A friend of mine is a pretty die-hard Christian (shock horror, both of his parents are missionaries/vicars) and he often posts little sayings of some kind or another on Facebook, which I usually ignore. However, today he posted something that really irritated me for some reason:
"The more I look at science, the more in awe of God I become."
And just to make that worse, one of his Christian friends commented "Boom" as if he had made some kind of infallible argument. Somehow, I feel as though nothing I say will make any difference because they must be incredibly deluded already to believe that God just "invented" science. Basically, this is the guy who thinks he's a "modern and intelligent" Christian by saying that things like Noah's Ark are "just stories and aren't meant to be taken seriously by Christians". But if that is true, then why take ANY of the Bible seriously and where does he draw the line between stories and (what he believes is) the truth?
In the past I asked him and his friend where the evidence was. He claimed science (yes, seriously) helped prove Christianity and that Christianity was about "opening yourself" to it and believing, and then you "feel God" or whatever. How do you argue with someone like that??
What do you all say to religious people (not necessarily just Christians) who claim that science is just an invention of God? Is there a specific way to argue with someone who twists everything to awkwardly suit modern day thinking?
I think, Allen, that the term, "god fearing" has always caused the hairs on the back of my neck to rise - why would a loving god want us to fear him? And if he existed and didn't love or care about us in any way, what's in it for us, to worship him? Fear of "the imagery of eternity in a lake of fire in hell"? Not enough, but just in case, I'm perfecting my backstroke --
See, the Bible doesn't begin with any concept of an after life, that's added much later on. If I had to venture a wild guess, it would be that enough people decided following all of those stupid rules throughout life was ridiculous, since it all ended in death anyway, why bother - "What more is he gonna do to me?" Then I'd bet some religious authorities kicked that around and decided that if they could convince us of punishments AFTER death for not playing by the rules, no one could PROVE it couldn't happen, and they had us boxed in. Ergo, eternity.
True. As with any flimsy "as seen on TV" product there has to be a "But Wait!" to sweeten the deal. How can you sell something that gives you nothing in return. People don't just make car payments unless they get a car in the deal.
Alien John, With all due respect, you've constructed a straw man. The reality is really much simpler. Children are natural born rational curious thinkers. They don't believe this nonsense, you can tell, as Christopher Hitchens once said, by the questions they ask.
It is our responsibility, all of us, to demonstrate that religious untruth can and should be confronted. This isn't evangelizing, and nobody's really trying to convert anybody to anything other than a close, personal relationship with reality. Young people need to know that it's OK to reject religion, and need to see crazy ideas mocked, and ridiculed as crazy.
Surveys indicate that the numbers of atheists in the United States are rising rapidly. This trend is entirely due to social media, and a willingness to confront claims which are not true. Join the War on Ignorance and defend civilization against the corrosive project of Creationism, and mental slavery.
I don't believe he does have much of a grasp on science, which only makes his view worse in that sense. So he probably isn't really aware of how much science argues against the existence of God. Even if he came across it, he would probably twist it in some ridiculous way to fit his beliefs.
You make many good points, but having brought them all up with him before, he just twists everything. He didn't mention which scientific concepts he was in awe of. Honestly I couldn't be bothered to start up a debate that late at night.
And that's just the thing, it IS cherry-picking reality! Spot on! (I actually did a post on here before about religious people who cherry-pick). And I'm sure if I asked him whether the children suffering in Africa and elsewhere evoked the same awe, I'm sure he would say that that was the fault of humans, and not the God he believes creates everything else.
Does he understand what evidence is and how it justifies belief? You could try this one. Tell him you are telekinetic and can move things with your mind. No doubt he will disbelieve this and demand evidence. And yet he probably believes corpses can walk and virgins can conceive based on bronze age scribblings. You could point out that he was reasonable enough to ask for evidence of your telekinesis claim and yet he doesn't apply the same standard of evidence to the religious scribbles - because they are purely based on faith.
What leaves me in awe about the children in Africa, or for that matter all over the world, is that organized religions can certainly seem to afford is gigantic places of worship, record profits, massive payrolls, no taxation and free product advertizement on our currency, yet they cannot muster the compassion necessary to protect these children. I am willing to bet that I donate more assistance to these children than the common believer does. Why? Because I am a realist and I'm not waiting for some guy in the sky to do the right thing for these children he so dearly loves that he gave his only begotten son . . . etc.
RonV - RE: "does this person actually understand science?"
If you want a chuckle, check Karl's suggested Christian videos above. In the third and last video, a man who professes to be a scientist, explains how he studies cosmology - he said he begins with the premise that god created the universe, then looks for evidence to support it.
A true scientist might begin with a similar premise, but then look for all of the evidence he/she can, to DISprove it, and if none is found, accept - provisionally - that the premise is true.
When you debate a Theist it is important to keep the discussion on the concept of Faith and the nature of the belief. I only try to challenge the assertions made about their god. I am not out to de-convert them. However if you end up arguing about Science or have to start correcting their “biblical science” you will get nowhere fast. I know we rightly consider religious belief as a delusion but the person who thinks that his faith is proven by scientific advancement is suffering from a greater delusion. It is cognitive dissonance and doublethink combined. So my advice is – and it has taken me time to figure it out – is not to bother debating science as if it is part of faith. It is not that you cannot win the debate it is just that a reasoned debate cannot be held in the first place. I recall hearing myself trying to debunk a claim that the nitrogen cycle was not first discovered in the bible and thinking WTF am I doing here? If a person thinks the bible is also a science book then just don’t go there.
True that Bro. The moment the science does not match the belief it simply requires a further defining of the "original truth" to adapt it so it becomes part of god's plan. There is no point in going there.
A key issue that is very often overlooked when trying to understand believers is that it is their core identity. They have had many experiences that were joyful and happy connected with their religious beliefs. Also, it is deeply entrenched in their family and social life.
If a person has a mostly joyful, functional and happy life, (but unexamined) why would they want to rock the boat by exploring or accepting views contrary to that and risk losing the joy and happy memories etc.? This is the toughest part for any of us to deal with when someone else holds a view different than our own. Empathy is easily talked about but much harder to actually do in reality.
We don't know the full backstory of their lives and what lead them to their conclusions. If you have been an atheist your whole life and someone came along and told you that your core identity as well as most of your ideas/worldview was wrong and illogical etc. How would you react to that person?
Remember that many religious people place emotion on a pedestal and logic in the gutter as something they have to worry about but hate dealing with it. So I would just advise that you present the pleasurable and emotionally positive aspects of atheism (like no shame about sexual acts, free thinking experiences and greater control over one's core identity etc.) to someone before the cold, hard facts.
If they can start to have happy memories etc. built up with non-religious friends then it will make it easier for them to de-convert on their own time and you won't have to even do a whole lot of intervening in their thought processes or having stressful arguments with them because you will be modeling the better ways of thinking and existing. Take a long view on it as well, that helps a lot. Have a fun and peaceful day :)