Talking to a Christian

cbenard
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Talking to a Christian

When talking to Christians, they try to use this "proof".

1) Do you agree we exist?
I say "Yes".

2) How did we begin to exist?
Evolution/big bang/etc.

3) What started that.
Not being a scientist, I'm perfectly ok with saying "I don't know".

They turn not knowing into "evidence" for a god. I can see this is a total logical fallacy, but they cannot. How can I explain this in a quick manner so that even the most unintelligent christian can understand.

Thanks in advance, all you more skilled atheist debaters.


Equilibrium
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Use an analogy, but don't expect results no matter what you do. To quote Bill Maher, "That's like saying the thermos keeps hot things hot, and cold things cold, because it's a God".

I've been trying to figure out the best fit for this fallacy. Is it Hasty Generalization?

"Character is higher than intellect... A great soul will be strong to live, as well as to think."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson


CynageN
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I've actually got a few christians to shut up just by saying, what makes you think Science will not eventually uncover what started the big bang if it's true? Science never stops evolving, and it's illogical to think that it will never be discovered.


qwak
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I find it's often best to cite other examples of uncertainty, especially if it's something that they might deal with on a daily basis.

It can be something that could easily be proven, but at the time you ask them they could have no knowledge of. It could be a fairly realistic scenario or something absolutely ridiculous, but you can use that to show why you shouldn't come to any sort of conclusion about something unless you have good reason to.

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lunkradio_dot_com
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you could bring up the whole spontaneous generation thing - people used to think rotting meat miraculously spawned maggots until someone realised that flys were laying eggs on the meat....this is a simple example of how science figures things out, just because we do not understand the origins of life now doesnt mean we wont someday. science does not claim to have all the answers, religion clearly does claim to have all the answers - sensible people realise the answers religion offers are implausible. science strives for knowledge and understanding while religion sticks with its mythology. one of theists' favorite thing to do is say "oh science cannot explain this, must be god!" through out history this is what the religious have done. science must be naturalistic, to give up and assume something has a supernatural nature because it cannot be explained yet is not a good scientific principal....people that do this read too much lee strobel. darwin and dawkins are the modern copernicus and bruno....history does repeat itself in this matter, fortunately today the church/state doesnt execute scientists!

I'm completely in favor of the separation of Church and State. My
idea is that these two institutions screw us up enough on their own,
so both of them together is certain death.
- George Carlin


Lucretius
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Some examples I use to point out the God-of-the-Gaps fallacy are:

The ancients thought lightning was caused by God, were they ever right? No. Just because we didn't know the cause didn't make "God" correct before we learned of electricity.

Another one is "2+(456.5^(1/2))=? Don't know the answer? Well then it's 2." Now, two is obviously not correct, but since THEY don't have an answer, according to their logic, any answer I provide is correct: just like what they try and do with God.


natto_the_sane
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I always see these arguments as ending up in a religeon vs. science debate. This can be a mistake. By going down that road, you end up in a position where these theists see darwin and creationism as two opposing explanations...

Now, we know that's not the case - but many theists don't really understand science, do they?

Can't we redefine everything as 'what we know' and 'what we don't know yet'? Your argument could go something like this...

Is a TV science?
...Well, yep - (it's a cathode ray originally used to plot a stream of electrons).
Does the christian have a TV?
Ask them how it works - is it god?
No?
What is it then? How does it work?
You don't know? So, it's okay to not know how something works and it not be god?
So - it's okay not to know which version of the big band is the correct one - or how much dark matter there is - or whether neutrenos have mass after all. If they opened the TV and read some books, they could find out how it worked - that's what we're doing with the universe. There's no reason why we have to have all of the answers in the year 2006 BUT the absence of these answers is no reason to make up a god.

Science is an enemy to these theists when it's science that contradicts their book - evolution, dinosaurs etc. etc. Science isn't a religeon, it's not a 'take it or leave it', 'all or nothing' thing. It's a constantly improving body of knowledge that gets changed and amended as we learn more.

When the first smallpox innoculations were done, it was based on impiracle evidence - it worked but they couldn't tell you why until the microscope. It wasn't 'god' deciding that if you got exposed to coxpox that you deserved immunity from smallpox!

...and get that christian to untune their TV. See the static? Know what that it? Nope, it's not god. It's the shockwaves from the big bang.

Sorry about the meandering argument there! Just hate it when science is seen as the big bad when all of these christians are happy to use electricity, cars, phones, TVs, computers...

NSane

Lock up your libraries if you like; but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind. ~ Virginia Woolf 1928.


CynageN
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Science is the one topic I actually enjoy debating with theists, because 9 times of 10 they don't even have a firm grasp on basic chemistry that's taught in schools in America at a fairly young age.

When you can't reason with them because they are being unreasonable, smack them upside the head with science.. the deer in headlights reaction you get from them is priceless.


natto_the_sane
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...I did have fun with some Jehovahs who came to the door... they could see my bookcase and some of the titles on it.

They weren't keen on discussing evolution when they saw I had The Origin of Species and wouldn't get drawn into a debate about the position of women in religeon either.

Strangely, they made their excuses and left and have not been back since. I even offered them tea. Puzzled

NSane

Lock up your libraries if you like; but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind. ~ Virginia Woolf 1928.


lunkradio_dot_com
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natto_the_sane wrote:
I always see these arguments as ending up in a religeon vs. science debate. This can be a mistake. By going down that road, you end up in a position where these theists see darwin and creationism as two opposing explanations...

Now, we know that's not the case - but many theists don't really understand science, do they?

Can't we redefine everything as 'what we know' and 'what we don't know yet'? Your argument could go something like this...

Is a TV science?
...Well, yep - (it's a cathode ray originally used to plot a stream of electrons).
Does the christian have a TV?
Ask them how it works - is it god?
No?
What is it then? How does it work?
You don't know? So, it's okay to not know how something works and it not be god?
So - it's okay not to know which version of the big band is the correct one - or how much dark matter there is - or whether neutrenos have mass after all. If they opened the TV and read some books, they could find out how it worked - that's what we're doing with the universe. There's no reason why we have to have all of the answers in the year 2006 BUT the absence of these answers is no reason to make up a god.

Science is an enemy to these theists when it's science that contradicts their book - evolution, dinosaurs etc. etc. Science isn't a religeon, it's not a 'take it or leave it', 'all or nothing' thing. It's a constantly improving body of knowledge that gets changed and amended as we learn more.

When the first smallpox innoculations were done, it was based on impiracle evidence - it worked but they couldn't tell you why until the microscope. It wasn't 'god' deciding that if you got exposed to coxpox that you deserved immunity from smallpox!

...and get that christian to untune their TV. See the static? Know what that it? Nope, it's not god. It's the shockwaves from the big bang.

Sorry about the meandering argument there! Just hate it when science is seen as the big bad when all of these christians are happy to use electricity, cars, phones, TVs, computers...

NSane

this is excellent! i will have to use this

I'm completely in favor of the separation of Church and State. My
idea is that these two institutions screw us up enough on their own,
so both of them together is certain death.
- George Carlin


Obscure
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If you're looking for a short answer, just refer them to the 1st Law of Thermodynamics. (Matter, or it's equivalent in energy, can neither be created nor destroyed)


qwak
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I'm a bigger fan of the second law myself.

And the two combined are the reason I don't gamble. Eye-wink

It can be hard to convince someone who often takes irrational ideas as givens that the answer to everything may not be as simple as some dude (or perhaps the aardvark was god's real chosen species, and he just happened to screw up royally) saying "hey, I'm bored, let's make universe". because of this, I've always been a fan of the never ending "well if god made us, then who made god?", but it can be tough to find someone who won't just answer "no one did, god just always was". Regardless of how stupid that argument really is. At that point I usually resort to kicking and/or biting.

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Archangel__7
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argument_from_ignorance

One cannot use another's ignorance as grounds for the truth of an opposing view. As a deductive argument, this is an invalid inference. I think at best, this renders the question as inconclusive.

It can, however, serve as inductive support for a different type of argument which involves doing more than just highlighting an opposing view's inability to account for the thing in question. Here, the theist goes the extra mile to not only demonstrate the explanatory deficiences of the opposing view, but works out how and why the phenomena in question actually favors theism over atheism.

At any rate, it's helpful to consider how proponents on both sides of the question of God have made this mistake.


Anonymous
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From what I've seen, christians don't even know their own bible with any proficiency much less science or logic. If I get into a debate over the existence of god, I usually use a combination of scripture and scientific principles to prove my point. The christians usually leave stuttering and red in the face or in a stunned silence.