I'm discouraged...

buster's picture
Posts: 19
Joined: 2007-02-26
User is offlineOffline
I'm discouraged...

... by the lengths that theists will go to to ignore rational argument.

I've read through several topics on the theist vs. atheist forum and all I have seen is theists and quasi-buddhists assert their logical fallacies over and over and over again. I have not seen any one of them change their opinion in the course of a discussion, or even admit that they could be wrong and then go off to do some research. Why?

Is it just stubbornness? Are they afraid to look foolish by admitting they could be wrong? Are they arrogant and think that they are absolutely right all the time? It was seriously depressing me. I even resorted to sarcasim...

Then I looked up critical thinking on wikipedia. When I read this passage, a little light went off in my head:

To be a critical thinker, one has to initially catch as much information in as many subjects as possible, and to prevent over-specializing in a single topic. That's important. This is because the lack of a wide range of information, or worse, common sense, will limit your point of view when analysing different situations or statements. As a result, you may draw a weak conclusion. Another reason is that the detailed information in a specific topic is useless when judging problems of different topics.

Could it be that theists have placed so much time and emphasis on one subject, theism, to the detriment of all others thereby imparing their judgement?

Speaking for my own experience as a deconverted roman catholic, this really was the case. The more I experienced the world, the less coherent the tenets of my faith became. It was curiosity that drove me to experience and question. But had it not been for a desire to be honest with myself and consistant in thought and deed, I would still be going to church and pretending to be catholic.

Has anyone else experienced something similar to what I have? If this is the case, then rational arguments alone will not do the trick! It implies that people need to experience more of the world, come outside of their bubble, before they can really think rationally about their beliefs.


Also can anyone point me to some threads where theists were "reached" in some way? I need some encouragement! I want to see it's possible!



Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear.
Thomas Jefferson

buster's picture
Posts: 19
Joined: 2007-02-26
User is offlineOffline
Still nothing. Sad.

Still nothing.



Posts: 892
Joined: 2006-12-22
User is offlineOffline
I've had theist concede

I've had theist concede minor points, but not enough to make any difference.

Some theist (not all) don't want to budge an inch on this forum. They want to discredit us, and are not so concerned about finding the truth.

serotonin_wraith's picture
Posts: 119
Joined: 2007-03-10
User is offlineOffline
In the discussions I've had

In the discussions I've had with religious people it sometimes seems frustrating they refuse to listen to reason, but I think in the long run it may actually help in any decision they make to leave religion. Sowing seeds of doubt, to coin a phrase. Or just showing you're quite content without God and are able to live a happy, satisfying life. That may be enough to make some people think.

Posts: 892
Joined: 2006-12-22
User is offlineOffline
I agree serotonin_wraith.

I agree serotonin_wraith. I'm an example of that.

It takes a while to fully shed a religion you've invested a lot of time in. We need to be patient.

On the other hand there are those who may never change. My mom wrote to me recently, "Reasoning is okay in somethings, but if it takes trusting in the Lord out of it, then I believe it is no good." How do you respond to someone who thinks it is "no good" to follow what reason tells you?

High Level DonorModeratorRRS Core Member
Hambydammit's picture
Posts: 8657
Joined: 2006-10-22
User is offlineOffline
Buster, I think you're on

Buster, I think you're on to something.  I'd like to take it a step further by applying the same principle you're suggesting.

Yes, a lack of non-religious experience can create tunnel vision which makes it difficult or impossible to understand simple points that are perfectly obvious to non-theists, or more 'liberal' theists.

But I think that the problem goes much deeper.  If we look at more fields, other things might be causing the same problem, and multiplying the effect.

Psychologically, there has been a great deal of discussion on the effects of cognitive dissonance on the young, and I would be willing to bet that when the subject is researched more, we'll discover that children are more capable of recognizing cognitive dissonance than most people think, and telling them that Santa Clause and the Tooth Fairy are real sets up a potentially lifelong unreasonable acceptance of cognitive dissonance -- hard wired acceptance, so to speak.

Socially, the church is extremely powerful.  My mother is a great example of this.  After I became an atheist, I explained all the reasons to her, and she understood them, and has since admitted to me that she can see that Christianity has some things wrong with it.  Why does she stay?  Because she doesn't even know any non-Christians!  She works for a Christian music company.  All her friends and family are Christians.  Everyone she sees, except me, pretty much, is a Christian.  If she even suggested she might leave the religion, her entire life would end as she knows it, and she would be a pariah.  It's easy to understand how this pressure could cause her to subconsciously convince herself that cognitive dissonance is ok.

I could go on, but what I'm suggesting is that it's more of a web than a line.  There are probably ten or twelve very good psychological motivations for "truly believing" -- in other words, completely ignoring everything except what you hold to be dogmatically true.  I'd suggest that each of them reinforces the other, such that even if you break through one of them, you still have a support structure that quickly fills the gaps, so that with people who are that deep in, there's very little hope.

I've always maintained that it's the moderates you have to go after.  If a lot of moderates de-converted, fundamentalists would lose a lot of power.


Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

Books about atheism

Vastet's picture
Posts: 13210
Joined: 2006-12-25
User is offlineOffline
I don't think you're going

I don't think you're going to see many people renounce their christianity on the spot. Coming to the realization that you've believed in a 2000 year old lie all your life has to be rather embarrassing.

Proud Canadian, Enlightened Atheist, Gaming God.

Iruka Naminori
Iruka Naminori's picture
Posts: 1955
Joined: 2006-11-21
User is offlineOffline

Hambydammit wrote:

Socially, the church is extremely powerful. My mother is a great example of this. After I became an atheist, I explained all the reasons to her, and she understood them, and has since admitted to me that she can see that Christianity has some things wrong with it. Why does she stay? Because she doesn't even know any non-Christians! She works for a Christian music company. All her friends and family are Christians. Everyone she sees, except me, pretty much, is a Christian. If she even suggested she might leave the religion, her entire life would end as she knows it, and she would be a pariah. It's easy to understand how this pressure could cause her to subconsciously convince herself that cognitive dissonance is ok.

When I broke away from Christianity, I paid a huge price.  I lost my friends.  My relationship with family members became strained.  A couple of months ago, I lost another friendship, mostly likely because of my outspoken atheism.  There are a couple of people in my music theory class who detest me because I opened my big, fat mouth.  

This is a small, gossipy community and I'm almost certain I have gained a bad reputation.  Doors tend to close.

A part of me feels like I need to blaze a path for those who may come after me.  I'm ostracized to a large extent, but I'm hoping I make it easier for someone else.  Still, I'm fucking lonely.  At some point I want to opt out of this community and have a shot at a better, less lonely life. 

Books on atheism, purchases on Amazon support the Rational Response Squad server.

GreyhoundMama's picture
Posts: 76
Joined: 2007-03-09
User is offlineOffline

It takes time, and it's really frustrating. I can think of one case where an opinion was changed, and it was pretty big, considering. My ex-husband's father (my ex-father-in-law) was a very strict lutheran. Talk about cognitive dissonance. Even knowing that Ed and I were not Christian, he wanted us to take communion at his church. Hello. The little cards that say who can take communion had a huge list of things that we disagreed with. So we were supposed to lie to his god and all his friends in order to look "right". I found it ironic that I had more respect for his church's rules than he did.

Anyway, that's not the point. His father in law (my ex-mother-in-law's father) lived in a retirement community. His next door neighbor was Jewish. A sweeter, more gentle man you could never ask to meet. It took years, but my ex-father-in-law FINALLY admitted that such a good man couldn't possibly go to hell. This was a HUGE admission for him, and although he's still Lutheran, at least he's a more accepting one.

I know a lot more people who've left their church, but I don't know the details of their change of heart. Sorry you're feeling discouraged.

Karen and her hounds
creating art ~ creating a new life

Posts: 233
Joined: 2007-01-18
User is offlineOffline
My Fundy Folks I realized

My Fundy Folks I realized are VERY troubled people, both had way awful childhoods, and fundyism cured that. Security blanket. I have been so affected by it that it is hard to shake but I just posted this in another thread. I'm frustrated b/c as others said above, it's too painful to be wrong and the term "atheist" has such BAD connotations. I still look at the word and immediately think "evil."

I used to ask these questions, but, he, what's the use, but you can try 'em: 

Have you ever met a non-xian who just had this wonderful glimmer in their eye? a lust for life you envied? a heart full of goodness beyond compare? It's just too bad they're goin' to hell though. Oh well, life goes on. At least God's chosen won't have to worry about the eternal bakefest. *SIGH* 

 Ever wonder about how approx. 1% of the world is born intersexed? Contradicts Gen.1

Ever wonder why we haven't cured epilepsy & other maladies when Jesus said we could by exoricing the demons like he did?

Ever wonder why so many people have benefited from the evil, demonic, satanic streching involved in yoga poses, where the bible never mentions how to improve your physical health? I know of 2 people who wanted to die b/c of the pain they felt, but was alleviated immensely by yoga. Too bad they're going to hell. oh well.

I could go on but won't. Just frustrating...


Posts: 233
Joined: 2007-01-18
User is offlineOffline
Addendum: The first part of


The first part of my post in another thread here is apropos, so, yeah, more thoughts on the issue at hand... 

 "Do you accept that Zoroastrianism had concepts such as paradise, bad guy, good guy in the sky LONG before the Israelites?

Jews/xians want to claim exclusivity to this. You can't, sorry.

I've been to xian forums lately, reading voraciously and am stunned at the amount of disagreement there b/w them. Ex: one camp saying all people are evil, including kids and they're going to hell, that somehow God/yahweh/christ wrote in their hearts the truth & most ignore it. That one has to consciously make the decision to follow Christ. Of course the other camp took issue, one person going so far as claiming they couldn't be xian anymore if that's the case b/c that seemed so insane, yet the other camp was steadfast in their beliefs. *SIGH*

I think I'm just through trying to argue with Fundies b/c it's very tough getting through the armor. Common sense, logic, etc? No sorry, doesn't matter. See my sig at bottom. Sez it all." 


Rational VIP!ScientistDeluded God
deludedgod's picture
Posts: 3221
Joined: 2007-01-28
User is offlineOffline
This may not be my place

This may not be my place because I am not American, but I see encouraging waning in the strength of religion on several fronts.

First of all, Europe is overwhelminghly secular, and there is no creationist nonsense tolerated in Europe. This is becuase in Europe unlike America, clergy once wielded direct political power.

And what do pious men of God do with political power?

They strap innocent men into chains and twist their limbs off

Secondly, Asia is also overwhelmingly secular, religion has learned to coexist with sanity, most people dont actually believe in the nonsense myths of the Babble (Im referring to Catholic Asian nations like the Philippines). You know the pastor from south Park, father Maxi? He is a really funny character, and after blowing up the Vatican this is what he said

See, these are just stories, stories to help guide people in the right direction. Love your neighbor, be a good person. THATS IT! And when people take those and turn them into translations of heirarchy and power, you end up with this. Look, Im proud to be a Catholic, but Im a Catholic in the real world, in today's world, it is time for you all to do that too.

Indeed, except in fundysville US of A, much of the world seems to have taken his advice.

the rest of Asia is either Atheist or nontheist (Buddhist) or Hindu, but they dont blow people up or set up institutes to do fake creation research.

Which, leaves, I suppose. The two problems of todays world. I call them the black citadels of hate: Islam and Christianity.

But, as China and India rise and overshadow the United States, and as oil dries up, the power of Islam (Middle Eastern oil) and Christianity (the USA) will invariably wane. The world is changing. It is changing for good.

"Physical reality” isn’t some arbitrary demarcation. It is defined in terms of what we can systematically investigate, directly or not, by means of our senses. It is preposterous to assert that the process of systematic scientific reasoning arbitrarily excludes “non-physical explanations” because the very notion of “non-physical explanation” is contradictory.


Books about atheism