Have your debates ever gone anywhere?

Sapient
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Have your debates ever gone anywhere?

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----------------- Original Message -----------------
From: I hate MySpace
Date: Mar 1, 2006 8:26 PM

Out of curiousity, have any of your debates with a Christian ever made a real difference? Have you ever convinced any to wake up and open their mind?

Not trying to take anything from what you do, I'm just saying I can't recall any debate that has... debates seem pointless to me. Ignorant people will simply not listen to facts that attack their insecure shells of false realities.

-IHM

Quote:
I personally have about 35 people who have admitted to me that they've left Christianity because of our debates. We estimate the actual number is much higher, as most people aren't likely to admit that we changed their life.

Look at this girl start to question tonight based on arguments we (I've) been making in the last 48 hours:

http://forum.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=messageboard.viewThread&entryID=13564069&groupID=100096596

So yes, we deconvert people often (compared to those who say debate amounts to nothing) Eye-wink

I've been doing this about 8 years, and about a year of that, "full time." We're just now, kicking it up a notch.

- Brian Sapient


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luca
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debates for life

Not all debates have to change your life.

But the right words might make you begin using your brain.


Vastet
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I've changed the mind of at

I've changed the mind of at least 1 person in debate offline, and at least 3 online. And there's been a few former theists post on the site that they changed their minds after debating with the members.
Who knows how many others we've reached.

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Brian37
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I would still be a believer

I would still be a believer if someone hadn't triggered thought in me with a question.

Does it work all the time, no, but it does work. I have yet to have someone in my 12 years online come back to me and say 'You did it", because it is quite often not one person or one question. But I am quite sure with all the other people along with myself, we collectively can have an affect on readers.

But to all reading this if you think one voice does not matter, you'd be wrong. I can remember back in 01 when I first got online how small the atheist voice was. Now there are tons of atheist websites and best seller authors and even tv shows focused on atheist issues, and when you do a web search on "atheist news" you find multiple stories daily somewhere around the world.

Keep it up everyone, this is not one battle, or one debate, this is generational. We are collectively reversing 50 years of theocratic damage to our society.

 

 

 

"We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus -- and nonbelievers."Obama
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Brian37
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Vastet wrote:I've changed

Vastet wrote:
I've changed the mind of at least 1 person in debate offline, and at least 3 online. And there's been a few former theists post on the site that they changed their minds after debating with the members. Who knows how many others we've reached.

They guy that questioned me that triggered my path, we parted ways long before I called myself an atheist so he will never know what he did for me.  There probably are lots of people whom we talk to who give up on religion but we never talk to again.

"We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus -- and nonbelievers."Obama
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I am convinced that if a

I am convinced that if a debate it going to take place it isn't logical to attempt convincing some one else to switch. The best way to discuss things is to talk about the facts rather than truths. And by this I mean, facts are indisputable and widely accepted, such as "1 ft is equal to 12 inches". Truths are personal and filled with opinions and are disputable such as, "The best live concert I ever saw was Van Halen during their 1984 tour". While this statement is true, it is most definitely personal and an opinion.

I refuse to debate with militant people, both atheist and religious; they are the most closed minded people I've have met.

 

Free will is an illusion. People always choose the perceived path of greatest pleasure.

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I must say that while I was

I must say that while I was one who considered himself agnostic (in the category of didn't give too much of a crap), the debate between Sapient/Kelly and Kirk/Bananaman was what got me interested in the topic. Raised Catholic, I came to the conclusion that it's impossible for an all-loving god to condemn me to hell for not attending church, considering the transgressions of the church, and that some parts of it legitimately caused me much mental anguish (confession for instance. Funny enough, I have no such qualms about actually making things right with anyone I've done wrong to). 

 

A friend of mine told me about the crocoduck video with Kirk Cameron. I found just that short clip, and from there, the whole well-made banana speech. Then I watched the entire debate. This was also around the time I discovered that 
Christopher Hitchens died (who I didn't know about until after he was dead). So after watching the debate, when Kelly mentioned that there was no contemporary historical sources, I went and researched whether that was true (which it was), and also learned a thing or two about how we evaluate the validity of a historical reference. After that, I watched a number of debates with Christopher Hitchens, and it did three things. It all made me interested in discussing the topic, it made me realize that Christianity was not only probably untrue, but DEFINITELY untrue, and over time, it made me feel that it was definitely a good thing that that was the case. I have to thank Brian and the RRS for setting up that debate, as it got my feet wet in this topic.

 

It really showed me how misleading it is when someone says that historians have largely reached the consensus that Jesus did exist. What they actually mean is that there was probably (not certainly) a dude named Jesus that may have been responsible for the early Christian movement, and may have been crucified. Of course, those bringing that up in support of the truth of Christianity fail to mention that historical documents mention James, the brother of Jesus (something the gospels seemed to think wasn't important), and that EVERY single reference to him was made decades after his death. Of course, this may mean that to the best of their knowledge, this person existed, because his followers claimed he did, and the historians believed them. There is no verification of his existence, and any reference to his existence is, to me, about as reliable as the existence of the angel Moroni who spoke to Joseph Smith. Just like Smith convinced these people that this angel was real, so could one person have convinced a group of people 2000 years ago that a human with divine attributes existed. Of course a historian wouldn't say, then, that the angel Moroni was real, because it bordered on the absurd. However, if the prophet is speaking of a flesh and blood man, a historian could have assumed that the man existed, and his followers simply thought him to be divine. It doesn't mean that he couldn't have been an entire fabrication by the leader of the early movement. But even IF you prove Jesus's existence, it still doesn't do anything to prove his divinity.

 

Once again, thank you Brian. You helped lead me down a path that turned me from an agnostic atheist (about all gods), to an agnostic atheist who is a gnostic a-Christian, a gnostic a-Muslim, etc. It took me a few months to feel that it was a good thing, but it was completely worth it. 

Theists - If your god is omnipotent, remember the following: He (or she) has the cure for cancer, but won't tell us what it is.


iwbiek
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fuck, i'm sorry, but i

fuck, i'm sorry, but i worked for camous crusade for 3 years and if you just tweaked a word or two, several of these responses could easily be "testimonies" on their bullshit website.

i'm fucking done with converting people, folks, no matter which direction i'm doing it in.  i had my fill of the "us and them" mentality loooong ago.

"I asked my father,
I said, 'Father change my name.'
The one I'm using now it's covered up
with fear and filth and cowardice and shame."
--Leonard Cohen


Vastet
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Nothing wrong with trying to

Nothing wrong with trying to teach people to think instead of buying into a bunch of lies and false promises in my view. We need more people thinking.

Proud Canadian, Enlightened Atheist, Gaming God.


Brian37
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iwbiek wrote:fuck, i'm

iwbiek wrote:

fuck, i'm sorry, but i worked for camous crusade for 3 years and if you just tweaked a word or two, several of these responses could easily be "testimonies" on their bullshit website.

i'm fucking done with converting people, folks, no matter which direction i'm doing it in.  i had my fill of the "us and them" mentality loooong ago.

Not me, it isn't about getting everyone, it is about putting the information out there. It for me is more a display so that the viewer of the debate or event can see it and decide for themselves.

Kinda like "Christian Nation" crap vs "Question with boldness the existence of a god"

 

 

"We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus -- and nonbelievers."Obama
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Peggotty
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By definition an argument is

By definition an argument is a claim supported by evidence. Theists, generally, frame their arguments with unsupported assertions and are short on facts, plus, they often quote out of context and don’t include the sources of their quotes.

They’ll never convert anyone with arguments like that!
 

Oh, but Peggotty, you haven't given Mr. Barkis his proper answer, you know.
Charles Dickens


Brian37
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Peggotty wrote:By definition

Peggotty wrote:

By definition an argument is a claim supported by evidence. Theists, generally, frame their arguments with unsupported assertions and are short on facts, plus, they often quote out of context and don’t include the sources of their quotes.

They’ll never convert anyone with arguments like that!
 

They wont convert any educated atheist, but they certainly get people all the time, especially their own sponge brain kids who are too young to understand.

 

"We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus -- and nonbelievers."Obama
Check out my poetry here on Rational Responders Like my poetry thread on Facebook under BrianJames Rational Poet also on twitter under Brianrrs37


RobbyPants
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Brian37 wrote:Not me, it

Brian37 wrote:

Not me, it isn't about getting everyone, it is about putting the information out there. It for me is more a display so that the viewer of the debate or event can see it and decide for themselves.

I would agree with this. The first time my religious beliefs were put under any real scrutiny was when I was in college. At that point in my life, I wasn't ready to let go, so I got quite defensive and would use some pretty feeble arguments to keep the walls intact. I actually got to the point where I admitted I was lucky to be born in a country that worshiped the right god (as I admitted that where you are born is the largest determining factor of your religion). It wasn't until five years later or so that cognitive dissonance set in hard enough that I started having trouble blindly accepting it. As I read various arguments against religion (at a gaming forum, no less!), it started sinking in more and more. These were the exact same arguments and observations I was exposed to earlier, but at this point in my life, I was willing to examine it honestly.

While the OP is right that few people will change their minds about religion over the course of a single debate, the debates can

1) get the ball rolling and get the person to at least think critically about their beliefs, and

2) can serve to enlighten other people simply reading the debates who are ready to give it an honest look.

Many people simply haven't been exposed to any solid skeptical criticism of their pet religion, and if they're already feeling disaffected, it might be enough...


Beyond Saving
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 I think Jabberwocky's

 I think Jabberwocky's experience is typical of those who are actually influenced by debate. In general, the people having the debate are highly unlikely to change their position as people usually have already formed their opinion and have thought through their opinion before deciding to debate it. They might change slightly on small details as they gain new information, but in most cases the people on both sides of the debate have positions that are not easily swayed. Add in the natural human tendency to win and neither side is going to budge. 

The persuasive power of a debate is on the audience, many of whom are paying attention to the debate because they don't have knowledge about the subject and don't have strongly formed opinions. Sometimes, a debate might simply serve the purpose of making someone in the audience interested enough in the subject to do their own research. There have been many times on various forums where I became interested in a topic that I otherwise would have ignored except for coming across a passionate debate that created the spark of curiosity. The randomness and variety of topics that come up here and get passionate discussions going is one of the reasons why this is my most visited forum and I have probably been inspired to learn more reading the debates here than anywhere else. 

Religion is one of those issues where pretty much everyone has a superficial stand on, but many/most haven't really thought about it. People tend to be religious or non-religious more based on the circumstances they were raised in rather than actual thought. To the extent that the discussions here are capable of inspiring someone to really put thought into their beliefs it is extremely valuable.

If, if a white man puts his arm around me voluntarily, that's brotherhood. But if you - if you hold a gun on him and make him embrace me and pretend to be friendly or brotherly toward me, then that's not brotherhood, that's hypocrisy.- Malcolm X


Brian37
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RobbyPants wrote:Brian37

RobbyPants wrote:

Brian37 wrote:

Not me, it isn't about getting everyone, it is about putting the information out there. It for me is more a display so that the viewer of the debate or event can see it and decide for themselves.

I would agree with this. The first time my religious beliefs were put under any real scrutiny was when I was in college. At that point in my life, I wasn't ready to let go, so I got quite defensive and would use some pretty feeble arguments to keep the walls intact. I actually got to the point where I admitted I was lucky to be born in a country that worshiped the right god (as I admitted that where you are born is the largest determining factor of your religion). It wasn't until five years later or so that cognitive dissonance set in hard enough that I started having trouble blindly accepting it. As I read various arguments against religion (at a gaming forum, no less!), it started sinking in more and more. These were the exact same arguments and observations I was exposed to earlier, but at this point in my life, I was willing to examine it honestly.

While the OP is right that few people will change their minds about religion over the course of a single debate, the debates can

1) get the ball rolling and get the person to at least think critically about their beliefs, and

2) can serve to enlighten other people simply reading the debates who are ready to give it an honest look.

Many people simply haven't been exposed to any solid skeptical criticism of their pet religion, and if they're already feeling disaffected, it might be enough...

If anyone expects a "ah ha" in front of them when they challenge believers. 99% a sudden epiphany wont happen. But to call it impossible to plant seeds that cause long term doubt, is possible. I used to be a Catholic. My younger sister used to be a Christian as well, same with her husband. Not to mention Ayaan Hersi Ali who went out of her way to try and be a "good Muslim".

 

And like you said, most people are not challenged in their beliefs, so all we can do is challenge them, it is up to them long term after that, whether they let go or not. But without exposing them to a different view, they have less of a chance of letting go.

 

I see stories almost every day now on the atheist websites where newbies join, having never met them before, describe their upbringing which most of the time they were believers at one point.  They had to see something or hear something presented to them by someone else that gave them pause. That is certainly what happened to me that triggered my path to where I am today.

 

 

 

"We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus -- and nonbelievers."Obama
Check out my poetry here on Rational Responders Like my poetry thread on Facebook under BrianJames Rational Poet also on twitter under Brianrrs37