I've recently deconverted from Christianity. Tonight I was discussing a wide range of topics with my Christian parents. Overall, the responses boiled down to these three:
1) "I agree, and that bothers me." This is good, because they're questioning their beliefs, hopefully they don't leave it at that and hopefully they keep questioning.
2) "My experience is my evidence, and since you don't experience what I experience, of course you don't believe." I've tried explaining that you can not trust anecdotal evidence even if it's your own, and that as you add more anecdotes, they must tend to agree if there is truth behind them.
They say that God has shown them evidence enough to convince them that he exists, and that they hope and believe that God will show me evidence. Is there a competent response to this?
3) "God is so outside of our capability to understand him, you can't expect God to fit into our human system of logic."
This third response is related to the title of the post and is why I made the post. I'm not quite sure how to respond to this. If we don't have logic and reason, then what do we have at all?
It's very frustrating, because by denying logic's function, they have conceded the argument while believing that they have won the argument. And since they have denied logic, I can not say anything that will change their mind, since I adhere to logic.
What is your response to this line of thinking? I'm stumped for an answer.
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Hello RivetAce. Going by what you said, you once believed as a Christian - but why?
Were you such, because you were taught so, and were too young to think independ-
ently? If so, that's not a good reason to believe.
Presumably you have not had any 'experience as evidence' of "God" or Jesus as Divine,
which your parents claim to have had. Of course humans can have false beliefs most
sincerely, based on misunderstood or misinterpreted experiences. And surely your parents
would acknowledge that there are loads of people in this world who believe in very sincere
and genuine ways, things other than and contradictory to what they do, those other people's
beliefs being based on THEIR experiences.
If you lack the necessary experinces, it is not your fault, and if there really is an all powerful
god, it would know what experiences would be convincing to you. And if you haven't had
any such experiences, then "God" is not doing anything to guide you along the ' *HIS* right'
lines, (that's if there is a god).
So "God" must not want you to believe, OR "God" does not exist. Since you should not
believe things without good convincing evidence, then you are intellectually right to not
believe in "God" or Jesus as Divine, like your parents do.
If there is a god, how 'bout he pop down here and say hello to us all?
And if this god is beyond our experience and understanding, it might as well not exist, in
fact the evidence is that it does not. And if "God" is so outside of our capability to under-
stand him, it would certainly not be beyond "him" to explain things in a fashion that we
could grasp, albeit not to the n'th degree. Otherwise, that god is not omnipotent, and
would be a crap teacher to boot.
So which God do they believe in, Yahweh = the God of Hebrews and the God of the armies, = Jealous, Jehovah, I am, or Yeshua?
You guessed correctly, I was raised Christian. As I said, I have deconverted; I would agree that belief because of upbringing isn't a good reason for belief.
Yes, I've brought up that people of other religions have had very similar experiences that cause them to believe in a different god. They simply revert to the "these are my experiences" response.
I wouldn't say that if God is incomprehensible then he might as well not exist; as you pointed out, an incomprehensible being should still be able to communicate in a comprehensible way.
I'm not sure what name they would give to the god they believe in, but I think the name matters less than what they believe about him. I won't make any assumptions about what they believe, in fact that's one topic I brought up in our conversation ("what do you believe?") because I had only ever assumed and not really asked.
If you're just trying to get a sense of what they believe in, they both currently attend a protestant (evangelical presbyterian) church, so generally whatever you would expect to be taught about God in that setting. Again, specifics shouldn't be assumed without asking clarification first, to avoid straw-manning.
I appreciate both of your responses, and I'd like to reiterate: I'm looking for any ideas about the 3rd response I brought up. Of course any discussion of related topics is welcome, but that's the intent of the thread.
You can always go nuclear if you want to be a smart ass about it. Just say that you did some genealogical research and discovered that a distant ancestor or two was a bastard. It might piss your parents off but it is probably true the longer you go back in time. And as a decendant of such a bastard you are prohibited from joining the assembly of God =
Deuteronomy 23:2 (KJV) = "A bastard shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord; even to his tenth generation shall he not enter into the congregation of the Lord."
Don't play that card if you think they will stone you to death.
Do you have any tattoos?
Leviticus 19:28 (NOG) = "Never slash your body to mourn the dead, and never get a tattoo. I am Yahweh."
You can't go to church if you have any tattoos. They piss God off.
@RivetAce Re: "3) "God is so outside of our capability to understand him, you can't expect God to fit into our human system of logic."
Howdy, Rivet! Welcome to the AR. Mighty glad you could join us, young man. If you don't mind my saying so, that #3 question of yours is actually quite easy, in my opinion. Follow me on this....
This particular God is supposedly omnipotent, omniscient, and totally perfect, right? (Are we talking about that God? There are only a few thousand out there from which to choose, but I will go with this one for the moment.) So, if we are talking about a God that can do ANYTHING and knows EVERYTHING and made the entire universe and inspired Man to write a book detailing its plans for Mankind (There's your first clue to a big oopsie, by the way.), HOW can anybody say this God CANNOT DO SOMETHING??? They are placing limits on what they believe and omnipotent God can or cannot do. Do you see the problem there?... *raising an eyebrow*... If that god were TRULY as they and most all other Christians believe, then that god should have ZERO problems making every single person who lives, who has ever lived, and who will ever live know and understand clearly and precisely EXACTLY what it wants us to believe and understand. It should DEFINITELY NOT need thousands (millions) of different "religious leaders" bickering back and forth among themselves about who did or did not interpret their God's "Perfect Word" (the bible) correctly. Basically, that's pretty cut and dry if you ask me.... *shrugging shoulders*...
RivetAce: "They say that God has shown them evidence enough to convince them that he exists, and that they hope and believe that God will show me evidence."
Evangelic, Lutheran, Pentecostal, Jehovah's Witness, Presbyterian, Calvinist, Scientology, Islam, Baha'i, 30,000 Christian faiths that can not agree with each other and in fact are often killing one another. Other religions with the exact same god. Please explain how it is your God is completely incapable of giving everyone the same evidence and having them draw the same conclusion? 30,000 Christian sects alone. All of them relying on "personal experience" and all of them different. WTF???
3) "God is so outside of our capability to understand him, you can't expect God to fit into our human system of logic."
This is a completely stupid comment. If you can't understand it then what is it you are saying is there? How is it you know anything at all about it? This is like saying a green monster exists under the bed but it is beyond our comprehension so we can't say anything about it. CAN YOU NOT SEE THE ABSURDITY?
If it is beyond comprehension, this conversation is over. YOU DO NOT KNOW ANYTHING MORE ABOUT YOUR VERSION OF A GOD THAN I DO. So why are you believing in "NOTHING." That which you can not comprehend and which you can say nothing about is certainly no different than "NOTHING."
How do you attribute miracles or causes or anything to a god that you know nothing about. It is either beyond your consciousness or it is not. If it is not, prove it. If it is, what in the hell are you talking about?
You probably found the response so easy to counter because you didn't quite understand it. They're not saying that God can't do something, they're saying that God won't do something, and that I can't use my "human logic" to figure out why he does or doesn't do something.
Note that they're not claiming to understand why, either.
I do agree with your point, a god who cares about whom he saves would definitely make himself clear if he were able. But this is only true if you use so-called "human logic" because apparently God logic doesn't follow our rules.
I find the argument astonishingly worthless, but I'm not sure how to rebut it.
To your first point, I actually did bring up that people of the same religion got different ideas from the bible, as well as people from other religions having mystical experiences just like he does. To this my dad replied that he went with the religion that makes the most sense, which is the one that doesn't preach salvation by works. I've recently thought this through and realized that this only makes sense if you're already Christian, so the argument has no ground to stand on.
On your reply to response 3, again it's not that God is incapable of giving evidence, but rather that he doesn't want to, for a reason outside of human logic.
You make a good point though: if God is beyond our system of human logic, then how can we attribute anything to God since we can only do this through human logic?
@Rivet Re: "They're not saying that God can't do something, they're saying that God won't do something..."
Ah. Okay, I see what you're saying. Yeah, I misunderstood the first time. So, in this case, my personal response would be something to the effect of, "Well, if this omniscient, omnipotent, all-loving god does not care enough about me to help me understand it and believe in it, then why should I even worry about what it wants? If it wants me, it should know where to find me. Meanwhile, I'll be living my life in my own way and being a good person simply because it is more beneficial to me and others. If that is not good enough for that god, then that is its problem, not mine."
Now, unless I am mistaken, you are dealing primarily with your parents, right? Not sure if you still live at home with them or if you are out on your own. Regardless, why argue with them in the first place? Why try to convince them of anything at all? You feel and believe the way you do, and they feel and believe the way they do. If they do not bring up the subject, why should you? And if THEY bring up the subject, then as politely and respectfully as you can, let them know you would rather not discuss it. No matter what you say or do, it is EXTREMELY unlikely you will EVER be able to convince them to see or understand your view. So why keep beating a dead horse and risk alienating yourself from your parents? You are AWAKE now, dude. You have the advantage of being able to see and think for yourself, without all the muddled distortion of the "religious goggles." You should be happy about that. And your attitude and actions should show it. Bickering and arguing with your parents just to try to prove you are right is not exactly a great way of celebrating your escape. I have several family members and friends who are very religious, but I never make any attempt whatsoever to convince them to see things from my perspective. Matter of fact, religion is never discussed between us. I know what they believe, but I still respect them, even if I do not agree with their beliefs. They know (or suspect, in some cases) what I believe, but they still respect me, even if they do not agree with what they may think I believe. Bottom line is (and this is just a personal opinion), if YOU are comfortable and confident in what you think and feel, then it should not matter in the slightest what anybody else may think or feel about you. If you become defensive whenever somebody challenges your point of view or belief, then YOU are the one who may need to question just how confident you are in that particular belief. Personally, if anybody were to come at me for some reason and start trying to tell me how wrong I am for not believing in their particular god, I am certainly NOT going to get into an argument about it with them. On the contrary, it is very likely I will simply say, "Okay." Then I would smile politely, pat them lightly on the shoulder, and walk away. Why lower myself to their standards?
And my side is the same as Tin-Man's. All of my family are Religious Absolutists. I do not try to convince them away from their beliefs. However, if they start running off about how atheism is so wrong and evil, I will say something. Otherwise, I just do not discuss it. If asked, I will explain.
To this my dad replied that he went with the religion that makes the most sense, which is the one that doesn't preach salvation by works.
Who died and made your dad the all mighty arbitrator of all religions on the planet? This is an amazing position to take. How in the hell did he rule out all the other religions? Now that is a conversation. He chose the one that made the most sense? By what standard? He just called 99% of all religions FALSE and asserted that he knew best. This is an AMAZING claim. Perhaps he is the new Messiah?
How did he rule out religions based on works? WHAT DOES JESUS ACTUALLY SAY?
Revelation 2:23, Jesus says, “I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you as your works deserve.” Jesus does not render a judgment based solely on what our hearts deserve but also on what our works deserve.
Consider also Jesus’ answer to the question “What good deed must I do, to have eternal life?” (Matt. 19:16). Rather than merely saying, “Have faith in God” or “Believe in me,” Jesus tells the young man, “If you would enter life, keep the commandments” (Matt. 19:17).
Only Part of the Work is Belief (JESUS)]
his does not mean Jesus denied that faith plays a part in our justification. In John 6:28 the crowd asks Jesus, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” to which Jesus replies, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent” (John 6:29).
John 5:24, because Jesus said, “He who hears my word and believes him who sent me, has eternal life; he does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.” But just four verses later Jesus says that, at the final judgment, “All who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come forth, those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment.”
2:10 For we are his creative work, having been created in Christ Jesus for good works that God prepared beforehand so we can do them.
2:18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith without works and I will show you faith by my works. 19You believe that God is one; well and good. Even the demons believe that – and tremble with fear. 20 But would you like evidence, you empty fellow, that faith without works is useless? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? 22 You see that his faith was working together with his works and his faith was perfected by works. 23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Now Abraham believed God and it was counted to him for righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend.24 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 And similarly, was not Rahab the prostitute also justified by works when she welcomed the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26 For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.
Given the importance of Works, how has your father eliminated so much of the Christian faith as false. How does he do this.
(An honest inquiry into this point might actually be effective. The thing that turned bme away from Christianity was actually visiting every Church in my town. The more you know, the more contradictions you see. The more contradictions you see, the less believable Christianity becomes/) (any faith based religion)
@RivetAce Original Post
God is a human concept whether your religious parents want to admit it or not. Even if god was "real" god is wholly defined within human parameters. You can not have entire human made books and human made buildings and religion that go on and on about god and what he wants/expects/etc then suddenly when a question pops up they cant answer that they can flip the script at will to say suddenly "god is outside our capability to understand him."
Realize as science has advanced and knowledge is more readily accessible (internet, greatly increased literacy rates etc) the various god ideas has diminished to mostly god of the "gaps."
Now for the answer: the god they have created is completely "unfalsifiable." What this does is make their god concept meaningless. I can write up a dozen different god concepts each more absurd then the last, but you cannot disprove them because I made those gods unfalsifiable.
"my unicorn rainbow pooping god exist on another realm" - covers all lack of physical tangible evidence.
"my god cannot be fully understood" it is too complex for us to understand - covers all logical, reasoning, and basic common sense issues.
If you cannot argue it via evidence, and cannot argue you it via reasoning, logic and common sense, you do not have a bullet proof concept, you actually have nothing at all, all you have is gibberish, nonsense baby babble nonsensical stuff.
I can come up with 1000 different god ideas that is just as evidenced as the god that your parents believe in. The only difference is I made them up now, not ~2000 years ago and I have not conned millions of people into believing it.
In the real world, with real decisions to make, we all normally operate where we reject such unevidenced ideas. If we did not, we would be the village idiot, the poor guy everyone always takes advantage of, and back in the harsher times of more ancient history we likely would of never survived to adult hood, if we believed every idea that was presented this way.
I use this example a lot, so regulars can skip this paragraph if they are reading this:
You owe me 1 million dollars. PROVE to me you do not.
You cant. Why not? Because I made a claim without any evidence, no evidence no nothing just a statement. Just because you cannot disprove it does it mean you will pay me 1 million dollars? Of Course not. Just about everyone knows it is an absurd claim. But you cant disprove it either, you are given nothing to even try to disprove. Many of the god concepts set themselves up the same way.
The ultimate flaw with this type of argument is: well if one were to accept that argument, then they have to accept anything. They could not disprove any other god ideas. Or anything else. No one can operate that way, if we are to survive we have to reject the unevidenced junk ideas, even if we cannot easily and directly disprove the ideas. Just like my million dollar claim. Even your parents would soundly reject the idea without even thinking about it. We all have those tools.
▮ I am an atheist that always likes a good debate. ▮
▮ Please include @LogicFTW in responses directed to me. ▮
▮ Useful list on forum usage. A.R. Member since 2016. ▮
"They say that God has shown them evidence enough to convince them that he exists, and that they hope and believe that God will show me evidence. Is there a competent response to this?"
Yes, if they can't demonstrate this experience in some objectively verifiable way, it's can't objectively be called evidence. If personal experience ALONE were sufficient, then all personal experience would have to be considered valid. There would be no objective way to validate anything, or to reject anything.
""God is so outside of our capability to understand him, you can't expect God to fit into our human system of logic.""
Now replace the word god with unicorn, and tell me how that claim is any less valid? It's so obviously a desperate and vapid rationalisation it's hard to believe anyone finds such an obvious appeal to ignorance fallacy compelling, and of course it's hard not to notice that this informal logical fallacy tries to negate those very principles of logic as invalid, as if simply saying this ring fences the claim from those principles of validation.
"If we don't have logic and reason, then what do we have at all?"
Well more importantly how can they validate their claim? Claiming something exists that is beyond reason, logic and empirical evidence should be demonstrably absurd to any remotely objective person.
"by denying logic's function, they have conceded the argument while believing that they have won the argument. "
Belief doesn't trump logic objectively, I can claim I can fly by the power of my own will, but only when no one can detect it in any empirical way. Now that is an unfalsifiable claim, am I delusional, or have logic, science and reason become redundant?
" And since they have denied logic, I can not say anything that will change their mind, since I adhere to logic. What is your response to this line of thinking? I'm stumped for an answer."
You can tell them you don't believe their claims as they can't demonstrate any objective evidence for them. Nothing you can say will sway them if they believe they have access to personal experience of the supernatural that science and logic can't comment on. They are stating plainly they have blind faith, it's unlikely you can ever dent that. Something is valid when we can demonstrate objective empirical evidence for it, that demonstrates the same results consistently no matter who tests that evidence. There is only one method humans have created for doing this, it's not infallible but then neither are humans so admitting errors and correcting them is an essential component of any method used to objectively validate reality.
Welcome to AR!
When comes to god, or the claim of god, I apply xenoview's razor.
Objective claims requires objective evidence
Well it conflicts with what you quoted them saying later:
Or in other words: in one breath they tell us they were convinced by evidence (something that sounds very logical), and in the next they tell you that god does not fit into human logic. It seems that when their religious beliefs need god to be logical, he is logical; and when their religious beliefs require god to not be logical, he isn't logical.
It is an odd notion that things choose whether or not to give us evidence that they exist, and that you have to believe in a thing before it will give you evidence that it exists.
It is also odd that belief in the existence of a thing is taken to be synonymous with loyalty.
Animism? From Sapporo? Really? Something is not right here?
You're right, I could have worded my post better. I meant to say that we are able to observe things that do not need to choose to reveal themselves to us, so it is odd that a being such as a god would require blind loyalty before it would choose to reveal itself to us.
All is right in the world again. Each particle in its place. The laws of physics have not been violated.
I think the key to these discussions should be the origin of the faith of the person you are talking to. To argue any points that were developed after the 'origin of their faith' is useless, because they are subjective and not falsifiable.
Experiences only come from God if you already have God as a frame of reference, otherwise we use logic and scientific means to understand them. (These days for me at least)
The point is that to be religious and deify a certain God you need to be told of its existence by someone you see as a intellectual 'friend' or authority figure. This normally takes the form of our parents telling us about God or the society we grow up in and its worldview influencing us. After that you fit your experiences to said deity. Nobody without reference can jump from an experience to faith in Jesus specifically; proven by the fact that zero of isolated tribes discovered knew him already when settlers arrived.
When we have 'experiences' without a God frame of reference we turn to logic and reason. If science and our understanding of the world is insufficient we may imagine things that fill the gap. This being the origin of most religions. But if we have science, reason and logic to explain things we have no need to make up imaginary answers or agency.
Using incomprehensibility as a way to keep believing is a way of dealing with encroaching reality and a last resort, but not sound reasoning.
God was created to fill our gap in understanding, now that the gap is being filled by true understanding he needs to flee and become something less understandable himself to survive; only surviving on functions and results of ones 'taught' frame of mind.
Well, I guess i'm trying to say that you may try addressing the origin of their faith and not the results thereof for a better chance. But it may be just a choice and nothing you can do.
I'm a theist and I gotta say that these responses are pretty lame and they don't even tackle the issue of whether God exists. It's true that most theists don't know how to argue against atheism, because their reasons to believe are mostly based on feelings; whereas I believe because of logic and reasoning. Yes, yes, laugh and roll on the ground.
1. It's not our job to tackle the issue of whether or not god exists. 2000 years and we have not reason at all to assume any of the millions of Gods exist. If you think you got a God that exists we would love to hear about it. (Nice attempt at shifting the burden of proof.)
2. It's true that most theists don't know how to argue against atheism. First because they don't understand it. Second because they make stupid ass comments like the ones you have just made.
3. Their reason for belief is always based on faith, and sometimes feelings. You can not believe based on logic. There is no logical argument that can lead you to a god. NONE> If there were, you could start your own thread and prove us all wrong. Instead you lurk in the middle of a thread and make dumb ass assertions with no evidence what so ever.
Wow. Every single point is wrong.
1. No, you're confusing the God of classical theism (which the Abrahamic God happens to fit the description depending on how you interpret the Bible) and the gods of polytheism (which were invented to explain how natural phenomena work, true ''gods of the gap'').
2. I had been an atheist for my entire life until very recently. The reason why you think I don't understand atheism is because you're stuck in a naturalistic worldview.
3. I became theist solely because of logic and reason and NOT because of feelings of any kind. Surprise, motherfucker!
Breezy (posing as JazzTheist): "I became theist solely because of logic and reason and NOT because of feelings of any kind. Surprise, motherfucker!"
However, it does NOT take any logic or reasoning to be a Religious Absolutist. SURPRISE ΦΟΥΚΚΕΡ ΟΠΟΥ!
Show me evidence that I am ''Breezy''. I am a 20-year-old jazz pianist (yes, that's a job) living in Taiwan and I've never heard of Breezy.
Also, show me evidence that I am a ''religious absolutist'' which I'm absolutely not. Is it logical to throw labels around?
Ironic how you view yourselves as champions of logic and yet are deliberately unwilling to use logic!
We've had a LOT of sock puppets in the past few days; so people are suspicious. Please forgive us.
Apologies made for the Breezy label. However, as Nyarlathotep said, we have had a lot of posers lately. I am still suspicious, but I shall apologize and refrain. Sorry.
Religious Absolutist: ANY person who possesses an inexorable and remorseless and insensate belief in any religion. Such persons are incapable of critical thinking, logical and deductive reasoning, and rational and analytical thought due to the Indoctrination Process of Religious Absolutist Training Camps.
Religious Absolutist Apologist: Often shortened to just Apologist, a dastardly subset of the Religious Absolutists who practices apologetics, which is the assumption of presupposed conclusions that have nothing to do with reason and rationality and actual information, creating irrational excuses and whatever conflicting ideas justifying their baseless assumptions, regardless of what the true facts are, using beguiling dialectical semantics, distorted and perverted data, emotional whiney–ass pleas, due to an indoctrination conditioning that is so ingrained they never question the veracity of the nonsense they offer, or why they need to defend their faith at all.
With all posts you have made thus far, you DEFINITELY are a Religious Absolutist. Furthermore, you DEFINITELY seem to be practicing to become an Apologist. The worst of the bunch.
You are making assertions and ignoring our requests that you provide OBJECTIVE HARD EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE to back your assertions. Not only are you a Religious Absolutist, but you are also acting like the worst of the worst as an Apologist.
How is this for logic. You make assertions and preposterous claims. I say I do not believe you unless you provide OBJECTIVE HARD EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE. Onus probandi incumbit ei qui dicit non ei qui negat.
"I became theist solely because of logic and reason and NOT because of feelings of any kind."
OK, which of the thousands of Gods do you believe in? Don't be ashamed to say your God's name. God is just a title, like Pope or Preacher.
This is an illogical response. You are already confusing the God of classical theism (which I'm clearly talking about) and gods of polytheistic religions, which are fundamentally different. You are also confusing God as a philosophical position with a religious one, which is a very common non sequitor atheists use; which is why I refrain from identifying myself as Christian.
And technically speaking, God IS a title; that's why I've been talking about a prime mover and a first cause, which are real philosophical concepts.
There is a whole herd of creator Gods. Don't be ashamed to name the imaginary one you believe in.
It is OK to believe in Awonawilona or Bunjil.
Do you think that I haven't heard this a million times? From the likes of Dawkins? Again, the philosophical concept of God does not equate to religious concepts of deities.
''Religion is evil and stupid, period'' is a presupposition of your worldview. Which is why I don't argue from a religious perspective with atheists.
Also, don't be ashamed to name the imaginary ''razors'' that you believe in; 'cause why do we need hair anyway.