Deconversion Strategies

Zaq
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Deconversion Strategies

Hey guys.  I was generating topics ideas for my blog, and one of the topics I may or may not end up doing is Strategies.  To put it simply, I've seen far too much energy expended in well-reasoned arguments that nevertheless fail to really do much to turn people away from theism.  So I thought it might be fruitful to take a break from arguing over whether or not any gods exist and approach the issue of religion in a more pragmatic manner.

 

So in this thread, let's brainstorm ideas about how to get religious people to let go of their religion.  What is the best way to get someone who believes in a bunch of crazy crap to stop believing in that crap?  I'm especially interested in hearing from ex-theists who have been through the process we're trying to invoke.  What caused you to abandon your religion?  What was difficult about the process?  What could have been done to make the process easier?

 

I'll kick things off by highlighting what I think to be one of the biggest obstacles for your average American theist.  The morality issue.  There are far too many people who have a negative moral connotation attached to the term "atheist."  People who begin to doubt their religion start to feel guilty about that doubt.  There's a strong idea here that faith is a virtue, and so people try to cling to their faith because they don't want to lose the virtue.  So we can't just go around pointing out that theists are factually incorrect.  We also need to find a way to make them morally comfortable with the idea of rejecting religion.  As far as potential solutions go, I think a large public presence of atheism would work best here here.  Just like a large public presence of homosexuality has helped in dispelling the homosexual = evil beliefs.

Questions for Theists:
http://silverskeptic.blogspot.com/2011/03/consistent-standards.html

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Tye beauty of a well

The beauty of a well reasoned argument is that even if it has no effect on the direct target of your opponent, the audience is another story. I've been debating against religion for almost 20 years now (fuck I feel old), and I've found that only about 5-10% of the theists who care enough to argue will be swayed by your argument. And 99% of those few will not instantly convert after your closing statement. Ridding oneself of religious delusions appears to be a very difficult and lengthy process. I say appears because I have no personal experience in doing so, I'm going by the comments of others.
But the audience is another story. A few in the audience will have vested as much time as your opponent, and are really only there to support, and be supported by, their religion. The opposite is also true, and chances are you'll have people who've vested as much time as you have and are there to support you. The real target is everyone else, which is probably usually 50%+ of the room, depending on the venue.
In order

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...to win those people, or

...to win those people, or even a significant percentage of them, you need to win the debate. You need to weather the storm of religious hole-poking that is hard to deal with simply because a thousand questions are asked and you might have time to answer two. The best way to do that is "insert holy book here"-hole-poking, and return a thousand questions with a thousand questions.
The chances of either of you winning people over from the other camp are slim to none. It's the middle ground, who generally don't put much thought into religion day to day, that are most likely to be swayed. They are that likely simply because most of them will be unfamiliar with all the arguments for or against, and learning those arguments can have a major and immediate effect.

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Zaq wrote:So in this thread,

Zaq wrote:
So in this thread, let's brainstorm ideas about how to get religious people to let go of their religion.  What is the best way to get someone who believes in a bunch of crazy crap to stop believing in that crap?

I think it highly depends on each individual believer, and where they happen to be at the specific time.

For example, if the theist is deep in theism/religion, one of the first things you need to do is just make them aware that there is the option of non-belief. And not just a straw-man option, but a real option, with lots of good, thought-out reasons for it. You may not get to all the reasons right away, of course, but at least let them know that you have such reasons, and that you've thought a lot about it.

After planting the seed that there is a reasonable atheist position, you can start discussing the standard arguments.

But honestly, I've found that in one-on-one discussion, bypassing the standard arguments and going straight for a Socratic dialogue of hammering on the "But why do you believe that?" question is the best way to pry open the specific theist's worldview and expose its flaws. The standard arguments tend not to be the primary reasons for theism in the first place, so a lot of discussion of them tends to do little to change the core beliefs or even to call them into question.

Once you've got the theist open to the idea that they could be wrong, and that there are at least some apparent problems with their current beliefs, you can start talking about the effects of religion, and all the shit that's gone on in its name. At this point, the theist is well on their way to questioning their own beliefs and apply self-skepticism.

If you start with the more advanced arguments right away, with a hard-core believer, you'll just be talking past them. They're not yet open to the idea that they could be wrong.

Quote:
I'm especially interested in hearing from ex-theists who have been through the process we're trying to invoke.  What caused you to abandon your religion?  What was difficult about the process?  What could have been done to make the process easier?

Sorry, can't help you there. Never was a believer.

However, I do think that you are definitely on the right track to look at the stories of people who have already gone through deconversion. Deconversion stories tend to have common themes and a common progression. It's not a strict script, but there are definitely patterns. I bet that a scientific study of deconversion stories would yield a lot of solid information about the process that would be useful for believers and atheists alike. As it stands, there are various places you can read deconversion stories galore: Here at RRS in the Introductions forum, at Richard Dawkins' Converts Corner, on YouTube (search deconversion), etc.

 

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If I run into someone who

If I run into someone who seems open to conversation, I'll talk about what they are interested in.  They usually drop a clue or two.  And then just wing it.

Never expect to deconvert someone.  The best I ever got was getting someone to switch from a evangelical to a mainstream church.  Most people who do deconvert, manage to do it for themselves.  If you run into someone who is trying to figure out what they believe about religion, they are usually grateful for a view from the local atheist.  Doesn't mean they will stop believing in religion or god/s/dess, but they are more open to some conversation about what it is like on the dark side.

As for deconverting myself - I tried to believe.  It was always difficult for me.  I wanted to find god, but no one was home.  And I finally got pissed enough with the whole thing that I said - enough!  I have given my reasons before in other threads, but basically, that was it.  I did some soul searching, got angry, and moved on with my life. 

I really am less stressed and happier since I stopped trying to believe.

 

-- I feel so much better since I stopped trying to believe.

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I was raised Southern

I was raised Southern Baptist and believed in it completely until around 25 years of age.  Then I started to question my religion and just let it run around my head for five years or so.  At 30 I finally realized that I could no longer believe in such nonsense.

So I've been an Agnostic Atheist for 7 years now.  And it's so much better.

My head is clear.  I can choose what I think is right instead of just going along with barbaric prejudices and whatnot.

Life really is better on this side of the religious divide.

"I am an atheist, thank God." -Oriana Fallaci


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Thanks for the fedback

Thanks for the fedback guys.  I'm still interested in hearing from more people who've undergone the process.  Some questions that come to mind:

Church plays a big part in the lives of many religious people.  For any of you who went from very religious to atheist, what did you start doing to fill the space that church left?  Are there any types of organizations/group activities that could help with the transition?

How did your family/friends react and how did you handle the reaction?

It seems like the process is often gradual.  What kinds of milestones might one expect to encounter?  What did you find helpful during these milestones?  What acted as a hindrance?

 

I think it'd be nice if we could put together some kind of "help packet" to offer advice to people who are going through this.  Or to people who are trying to help a friend through the deconversion process.  Unfortunately, I'm really not the person to try and write such a piece.  I have very little experience with this sort of thing.

 

Questions for Theists:
http://silverskeptic.blogspot.com/2011/03/consistent-standards.html

I'm a bit of a lurker. Every now and then I will come out of my cave with a flurry of activity. Then the Ph.D. program calls and I must fall back to the shadows.


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Hehe

One of the best ways to create more Atheists, is to tell people to read the Bible from front cover to back cover (and not just the selected parts that their religious leaders tell them to look at).

By the time that they are halfway through the old testament, they should start to have some serious reservations.

My deconversion process from strict Catholic to Atheist was a long and drawn out process. One that would take too long to type here.

I don't remember who it was that said "Read the Bible because the world needs more Atheists". But they were right.

I am still amazed by the fact that people out there, in the face of the vast and wondrous universe that we live in, believe that the "creator" of the whole thing sent some dude to our tiny planet (a mere speck in the cosmos) to die for all of us and is obsessed with being praised and thanked and feared all of the time. A rather irrational concept if you ask me.

“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


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 I think there is a

 I think there is a relatively simple solution which I desperately want to do.  I think you don't try and reinvent the wheel here.  There's been a lot of research and thinking done over the years, and we need to brainstorm on how to package it to quell theist's objections before they come up.  It needs to be done tactfully, intelligently, and succinctly.  I think you take this info and make extremely carefully thought out videos to deliver that info.  Another KEY difference in my approach is that many videos talk over people's head, and throw in enough info that the viewer feels like they'd need to be a biblical scholar to know if it is factual, or understand the fine points.  You have to talk, not on an overly simplistic level, but definitely in a down-to-earth way.  In our short attention span world we live in I honestly think youtube, and some smart marketing is the best way there is to get that word out.  If you engage in a lot of debates with theists simply tell them you'll give them time to tell or show you their points, and have em watch a short clip, and take care of any questions/objections you get afterwards.

The arguments against theism online are getting better and better over the years.  Many of them however fall short because they are missing points or too aggressively put, too condescending or too whatever.  But they're close.... that's the important thing.  I'll give you 2 great examples of websites that have done some really good thinking, exhaustive research, etc, but fall far short of their intended goal due to delivery.  1st is whywontgodhealamputees.com --- this website has some really good arguments, and some kind of poorly thought out arguments, but is condescending, a bit snarky, and has to be very off-putting to theists.  Kind of reinforces the stereotype that Atheists think we're smarter than everyone else, and gives them the perfect excuse to stop listening.  The 2nd would be evillbible.com.  Come the hell on, we know the bible is evil.   However the whole point of the website is to show people how evil it is, and the people that we need to convince are going to be offended and have their guard up, and their mind closed the minute they see what the site is called.

A good example of someone who gets it right is QualiaSoup on youtube.  If you haven't watched his videos you are missing out.  After sending a couple of their videos to a friend of mine who I was debating, he wouldn't talk about religion with me for weeks.  The vids made WAY too much sense and he clammed up for a while... it was great.

Thing is there are many many points left that need to be made the right way.  I understand the desire to destroy arguments and make theists (especially creationists) feel stupid for having taken such retarded positions, but I don't honestly think that you can get the majority of people to watch and keep their mind open with that approach.  

What I've dreamed of doing is starting a non-profit video production company that focuses on making these kinds of cogent, well thought out, and non off-putting arguments into short youtube videos, and even DVDs.  It may seem like that's been done over and over, but trust me, the vast majority of videos I see aren't near as good as what I have in my head.  I would set it up kind of like a think-tank, where everything was brainstormed out, RESEARCHED, made and then proofed before being put out.  I would strive to anticipate every objection, counterpoint, and misunderstanding and address them in the videos.  

"They always say the same thing; 'But evolution is only a theory!!' Which is true, I guess, and it's good they say that I think, it gives you hope that they feel the same about the theory of Gravity and they might just float the f**k away."


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Unreality

Tony, perhaps you should consider individual differences and cease to imagine there is one perfect set of videos to be made, one perfect way of reaching an audience, or one perfect way in which all deliverers of information should behave. 

For your own endeavours, go for it, but do not expect uniform applause or agreement.

For example, some people prefer a succinct textual or diagrammatic argument, never having seen an information video which did not waste their time.


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Pacioli wrote:Tony, perhaps

Pacioli wrote:

Tony, perhaps you should consider individual differences and cease to imagine there is one perfect set of videos to be made, one perfect way of reaching an audience, or one perfect way in which all deliverers of information should behave. 

For your own endeavours, go for it, but do not expect uniform applause or agreement.

For example, some people prefer a succinct textual or diagrammatic argument, never having seen an information video which did not waste their time.

 

Believe me, I don't think of it as a perfect way to make the videos or convey the message.  I didn't mean to insinuate that at all.  Plus it's not like I don't know there's no such thing.

The fact is, when I watch some videos or read some sites that argue against one thing or another I can see flaws or holes in the logic, or I see how it would turn a theist off and put them on the defensive. If you do either of those things, then someone with opposing views is just going to focus on that and you immediately lose credibility in their mind.   I don't have any desire to create any one size fits all argument.  I have always had a knack for breaking things down so people could understand them.  Looking at and explaining things from a different angle.  The point is to carefully construct arguments that systematically poke holes in long held beliefs that theists have.  All while using knowledge of how to come at people with an argument that could easily turn them off if not carefully constructed.  

Don't get me wrong, I love aggressive atheists like Hitchens, but sometimes I think he does a much better job at preaching to the chior than he does at changing minds.  

 

"They always say the same thing; 'But evolution is only a theory!!' Which is true, I guess, and it's good they say that I think, it gives you hope that they feel the same about the theory of Gravity and they might just float the f**k away."


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FORCE, VIOLENCE, DOGMATISM!

FORCE, VIOLENCE, DOGMATISM! FASCISM! To quote Homer Simpson, "Urge to kill rising".

Oh wait, that's already been beat to death like a dead horse. We could do something non-violent, something pesky and much harder than chest beating and childish playground tribalism. We could simply educate people how good use of logic works. We could use ridicule and blasphemy and promote science and reason.

NAW, lets behave like the knuckle  dragging dogmatists.

KILL KILL KILL KILL.............(FOAMING AT THE MOUTH) Gurrrrr gerrr......huff huff,

BLOOD I WANT BLOOD!

Um.........(note to self: Brian37, I'd advise you that you are a wimp and will have your ass kicked quite easy)

Nothing to see here, keep moving. "Urge to kill, going.....going.....gone". (I have my tv back)

"ANY KEY, WHERE'S ANY KEY?"

 

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TonyZXT wrote:Don't get me

TonyZXT wrote:
Don't get me wrong, I love aggressive atheists like Hitchens, but sometimes I think he does a much better job at preaching to the chior than he does at changing minds. 

He's definitely effective at swaying those on the fence, though. At least one of his debates (probably more) had before-after polls, and nearly all the undecideds (initially a hefty proportion of the crowd) went to him.

BTW: I agree with your general idea proposed in this thread, of breaking things down into more down-to-earth arguments. I find that collecting good metaphors, analogies, and examples for the points you typically argue over is a great way to do that. Metaphors, analogies, and examples are much more intuitive, and easier for most people to understand, than abstract logical or counter-intuitive scientific arguments. Though, you still need the logic and the science to back it all up, of course.

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TonyZXT
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natural wrote:TonyZXT

natural wrote:

TonyZXT wrote:
Don't get me wrong, I love aggressive atheists like Hitchens, but sometimes I think he does a much better job at preaching to the chior than he does at changing minds. 

He's definitely effective at swaying those on the fence, though. At least one of his debates (probably more) had before-after polls, and nearly all the undecideds (initially a hefty proportion of the crowd) went to him.

Nice!  I always wondered if many on the fence types showed up to those debates.  I do know for a fact though, that many religious people would not read "god Is Not Great" because of the title.  I tried to get a friend of mine to read it, and that was a no go as well.  Don't get me wrong though I want Hitchens and the other more militant outspoken Atheists to continue to change as many minds as humanly possible.  I just think it's being done enough, and we need other approaches to work along side them.

natural wrote:

BTW: I agree with your general idea proposed in this thread, of breaking things down into more down-to-earth arguments. I find that collecting good metaphors, analogies, and examples for the points you typically argue over is a great way to do that. Metaphors, analogies, and examples are much more intuitive, and easier for most people to understand, than abstract logical or counter-intuitive scientific arguments. Though, you still need the logic and the science to back it all up, of course.

Thanks!  You're right on the money, you get it!  I think most of the people we can reach, and talk some reason into, are going to have average to below average knowledge of scripture, science, and logic.  So to me it doesn't help to talk to a person who doesn't think about these things every day and start debating with them as if they're a member of this forum.  All you have to do is take that cognitive dissonance they already have with things in the bible not making total sense to them, and make it start singing louder in the back of their mind.  From there they will either watch/read more of your material, and/or start to question things little by little -- or -- they will let the dissonance die down, compartmentalize it again and go on about their lives ignorant as before.  The only thing you can do about the latter is be compelling as hell in the first place.  

"They always say the same thing; 'But evolution is only a theory!!' Which is true, I guess, and it's good they say that I think, it gives you hope that they feel the same about the theory of Gravity and they might just float the f**k away."


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I can say I agree

I can say I agree wholeheartedly with your last comment just now. We can try the methods you're describing, while at the same time supporting the work of others who use a more rarefied and/or confrontational approach. They are not incompatible. In fact, I personally tend to switch it up frequently, especially as I get a 'read' on the person's receptiveness to the more hard-hitting arguments. I'm not against rhetoric or polemic, necessarily, as long as they are intellectually honest garnishes to a main dish of reason.

And none of these approaches are a guarantee that you'll make an immediate impact. As you say, people sometimes get the dissonance bells ringing, but then go on about their lives and the bells fade. On the other hand, the person might encounter another situation that amplifies the ringing of the bells, and together combined with your initial strike of dissonance, could set them on a path of doubt and questions. You never know.  (Nice metaphor there, by the way, Tony. Metaphors are very useful, when used appropriately.)

At the end of the day, I think the best way (at least in my own experience) to approach those situations is not to expect too much from the other person. Instead, go into it with the intent to see if you can improve on your own abilities to convey ideas and instill skepticism in others. Then, it's not so much about them as it is about yourself, and your own skills. At least you have some control over those things! So if you meet a brick wall and get frustrated, you don't think "Arrgh! These people are hopeless!" Instead you think, "Arrgh! That was frustrating! I wonder how I could handle that differently in the future... Hmmm..."

Even if you still end up resolving not to get involved with brick walls anymore, at least you don't take on an overly pessimistic view of the situation.

Experiment. Try different things, and note which ones work better than others. If something doesn't work, mix things up. Keep exploring, and you'll eventually discover more effective techniques that suit your own personal style. It's a learning experience, not a win/lose game. Enjoy it as a learning experience, and it can actually be a lot of fun, even if you occasionally 'lose' a particular encounter.

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Me personally, I rarely get

Me personally, I rarely get into debates with people unless they're one of a few certain friends, co-workers or family members.  Unless someone is begging for it of course.  The main reason I don't is that I have a horrible memory.  I'll know that an argument is wrong, go to counter it, but leave out key things I just couldn't recall at the time.  Give me time to go home and look into something an re-find those points I was missing... and I will completely dominate the argument.  So that's another reason that for me videos are an appealing way to go.  Another is that I'm an extremely visual person, and that's how I learn best.  I also don't enjoy reading non-fiction that much, I can only take it in small doses, especially if it's dry.  So for me personally, videos and an accompanying website, with some fairly succinct text to support it, is the most attractive way to reach people.  It won't appeal to everyone, but then again I'm not trying to.

I think getting an argument to be as effective, and compelling as possible is kind of like making a pot of chili for a bunch of people including kids and picky eaters.  Make it too spicy you turn people off.  Make it too bland, the same.   Cook it down too far, and there's not enough moisture (content.)  Don't cook it down far enough it's too watery (too much info, and you start clouding the issue, confusing people.)  Use too many vegetables, or make the veggies too big and the picky ones won't enjoy it.  So you have to find the right mix of ingredients without leaving anything out that would leave it bland, while not making it too spicy or rich.  You're trying to cover all the bases and hit that sweet spot while distilling it down to the right mix and consistency.  Same with tackling an issue with theists.  You have to cover all your bases, and then distill everything down to a palatable mix that the average person can appreciate.  Now on the other hand, show up to the party with some 5 alarm chili, and see how many people even try it.  Most that do are going to be people that already like to burn their insides out.  Of the ones that try it but don't already like hot chili, how many are going to become hot chili fans? 

The only place that metaphor kind of falls short, is that it makes it sound like I am trying to please everyone with my chili/video.  Not really the point.  The point is not turning people off unnecessarily, and making it GOOD.  Also not leaving something important out and leaving people thinking "Meh, not sure about that... something's not right."  Anyways, now that I've made myself hungry I need to find something to eat!  

"They always say the same thing; 'But evolution is only a theory!!' Which is true, I guess, and it's good they say that I think, it gives you hope that they feel the same about the theory of Gravity and they might just float the f**k away."


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Zaq wrote:To put it simply,

Zaq wrote:

To put it simply, I've seen far too much energy expended in well-reasoned arguments that nevertheless fail to really do much to turn people away from theism.  So I thought it might be fruitful to take a break from arguing over whether or not any gods exist and approach the issue of religion in a more pragmatic manner.

 

The problem is people are not motivated by logic, reason or arguments. People are motivated by feelings. I someone believes that being a theist will make them happier, less anxious, more popular, etc... they will be a theist. People believe what they want to believe if they believe that believing will make them feel better.

Zaq wrote:

What is the best way to get someone who believes in a bunch of crazy crap to stop believing in that crap?

Convince them they will feel better not believing in crap.

Zaq wrote:

  I'm especially interested in hearing from ex-theists who have been through the process we're trying to invoke.  What caused you to abandon your religion?  What was difficult about the process?  What could have been done to make the process easier?

In my case it kind of evolved from indoctrination as a child, then dropping it as a rebelious teenager. Then church shopping because I thought it would make be better, less anxious, more popular. Then maturing and relizing that I don't need the approval of others to be happy. I should be who I am and say what I believe.

Church does play a role as social organization, a place to make friends, connections, spouses. Unfortunatly atheists have not done much to fill in this need. People still need social acceptance, so there does need to be atheist organizations that can provide this.

 

Zaq wrote:

I'll kick things off by highlighting what I think to be one of the biggest obstacles for your average American theist.  The morality issue.  There are far too many people who have a negative moral connotation attached to the term "atheist."  People who begin to doubt their religion start to feel guilty about that doubt.  There's a strong idea here that faith is a virtue, and so people try to cling to their faith because they don't want to lose the virtue.  So we can't just go around pointing out that theists are factually incorrect.  We also need to find a way to make them morally comfortable with the idea of rejecting religion.  As far as potential solutions go, I think a large public presence of atheism would work best here here.  Just like a large public presence of homosexuality has helped in dispelling the homosexual = evil beliefs.

When I was a fundy, they would say things like "God is not a cosmic killjoy, he wants what is best for you. So he forbids you to have sex outside marriage because he want to protect you from Venerial disease and unwanted pregnancy". So then Christian morality is really just a hedonist morality anyways. Heaven and Hell were invented because people are only motivated by their own pleasure and pain.

What the atheist community needs to do is point out how science and reason can create hapiness better than religion.

“Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.” Seneca


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thoughts on my

thoughts on my de-conversion. EXC has a good point and from my experience I can affirm. As a minister one of the most challenging evangelism I experienced was talking to this young (they were my age) couple who allowed me into their home to discuss religion a few times. They were relaxed and non-confrontational. The guy just said all this stuff is cool, but I just cannot understand how a loving and powerful god could let all this suffering go on.  Why is there so much pain in the world? I did my best, did my homework reading C.S. Lewis' book on the problem of pain. I never convinced them, but more importantly it showed the crack in my armor TO ME. Religion is a happy feeling at times. But then for me most times it was became like drinking for the high. You had to keep chasing it. Look at Mother Theresa's diary. She experienced the feeling of being connected with god when young, but then it went away and she couldn't capture that high. So there was always some internal misery there. "OMG why hast thou forsaken me?". People need the church fix to gather together to psych each other back up. But when problems (pain & suffering) arise it doesn't stack up. There is a childlike immaturity to religion. They need something outside themselves to make themselves feel better. I experienced all that. And the thoughts just kept coming this is not working, this is not working. But the jail is I blamed not god but myself for it. The combination of seeing pain and suffering in the world, experiencing my own and then giving myself permission that it is OK to question god and his plan was the seeds that helped me to walk away. But those years of de-conversion were quite painful. It is not easy. It certainly took courage. Bart Ehrman opens one of his books (I think Jesus Interrupted) indicating his path was similar. He could not understand the horrors of the world with a loving, all powerful god.

 

I was over on another website and someone posted an article about abortion saying we have crossed a threshold of 50million babies aborted in the US. A few post responded with horror. I simply posted "It is a shame that God doesn't care about this".

The replies back were interesting. I was told judgement was coming swiftly. I responded with essentially LOL and said that since Jesus was here the earth has aged a third more (YEC). How is that swift? I did also note a number of bible text about how god had killed a bunch of fetus' through his destruction of the cities and the global flood. I also pointed out the story of King David causing the death of Bathseba's husband. God punished David by killing the newborn. (It is a pretty clear story and I haven't heard anyone else use it. I just read through the bible this year and it leaped off the page for me. So far the argument has held weight. One guy conceded that it really was god doing it).  The replies on the website either took the tact of mocking me or telling me I was going to hell. When I hear that I know they have been challenged to think and you cannot un-know what you know. I feel I left a crack in the armor.

 

I spent my prior "life" studying religion. Scientific fact had little impact on me because I knew so little. When you know little the best arguments are ineffectual.  Teaching science is schools is very critical. Even though I went to public schools I still didn't get much (mid to late 1960s). So I have found simplistic stuff is the best when discussing with a fundie. The best argument I have seen that gave pause was these. If Noah's flood happened and all life was destroyed, in particular, land animals, why are kangaroos only in Australia and we find them nowhere else, not even a fossil. Jerry Coyne in his book noted that bio-geography is ignored by fundies because they don't have an explanation for it. I don't say nearly all marsupials because everybody knows what a kangaroos is. But that can be a follow up if they want to respond to that. The other argument that carries some weight is,  "so the universe is 6000 years old, then why do we see exploding stars that are millions of light years away when sin only entered recently". Of course the more seasoned ones or internet savvy will say sin caused the laws of physics to change and light was faster then. Oh really. But as you can see with a bronze age scientific understanding it is hard to debate. 

You cannot de-covert someone. There is lots of webbing to hold them back. I am happy with just a crack. Getting someone to think and feel just outside their prison walls is sufficient.

 

Religion Kills !!!

Numbers 31:17-18 - Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.

http://jesus-needs-money.blogspot.com/


ex-minister
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 Had another thought. Going

 Had another thought. Going from belief in god to atheism is a big step. My experience is first the god of the bible doesn't exist. Maybe something else exists but this god is man made which shows in so many ways. That is always a good topic.

Religion Kills !!!

Numbers 31:17-18 - Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.

http://jesus-needs-money.blogspot.com/


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Fantastic comment,

Fantastic comment, ex-minister. The part about the good feelings of religion being like chasing a high ring true, and I wonder if you've encountered Recovering From Religion, which was started by Dr. Darrell Ray, author of The God Virus.

I agree with your points about needing to tailor the argument (e.g. scientific ones) to the audience, and that simpler, more personal/emotional ones can have more impact initially, due to a general lack of understanding of science etc. (Tiny nit pick: Not all marsupials are native to Australia. The American opossum is a marsupial, and I think there's at least one other example I can't remember right now. So, sticking with kangaroos was a good idea for that reason too! Eye-wink )

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natural wrote:Fantastic

natural wrote:

Fantastic comment, ex-minister. The part about the good feelings of religion being like chasing a high ring true, and I wonder if you've encountered Recovering From Religion, which was started by Dr. Darrell Ray, author of The God Virus.

I agree with your points about needing to tailor the argument (e.g. scientific ones) to the audience, and that simpler, more personal/emotional ones can have more impact initially, due to a general lack of understanding of science etc. (Tiny nit pick: Not all marsupials are native to Australia. The American opossum is a marsupial, and I think there's at least one other example I can't remember right now. So, sticking with kangaroos was a good idea for that reason too! Eye-wink )

 

The Virginia opossum is the only living North American marsupial.  There are around 60 species of opossum in South America.  All marsupials may have originated in South America, but obviously some left and didn't come back.

Google marsupials and you could spend a couple of days reading it all.

 

-- I feel so much better since I stopped trying to believe.

"We are entitled to our own opinions. We're not entitled to our own facts"- Al Franken

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Baraminology

 I was aware of the Virginia Opossum and that it was one of the limited number of marsupials on this side of the globe. I live in Virginia and have encountered them unfortunately nearly all the time as road kill. (Odd thing this year, my wife and I have both noticed raccoons are frequent road kill. That was quite rare in all the years past. I don't know what to make of it this year. overpopulation I guess). So are you saying the opossum was the only marsupial that came to North America from South America? What kind of connection is there between the marsupials and placental mammals? Does science think one evolved before the other ? Wonder how far back on the tree you have to go to find their common ancestor?

 

 

 

Google can get you off on tangents and finding something you hadn't seen before. Was looking for taxonomy and found creationists "playing scientists". Baraminology got its start in the 1940s, but it wasn't til the 1990 that it got truly underway. Probably something to do with the incredible weight of evidence on evolution that arose in those intervening years and how creationist had to bend it to their agenda. My profession is Info Technology. I have seen as those of you in the same profession can attest is to put out the same functional product but rebrand it with new terminology usually with the intent to charge more. Creationism "poof" Intelligent Design.

Baraminology has its own terminology of course then.

baraminology    (hebrew verb bara, create and min, kind) - word originated in 1941 by Frank L Marsh

Evolution looks at mankind as one species. Creation scientists (as of 1990) would call this a holobaramin (holo from greek-snicker), but they would call Caucasians a monobaramin and an Asian a different monbaramin and a African another monobaramin (the curse of Ham?). Then there is the term apobaramin meaning the spontaneous creation of separate kinds. Humans are an apobaramin group since they share no common ancestor with other apobaramin groups such as gorilias. Oddly it does show chimp and gorillas as the same apobaramin group, but not all the play scientists are in agreement. And BINGO they show lions and tigers as one apobaramin group - thus allowing for ligers as a kind.  Another term is archaebaramin and for humans that would be Adam & Eve. No names for the original pair of chimps, maybe Bonzo & Flo?

 

Quote:

However, even as explained by Wise in his 1990 oral presentation, there is not much relevant taxonomic information in the Bible.

Which is why 1) the bible is not a science book and 2) the term "kind", a literary term, is vague

 

 

Quote:

How many holobaramins will there be--3,000, 5,000, 10,000, 15,000, or more? At this time the best very tentative answer is, "probably in the low thousands".

Ah, really about reverse engineering.  IOW, how many animals will fit into a boat 137.2 meters long, 22.9 meters wide and 13.7 meters tall?

 

 

The article does throw out this naked assertion

 

Quote:

For people reared on an evolutionary diet, the above menu can be difficult to swallow and digest, because students of biology have been taught to think genetic relationship rather than genetic discontinuity. But there is a lack of evidence for connecting any holobaraminic group to any other holobaraminic group. This is true for both extinct and extant types of life.

 

As Dr Seuss says "oh the places you will go" , especially when you got an agenda to sell.

 

 

http://www.christiananswers.net/q-crs/baraminology.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

Religion Kills !!!

Numbers 31:17-18 - Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.

http://jesus-needs-money.blogspot.com/


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DNA evidence is quite

DNA evidence is quite sufficient to destroy any argument against the ultimate connectedness of all life.

It has not replaced fosslls, but is now by far the strongest, and now over-whelming, evidence for Evolution.

More technical than fossils - you can see and touch fossils - but you can ask them to prove that the strong matches in so many genes, even between us and worms, or even plants, are rather strong counter arguments to the sort of new 'science' they describe. And how the amount of similarity is broadly consistent with the Darwinian evolutionary lineages developed from fossil and other studies.

Not sure if the other good example of how even different species, by ordinary definitions, can be clearly linked - namely 'Ring Species' -  would work so well against this attempt to resuscitate 'kinds'. Ring Species are 'clearly' all of the same 'kind'.

 

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ex-minister wrote: I was

ex-minister wrote:

 I was aware of the Virginia Opossum and that it was one of the limited number of marsupials on this side of the globe. I live in Virginia and have encountered them unfortunately nearly all the time as road kill. (Odd thing this year, my wife and I have both noticed raccoons are frequent road kill. That was quite rare in all the years past. I don't know what to make of it this year. overpopulation I guess). So are you saying the opossum was the only marsupial that came to North America from South America? What kind of connection is there between the marsupials and placental mammals? Does science think one evolved before the other ? Wonder how far back on the tree you have to go to find their common ancestor?

 

 

For way more information than most probably care about see this resource:

http://www.google.com/books?id=KqtlPZJ9y8EC&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false

There were many more species of marsupials in North America in times past, they almost all went extinct.  Same in South America.  The theory is they are not able to compete with mammals.

 

Quote:

Conversely, the advantage for placentals of a higher body temperature and SMR [ standard metabolic rate ] is faster nerve conduction and smooth muscle contraction, faster growth rates and faster reproduction, with the trade off in higher food requirements.

 

So where food is abundant, mammals win.

This online book - about page 16 - mentions that the split between mammals and marsupials was in the Cretaceous period.  (circa 145.5 ± 4 to 65.5 ± 0.3 million years ago, pre- dinosaur extinction)  Which is a  pretty broad section of time.

Back to wiki:

Quote:

The oldest known marsupial is Sinodelphys, found in 125M-year old early Cretaceous shale in China's northeastern Liaoning Province. The fossil is nearly complete and includes tufts of fur and imprints of soft tissues.[12]

Reconstruction based on Megalonyx jeffersonii, Iowa Museum of Natural History, University of Iowa

The living Eutheria ("true beasts" ) are all placentals. But the earliest known eutherian, Eomaia, found in China and dated to 125M years ago, obtained some features which are more like those of marsupials, which suggested it was perhaps a transitional fossil that eventually gave rise to the placental lineage (the surviving metatherians):[13]

 

So, to summarize, marsupials and mammals parted ways long enough ago that Noah wasn't even a gleam in his daddy's eyes.

 

 

edit: unwanted smiley.  Also, a note on the pic - I believe it is in relation to mammal evolution in general which is where the text comes from.  However, it copied over with the marsupial discussion, is kind of cool, and so I left it in.

 

-- I feel so much better since I stopped trying to believe.

"We are entitled to our own opinions. We're not entitled to our own facts"- Al Franken

"If death isn't sweet oblivion, I will be severely disappointed" - Ruth M.


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BobSpence1 wrote:DNA

BobSpence1 wrote:

DNA evidence is quite sufficient to destroy any argument against the ultimate connectedness of all life.

It has not replaced fosslls, but is now by far the strongest, and now over-whelming, evidence for Evolution.

More technical than fossils - you can see and touch fossils - but you can ask them to prove that the strong matches in so many genes, even between us and worms, or even plants, are rather strong counter arguments to the sort of new 'science' they describe. And how the amount of similarity is broadly consistent with the Darwinian evolutionary lineages developed from fossil and other studies.

Not sure if the other good example of how even different species, by ordinary definitions, can be clearly linked - namely 'Ring Species' -  would work so well against this attempt to resuscitate 'kinds'. Ring Species are 'clearly' all of the same 'kind'.

 

 

The ring species are like the lizard in California, seagulls around the arctic,  which can breed with their neighboring population but it continues until the first and last of the "species" can no longer breed with each other. Is this a permanent situation or could we/nature change that? Could genetically we move all the layers of populations closer together and then they could begin breeding again? Maybe I can answer my own question. The first and last species would become yet another variation that could begin to breed with each other so they would have changed.  Does evolution ever work that way where it could take two populations unable to breed and in time allow for it?

Have dogs become separated enough yet that some cannot breed with others excluding the physical impossibility of size differentials?

Religion Kills !!!

Numbers 31:17-18 - Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.

http://jesus-needs-money.blogspot.com/


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braaaains

BobSpence1 wrote:
DNA evidence is quite sufficient to destroy any argument against the ultimate connectedness of all life.
Ah, if only it was sufficient... There are a lot of people brainwashed from years of Answer in Genesis and crap like that.

-----------

First I'd like to say I'm ok with most of what have been said in this thread until now. You need to know that faith is a drug and a prison. You need to know that faith is an illusion our mind can create very easily.

I concord with the fact that you cannot hope for an immediate deconversion. Almost always there are emotional ties to religions and they won't go away in less than some days, probably months or years. I, for example, observed a deconversion in like an afternoon from christian to agnostic some days ago, but this guy probably was more idiot that teist, as he's gone back and forth from his position multiple times, now...

So in the end it's very dependant on who you are debating with. You cannot treat a non-denominational, an evangelical, a catholic, a JW, a mormon, a neopagan, a hebrew, a muslim all the same way. But for sure you need 1)order 2)knowledge 3)extreme force of will... Often 'initiates' don't know how to debate, and simply throw their 2 cent without considering implications much. You have to act like a 'teacher', or like a 'trainer', go a little step a time, make rules and pretend they respect it. The problem is this can be done if you from the start define what the discussion is gonna be. If they have no reason to be there discussing with you they'll simply "send you to hell" -- it could go your way if it's a face to face/public discussion and you have some charisma to show, you make 'pressure', you make yourself 'the boss' and subconsciously show them you're worthy some respect, but this needs obviously some experience -- and usually works only on unsure people. Arrogants ones like JC could care less BUT with some people, some that debate for debating, there IS a prize, so you can enforce some rules.

So it doesn't only matter what religion you are arguing about, but also what is the knowledge of the one you have in front of you. If he knows more than you do, then you can only pass him to someone who knows more, sad but true. It could happen that this person throws theology at you, that throws philosophy at you, ethics/morals, history, biblical analysis, evolution... Noone can be expert in every field, that's why sometime you have to refer to some else. But for sure something that everyone should know are the logical fallacies. One wise thing that JC said, although, is that fallacies are not always fallacies, they are not absolute.

On youtube I trampled on deconversion videos, one of the better made I found was this:

It's part of a collection, and I like it because is one that tries to "formalize" a little.

In regard to me, I disbilieved (a critical in a will check, for the nerds) when I was a child, around age 10. Being raised in Italy I was sent to catechism before school, and sent to mess after that. I didn't really understood what was happening, why I had to do those things. Maybe I have to thank my slothness for not being indoctrinated to the bones! Fact is in the end I was a believer, Jeez and all. What simply made me to doubt was "man, it's stupid". I was "feeling" what they taught me, but on the other hand "boh, wtf?". The main and only tie was probably the parents and the people around me, what they would think of me. But the questioning did not resist much, in about 2 days of "internal hell" I refuted everything. I've been agnostic until polytechnic, and did not care much about religion and everything. I simply was in my world, computers, all the humans outside me were spots (I admit that accomplice is the fact that I did not have many positive experiences at school). After some years at the polytechnic (I've even had a mathematics teacher that started a lesson about the pope, one day, another of a wtf moment) I sort of opened the world outside, and learned a bit about the complexities of the human psyche. I mean, I never understood until then how much ideologies (and by that I mean really tradition/culture) affected human behavior. I simply ignored it or labeled it as stupid. But as I was having more friends (in the end humanity is all there: sociality) I observed their reasoning and asked myself: why don't they think like me? I mean... I'm logic, am I not? Why do they have these stupid arguments? And so I reevaluated history and philosophy, which I never learnt, and started to study humans. Really, with some training (role playing games, for example), it's easy to "push" people a little, or to "read" them. You only need to anticipate them and learn about their culture. Well in the end I became atheist and have been since then. Now Italy is in crappy times again (and again, and again...) and it's common knowledge that troubled times for sects like JW are golden times. They "captured" two of my friends, for which I'm sorry, and the rest is history.

This is something that should be omni-quoted (corollary: it will never be quoted enough!):

Quote:
Convince them they will feel better not believing in crap.


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I should concede that when I

I should concede that when I said 'DNA evidence is more than sufficient...", I meant sufficient to fill whatever remaining 'holes' they could 'reasonably' poke at due to gaps in the fossil record, and other uncertainties in fossil evidence.

I agree it would not likely be sufficient to sway a fundy/creationist. They will always find a way around any evidence that threatens their beliefs. They have to.

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ex-minister wrote:The ring

ex-minister wrote:

The ring species are like the lizard in California, seagulls around the arctic,  which can breed with their neighboring population but it continues until the first and last of the "species" can no longer breed with each other. Is this a permanent situation or could we/nature change that? Could genetically we move all the layers of populations closer together and then they could begin breeding again? Maybe I can answer my own question. The first and last species would become yet another variation that could begin to breed with each other so they would have changed.  Does evolution ever work that way where it could take two populations unable to breed and in time allow for it?

Have dogs become separated enough yet that some cannot breed with others excluding the physical impossibility of size differentials?

 

I have never heard of two populations that can not breed, evolving to be able to breed.  Perhaps in bacteria if you allow non-sexual reproduction.  In sexual reproducing species?  Never heard of it.

Dogs - recently, they discovered that dogs have been bred to have differently shaped focal points in their eyes.  Sight hounds and herding dogs especially have a focal point that resembles a horse, where they can see in a stripe along a horizon.  Dogs with pushed in faces and rounder eyes have a point focal point like a human.  Yet they can still interbreed.  Why you would want to cross a greyhound with a Pekinese, I have no idea, but you could.

When your pushed in faced dog sits up and watches TV, they really can see it.  Your Border Collie?  Not so much.

So I'm guessing except for size, at this time, dogs have no other characteristics that are separating them into a ring species. 

 

-- I feel so much better since I stopped trying to believe.

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 I am also pretty sure that

 I am also pretty sure that there are no 'first' or 'last' species in the ring. Any two species close enough along the ring can breed. The furthest apart would have the most difficulty, which would be any pair on opposite sides of the ring from each other, assuming the rate of variation was geographically approximately uniform.

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Thanks for the responses

Thanks for the responses guys.

I like the "Read the whole Bible" idea.  I have a quote on my blog with a similar strategy.  "Read through your chosen holy text, replacing all references to your deity with 'Bob.'  Then ask yourself, is Bob a nice guy?"  Though maybe for the bible the name substitution isn't even necessary.

 

Does anyone know of some secular organizations that I could recommend for people going through, for lack of a better term, church withdrawal?  I ended up using a UU youth group in high school and a couple of clubs in college, but I don't really know much about what's available in the "adult world."

 

Also, any thoughts on how to combat more moderate forms of religion?

 

And here's an idea for how atheism (or perhaps more specifically skepticism) can make you happier: Guilt Reduction.  When you're a skeptic, you no longer have any crises of faith.  You don't have to berate yourself for doubting what you're taught or asking questions.

 

I guess you also get to have all the kinky sex you want, so long as you're not huring anyone.  We can market that, right?

Questions for Theists:
http://silverskeptic.blogspot.com/2011/03/consistent-standards.html

I'm a bit of a lurker. Every now and then I will come out of my cave with a flurry of activity. Then the Ph.D. program calls and I must fall back to the shadows.


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Zaq wrote:Does anyone know

Zaq wrote:

Does anyone know of some secular organizations that I could recommend for people going through, for lack of a better term, church withdrawal?  I ended up using a UU youth group in high school and a couple of clubs in college, but I don't really know much about what's available in the "adult world."

I mentioned earlier, the organization Recovering From Religion, which seems good.

Quote:
Also, any thoughts on how to combat more moderate forms of religion?

If they are not completely dismissive of atheists, then simply standing up and speaking out about the absurdities of religion is a great tactic. You'll get them objecting against your 'over-simplified version' of religion, and then you just challenge them, "Well, what do you believe?" And inevitably, it will be just as silly as any other belief, and with the exact same lack of evidence. I use this opportunity to focus on the importance of evidenced-based reasoning, and the harms of defending the concept of 'faith'.

Quote:

And here's an idea for how atheism (or perhaps more specifically skepticism) can make you happier: Guilt Reduction.  When you're a skeptic, you no longer have any crises of faith.  You don't have to berate yourself for doubting what you're taught or asking questions.

 

I guess you also get to have all the kinky sex you want, so long as you're not huring anyone.  We can market that, right?

Darrel Ray (Recovering from Religion, and the God Virus) talks a lot about both guilt and sexuality. Sounds like you should google him.

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RR

 Natural,

Have you been to any Recovering From Religion meetups?

Or do we have any users here that have done that? Like to hear about it.

 

As an aside, they could pay some attention to their website. I was hitting a number of broken links in the Active RR group section.

Religion Kills !!!

Numbers 31:17-18 - Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.

http://jesus-needs-money.blogspot.com/


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ex-minister

ex-minister wrote:

 Natural,

Have you been to any Recovering From Religion meetups?

Or do we have any users here that have done that? Like to hear about it.

 

As an aside, they could pay some attention to their website. I was hitting a number of broken links in the Active RR group section.

No, never been, and I don't know if there's even one in my area. Anyway, I'm not a former theist, so I don't need to recover from it.

But I have listened to several interviews of Darrel Ray back when he first came out with the God Virus book, and I was impressed at his approach, and the fact that he did not make too-big claims. He seems genuine and legit to me.

Coincidentally, here's some recent news about RR: http://www.rationalresponders.com/forum/30376

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About the broken links,

About the broken links, maybe that would be something worthy of bringing to the attention of Jerry DeWitt. His email addy is given in the press release I posted.

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ex-minister
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Don't need no stinking broken links

 Thanks. I just shot him an email.

Religion Kills !!!

Numbers 31:17-18 - Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.

http://jesus-needs-money.blogspot.com/