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Why Is It Important To Convince Others That There Is No God?

 
sojourner
 
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sojourner
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02 September 2014 14:50
 

Admittedly, I am a bit of a hypocrite when it comes to ‘evangelical’ atheism. I was often the kid who needed a ‘push’, in life - my parents had to tell me about Santa Claus at some embarrassingly late age; I was dragged to the DMV to get a license so I could ferry my brothers around; and left sobbing in my college dorm on the first day of freshman year, wishing I could go to a local community college. Atheism was no different, without a push, (even from a stranger I’d never met saying ‘offensive’ things in a book and on his website,) I’d probably still be a Christian. At a personal level, though, I tend to think there is enough divisiveness in the world without yet another group saying “People need to sign on to Our Way of doing things before the world will be ok”, or whatever. Doesn’t most every religion (and many philosophies) say that, after all? How many wars have we had over things like this, isn’t it better to live and let live? So I’m not sure how to reconcile those two things.


What I always find difficult to grasp in these debates is why theists find the atheist point of view so difficult to understand. I mean, Persuading Others, go back through your post and replace ‘God’ with ‘Zeus’ or ‘Angels from another dimension’. I do think there’s a lack of respect for the fact that one group is making a specific, extraordinary claim, and yet is often comfortable saying “Hey, you guys are just as comfortable being evangelical about the fact that there is no Easter Bunny as these guys are in evangelizing about the Easter Bunny - can’t you see that these views are exactly the same?” If you accept that thinking in regard to any proposed entity, from a supernatural god to fairies to unicorns, fine, at least you’re being logically consistent. But otherwise, an argument like that assumes that the existence of God is as common sense to everyone as, say, the possibility of voting Republican, which is entirely untrue.

 
 
Mike78
 
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Mike78
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02 September 2014 16:19
 

Reason is something everyone can use and that everyone values, whether they admit it or not.  Faith is not.  It’s important to promote the use of reason.  Unfortunately, it’s often directly in opposition to faith.

 
samyag-drsti
 
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samyag-drsti
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02 September 2014 17:41
 
NicLynn - 02 September 2014 12:50 PM

What I always find difficult to grasp in these debates is why theists find the atheist point of view so difficult to understand. I mean, Persuading Others, go back through your post and replace ‘God’ with ‘Zeus’ or ‘Angels from another dimension’. I do think there’s a lack of respect for the fact that one group is making a specific, extraordinary claim, and yet is often comfortable saying “Hey, you guys are just as comfortable being evangelical about the fact that there is no Easter Bunny as these guys are in evangelizing about the Easter Bunny - can’t you see that these views are exactly the same?” If you accept that thinking in regard to any proposed entity, from a supernatural god to fairies to unicorns, fine, at least you’re being logically consistent. But otherwise, an argument like that assumes that the existence of God is as common sense to everyone as, say, the possibility of voting Republican, which is entirely untrue.

In my former life as an evangelical, the thought did occur to me that the probability of the Christian God being a myth was possible up there with the probability of any god from any religion. But I convinced myself, with a little help from my evangelical friends, that tenets of the faith had merit, and the Christian God was the one true God. It wasn’t that difficult to sell me as I had been indoctrinated at a young age and was returning as a young adult after a gap in college when sex, drugs, rock&roll; was more important to me. It’s embarrassing to admit now that I held a belief in angels, the devil, the power of prayer, the whole nine yards. But for me there was always some nagging doubt, some skepticism, suppressed but surviving.

Any argument made by anyone outside the faith it just might be a man-made construct, I was turned off by and closed to. My logical brain, which I still utilized as an engineer, I subdued or switched-off when it came to the faith. And I bought the typical counter arguments to theism/secularism/humanism and Catholicism.

But now, like you, I also get frustrated that theists can’t see the reason and logic that obliterates theism. But when I think back, I suppose my brain was working like theirs at the time I was a believer. I now have a very intelligent theist friend that that I’ve had several spirited discussions with. He makes an attempt to apply reason and intellect to his faith (he practices a modern/liberal version of Christianity),  and at least I’ve gotten him to make the admission that there are just things about faith that cannot be explained and cannot stand-up to reason. But, in the final analysis, these arguments haven’t gotten either of us to budge from our respective views of reality.

 
nv
 
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nv
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02 September 2014 18:10
 
Persuading Others for Eternity - 01 September 2014 09:08 PM

As I read various blogs and posts, I find it interesting that unbelievers are just as evangelical in their approach as believers. If a person who does not believe in God sees merit in convincing others that their belief is misguided or misplaced at best, why do they give believers such a difficult time about their evangelizing as they are motivated to share their belief in a loving, holy, and just God?

If there were a way to measure how close a nation or society is at any given moment to going full-theocratic, we could be safe not to be concerned until a previously engineered tipping point has been reached through some reliable method of measurement. But such measurements are obviously not available, so it makes sense to me to argue with anyone attempting to start something, including on forums that invite increased critical thinking. Only my opinion, of course.

 
 
SteveMcKerracher
 
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SteveMcKerracher
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02 September 2014 19:40
 
SkepticX - 02 September 2014 09:19 AM
SteveMcKerracher - 02 September 2014 02:53 AM
Persuading Others for Eternity - 01 September 2014 09:08 PM

As I read various blogs and posts, I find it interesting that unbelievers are just as evangelical in their approach as believers. If a person who does not believe in God sees merit in convincing others that their belief is misguided or misplaced at best, why do they give believers such a difficult time about their evangelizing as they are motivated to share their belief in a loving, holy, and just God?

Honestly, I don’t think “Theism Vs Atheism” is an important debate.

The important debate, is Faith vs Reason.  You cannot reason with, negotiate with, or compromise with faith.  Faith is the absolute best way of controlling, and exploiting people, and the best way to justify atrocity.

This makes this Faith vs Reason culture war the most critical part of our age, if humanity is to endure.  And it should be clear, Theism tends to be on the side of faith, while Reason is on the side of Atheism.

But that is merely a sidebar to the culture war that really matters.

If a person wishes to choose to believe in a god, based on faith, but accepts the fact that there is no reason to expect anyone else to come to the same conclusion, and is willing to change parts of their belief that do contradict sound reasoning and evidence, I couldn’t care less. 

Personal beliefs don’t have a burden of proof, whereas public claims necessarily do.


Nice!

I’d go one simpler though. I don’t even really care if Believer X thinks others should accept his beliefs and doesn’t apply any kind of remotely reasonable standard of error/completely compartmentalizes them, as long as Believer X is a good neighbor—doesn’t want to impose her beliefs on others, and Believer X’s standard issue cooperative human nature hasn’t been too compromised by dogma (if it’s been enhanced/exaggerated ... all the better, though I might be concerned with that on Believer X’s behalf because that could be unhealthy for Believer X, depending).

I largely agree.  People should be free to do and believe anything they like, as long as government remains secular, and I am free to demand burden of proof when they make claims in public.  But I will still oppose faith where ever I find it.  It’s a dangerous Memetic virus IMO, and we need to work to inoculate young people with reason before its too late.  (BM)

The problem with true faith, is it cannot possibly be tolerant.  When you truly believe that you are right, and your dogma is right, then forcing it on others (where possible) is only doing them good.  Which is why this country is so dangerously close to becoming a Theocracy, and so many other countries already are.

This is the problem with moderates.  When my parents became Christians, they started going to a very moderate, liberal, Californian Baptist church.  However, they had faith.  They believed they were right, so they came to look down on the “moderates” for not being true to the faith.  They ended up leaving and becoming extremist homeschooling fundamentalists before I was in the 3rd grade. 

The only way a religion can be tolerant, is if it embraces doubt.  Doubt moderates naturally.  When you doubt, you won’t insist others agree, because you aren’t sure you are right.

Eastern religions are much more likely to embrace doubt, and admit they don’t know everything, and look for commonalities.  Whereas the Abrahamic faiths are obviously dogmatic and divisive by very nature.

This is really why I debate, I might not deconvert many people, but if I can plant doubt, its mission accomplished.

 
 
SkepticX
 
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SkepticX
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02 September 2014 23:18
 

Here’s the thing with that though ... the vast majority of believers don’t have much at all in terms of biblical/actual faith (i.e Hebrews 11, etc). They can’t pull off very well because it offends their intellects, so most believers rhetoricize versions of faith into existence that they can buy into (the stakes are quite high for them, after all). So they turn faith on its head and rhetoricize it into reason and evidence. “Faith” is coming to mean, more or less, the antithesis of faith, because the whole point of rhetoricized faith is to distance it from biblical faith and make it something peoples’ minds can embrace and do so openly without being ashamed.

But when it comes to fundy wingnut types who actually are sufficiently lacking intellectual integrity to actually pull it off, I agree more or less with your take. That’s a rapidly shrinking species of believer though.

 
 
SteveMcKerracher
 
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03 September 2014 00:47
 
SkepticX - 02 September 2014 09:18 PM

Here’s the thing with that though ... the vast majority of believers don’t have much at all in terms of biblical/actual faith (i.e Hebrews 11, etc). They can’t pull off very well because it offends their intellects, so most believers rhetoricize versions of faith into existence that they can buy into (the stakes are quite high for them, after all). So they turn faith on its head and rhetoricize it into reason and evidence. “Faith” is coming to mean, more or less, the antithesis of faith, because the whole point of rhetoricized faith is to distance it from biblical faith and make it something peoples’ minds can embrace and do so openly without being ashamed.

But when it comes to fundy wingnut types who actually are sufficiently lacking intellectual integrity to actually pull it off, I agree more or less with your take. That’s a rapidly shrinking species of believer though.

Where do you live?  I wish it was rapidly shrinking.  The biggest voting bloc, in the most powerful nation on earth, is the 45% of the US that goes to church weekly, believes the earth is 6k years old, Noah’s flood happened as told in Genesis, and that Jesus is coming back in the next 50 years with the apocalypse on his heels.  And I’ve seen statistics saying its growing.

Worse, Islam is also growing.  Some say the fastest growing religion.  Isis has people joining from all over the world. 

I’ve already heard this growing willful ignorance/anti-science mentality referenced in a paper published by the Royal Society as “The Growing Endarkenment”, and I fear that may be what history says in reflection if we aren’t successful in reversing it.

Believers who are willing to come to enemy territory like PR and have been the rounds online, have already been moderated by doubt.  But that is a poor statistical sample.

 
 
SkepticX
 
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03 September 2014 01:37
 

Their success is their undoing, actually. It emboldens and exposes them. That’s why the numbers of religious “nones” are growing so fast in younger groups (though “nones” actually include a significant chunk of radical evangelicals that don’t fit the standards.

I live in Georgia, by the way.

 
 
hannahtoo
 
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hannahtoo
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03 September 2014 22:39
 
Persuading Others for Eternity - 01 September 2014 09:08 PM

As I read various blogs and posts, I find it interesting that unbelievers are just as evangelical in their approach as believers. If a person who does not believe in God sees merit in convincing others that their belief is misguided or misplaced at best, why do they give believers such a difficult time about their evangelizing as they are motivated to share their belief in a loving, holy, and just God?

I see the question here partly as distinguishing the motivations of the believers and unbelievers.  So the believers are motivated by their faith in an awesome God, and unbelievers are motivated by…?

Certainly, it’s very nice that believers are concerned for the souls of unbelievers.  The inverse may also be true; that is, some unbelievers (yes, at least some!) may be concerned for the welfare of believers.  Fundamentalists seem to go through life with blinders on.  They fear the slippery slope, and so cut off questioning.  However, questioning is one of our strongest survival strategies.  If humanity is to survive with a couple more billion people and a changing climate, we can’t be just be praying avidly or looking to the second coming as a fallback strategy.  We need to look at what we can DO.

Nearby where I live, there is a World Prayer Center.  They seek to solve global problems through prayer.  They have a really big fancy building, and people go there to, basically, pray.  Yes, and worship (this means sing together).  While I can see that this might be a way to alleviate anxiety, guilt, and a feeling of helplessness in the minds of believers, it does absolutely nothing to help solve world problems.  So, yes, unbelievers get frustrated with believers sometimes.

In general, evangelical believers want everyone to believe the same.  Whereas, unbelievers are more “live and let live”—indeed they may argue when religious recruiters come to their door or present their views on a discussion forum.  And there are a handful of famous atheists in the media.  But I’d say the number of religious evangelicals is much, MUCH greater.  (Have you ever had an atheist come to your door to convince you of his view?)

 
jdrnd
 
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jdrnd
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04 September 2014 01:13
 
Hannah2 - 03 September 2014 08:39 PM

...and unbelievers are motivated by…?

Unlike some of you I do care.

I don’t want to have to be forced into play acting…

Everybody knows I have an invisible friend that beats up my enemy, he’s Angus the beaver.

From now on when ever anybody addresses me I insist (actually angus insists) that you say Hi ho Angus.  If you don’t do that you are disrespecting me.

Oh, are you saying its an imposition… well how do you think I feel when I have to show feined respect for said fictional character in court (....so help you God…), when I have to watch my elected representatives pray that they are guided by said invisible being, when I have to worry about my kids being ostracized because they don’t go to church.  I can’t think of all the examples I could of thought of last week. Its time for bed. 


Remember any reply to me has to be preceded by Hi Ho Angus.


Jeff

 
EN
 
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EN
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04 September 2014 01:21
 
jdrnd - 03 September 2014 11:13 PM

Remember any reply to me has to be preceded by Hi Ho Angus.

Hey, I’ve been to one of your worship services.  Everyone was shouting “Angus, Angus, Angus,” and then this little Australian guy in red shorts came out———

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V5iTQf5PDyY

 
hannahtoo
 
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hannahtoo
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04 September 2014 01:57
 
EN - 03 September 2014 11:21 PM
jdrnd - 03 September 2014 11:13 PM

Remember any reply to me has to be preceded by Hi Ho Angus.

Hey, I’ve been to one of your worship services.  Everyone was shouting “Angus, Angus, Angus,” and then this little Australian guy in red shorts came out———

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V5iTQf5PDyY

No, you were at the 1st Congregational Church of Angus, or maybe the United Church of Angus, or else the New Life Radiant Church of Angus, not the Jesus Discovery Redeemer New Direction Church of Angus (jdrnd-angus).

 
jdrnd
 
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jdrnd
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05 September 2014 09:40
 
EN - 03 September 2014 11:21 PM
jdrnd - 03 September 2014 11:13 PM

Remember any reply to me has to be preceded by Hi Ho Angus.

Hey, I’ve been to one of your worship services.  Everyone was shouting “Angus, Angus, Angus,” and then this little Australian guy in red shorts came out———

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V5iTQf5PDyY

you didn’t say “hi ho Angus”  cool grin
As you would point out, belief in Angus the beaver, is another belief system and should be respected like belief in Jesus, Belief in Allah, etc

 
icehorse
 
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icehorse
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06 September 2014 00:03
 

What are the core values of Angusarians? Where do they come down on stem cell research and climate change? Do Angusarian places of worship get tax-free status? Are Angusarians easily offended? Do they feel the need to spread Angusarianism?

 
 
bbearren
 
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17 September 2014 22:05
 
SteveMcKerracher - 02 September 2014 05:40 PM

The problem with true faith, is it cannot possibly be tolerant.

And your proof for such a broad statement is exactly what?  Be specific, to the point, and include all possibilities of personal faith.  Otherwise you should, by your own stated standards, withdraw the statement.

 
 
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