So my parents (who are Christians) and I just had a huge debate about the supposed "truth" of Christianity, homosexuality and reasons for belief. I'd love to hear some rational opinions about some of the points they made (which I wholeheartedly disagreed with). Feel free to pick any points you'd like to discuss. Here they are:
"When it comes to homosexuals, I don't hate the sinner, I hate the sin. The human body is not designed to have sex with someone of the same sex. That's why God created Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve."
"The Bible has PREDICTED the fall of Israel, it has also predicted an event in which the sky went black and there was fire, but no scientists had an explanation for what happened."
"There have been people diagnosed with incurable cancer and the doctors had no idea what it was but the person prayed and they were cured."
"Evolution doesn't make any sense. It doesn't make sense how there was one organism, an amoeba or whatever, that just divides and evolves into different species. And where did that come from? There has to be a creator." <---This is one where I brought up circular reasoning. Also, can someone provide some good sources for abiogenesis for me? I admit I had a hard time explaining this one (and they simply don't understand the process to begin with).
"I've read bits about other religions, Islam, Shintoism etc and they just don't make sense to me the way the Bible does."
"The Bible does not condone slavery or rape or any of those things. When people read that stuff they read it out of context, but when you read the rest of the chapter it actually makes sense."
"People always ask 'Why did God create Cancer?' - well God didn't create cancer, cancer is just something that's part of man's existence. But either way he allows it so that people can learn to be closer to God. People always bring that up when it comes to suffering kids, but God has a reason why he does certain things."
"People are all born into sin. Babies are a product of their sinful parents so it's up to them to repent when they become familiar with the word of God."
"What people need to understand is that not everything in the Bible is supposed to be taken literally. A lot of it is figurative."
"Sure there are people from all different religions, but the Bible says that they'll all be introduced to the word of God and it will be up to them to decide whether they follow Jesus or not, but only those who follow Jesus will be saved."
"People come across tough times in their lives, particularly when they're not aligned with the word of God, but then they realize that as soon as they start to read the Bible and live by God that things start to look up. That's no coincidence."
"God sent his own son down to wash away the sins of man. Man has a choice to be sinful, God gives them free will. There's a set of laws that God sets out for people to follow and if they don't, there are consequences."
"What I know is that the disciples who spoke to God were the ones who wrote the Bible, actually, Moses was one of the only people who was PROVEN to have seen God, but their word is good enough for me. "
Well it sounds like you've given them some good arguments. The biggest issue now, it seems, is persuading. That probably won't happen, at least not in one argument.
Haha, they volunteered to be slaves. I'd like to see someone do that today. Slavery is slavery, marked by owning someone and treating them like property. The bible condones slavery and doesn't even address the moral evil that it is. Way to go, divinely-inspired-book, you didn't even get the easiest moral question right.
(my dad thinks evolution is ridiculous because a frog isn't just going to morph into a human over time. For pete's sake.)
Try this on for size.
"You're right, Dad, that IS ridiculous. [wait for hope to dawn in his eyes.] If evolution actually said that I wouldn't believe it either."
You can continue to debate them on this, but be forewarned, in the face of evidence to the contrary it is likely that they may just dig in their heels and shut off their brains (no offense, these are your parents after all). Your parents sound like they know next to nothing about religion other than what they have been told in church and educating them on these matters is going to take a lot of time and effort. It might just be better for you in your personal life to focus first on acceptance and take on these issues little bit by little bit over time rather than trying to win all these intellectual arguments right now.
That being said:
1) There are a lot of studies on homosexuality. They range from understanding what genetically contributes, what factors may or may not contribute during pregnancy to brain scans of homosexuals vs heterosexuals to see what is actively going on in the brain. There are definitive physiological differences that are the reason gay people are gay. Essentially, they are born that way. If God existed, he made them Adam and Steve. Homosexuality or at least homosexual behavior is also found in other animal species. It's a natural occurrence. You can tell them this all day, but they'll probably just revert back to "that's not the way it's supposed to be" argument. In which case, who determines the way it's supposed to be? If they answer God, then it sets you up for explaining how following the dictates of a supreme being isn't good, but rather obedient. Also, if they want to say that the Bible is figurative, then Adam and Eve didn't really exist and it's a poor argument as well as a bronze age myth to explain why people had to leave the tribe and start a new family when it came time to marry rather than just explain all the reasons why it was important for people to leave the tribe.
And... oh goodness, you have 12 other points to argue. I'm afraid I don't have the time to explain them all. Regardless, you can probably get them into such a fit with just this one topic that you'll never end up addressing the others.
But if there is one theme that runs consistently throughout the Bible, Sagacious, it's,"Sex bad, abstinence good!" so I can see where his parents would likely take this - the homosexuals were made that way as a test, to see if they'd rather have sex and go to hell or give up sex and spend eternity in heaven.
After all, as far as the Bible is concerned, life is not about happiness, it's about blind obedience. Do what god says or burn in hell, but he loves you --
The whole reasoning behind an all-powerful, omniscient and omnipresent god needing to "test" its followers faith should be a huge red flag in and of itself. The obnoxious contradiction is just....
Yeah, a lot of what they talked about was based on bits and pieces of what they think they've heard, and personal bias. They think Moses was a real person and that the disciples were responsible for writing the Bible, and that they were all credible sources. Logical arguments had next to no bearing on their viewpoints during this discussion and they actually thought I was the ridiculous one. The irony.
1) Every point I brought up about homosexuality being natural was met with laughter and "Do you really believe that?!" Their own prejudices have completely shut down logical thought on this subject. Apparently to them, if you can't reproduce then your sexual orientation/sexual activity is not natural.
Yeah there were a lot of points, that's why I just offered everyone to pick what they'd like to discuss and go from there. My brain is still reeling from this 2 hour long conversation lol.
No serious textual critics believe the Gospels were written by the disciples. It's amazing how this knowledge doesn't get transferred to the churches. I know the pastors and priests know this information as well because they study it in seminary. I can see how people would think Moses is a real person because to me it's not that obvious that the stories about him are not real...but the gospels never claimed to be the disciples of Jesus...they never say 'then Jesus and I went to Galilee' - It just amazes me how people still think his disciples (poor illiterate fishermen and such) wrote with such knowledge of the language of their time.
Urban legend it may be, but the 'Dr Laura letter' is probably what you need.
Hahah! That's brilliant! Thanks for sharing :)
If some parts of the Bible are figurative and other parts literal, then how do I tell the difference. How does anyone tell the difference.
There is no rational argument that you or anyone else can say this part is literal and this part is figurative.
Isn't it wonderful to be atheist and not have to wrestle with such a problem?