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Author Topic: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement  (Read 12902 times)

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Offline Kythia

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Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #50 on: February 27, 2017, 12:11:47 AM »
I think that's a bit too harsh. He is right; the more outlandish and fantastical the claim, the harder the evidence needs to be. EG, "I have a giant invisible dragon in my garden." Gonna need some evidence for that, no? :P
In any case, to be fair, that wasn't Sagan's focus of the paragraph. It's just a soundbite people latched onto, as they so often do :P

Not if I already believe in invisible dragons, no.  I have two or three in my garden and one living on the balcony, seems pretty reasonable that you've got one in your garden to me.  Utterly dependent on my own pre-existing beliefs as to what is extraordinary and what is mundane.

Online Vergil Tanner

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #51 on: February 27, 2017, 12:22:49 AM »
Haha, touche. I do agree, though (obviously, since I said it!), that mundane and extraordinary depends on those conversing at the time.

I still think you're being harsh; it isn't like he was being condescending or harsh. He is right, and it was just a minor turn of phrase that went memified; it doesn't - as you say - boil down to "things I agree with require less evidence," it just means that "the more fantastical the claim that is made, the stronger the evidence needs to be," which is true. I don't think you'd argue with that point, would you?

Offline Kythia

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Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #52 on: February 27, 2017, 12:28:55 AM »
No of course I wouldn't argue.  The claim's so trivial it's essentially impossible to argue against with a straight face.  I don't object to the truthfulness of the phrase, I object to how such a worthless observation has become treated as if its great words of wisdom and some sort of great insight in to the world.

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Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #53 on: February 27, 2017, 12:32:38 AM »
Eh, it's just a quick, clever-sounding turn of phrase. It isn't held up as some great font of wisdom, it's just used because it's a quick and snappy way of saying it. It's a soundbite, and I don't know anybody who treats it as anything more, personally speaking. :P

Offline Mathim

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #54 on: March 01, 2017, 07:26:23 PM »
If common sense were truly common, we wouldn't need things like that, either.

Has anyone brought this one up yet? "Would the same evidence that convinced you be reasonable enough to convince someone else?" Obviously this is why apologetics is so bad at converting others under normal circumstances but there seems to be very little consideration given to this concept. Too often the mentality is 'It's true because it's true' and people take for granted how abnormal the process for indoctrination is in instilling beliefs, and why that doesn't work on a skeptic.

Anyway, I'll go ahead and ask a legitimate question. I had actually joined an atheist forum recently and can't bring myself to go back there anymore. Every theist I argued with just ignored perfectly solid facts and every iron-clad refutation of their biblical claims that was made. How do you deal with that kind of thing? When it seems like an honest discussion is utterly impossible?

Offline Trevino

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #55 on: March 01, 2017, 08:41:55 PM »
Anyway, I'll go ahead and ask a legitimate question. I had actually joined an atheist forum recently and can't bring myself to go back there anymore. Every theist I argued with just ignored perfectly solid facts and every iron-clad refutation of their biblical claims that was made. How do you deal with that kind of thing? When it seems like an honest discussion is utterly impossible?

Yes, it is unfortunate that one of the obstacles you will encounter in debates, especially in online format, is what is called the "Backfire Effect": https://youarenotsosmart.com/2011/06/10/the-backfire-effect/

I do not believe there is any real way around it except through all surpassing patience. But even if you don't convince your opponent, do know that there are probably other people who are watching, and are more open minded. Mostly when I do debate I think less about convincing my immediate opponent, and focus more on who will be reading it...

Online TheGlyphstone

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #56 on: March 01, 2017, 09:45:22 PM »
Yes, it is unfortunate that one of the obstacles you will encounter in debates, especially in online format, is what is called the "Backfire Effect": https://youarenotsosmart.com/2011/06/10/the-backfire-effect/


Probably augmented by them being the 'token theists' on an atheist forum, as well. Presumably any arguments you used, they've already seen before and weren't swayed then (otherwise they would, obviously, no longer be theists, or at least would no longer be members). So your facts and refutations, however ironclad, were nothing they hadn't already heard and dismissed as insufficient.

Offline Trevino

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #57 on: March 01, 2017, 11:07:12 PM »
Probably augmented by them being the 'token theists' on an atheist forum, as well. Presumably any arguments you used, they've already seen before and weren't swayed then (otherwise they would, obviously, no longer be theists, or at least would no longer be members). So your facts and refutations, however ironclad, were nothing they hadn't already heard and dismissed as insufficient.

Yes, that is indeed true too as well. Its just one of those things where, on some level, you can't really go into to an online debate with the expectation that you'll change anyone's mind. At the same time, it is a public forum, so you will more than likely sway someone who is a bit more open minded (provided, of course, that you are on the right side  ;) ).

Offline Kythia

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Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #58 on: March 02, 2017, 12:37:22 AM »
Also, people as a whole are incredibly bad at determining the strength of their own arguments.  Its entirely possible - probable even - that you only think your arguments were iron clad and actually there were flaws there.  This isn't directed at you specifically, its a general point.

Offline Trevino

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #59 on: March 02, 2017, 12:11:53 PM »
This Debunking Handbook provides some guidelines for how to counter the Backfire Effect: https://www.skepticalscience.com/docs/Debunking_Handbook.pdf

The "Worldview Backfire Effect" in particular was what I had in mind in my previous postings on this thread...

Offline Kythia

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Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #60 on: March 02, 2017, 12:37:50 PM »
Yeah, that's a good point Trevino.  People (and I unreservedly include myself in this) are often terrible at convincing.  It's entirely possible, Mathim, that that was your problem.  Maybe you just need more practice/skill at actually putting arguments across?

Offline Noisekick

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #61 on: March 10, 2017, 06:36:07 PM »
I am a so called Jesuan (not to be confused with a Jesuit), which is someone who believes in Jesus as a mortal entity and as a teacher and that Jesus is not divine and that there is no god or that god is very unlikely to exist. The core principle of Jesuanism is to be altruistic and that faith and science aren't necessarily mutually exclusive. Adherents to Jesuanism are most commonly politically left libertarian. So far, it has been a decent and increasingly successful middleway between theistic Christianity and atheism. Most of my more religious family members dont really get it and think it is just one of the weirder Christian denominations.

Online Oniya

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #62 on: March 10, 2017, 06:56:40 PM »
So far, it has been a decent and increasingly successful middleway between theistic Christianity and atheism. Most of my more religious family members dont really get it and think it is just one of the weirder Christian denominations.

I can tell you that it really confuses the door-to-door people when you say that 'Jesus was a really good rabbi.'

Online Lustful Bride

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #63 on: March 10, 2017, 07:05:41 PM »
I can tell you that it really confuses the door-to-door people when you say that 'Jesus was a really good rabbi.'

hahaa that gives me a case of the giggles.  :D  I like that.

Offline Noisekick

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #64 on: March 10, 2017, 07:06:14 PM »
It is more a "Jesus was a socialist/anarchist." statement, which would piss off the social and fiscal conservatives. But if they actually read the bible, Jesus was actually closer to a socialist than to a capitalist who has no sympathy for the unfortunate.

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Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #65 on: March 10, 2017, 08:03:03 PM »
It is more a "Jesus was a socialist/anarchist." statement, which would piss off the social and fiscal conservatives. But if they actually read the bible, Jesus was actually closer to a socialist than to a capitalist who has no sympathy for the unfortunate.

True enough - but many translations of the Bible also take the time to point out that 'rabbi' means 'teacher' (usually in context of someone addressing Jesus as 'Rabbi').  So - it's a true enough statement, whatever your leanings are.

I've found - through many years of experimentation - that both outright agreeing with them and outright rejecting them tends to make them talk longer.  Deviate from one of those scripts and they don't know what to say.

Offline Mathim

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #66 on: March 10, 2017, 09:42:34 PM »
I am a so called Jesuan (not to be confused with a Jesuit), which is someone who believes in Jesus as a mortal entity and as a teacher and that Jesus is not divine and that there is no god or that god is very unlikely to exist. The core principle of Jesuanism is to be altruistic and that faith and science aren't necessarily mutually exclusive. Adherents to Jesuanism are most commonly politically left libertarian. So far, it has been a decent and increasingly successful middleway between theistic Christianity and atheism. Most of my more religious family members dont really get it and think it is just one of the weirder Christian denominations.

That sounds great on paper but it really just raises the question, why is that component of it necessary or even desirable?

Also, can you define faith, and exactly how it is not utterly incompatible with science? I have a hard time ever finding anyone who can distinguish it from 'belief in something without evidence' or 'pretending to know something you don't know' or other such completely counter-intuitive terms.
« Last Edit: March 10, 2017, 09:48:05 PM by Mathim »

Offline Noisekick

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #67 on: March 11, 2017, 02:30:02 PM »
On the necessity, it depends on perspective. Some people can't do without faith and community. On faith, faith is not necessarily religious, it can also be define as a reliance on something. Therefore you can have faith in science. In that context, faith and science do not contradict each other because the faith is in science or a naturalistic world and not in the supernatural or make believe.

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Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #68 on: March 11, 2017, 07:15:40 PM »
Faith can mean trust in someone or something, and faith can also mean duty, allegiance, or obligation.  When it comes to most religions, the operative definition of faith tends to be 'firm belief in something for which there is no proof.'  This is the difference between religion and science. 

Science is methodological naturalism, whereby a rational system--the scientific method--is used to find evidence for hypotheses, refine those hypotheses, and continue the method until more and more accurate models are devised and discovered for explanations of the universe around us. 

Religion tends to be systems of belief based on ancient texts or teachings of past humans, where there is no evidence for those beliefs.  In many religions, faith--a belief with no evidence--is considered of high moral value.  In science, acceptance of something with no evidence is the antithesis of the scientific method. 

In this way, much of religion is at direct odds with science.  The simple rejection of verified scientific theories over the centuries--including the Heliocentric Model, the four largest moons of Jupiter, Germ Theory, plate tectonics, the age of the Earth and universe, the Big Bang, Evolution--by different religions, their leaders, and many of their followers...is proof that religion can and does conflict with science.  It isn't always true, but history is full of examples when it has been.

Offline Noisekick

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #69 on: March 11, 2017, 09:12:01 PM »
However Jesuanism is not a religion. It doesn't fulfill the requirement to be a religion. Jesuans aka christian atheists tend to be found in many Christian denominations but also without any affiliation. I am not sure how rare it is in the US, but here in Germany we number in the thousands with some being philosophers, scientists and professors and others being members of the national protestant church trying to change it from the inside out to appeal to younger generations by trying to remove the supernatural teachings of the denomination out of necessity (and have lost their jobs within the church over it). In principle, it views Jesus as human and no more. No god, no genesis, no prayer, no trying to assume a miracle when there is a logical explanation. A lot of people have difficulties comprehending to it as it doesn't fit into what most people have known to be a belief system.

Offline Mathim

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #70 on: March 12, 2017, 11:09:31 AM »
However Jesuanism is not a religion. It doesn't fulfill the requirement to be a religion. Jesuans aka christian atheists tend to be found in many Christian denominations but also without any affiliation. I am not sure how rare it is in the US, but here in Germany we number in the thousands with some being philosophers, scientists and professors and others being members of the national protestant church trying to change it from the inside out to appeal to younger generations by trying to remove the supernatural teachings of the denomination out of necessity (and have lost their jobs within the church over it). In principle, it views Jesus as human and no more. No god, no genesis, no prayer, no trying to assume a miracle when there is a logical explanation. A lot of people have difficulties comprehending to it as it doesn't fit into what most people have known to be a belief system.

About your previous reply, that sounds like an incredibly disingenuous use of faith as an equivalency to an actual rationally justified belief. Like, literally insulting in the highest degree that you would say that a person has faith in science. I reject the definition provided. You wouldn't say you had faith in science AFTER it had proved itself to be completely reliable, only before you could verify this. It saddens me that this act of dishonesty, whether in ignorance or genuine disregard for truth, is what is keeping this conflict from ever being resolved. Pretending there's not a problem when there very obviously is not only does not help, but it makes the side doing that look like the bad guy.

Whether or not whatever one believes is considered a religion, if it is irrational, that is still a big problem. What is the virtue behind believing someone with a certain name existed in and of itself? Unless this person never did a bad or incorrect thing in their life, basing one's life around that person's teachings is utterly foolhardy. Even then, having no ability to evolve one's beliefs outside of that narrow circle is asinine; this leaves that position a lose-lose proposition. And if you do decide to deviate when you discover better ideas, what the ever-loving hell is the point of basing one's life around a figure in the first place? Or even giving this figure credit for ideas that are not their original creation, or that the ideas are not so simple to come up with on one's own?

This all just leaves me scratching my head and quietly sobbing to myself.

Offline Noisekick

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #71 on: March 12, 2017, 11:49:48 AM »
It isn't dishonesty as modern science has proven itself reliable for the past 100 years. We are talking about the actual field of science and not any pseudoscientific offshoot like "Christian science" (saying that made me gag a little bit). And tell me how it is irrational to believe in helping others based on a view you have of a historical figure? To me it sounds like you pretty much everything that isn't pure Dawkins foundation style atheism as irrational, turning this into a debate what religions have had for hundreds of years: "Whether slight variations of a worldview should be condemned and acted against."

You are throwing tons of accusations at me based on what you believe and your miscomprehension of what I have written, Mathim.

Of course Jesus wasn't perfect, he was human. And like with all human beings, you should dabble on over past mistakes but learn from them. Also I said some people need community and something to believe in, regardless of religion or non-religion, to function properly. Some people go to anime club for that, some are part of furry fandom for that, some go to church for that, some are engaged in political parties for that and it goes on and on and on. And I was not giving Jesus credit for ideas, he stands as a symbol, someone people know and respect. If you told people that you believe in the teachings of Bob, they would just ignore you and you lost people for a cause in a world where people think praying or liking posts actually make a different when you actually need to get out there and physically do something for a better world.

You just sound bitter and cynical to me. I don't need people who always see the negative in everything, that would probably contibute to another depressive episode. If you want sincere contructive criticism, you should definitely change your tone. You can write all that without constantly accusing people of stuff. It felt like you were intentionally rude and trying to provoke a screaming match.

Offline Mathim

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #72 on: March 12, 2017, 11:58:16 AM »
...tell you how it's irrational to to believe in helping others based on a view you have of a historical figure...as opposed to...helping them because it's the right thing to do? I'm sorry, I'm feeling ill. This is the sort of thing that happened on the website I had to quit. I'm done. I'm out. This level of disconnect from reality is beyond my capability to tolerate.
« Last Edit: March 12, 2017, 12:08:42 PM by Mathim »

Offline Noisekick

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #73 on: March 12, 2017, 12:09:46 PM »
Cuz a whole lot of people do not help people when there is no community or common cause available. You are starting to become very disrespectful now.

Offline Mathim

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #74 on: March 12, 2017, 01:57:52 PM »
Well I don't appreciate someone being dishonest and not admitting it when they've been called on it. That's pretty disrespectful and insulting to my intelligence.

Have you ever listened to Matt Dillahunty's talk on the superiority of secular morality? I think it might help put things in perspective. Adding a fluffy bunny myth to one's mindset for doing good adds nothing to it if you're already doing it from a motivation based on reason and not on a figurehead of dubious moral and intellectual character. I just can't wrap my mind around why this bizarre pseudophilosophical position even exists let alone merits defending. Rather than falling back on symbols which I can only assume are meant to appeal to the lowest common denominator, why not encourage people to actually think more, emancipate themselves from buzzwords and false idols, and avoid the potential for twisting one's mild irrational beliefs into even bigger ones?

If you're going to pick a role model, I guess the biggest thing I'm failing to grasp is why pick a symbol of so much hypocrisy and the ultimate case of doing exactly the opposite of what was intended when you stand back and look at it critically? A guy who preaches peace and yet says he comes to bring war as well, to enforce the laws and yet condemns their enforcement when confronted, and ultimately sends the message that the brutal death of a human is needed to prevent human deaths. This sort of cognitive dissonance you have to be juggling around in your mind boggles the hell out of mine. I mean, you'd be better off using Batman or Captain America as a basis for your nonreligious belief system.