I have just recently stepped into full blown atheism and am so happy to be finally on this side of the fence. I sent an email to my parents, who are die-hard christians (who just so happen to be split up) and let them know I was an atheist (I grew up in church until age 17 and was FORCED to go/believe/enjoy).
I need your help though. I have a lot of points I want to make during the debate and have actually had a few dialogs with my father via email and would like to get some scriptures/quotes/notes from the community here to help back up my points.
* one point he made was that "god" was only evil in the old testament and that he sent "jesus" to the world to be the calm, peaceful one. I know this is false and have a couple scriptures but would like some more notes/scriptures if you have any, just to further back up my facts
I also have the 101 contradictions in the bible document I received from a member here on the site that I am going to print out and discuss with them.
I just figured that some of you would have some good arguments that I could borrow for this sunday :) And on a sidenote, I'm trying to get my flip video into a place I can video tape the discussion. If I do, I'll definitely post it.
here's the thing, you can argue with your father about Christian theology regarding the differences between the character of god in the old testament and his character in the new testament but where does that get you? i've never in my life met a Christian who would admit that god in the old testament was evil and that's not what any Christian denomination i've ever come across teaches but even if we grant him his own theology regarding that point, so what? that's not evidence for the existence of god.
my point is simply this: even if the god of the old and new testament was portrayed as incredibly loving, caring, compassionate, just, moral, and respecting of different beliefs and cultures it still wouldn't be evidence that this god does in fact exist.
and as for the bible contradictions, that's not going to get you anywhere either. he'll just come up with rationalizations to explain them away or tell you you're reading the verses out of context or something. and to be fair, strictly speaking, that the bible is full of contradictions doesn't prove that god doesn't exist. it just shows that the bible isn't the inspired word of god. plenty of people still believe in god while acknowledging that the bible isn't perfect.
here's what you do, ask him to give you his absolutely air-tight iron-clad proof that god exists. give him time to think about it. once he gives it to you show him how it's worthless. naturally he'll then move on to other "proofs". simply point out that if that first proof was his best, and since you've refuted it, these subsequent proofs are necessarily weaker than his best. he'll have no where to go.
in short, don't get into theological discussions because theology presupposes existence and so it's putting the cart before the horse. ask him to provide evidence that god exists.
It's funny because after reading a lot of your comments in discussions, I was hoping you'd chime in on this subject. I appreciate it. I was going to specifically ask in the thread if you had any insight for me, but then I thought that'd be a bit much :) lol
I agree with what you're saying and yeah, I definitely did put the cart before the horse. I think part of it was that I wanted him to know ahead of time it wasn't just a "rebellion" thing, and that I actually have thought things through and have noticed too many falsities in his beliefs to believe it myself anymore.
He did mention that he's noticing that I am now a man and that they pushed things on me too much as a child and never got my point of view on things and that I now have formed my own opinion. He didn't acknowledge that my opinion is based on facts, but eh, one step at a time I guess.
Thanks again Nelson. you're wisdom always inspires me
you're too kind Sir! i appreciate it. and if my posts have informed you or helped you in any way then i'm thrilled.
and hey, if you absolutely must get into theological discussions then go for it! just take care to remind him that even if there weren't contradictions in the bible and even if you grant his position on the differences between the bloodthirsty megalomaniacal tyrant of the old testament and gentle Jesus meek and mild it still doesn't establish existence.
i understand that you don't want him to get the impression that your atheism is about rebellion but when you stop and think about it you also don't want to make it seem as if your atheism is due to a knee jerk response to the distasteful stuff in the old testament or to the fact of the many contradictions because, as i said, that there are contradictions and that the god of the old testament is a disgusting character doesn't establish that Yahweh does not exist. it's the fact that there's no evidence whatsoever that's damning.
perhaps you might try asking him why he doesn't believe in Thor or Zeus or Wotan or Marduk or Attis or Osiris or any of the other gods that human beings have believed in. he may tell you that he's had a personal experience with the Christian god. find then, reply by telling him that plenty of people have had personal experiences with all the other gods too. ask him if he would acknowledge all the other gods to exist based on other people's personal experiences. surely he would not. then ask him why he should ask you to accept his personal experiences as indicating that the Christian god exists.
If I may, I'd like to throw in a word of caution - if your dad is, as you say, a 'die-hard Christian', you are never going to 'convert' him anyway. If I was in your position I would not go for the head-on debate with him, I would let him know that I'm a committed atheist (which you've already done) and leave it at that. Of course if he wants to debate you, and keeps coming with questions, you answer them. But given the nature of father-son relationships to start with, going in with all guns firing is only going to end in major confrontation and a damaged relationship. If you love your father and want to maintain a relationship with him, your safest bet is to avoid the subject as much as possible. By living morally and showing him that atheists aren't monsters, and by taking a skeptical / atheist position in discussions about issues of the day, etc., over time this may get him thinking and eventually plant some seeds.
this is good advice i think. there's almost certainly not going to be a "conversion", if indeed one is being sought. there likely won't even be an agreement to disagree on the matter. my personality and my love of debate are such that i blew right past the clear fact of the matter that Jim has expressed and went right on to advice on how the debate might be best prosecuted.
and so i guess the question you should ask yourself, Robert, is what do you hope to accomplish by having this debate with your parents? what are the chances that it well end well verses the chances that it will end very badly indeed?
My relationship with my father has been strained for years. He's stolen money from me twice (once he was outright caught and the other time I could not 100% prove it so he just lied about it). My parents have both lied to me my entire life. So, I do not mind arguing with them at all.
I do not want to convert him either, I just like knowing that i can prove to him I know more about his belief system than he does. The dumber he feels, the happier I will feel. I know it sounds mean, but thats just the place our relationship is in.
He will however listen. My mother on the other hand has a track record of running out of the room if she doesn't like what she's hearing. I told her she does this a lot (during one of our many "confrontations") and not even five minutes later she did it.
If your goal is demean him and make yourself feel better at his expense, then why not use the theistic(Christian) approach rather than an atheistic approach? Showing him how he is actually an atheist by his actions is more powerful in my opinion than trying to convince him he is wrong in his "belief" with the atheistic arguments. No matter the "strength" of your atheist position, he will continue to resist at every level.
Assuming you are comfortable and sincere in your position as an atheist then what profit is there in fruitlessly to attacking his belief? I say "fruitlessly" as most of these types of discussions within families end up with emotional rather than reasonable outcomes.
1. The Bible reads like mythogly of the time period. That's why it's so
full of contradictions and anolomies.
2. The define hiddnesss of god. Why so much mystery? Why can't he reveal himself?
3. What type of intelligent being makes world so full uncertainty and contradiction?
Nature and humans behaive as if there's no one guiding this world. It's nature that is the force we better
learn to repect.
4. Why was there a need for god to bring us here in the first place? None of us ask to come.
What's the point of creating a planet only to destroy it?.
Also, I would only debate with him if takes it as an intellectual discussion. Once the debate gets personal and heated, I would pull back. God is the boogyman in your father's head. You can't make him change his mind, unless sees like a child that there's no boogyman in the closet at night. Good luck.
Motherly advice: Be respectful :)
I agree with all these guys. It's good for you to present your views, but like they said, conversion will not happen. Stay calm and choose your words wisely. You seem like an intelligent young man, and parents hate when their kids freak out. :)
Your parents have had years to engrave these thoughts in their heads and one day of talking to you ain't gonna change that.
My mom cried when I told her. She refused to tell my father because she thought it would give him a heart attack! (Over dramatic mom) :)
By my atheist story is another blog :)
Good luck Robert. Be brave and be sure of yourself :)
And hell, make sure you blog about how it went. I for one am curious!
With the 101 bible contradictions, I can see some points that can be taken out of context. I ran into a lot of typos whilst researchin' this, mainly verse numbers. Number 53 is wrong. Number 58 is vague on account 1 Corinthians 10:8 doesn't specify where it took place. Number 60, the priest bought the field. 65 can be based on interpretation. 67 is pretty irrelevant. 90 is debatable on points in time. In 93, the bible mentions that the Egyptians dug next to the river to find clean water so this could be how the magicians got theirs. 97 is a kind of deceivin' question. 98 doesn't say disiples in 1 Corinthians 15:5 but does state 'em & Cephas (Peter) as bein' there.
51, 59, 63, 64, 66, 69, 71, 72, 74, 80, 81, 86, 87, 89, 91, 92, 95, 96, 101 are all unchecked with me.