


Funny how we never hear from people whose prayers to be kept safe weren't answered.


"Invisible magic man in the sky" includes outer space or even beyond if that is possible.


"Kick your butt"?  "Stubborn little thing"?  I just checked your TA page.  You are an adult with three kids and you are raising one that isn't even yours.  You are SO not a child, yet she treats you like one.  If you are not financially dependent on this person, you need to send a message about this right now.  I have seen such toxic parent-child relationships do an incredible amount of damage.


A lot of evidence shows that some parts of the bible are not true.  Besides, the writers lived in that time and place, so naturally some of the things they describe were real and left traces.  That doesn't make it all true.  If it did, then "Casablanca" must be a documentary because World War II really happened.


Insanity isn't logical either.  If you judge the ravings of lunatics or the beliefs of other religions with skepticism and your religion with faith (without proof), then you are simply not being honest. 


No one needs to have all things proven beyond a shadow of a doubt, but I would like to have some proof before I even give something consideration.


I doubt any of these will help, but I just couldn't hold them in. 

I have told her some of that before.  Apparently she is just thick headed.  I dont know if I should continue to push her buttons or leave her alone.   Leaving her alone might be the easiest/best thing, but pushing buttons is a LOT more fun! And I push because I honestly DO NOT believe SHE believes all the crap she spews.

I have told her she is assuming that because she believes in something, does NOT mean I have to. But, I am arrogant for that.

"My faith says that my strength comes from my faith."  Wait.... what?  HOW does that even make sense?  She cannot explain. 

With her prayers to get her through the day, I will have to remember to ask her why we dont hear from people who werent saved after praying for it.  Undoubtedly, its gods plan. (puke)

I have told her that SOME stuff in the bible has to be accurate or NOT ONE SINGLE PERSON way back then would have accepted the religion.  But, again, that proves the bible!!!  Or, on a good day, means I might believe more if I just accept it and open my mind and heart.

And yes, she is toxic.  To everyone, including herself.  But somehow we all love her anyways.  She is the most important person to me, other than my kids.  She is weak, manipulative, controlling, pushy, nitpicky, naggy, rude, and just about every other negative adjective you can imagine.  But she thinks she is doing things to help us.

She is never wrong, everyone else is, and she has no mental disorders, except the obvious depression she doesnt see.  She is the only adult in the family.  Or at least the only one who acts like it.  She got pissy and told me to leave because I told her she needed to remember she was the grandmother, not the mother, of my children (she was complaining about how I handle my autistic son).  She wonders where she went wrong with my brother and I.  He is atheist too, but I don't know if she knows that. 

The only thing I have in her defense is that she was raised horribly abusive, and had a horrible life for a very long time, and that tends to fuck with people.  IDK.  She would have a better life if she let go of the past and moved on, in reality, now.

And, that turned in to a rant.  Sorry.  But the good news is, I feel a bit better! 

I have come to the conclusion that most religious people are suffering from a form of Narcissistic Personality Disorder.  In that disorder, the needs of the ego are so great that the person is delusional.  I first stumbled on it when I tried to figure out what type of person would pretend to know the answer to important questions that she couldn't possibly know, such as the origins of the universe or the meaning of life. 


Your mother sounds like a classic case.


I should add that the experts say the prognosis for sufferers, especially long term sufferers is not good.  Only when their condition causes an extreme crisis in their lives can they make any progress at recognizing it and improving it.

A quick question. I've been debating a friend of mine for about 2 years now, and I've made some dents in her belief. I've gotten her to acknowledge that the bible is full of logical fallacies and that it's not the best arbiter of truth/justice/peace, etc. But what she's countered with lately is her personal connection to god, that she needs no validation or impetus from the bible or any of its teachings to have a one-on-one conversation with god. Any ideas on how to tackle that sort of mindset?
I think the best thing is to ask what exactly she means by "conversation". To make it clear that you don't think she's stupid, but that you think human psychology is a powerful thing, and we feel things strongly. Our minds can also trick us, point out optical illusions as a good example. Or even hallucinations on a grander scale. Point out how sure a little kid can be that Santa exists, and how easy it is to "play pretend" with an imaginary friend or a doll or action figure. Point out how writing in a Diary is cathartic and useful for a lot of people, and talking to a grave of a loved one or a brain dead person or even a person in a coma can feel like you're really talking to a person who should be able to hear you on some level, but when that person from the coma wakes up, they didn't hear you, and when you're talking to a gravestone, notice how no one responds. Point out that if she's having a conversation with God, why is his half of the conversation so vague, mysterious, and only conveyed via "feelings" when human forms of communication that we can really understand involve language usually, maybe a clear and distinct picture or something. If God really was talking back to you, wouldn't he "say" something? Make it clear that signs are usually vague enough that they can apply in any/all situations, and show her how horoscopes work. XD Ask her when exactly she feels that personal connection with God, and tell her exactly how you feel and what you do as an atheist in that same situation, and explain how you still have all the same emotions and wishes and desires but you know it's all just in your head.
Just got this book recommended from Sam Harris site.

@Chudi – When someone asserts that they “have a personal relationship with God (Jesus)” what they are doing is expressing their own subjective belief. They are giving their positive assent to the proposition that “God exists” and informing others that this is the case. It may appear as the “Truth” to them but it is still just their opinion. For this belief to have any credibility and to be deemed a Fact it must move from the subjective (in her head only) to the objective (tangible or testable by others).

For it to become a fact it need to be justifiable. Saying “I believe it” to be the truth is not justification. It can only pass this process of justification by having Evidence for it evaluated. If the evidence is studied and the premise of the proposition can be verified by repetition then it can be accepted as Knowledge and be deemed to be a fact.

I would suggest that the main qualifier as to whether the proposition is a Fact is that it can exist independently outside of the subjective thoughts of the her mind or any knowledge claims that she might make about it.

It is normal to hear the words “my Faith is not a blind faith but a reasoned one”. So on what basis is it a reasoned one? What did it for her? What evidence was used to validate it? It is worth pointing out that most Theists consider Arguments and Appeals (there must be a god) to be Evidence. Ask her to consider the court case scenario where a man is on trial for murder. “Your Honor, we believe he is guilty of murder for he threatened the victim that morning”. “Sorry but that is not Evidence, case dismissed”. So, like all believers, her faith is rationalized rather than reasoned because there simply is no Evidence to support the proposition. None. Keep patiently asking her for some. This creates more Doubt as she will be compelled to think about it.
Ask why she does not believe in Allah. The reasons given can be used to argue against other gods. If she claims to be able to speak to God on a one to one basis ask her what gods voice sounds like.

I think the best way to handle the mind-set is to be gentle and patient. Ask questions rather that make your own assertions. We are not Atheists because of Science or the Theory of Evolution or the Big Bang. We are Atheists because we do not believe in gods because there is no evidence. I have “saved” a few people over the last 25 years but the victory (if that’s the right word) is never mine but theirs. That is because people must see the light for themselves. To meet someone after they become an Atheist and see that flash of intelligence rather than the blank look of confusion is always sweet. So I hope that helps a little. Sorry I do go on a bit…..


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