Hi all,

I wanted to start a discussion to listen to adherents and hear what they have to tell us based on some questions I'd like to pose to them. In other words, I want to sincerely play the role of a seeker and ask them how I would know that their god is The One, True God. The purpose is not to deconvert or convert, I just want to walk through a seeker conversation where I'm allowed to ask questions of adherents and see what they have to say ... to listen. I am willing to expand on what I mean by "The One, True God" if a reader asks for that, to the extent that I think the definition is sufficient for the discussion.

This is the adherent's golden opportunity to proselytize; to convert me.

In order to do this effectively I need to ask the adherent for their imprimatur on a rule by which I can do this without bogging it down so that I can never get my questions asked. So, here it is. I'll ask a question as a hypothetical. It may be that there are more assumptions to the hypothetical that one could add, but I'll ask for the sake of discussion that we allow only the assumptions of the hypothetical I offer. This way, I can at least get through a few questions. If someone thinks the assumptions are insufficient just state that with your answer and we'll accept that as your answer informed by the assumptions of the question.

So, here's my question. I'll ask it and see if I can get a useful answer, recalling that I am a lifelong atheist who has never believed and who is sincerely trying to sort out all the gods out there and figure out which one to follow:

How do I know that your god is The One, True God?

Tags: Evangelical, Socrates, adherents, atheism, atheists, conversion, debate, deconversion

Views: 1745

Replies to This Discussion

I want to sincerely play the role of a seeker ...trying to sort out ...

Tags: EvangelicalSocrates, ...

Something smells fishy here. The Socratic method is a form of discourse in which a series of questions are asked, not to inform the questioner (as you would normally expect from questions), but rather in an attempt to expose underlying assumptions, etc., in the one giving the answers. In brief, it is a method of teaching rather than a method of learning. My question to you, KK, is: which is your goal here, teaching or learning?

Hey Zachary,

Well, what is wrong with both informing and learning? I'd think there should be no issue. If you are predisposed to close your mind, then this is not a good forum. Again, I think we're tangenting where we don't need to and I'd just repeat what I said above.

Well, I think there is a basic honesty issue involved here. Not that any answers to the question are inherently dishonest, just that its getting to the point where I'm questioning the objections as being motivated by something other than reason, wittingly or not. In any other context you and I both know that the magical professor question would be easily answerable. Why it presents such a roadblock in this conversation is the more interesting part.

The questions are, I'm pretty sure, going to be less than 20, but if we keep digressing we'll never get through them. The point of this exercise was to ask adherents questions that I'd think should be easy to answer so that we could at least bracket the primary question. The purpose isn't to reach some final conclusion. The point here is not debate but questions and answers that help illustrate and illuminate.

- kk

We've reviewed 5 candidates from polytheistic contexts in pursuit of the "true mono theos". I'm not seeing how this could be the most fruitful trajectory for accomplishing the stated task.

Hey Zachary,

But remember, its not a debate. I'm not here to deconvert you. I'm using my own strategy to try to answer this larger question. I think the adherent is perfectly free to ask their own line of questions without being steered or forced to change or modify their strategy. I have no problem with that. And that's all I'm doing here. So, yes, I know, it sounds like a broken record, but I think this point is being missed so, just so it appears at the head of discussion, I'll repeat it here again:

Well, I think there is a basic honesty issue involved here. Not that any answers to the question are inherently dishonest, just that its getting to the point where I'm questioning the objections as being motivated by something other than reason, wittingly or not. In any other context you and I both know that the magical professor question would be easily answerable. Why it presents such a roadblock in this conversation is the more interesting part.

The questions are, I'm pretty sure, going to be less than 20, but if we keep digressing we'll never get through them. The point of this exercise was to ask adherents questions that I'd think should be easy to answer so that we could at least bracket the primary question. The purpose isn't to reach some final conclusion. The point here is not debate but questions and answers that help illustrate and illuminate.

- kk

Kir - what's the answer you're looking for?  I think that mine and Zachary's answers are valid.  You're trying to compare something like "What is more likely - that toucans eat coconuts? or that the Queen reads the Daily Mirror?"  I for one am acting completely out of pure honest reason.  I am willing to go wherever reason takes me.  So far, it's landed me in a good place.  (God I hate that expression.  But I. am. forced. to. use it.) 

Hey Simon,

I think I'm learning that discussing this online is a completely different animal than when doing it in person. For some reason people are incredibly resistant to responding to a question whose answer is trivial, blatant and simple. This is why I'm suspecting an honesty issue. Why would someone need to belabor such a simple question?

Kir - what's the answer you're looking for?  I think that mine and Zachary's answers are valid.  You're trying to compare something like "What is more likely - that toucans eat coconuts? or that the Queen reads the Daily Mirror?" 

No, I don't think that is a valid comparison. The question I'm asking is very simple and it should be very easy to make this comparison (and honestly, I'm not sure I know the answer to your question). I've formulated a version of this question outside of a religious context - which is a valid comparison - to make this point clear. Please read it and tell me why someone should not be able to answer this:

Suppose I live in a society in which a common story told is that when little children make straight A’ in school a magical professor flies around the globe in a chariot going to each house where such a child resides and tosses candy down the chimney for that child as a reward for having done so well in school. Now, suppose I show you a study that clearly, and with a sound methodology and considerable replication of results, shows that children will tend to believe stories like this if they are sufficiently young and their parents and their community reinforce the tale. They call this phenom the “A” effect.

The question is:

Is it more likely that the children believe this story because of the A effect or because there is a magical professor that flies around in a chariot dropping candy down several million chimneys?

How hard can this be? You're telling me that you can't figure this out? Come on. Kome Klean Simon, ;-)

I for one am acting completely out of pure honest reason.  I am willing to go wherever reason takes me.  So far, it's landed me in a good place.  (God I hate that expression.  But I. am. forced. to. use it.)

Let me be clear. I'm not saying that anyone is being purposefully dishonest. I think its subliminal based on the partial nature of one's worldview. Generally, when I ask someone this question "on the street" the answer is quick and immediate. I've even posed this to cult members and they answered right away, just as you would expect someone to.

We can reframe this yet another way. Is it more likely that children believe in Santa because it is reinforced by their parents and society or because Santa really flies in a sled with reindeer and drops packages down chimneys?

You've got to be kidding me?

Malformed? Unclear? Ambiguous? Not hardly.

Now, how is that question any different in any material way to the question preceding it?

That's why I think there is a subliminal honesty issue. I'm sorry if it sounded like I was questioning you or Zachary's honesty, that wasn't how I meant it.

Having said all this, the point of this is to ask someone who is ready and wiling to engage this topic wherever it takes them. I think some - which may or may not include you - are not. I suspect that this is the reason why its different online: when you deconvert in the real world a great deal of pre-selection is involved simply because you have to identify the lowest hanging fruit.

Yes, I do think this discussion has fallen into Wonderland and it supports what, ironically, my mother told me before I tried this: it won't work because you can't pre-select. By the nature of the thing you are attracting the hardest die-hards, most of whom are far better educated and often smarter than the general public.

We'll see if any low-hanging fruit comes along and takes the bait, ;-). Of course, I'm half-joking as I don't expect to deconvert here, I'm trying to learn about what adherents believe and to learn the difference between deconversion in person and remotely.

- kk

Kir -

"Is it more likely that children believe in Santa because it is reinforced by their parents and society or because Santa really flies in a sled with reindeer and drops packages down chimneys?"

The above question says "is Santa imaginary, or not?"  

But the real question you keep on asking seems to be: "Is Santa made up because we want him to exist, or is Santa the one true God?"  and this seems kind of meaningless.  

I think that if you concentrate on the True One True God, you'll get somewhere, and so will me and Zachary. 

Hey,

But the real question you keep on asking seems to be: "Is Santa made up because we want him to exist, or is Santa the one true God?"  and this seems kind of meaningless. 

No, this is not what I'm asking. The actual translation would be:

Is it more likely that children believe in Santa Claus because of a psychological phenom or that people believe this because the Santa of this story is The One, True Santa Claus (and therefore can do magical things like this by virtue of being the true Santa)?

The psychological phenom is that children are known to be susceptible to stories like this and society tells them this. The answer is obvious

- kk

btw,

Also note this question does not deal with whether or not god exists. Only if we have identified god as such.

- kk

But the fact of whether Santana is the One True God must be independent of what children do or do not think about him. 

Hey,

You're confusing the examples. In the Santa example we're not talking about god, we're talking about The One, True Santa.

- kk

A Thanksgiving message for Kir:

The important point is that when a kid gets a present under the tree on Christmas morning it is because there IS an intelligent being who went to the effort to buy just what the kid wanted or needed, wrapped it, and put it there. Christmas presents don't just happen to be there because of some "universal property" that arises out of impersonal forces. Do psychological factors contribute to erroneous belief that "Santa Claus" is the identity of the personal agent responsible for those presents? Of course! But the correct analysis would not therefore be to chalk up the belief system to "agenticity", but rather to correctly identify the Actual Agent. I thought that was the goal here. Maybe I was wrong.

Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. (James 1)

This Thanksgiving, I challenge you to lay down all desire to invest your efforts in minimizing the various "Santa hypotheses" around the world, and instead redouble your efforts in seeking to find The One, True Father who gives all good gifts you have ever received, so that you may be able to express some gratitude where it is most due.

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