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andy5
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Debate Groups

I was wondering about this in relation to this topic, as well as creation/evolution and does God exist and are the scientific proof claims of Jesus and the Canon Bible Books real and so on-I know there are specifically some of you good folks who go around debating and arguing this in public forums with groups like the Church of Christ.  Personally I am not good at arguing, but I was wondering really-do these types of things do any good?  My experience in  arguing with committed fundamental literal Christians is that there is absolutely no way to change their minds no matter what.  They already feel how they do and they will switch between their supposed scientists on their side, their books with their "rock solid" evidence and proof like "The Case for Christ", if any of you know some specific debunks of that one by the way I'd love to hear them cuz it gets thrown at me the most, and then of course they also have just their emotional appeals and appeals to "logic" and so on.

So bottom line what I'm asking is, do these types of debates do any good in semi-public settings, have they any record of actually decreasing Church attendance or ever causing any elders or preachers to quit their jobs and claim they've been wrong all this time, or do they pretty much just leave people angry and shouting at the end, with no winner as far as any majority of the audience is concerned?  Because if they actually were effective and worked, there are a few organizations near and dear to my Xtian family I'd love to throw them on the scent of so they could take them down in public.


Brian37
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andy5 wrote:I was wondering

andy5 wrote:

I was wondering about this in relation to this topic, as well as creation/evolution and does God exist and are the scientific proof claims of Jesus and the Canon Bible Books real and so on-I know there are specifically some of you good folks who go around debating and arguing this in public forums with groups like the Church of Christ.  Personally I am not good at arguing, but I was wondering really-do these types of things do any good?  My experience in  arguing with committed fundamental literal Christians is that there is absolutely no way to change their minds no matter what.  They already feel how they do and they will switch between their supposed scientists on their side, their books with their "rock solid" evidence and proof like "The Case for Christ", if any of you know some specific debunks of that one by the way I'd love to hear them cuz it gets thrown at me the most, and then of course they also have just their emotional appeals and appeals to "logic" and so on.

So bottom line what I'm asking is, do these types of debates do any good in semi-public settings, have they any record of actually decreasing Church attendance or ever causing any elders or preachers to quit their jobs and claim they've been wrong all this time, or do they pretty much just leave people angry and shouting at the end, with no winner as far as any majority of the audience is concerned?  Because if they actually were effective and worked, there are a few organizations near and dear to my Xtian family I'd love to throw them on the scent of so they could take them down in public.

YES, it does help. It most certainly wont change everyone's minds, but it can and does get to people who might already have cracks and or are young enough to get to. I know if someone hadn't a long time ago asked me, "What if Jesus was just a man", I might not be an atheist today. My final position of atheism took years. Very few people give up on religion over night.

It also serves as a reminder to closet atheists that they are not alone and the more we come out, the more strength we have.

On another board there was a guy who came on gang busters and a year later he declared himself an atheist. This board also has had it's share of de-converts. I suspect there may also be some theists here desperately clinging to the last threads they have to save face, but will eventually fold, even if they don't realize it now.

The point is it IS NOT fruitless to defend reality and challenge absurdity. If humans never questioned accepted norms, blacks would still be slaves and women couldn't vote, and we would still believe the earth to be flat.

It might be an ugly battle, but it is an important one and one not to be ignored. I will only say to believers in agreement that this can only be a bloodless battle. Neither our side or their side needs more bloodshed over words. Our species doesn't need any more of that in any case.

If you had told me when I did believe that someday I wouldn't believe, I wouldn't have believed you. Things change and people change and societies change.

Most of us here at one time believed. Some were lucky enough never to have been brainwashed with those old tribal myths. But it does help.

I have seen a growing amount of open atheists in America. I have seen an explosion of media coverage of atheists, an even on an individual level, I am more accepted by my co-workers, even if they disagree with me, than I was in 01 when it was much more taboo to be open.

 

"We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus -- and nonbelievers."Obama
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harleysportster
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andy5 wrote:So bottom line

andy5 wrote:

So bottom line what I'm asking is, do these types of debates do any good in semi-public settings, have they any record of actually decreasing Church attendance or ever causing any elders or preachers to quit their jobs and claim they've been wrong all this time, or do they pretty much just leave people angry and shouting at the end, with no winner as far as any majority of the audience is concerned?  Because if they actually were effective and worked, there are a few organizations near and dear to my Xtian family I'd love to throw them on the scent of so they could take them down in public.

Having been raised in an ultra-religious home, there were many times that I thought I was going insane or really was all of the negative things that people said of me because of my doubts.

Had it not been for the books that are out there and the outspoken Atheists of the world, I can not even begin to imagine what sort of life I would have had.

So yes, I believe that an outspoken and debating Atheist community is one of the greatest things ever !

You may not get a chance to see the results immediately from the debates. But there may be alot of people out there that will hear those arguments and never be able to fully shake the strength of those arguments from their doubting minds. It might be the beginning link in the chain that leads to deconversion.

“It is proof of a base and low mind for one to wish to think with the masses or majority, merely because the majority is the majority. Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people.”
― Giordano Bruno


Atheistextremist
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Yes Andy, arguing helps.

 

We have to stand up for what can be proved to be true and that does not include the garden of eden adhom or the fallacy from force of calvary replete with jesus' peculiar self sacrifice to save us from his own self's hate all so he can score bosom buddies possessed of something called freewill who will then spend eternity doing exactly what he wants them to.

(Secretly, I hope heaven involves endless singing of shithouse baptist youth songs about not being about to come to a banquet because of marriage to a cow. Enjoy eternity with those lame brains, god.)

As Harley explained and I can concur, when you are raised in a fundy home and you are not a believer you go through agony trying to force yourself to believe to save yourself from hell. In this light, we have to tell people it's fine to be our sort of people. We must say morality is human and has nothing to do with religion. Outspoken atheists like Dawkins can make us look a bit petulant at times but if they allow atheists to feel like they are worthwhile and not bound for eternal damnation, excellent.

I also think active secularism can be a force for good in the world. It is the truest and most honest way a person can live, in my opinion. Fact is, there's just us and we must do the best we can. All the rest is flummery and wishful thinking.

Having wanked on a bit I do understand the point you make Andy - that we will not change the minds of the godly who come here to pontificate and air their bizarre and immoral doctrines. But I do think that we sometimes make them go away and think more deeply about their beliefs.

If I'm going to be honest about it, I'm not arguing against christians at all. I'm arguing myself and all non believers out of Jean Chauvin and Fonzie's lake of fire. I'm reserving the right to be a fragile, sentient and mortal human being.

 

 

 

"Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination." Max Planck


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What about the children

What I thought would help, was telling children to be sceptic about claims their parents and teachers make. And then, the part of me that still has Christian morals shouted at me that that would be an incredibly immoral thing to do. That it would somehow spoil their innocence or something... But I think that going to schools and telling children that what they believe might not be true, and investigate what people tell them.

Then there's another thing: during the enlightenment, people got quite rational, but it didn't last. A few generations later, romanticism would present itself, and make people emotional again. So... how do we make sure that the next generation will stay rational as well? (Of course they didn't have the internet during the enlightenment, but I doubt that alone will stop neo-romantics).

In fact, post modernism is already making us doubt there's one logical truth, resulting in people not investigating things anymore.


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 It's not so much about

 It's not so much about changing people's minds, as it is about introducing reasonable doubt.  The majority of fanatic believers have deeply seated psychological issues/reasons as well as having been brainwashed since childhood.  My grandmother, for instance, has led a very tough life raising five children on her own in a third world country.  Religion as she understands it is much more then an ideology and I'm sure by now has become part of her self identity.  From her perspective, to question religion or her belief is to question everything about her.  It's obvious that in such instances debate is futile and a waste of energy at best.

In my opinion and experience those individuals are very few indeed.  The large majority have questions just like the rest of us.  If you plant that seed of reason, or point out the obvious misconception, it will arm that individual with the tools necessary to question.  That's all you can hope to do.  If, during a debate, you get someone shouting "I'm now an atheist!, I don't believe anymore." then you're probably in a grade five shop class.

My current understanding of the world has come from years of questioning and research.  While I realized that a biblical God is a joke at a very young age, it took me quite a while to shed the other illusions.  For the longest time I just wanted to believe in something purely for purely egotistical reasons.  For most people it comest down to, "you're not special"... our evolution has hardwired self importance as a survival mechanism, it's very very difficult for an individual to get over that.  Any sudden change of paradigm without the proper tools to support it is just as easily debunked.  

I may have not arrived at the conclusions that I have without reading about previous critical thinkers and skeptics in general.  So debate is imperative, presenting a reasonable perspective is always imperative. 

"Don't seek these laws to understand. Only the mad can comprehend..." -- George Cosbuc


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Brian37 wrote:andy5

Brian37 wrote:

andy5 wrote:
Personally I am not good at arguing, but I was wondering really-do these types of things do any good?  My experience in  arguing with committed fundamental literal Christians is that there is absolutely no way to change their minds no matter what.  ...

So bottom line what I'm asking is, do these types of debates do any good in semi-public settings, have they any record of actually decreasing Church attendance or ever causing any elders or preachers to quit their jobs and claim they've been wrong all this time, or do they pretty much just leave people angry and shouting at the end, with no winner as far as any majority of the audience is concerned?

YES, it does help. It most certainly wont change everyone's minds, but it can and does get to people who might already have cracks and or are young enough to get to. I know if someone hadn't a long time ago asked me, "What if Jesus was just a man", I might not be an atheist today. My final position of atheism took years. Very few people give up on religion over night.

Hear, hear, Brian37! Excellent response.

I second everything Brian37 said, with the caveat that I'm one of the lucky ones who was never a believer to begin with.

I would only go on to emphasize that public (or semi-public) debate is not only to change the views of the debaters themselves. That is much more rare. However, there is a large audience of people who do not necessarily hold the exact same beliefs or the same degree of commitment to their beliefs as the debaters. A debate can be a good way of shifting peoples' opinions on a subject, even if they are not immediately deconverted in an instant.

When I debate theism publicly, sometimes I do so even if I realize there's no way I can change the other person's mind. At these times, my primary target is the audience -- whoever it is out there who is reading or listening to the debate -- and I will argue my case not necessarily to be most effective at convincing my opponent, but to be most effective at shining a bright light on the absurdities in my opponents beliefs. While this often just puts my opponent on the defensive, digging in his heels, it more often shows to any observers how ridiculous my opponent's position is.

It is the audience, the greater public, that I am most concerned about influencing. A semi-public debate can have perhaps 20 audience members to 2 debaters. A public debate can have 100s or 1000s of audience members.

This is also why I never engage in private email debates. If someone wants to debate me by email, I'll respond on the RRS forum and re-direct them to the online debate. If there's no audience, I don't see much point in debating someone I don't know personally.

As for personal debates. I do have those, but rarely, and I'm much more accommodating to someone I have to interact with on a daily basis than some internet stranger. My goal there is not to get the other person on the defensive, it is to disarm their attacks on my unbelief. Here I am much more likely to use the powerful Socratic method of constantly asking, "And how do you know that?" and "What does that mean?" etc.

When a personal debate gets down to "I just believe on faith" (which it always does), then I come back with my anti-faith arguments, and basically conclude with, "You have failed to convince me, because you have no evidence," and "Innocent (of sin) until proven guilty (with evidence)", and "All of your arguments are loaded with fallacies and are a sign of common human biases, stereotypes, prejudice, and bigotry", etc. Basically, "Leave me alone with your proselytizing because I won't let you get away with it."

The idea there is simply to get the other person to leave me alone in my unbelief, so that we can live peaceably on a day to day basis.

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Wonderist
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Also forgot to mention that

Also forgot to mention that there are some pre- and post-debate polls that have been done. Specifically, this one: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/nov/27/christopher-hitchens-tony-blair-debate

Also, I seem to recall one that involved Sam Harris, but couldn't find the link. Apparently it was a huge win in audience opinion. I believe it also had Hitchens, and he mopped the floor by enumerating all the crap the RC church has been involved with over the centuries.

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