You can’t reason someone out of something they weren’t reasoned into to begin with.

I’ve been having a rather long online debate with an old friend who has become a fundamentalist Christian.

The debate started because he posted this on his Facebook page:

“Society has embraced evolution with such enthusiasm because people imagine that it eliminates the Judge and leaves them free to do whatever they want without guilt and without consequences.” Johnny Mac Attack

I felt the need to point out that he wasn’t going to get anywhere with scientists if he didn’t understand the true motivation of scientists and continued to misrepresent them. I attempted in earnest to explain to him the scientific method and the merits of that approach to understanding the world.

After much discussion about evolution and his repeated attempts to move outside of the theory of evolution into abiogenesis and cosmology and other areas of scientific inquiry where his God of the gaps approach could gain a foothold, I decided to take a different approach. 

Having once been a person of faith (a born again youth minister in training who fully submitted to God in prayer), I decided to explain why I rejected the Bible first, and later the idea of God altogether. His response (a typical response from fundies) is what leads me to believe that we cannot reason people out of faith.  

I said: “One of the biggest reasons I rejected faith and the Bible in favor of science and reason is that whenever I ask questions about things that I don't understand about God or the Bible I am told that I must first believe it (as if I didn't already believe), then I will understand it. But when I ask a scientist about something I don't understand, she will be able to actually show me the physical evidence and the math. She will show in great detail exactly how she came to a certain conclusion and then she will give all of her information to other scientists so that they can verify it for themselves. Soon, either the theory is shown to be wrong and rejected, or it is supported by even more evidence that is openly available for all to see - believe it or not.”

His reply was: “The God revealed in the Holy Bible is perfect in every way. His laws and decrees are perfect. His grace and love are perfect. His plan for salvation is perfect. Christ spoke in parables specifically so people like you wouldn't understand what he's talking about. God is shaming your self-obsession and sinful preoccupation with your intellect. Those who accept Christ like little children will indeed receive wisdom, which is imparted to the mature. Those who think they can judge God and scrutinize his ways will have their supposed intellect shamed before all of creation. He's pleased by the foolishness of what is preached. He chose the foolish things to shame the wise.”

Wow! Right?
So here is how I left it:
“If God's goal is to surround himself with fools, then you are right, that is a perfect plan. I am not judging God's words, I am judging yours. To presume to speak for God is blasphemous. If God exists, he can talk to me himself instead of sending lackeys. If you are right that I will understand God's will when I submit to him as a child - been there, done that. The only wisdom I gained from it was to use reason and logic and reject the words of those who have foolish sounding claims and no supporting evidence. Finally, when I do what you say is required for salvation and understanding, why does it not happen? That is what we scientists call a failed experiment, thus falsifying the hypothesis.”

His final appeal to unreason:
“You've never done what is required for salvation or Biblical understanding. What is required for salvation is to repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. You have clearly not repented and you clearly do not believe. The guarantee of a man's faith is the Holy Spirit.”

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Damn...sorry for the long response. I got carried away. Btw, I enjoyed this post and the response that you gave your friend....that's all I had to say from the beginning right? LOL!
Thanks for your comment. I really enjoyed it. I appreciate thoughtfulness and am not put off by long comments. Actually, I usually get irritated when people get mad about long comments. Short attention spans are a problem I think.

Anyway, I agree that asking questions is a good way to go about this type of thing. It gets people thinking. It may not work every time, but thinking is the only way people can realize the absurdities of their beliefs.
A really good post. I am trying to remember bible quotes to turn back on the fantics (as you have done in your post) . "The dead know nothing; they have no further reward." is my favourite!
The old testiment is the most bloodthirsty book i have read and it is not something to be proud of.
Yeah, they can't stand it when I do that lol.
Ok, so I have this conceptual model about cognition and reason that helps me recognize whether, when, and how to use reason to appeal to theists - and it goes a little like this (bare with me):

There are many people who don't walk (or don't walk well) due to a whole host of limitations. Some limitations are mild and temporary (e.g., laziness, soreness, sprains), some limitations are more-intense and require care and time to recover. (e.g., broken bones, dislocations) and some limitations very serious and quite permanent (e.g. paralysis, amputation).

Similarly, some people struggle with the ability to reason. Some have mild and temporary limitations that cure on their own (e.g., laziness, failure to consider), some limitations are more-intense and take effort and time to recover. (e.g., psychological barriers, refining critical thinking skills) and still some have very serious and quite permanent limitations (e.g. weak- or poorly functioning temporal and pre-frontal lobes).

INSTEAD of bashing our heads against the wall, becoming frustrated and cynical or mocking and rude, perhaps we can adopt a model similar to the one described above. For those that have mild limitations: Let's engage them, politely-but-firmly. For those with more-severe limitations, let's have patience and work slowly over time. Lastly, for those that have very serious or permanent limitations, I'd recommend against mocking or ridiculing them (any more than you would an amputee). Instead, discount the contributions of the most-ill and focus your efforts on those you can affect.

Just a suggestion. Create a model that works best for you.


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