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 tackle 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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@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…..

No worries at all about the length, I tend to be long-winded too, so it's all good; it's exactly what I needed to hear. I think it's just a bit of exasperation on my part since it seems so mind-numbingly obvious that there is no theistic god, and yet she clings to the notion of it; I think it's a manifestation of her trying to exert control on her life but failing, and then having to reconcile that failure with a god that loves her, comforts her, and is perpetually positive. Actually I think that's true for a lot of people who are doubters but still maintain this supposed one-to-one connection.

Anyway, thanks very much.

I became a Pastafarian minister in order to start arguments.  It works very well.  The theist asks "Pastafarian, what's that?"  I explain the basic belief system (pirates, fsm, etc.) and then embellish it enough to make them have a confused expression.  I say it with a very sincere look and solemn tone so they'll really begin to question me.

They usually express how silly my beliefs are.  I ask why, just to bait them.  Once they tell me why, I ask how my beliefs are different in the level of unprovability or silliness that theirs.  I'm usually rewarded with silence.  >=) 

I am definitely trying this to see if I can get some sense into my family! Great idea man! 

That does appear to be a very effective technique. The problem with it is, I wouldn't get to hear the sound of my own voice very much! :-)

That's a great idea...    I also like to just throw this question out there.   "If you really believe in a god....would you be willing to change religions in order to worship him?:    I think it might be better if you turn the question around and ask....  "What would it take for you to leave your current religion and follow another?"

I've found that most folks don't want to even consider the possibility that their beliefs might be wrong.  They also have a hard time coming up with anything that would sway them.

I like to ask it because its not a question of whether to believe in god or not... its a question that asks if they are willing to believe in god at all costs...even if it means leaving their current religion and adopting a new one.

Thanks Wesley - I have found that many Theists will utter things like "well at least they have Faith in a god" when talking about other religions. They see (blind) faith as a virtue even if the other party believes in a differnet god. It does not matter that it is the "wrong" god or maybe a false one.They still elevate this to a higher position than Atheism and consider them to be more moral than us godless fiends!!



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