FAITH AND FEELINGS!

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FAITH AND FEELINGS!

I as well as many other atheists run into a bit of a brick wall when arguing with theists about god and religion. That brick wall is made from faith and feelings. By faith, I am referring to those things that "you just have to believe with out proof." By feelings, I am referring to those things that people claim, "you just have to feel." I have used a few methods at trying to combat this problem, but none seem very effective.

So my question is really about how to argue against those concepts. I am wondering how it is possible to explain to theists, in a way they can understand, that those ideas are irrational and are relatively meaningless.

"Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence." - Carl Sagan


Sapient
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- ask them what else they believe in without evidence (the list is likely very short, if there is one at all). Love, air, and gravity don't count, we can measure and see the effects of all of those.

- ask them how they're "feelings" are anymore valid than the feeling that there is a monster under my bed.

- ask them to have faith that they can start their car without their keys, then steal their keys and ask them to try. When they laugh, tell them there is no evidence that there is a god and no evidence that the car will start... so what's so funny? If they manage to get the car to start (hotwiring), now ask them to have faith that the car can fly into the sky, and ask them to fly away.

- Ask them why they believe in one myth but not any others. How do they "feel" that one is more valid than the other?

- tie them up to a bungee jump, and then cut the bungee cord. Ask them to have faith that the bungee cord will reconnect when they jump off the bridge. There is as much proof that the cord will reconnect as their is in a God, which is to say... there is none.

Each time you make a valid point, ask of them to please drop the idea of believing in things with no evidence, and embrace reality for now. Tell them it's ok to believe in things that are proven, and if someday they're God is proven, you'll be the first one in the Godwagon with them.

- Brian Sapient


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Atheist
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FAITH AND FEELINGS!

That mainly seems to cover the faith portion pretty well; however, I am not sure how well it will work for people's belief in a god because the feel it is true.

They say they just feel within themselves that god and spirits are true. As for the telling them that see if feeling that their car can fly goes, they will simply reply I don't feel those things and those are just "not" the same.

For example, my one friend gave me his reason for believing in god as he has felt these indescribable things. He then uses the somewhat taboo to rebuke tale of his grandmother dying and he just felt her presence leave him.

This is obviously ridiculous to you and me, but not to him. I have tried to explain to him that it is just a feeling of loss created inside the brain. I have got slightly more in-depth, but not too.

This whole feelings thing goes along with the spirits, ghosts and afterlife. People have these subjective experiences and then try to take them as true with out any question to what may have caused them or why. I can explain the processes of the brain that cause the "near death experiences," but it is like the information goes right in one ear and out the other. Like in many of the points I make, they tend to avoid answering anything. Duck and Dodge! That is so often the theist's best defense.

"Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence." - Carl Sagan


Atheist
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FAITH AND FEELINGS!

Another thing to note is that these are the areas where I see the most emotion get introduced. Whereas, I like to debunk the illogical, I am weary go to far as in disproving these fallacies. Especially when people use these fantasies/wishful-thoughts to comfort themselves after tragedies of death, disease or other hard issue.

Has anyone here found a way to confront these irrational tendencies without causing too much emotional trauma?

"Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence." - Carl Sagan


Nick
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Ugh... this can indeed become tricky. I myself have sometimes fell back and said something like "Okay, you can believe there's a God, but how do you know your religion is true?" You know. Like, faith in God is one thing, but faith in Jesus and stuff is completely different. I always say "How can you be sure that what you're 'feeling' isn't Allah? Or Zeus? Or Ra?" Obviously it's a rhetorical. After their usually dumbfounded responce, I continue like "The Bible is filled with contradictions and evil morals. There is no proof that Jesus ever exsisted and even if he did, the guy was a jack-ass anyway. Why can't you just trust and believe in God, rather than a two-thousand year old, unproven, twisted, homophobic, sexist book like the Bible?"

So, as far as feelings go, that's still no defence for their religion. Which is what you really should be combating anywho. Try to make them "feel" your point, if you will. Demonise their faith and say, "If there's a God, he doesn't like this. He doesn't like it at all." That's what I do, anyway. I can be very persuasive at it.

Wilson: "We were afraid that if you found out you solved a case with absolutely no medical evidence you'd think you were God." House: "God doesn't limp."


Atheist
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I have used those methods and more; however, those methods are not always the best means of argument.

Such as in cases with really close friends and family. To be so confrontive may offend them and hurt your relationship. Whereas I may not care about pissing off a complete stranger of someone I barely know, I am very weary around family and friends. They are friends and family first, debating challenge second. Thats why I am really trying to find a very calm and cool way to get the message accross.

You mentioned something about making them feel what I am saying... Please elaborate on your meaning of this.

"Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence." - Carl Sagan


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Easy. Say "B, but what I'm saying is its irrational. To be rational it would have to be backed up by evidence. And I have never met a Christian who is happy with that."

From Alan
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natto_the_sane
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FAITH AND FEELINGS!

Okay, I see your problem. Friends and family members 'feel' things and you want to stop them thinking that these feelings are related to their god myth.

Can I ask a simple question... why?

Feelings just aren't rational - which of us are completely rational all of the time? I know I'm not! Do you fall in love with the person whose DNA most compliments yours for procreation? Try telling someone in love that they don't really feel that way because the person is unsuitable!

Does it make me any less afraid of spiders when I know that they can't hurt me? Of course not - when a big one appears in the house, I 'feel' the best thing to do is to run away, very fast & get someone to catch it for me. What I'm getting at is that knowing that the spider is completely harmless does nothing to alter my feelings about them.

It's blind faith in an intolerant, contradictory & just plain nasty book that's the problem. If someone believes that they felt the spirit of a person leave the body at the point of death and that gives them some comfort, let them have it. You can't stop people being credulous.

Belief that their dear departed are watching over them does not logically lead to a beief in jesus, the holy spirit, god, fairies, smurfs or santa claus. Things go bump in the night and we all have an imagination.

Today I feel happy. I can't tell you why. I can't give you proof. You can't give me proof that I don't.

I may like a painting. You can tell me why it's bad - it may be derivative, poorly executed & painted by a chimp with a blindfold on - I may still feel that it says something to me.

I'm rambling now and I know it! But I know that I can't stop people believing in their feelings and I don't know I'd want to even if I could - but I can get people to question the underlying dogma of their 'faith'. To realise that the whole thing is a corrupt institution based on what some men wrote at some point years after another bloke (if he existed) did some conjouring tricks and was killed as so many others were by the romans.

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.


cbenard
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Nick_Poling wrote:
Try to make them "feel" your point, if you will. Demonise their faith and say, "If there's a God, he doesn't like this. He doesn't like it at all." That's what I do, anyway. I can be very persuasive at it.

OK Ray Comfort. Smiling

I did like your war on easter video though.


Archangel__7
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Hmm...

I'll first begin by saying I can understand your frustration. It's something for which I've had some personal stake in, though it will be obvious that I view the problem from a different angle.

I see this as a difficulty with many pragmatists. What's important to such people is not merely what's true. Only what's useful. Oddly, the effect you're lamenting might well be said to be an undesired consequence of affirming certain modern forms of religious skepticism in society.

If religious claims are not true (or at least cannot be known to be true), then what's left open as an option to the willing party is pragmatic adherence to religious belief. On this view, the decisive factor on which religious system to adopt is not whether it is true, but that it brings a "sense of peace" to the believer. In secular circles, this can mean either a kind of patronizing accomodation or a genuine interest in Christian doctrine as one takes a "popular" interest in Wicca or some other form of paganism.

I once knew a sweet Catholic girl who by all appearances was a faithful and devout believer. I was a little disappointed that she didn't see the value of developing her thinking on the subject in any rigorous fashion beyond, "It's just what I was raised with, and it brings me peace, so I will hold to it." To this day, I have a difficult time deciding whether this was due to a genuine indifference on the larger question, or if it was out of a lack of confidence that she decided not to go much deeper than this. She was more or less influenced (even entertained) by popular films which were flagrantly less-than-flattering of Christianity, such as "Inherit The Wind".

The problem I tend to see with this is one of continuity of character. In short, "Whatever begins on impulse, dies on impulse." This person is not going to see her methods as faulty until one day someone shafts her on the basis of his "feeling" and she's left to finally realize that making decisions purely on subjective basis is inadequate. There must be some overarching standard by which to evaluate a belief as true or false, good or bad, etc.

Perhaps the best advice I can offer would be to help this person see the value behind solid reasoning by affirming some of his views in so far as they may correlate with that of your own. Of course, he arrives at those conclusions through a route you may disagree with, but in a predicament of emotions, mere rationality will wield little power to change one's heart.


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Archangel seemed to understand what I was trying to say; however, it seems some have missed my point.

natto_the_sane wrote:
Okay, I see your problem. Friends and family members 'feel' things and you want to stop them thinking that these feelings are related to their god myth.

Can I ask a simple question... why?

NSane

This is not what I am saying. I am not trying to make my family members think their feelings are not related to a god. Well not entirely?

I am saying that all theists attach a huge amount of emotional baggage with their religion and god. This emotional attachment can cause huge resentment to anyone whom questions its validity.

So, partially am questioning how to show people their feelings do not say anything factual about the existence or truth of religion and god, but I am mainly wondering how I can go about this process of questioning without family and friends getting too upset. And I have found that telling people faith and feelings are irrational is not very effective either, because many of them will admit it is irrational. They say, ?I know its irrational, but that is not what its about.? Then they go off into how the feelings are indescribable/unexplainable, even thought they clearly are explainable.

I need to find more effective ways of showing faith and feelings to be invalid and not piss them off while doing so.

I guess one thing I am trying to get at is how to convince the most stubborn among the believers. Not exactly the Kent Hovind type, but those that will make up or except any explanation to support their beliefs.

"Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence." - Carl Sagan


Sapient
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Good points natto... forgive me for rebutting only one point and not pointing out several points where I agree with you...

natto_the_sane wrote:

Today I feel happy. I can't tell you why. I can't give you proof. You can't give me proof that I don't.

Feeling happy and not having proof is different than having a feeling and thinking that feeling means that a God exists. Moreover, saying that 1,300 pages of a bible properly explain the "feeling" you just had is ridiculous. Agreed?

- Brian Sapient


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natto_the_sane
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I think I'm getting your point (sorry if I'm being dense).

...am I right in thinking that their faith rests on 'they feel it to be true' and so it is true? That they admit that it's not rational but that's why they see the need for belief - you hardly need to believe in a chair or gravity etc.

It's all very fuzzy and emotional then - I'd say that the only thing you can do is concentrate on what they base this belief on and question that with detatchment.

...anyone that relies soley on 'I feel therefore I believe...' is not going to be open to changing that unless the foundation of why they believe is shaken.

Any ex-theists know of a chink in the armour of feelings? I never had a belief in god so can't really relate to that... and I do know deep down that the spiders aren't out to get me!

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.


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FAITH AND FEELINGS!

...


Atheist
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natto_the_sane wrote:
I think I'm getting your point (sorry if I'm being dense).

It's all very fuzzy and emotional then - I'd say that the only thing you can do is concentrate on what they base this belief on and question that with detatchment.

...anyone that relies soley on 'I feel therefore I believe...' is not going to be open to changing that unless the foundation of why they believe is shaken.
NSane

I think you understood me this time! It is sometimes hard to communicate one's message effectively through forums.

Does anyone know how to go about "shaking the foundation" of the beliefs? I suppose constant pressure from me reasoning with them may be a start, or it could simply push them away.

One thing I have tried is breaking down the bible. This seems to work slightly with some, but really shows little progress. I often get the story of the bible being written by man or being rerecorded incorrectly to explain the problems of the bible.

I have found that certain people respond better to certian types of criticism. Some repond better to scientific reasoning for no god, and others respond better through showing the problems in the bible. I use other ways, but those are probably among my top choices.

"Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence." - Carl Sagan


Nick
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cbenard wrote:
Nick_Poling wrote:
Try to make them "feel" your point, if you will. Demonise their faith and say, "If there's a God, he doesn't like this. He doesn't like it at all." That's what I do, anyway. I can be very persuasive at it.

OK Ray Comfort. Smiling

I did like your war on easter video though.

Ray Comfort? Now, that's just cruel. No seriously. Ouch.

Wilson: "We were afraid that if you found out you solved a case with absolutely no medical evidence you'd think you were God." House: "God doesn't limp."


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Nick_Poling wrote:
Ray Comfort? Now, that's just cruel. No seriously. Ouch.

The poor debater's heart is a dark place, and they feel uncomfortable when the pure light of Chris is put upon them... or something like that which Ray Comfort would say.

Man I hate that dude. I would never really call someone Ray Comfort. It was a joke about your "feel" remark. That's what he says for real. I've watched like every video that guy has made. It's a train wreck from which I cannot look away.


Sapient
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Cbenard, I should get Ray Comfort back on the show. We barely covered anything, and we should pre-plan for you to call in and just lay into him. I didn't do it, as I was fairly certain the interview would end. Anyway, don't forget folks, the show airs Friday night.

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Sapient wrote:
Cbenard, I should get Ray Comfort back on the show. We barely covered anything, and we should pre-plan for you to call in and just lay into him. I didn't do it, as I was fairly certain the interview would end. Anyway, don't forget folks, the show airs Friday night.

I just posted this on a person's YouTube video:

Quote:
I'm well aware of the banana thing Mister Censorboss. How does Mr. Comfort explain all the food we eat that doesn't fit in our hand and have magical pepsi can features? Also, how does he explain how well it works for apes too? What about animals without opposable thumbs. I bet they're not as good at eating bananas.

Ray Comfort's arguments work well on stupid people. He takes basic situations and analogies and then attempts to explain physics with those analogies. All of his arguments (that I've seen) are all logical fallacies. He's quite a silly man, but an effective "witness" to people who don't understand basic logical fallacies.


I don't think I'd be effective at "debating" Ray Comfort. I'd just end up cursing at him, and then he'd yell over me and call me a lying thieving blasphemous adulterous hearted sinner. I REALLY HATE HIM, because he really exploits stupid people. I can't stand it how he's able to trick them into agreeing with him! But I'd totally be willing to "explain" to him how I feel.


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Sapient wrote:
Cbenard, I should get Ray Comfort back on the show. We barely covered anything, and we should pre-plan for you to call in and just lay into him. I didn't do it, as I was fairly certain the interview would end. Anyway, don't forget folks, the show airs Friday night.

Oh, and Brian, don't forget... the building is the best evidence we have that there was a builder. The painting is the best evidence we have that there was a painter. Ray's videos are the best evidence we have that he is a huge douchebag that preys on the weak minded.


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cbenard wrote:

I'd just end up cursing at him, and then he'd yell over me and call me a lying thieving blasphemous adulterous hearted sinner.... But I'd totally be willing to "explain" to him how I feel.

Well that's why I'd want you on. Duh!

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Sapient wrote:
Well that's why I'd want you on. Duh!

Just let me know when Eye-wink


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LOL! I watched an episode on that Ray Comfort guy, and I was quite suprised at what he does. I thought he was going to be more like Kent Hovind and make lies to try to show evolution or atheism is wrong. All I saw him doing was yelling at people and telling them they are going against the bible. He was telling christians there not christians, and basically just yelling somemore. One thing I thought was rather hillarious, was the ridiculous bleeps he constantly uses. "blaspheme" "bleep" "bleep bleep" "blur blur"

"Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence." - Carl Sagan


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Sapient wrote:
Good points natto... forgive me for rebutting only one point and not pointing out several points where I agree with you...

natto_the_sane wrote:

Today I feel happy. I can't tell you why. I can't give you proof. You can't give me proof that I don't.

Feeling happy and not having proof is different than having a feeling and thinking that feeling means that a God exists. Moreover, saying that 1,300 pages of a bible properly explain the "feeling" you just had is ridiculous. Agreed?

Agreed.

Feelings are subjective and this being so, not governed by proof. Attributing those feelings to something made up is spurious.

Maybe I should have illustrated it with the following...

Today I feel happy. I wholly attribute feeling happy to knowing where my towel is. Praise be to Douglas Adams and the holy tomes of the HitchHikers Guide to the Galaxy - every word of which is true. I offer no proof except that I am happy and therefore it is true. :smt036

:smt039

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.