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Friendly Atheist Forums • View topic - Discussion-Enders

Discussion-Enders

Discussion-Enders

Postby JulietEcho on 16 Jun 2009 4:44 pm

Sometimes, during discussions and debates between theists and non-theists, someone kills the whole conversation. This can happen from either side, and I've seen plenty of examples from both sides, but the instance that brought this topic to mind is from the Randomness of God thread, where Geoff said:
Geoff wrote:If God exists, then His understanding is way beyond ours, and we would only know what He would reveal to us of His understanding.
This is, in my opinion, the ultimate conversation-stopper. You can't argue a point any further once God's "mystery" has been invoked. Whenever someone brings out the "ineffable/unknowable/above our ways/beyond our understanding" argument, nothing more can really be said. It accounts for practically anything you want to claim about God, and it's pointless for an atheist to argue with it, as God is hypothetically just as unknowable to the atheist.

A common discussion-killer from the atheist corner is, "You're an idiot." It's one thing to use analogies that incorporate mythology and cultural constructs (i.e. God is like Santa), but it's another to dismiss someone so entirely that there's clearly no point in either of you continuing to talk. If you think someone is an idiot, why are you wasting your time debating anything with them? If you genuinely think they're just really dumb, why keep poking them with sticks instead of just walking away? Some atheists genuinely think that most theists (or specific theists or all theists) are mentally ill or not intelligent enough to distinguish myth from reality, but in a sane situation, none of those atheists should be spending time discussing religion with theists.

Of course, both theists and non-theists have been known to use the "no one can prove their belief with 100% certainty, so we're essentially even" argument. There's clearly no point in further discussion if you are just going to boil everything down to, "no one can really be sure of anything" and leave it at that. Personally, I think this discussion-killer is mostly used as a way to say, "I'm really sick of this argument (and in some cases, "I'm starting to lose this argument") so I'm out."

1. What are some other discussion-killers you have encountered? Have you found yourself killing the discussion?

2. For you, what is the benefit or point of discussing religious-related topics with those who believe differently?
"...with like-minded people one cannot discuss. With like-minded people one can only participate in a church service, and, as is widely known, I do not like church services." -Ayaan Hirsi Ali
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Re: Discussion-Enders

Postby Chal on 16 Jun 2009 6:23 pm

On the creation/evolution "debate", if someone says anything along the lines of "just a theory" or "microevolution", I just give up. It takes terminal stupidity to hold those points of view by now, and it's not worth my effort to bludgeon their poor minds further.

Or, in fairness, not stupidity but mere ignorance, but still terminal levels of it.

For general theism/atheism stuff, the "it takes faith to be an atheist" is a major red flag, as are the "Why do you hate God?" and "All morality comes from God" classics.

I guess these aren't really what you were looking for, since you can still argue against these "arguments" but in my experience it isn't worth it. Anyone making these kinds of claims has virtually no understanding of the topic at hand, and no interest in gaining any.
"If you're dealing with somebody who has the sort of mentality which likes leaving hats on the pavement with bricks under them you know perfectly well they won't give up. They'll get you in the end."
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Re: Discussion-Enders

Postby Huxley on 16 Jun 2009 8:17 pm

SarahH wrote:Some atheists genuinely think that most theists (or specific theists or all theists) are mentally ill or not intelligent enough to distinguish myth from reality, but in a sane situation, none of those atheists should be spending time discussing religion with theists.
Intelligence may not have much to do with it but they certainly cannot distinguish myth from reality. They are not necessarily mentally ill but do a good impersonation of it. Either way they're deluded as hell. The ones such as yourself have found themselves able to extricate themselves from the mind set, so why shouldnt they be able to?

Bear in mind that they come here not the other way around.

I'd no sooner think of going to a Christian site to discuss atheism than dangle my scrotum in a Piranah tank. Im all for conversation but do they feel the need to spew their idiocy onto people who dont buy their guff? so what if their are conversation stoppers. Its really up to atheists on here and elsewhere, to stop engaging these nitwits in questions to which we already know the answers. There's good conversation and conversation for conversation's sake.
Drinking alcohol never solves anything. But neither does drinking milk.
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Re: Discussion-Enders

Postby keddaw on 19 Jun 2009 8:05 am

I always like to ask, "Can God learn?"

Most (all?) theists seem to assume that God is omniscient but I think it would fit the facts much better if God was a petulant child who, over the course of human history, changed his mind about what to do and how to interact with people.

While I find the idea of a God of any sort laughable (more accurately, unimaginable) I think that a God that was initially seeking obedience, fear and respect from humans, then sought devotion and love and has now grown bored of us (or grown up) and has abandoned us seems much more believable in terms of how humans have treated each other in relation to what their God has instructed them to do.

The theists will never accept this as it would force them to re-examine their beliefs about the veracity of their holy books and the teachings from God.

The conversation tends to end when I say "why can't you accept reason?" and they say "why can't you accept that we don't know everything?"
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Re: Discussion-Enders

Postby Sackbut on 19 Jun 2009 8:22 am

keddaw wrote:The conversation tends to end when I say "why can't you accept reason?" and they say "why can't you accept that we don't know everything?"
I never understand that statement. "We don't know everything" seems to indicate questions should be answered "I don't know" rather than "God did it."
You know what common sense is, don't you? It's the human faculty that tells us the world is flat.
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Re: Discussion-Enders

Postby wall0645 on 19 Jun 2009 8:39 am

SarahH wrote:
Geoff wrote:If God exists, then His understanding is way beyond ours, and we would only know what He would reveal to us of His understanding.
This is, in my opinion, the ultimate conversation-stopper. You can't argue a point any further once God's "mystery" has been invoked. Whenever someone brings out the "ineffable/unknowable/above our ways/beyond our understanding" argument, nothing more can really be said. It accounts for practically anything you want to claim about God, and it's pointless for an atheist to argue with it, as God is hypothetically just as unknowable to the atheist.
Building off of what was said in the comments of Hemant's blog post building off of this thread, I'd say a good response is "If God is so mysterious, how do you know you're worshipping him right? Or following the right rules?"

If they say "because it says so in the Bible", then you can say "Oh, well he isn't so mysterious after all, is he? If you know what he wants..."

If they say "well, I don't" (they probably won't say this, though), then you can say "then why are you making such a big deal about it?"

And, finally, if they say "because I have faith" (most likely), then you can stop the discussion, if you want. You can also bring up the whole "faith vs. evidence/reason" debate, if you're in a debate-y kind of mood.
keddaw wrote:While I find the idea of a God of any sort laughable (more accurately, unimaginable) I think that a God that was initially seeking obedience, fear and respect from humans, then sought devotion and love and has now grown bored of us (or grown up) and has abandoned us seems much more believable in terms of how humans have treated each other in relation to what their God has instructed them to do.
I greatly enjoy this :)
"Philosophy is questions that may never be answered. Religion is answers that may never be questioned." -- unknown
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Re: Discussion-Enders

Postby Neon Genesis on 20 Jun 2009 11:25 am

If God's ways are so mysterious we can't understand him, isn't that agnosticism rather than Christianity?
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Re: Discussion-Enders

Postby Sackbut on 20 Jun 2009 11:41 am

Neon Genesis wrote:If God's ways are so mysterious we can't understand him, isn't that agnosticism rather than Christianity?
That's not agnostic with respect to God's existence, only with respect to understanding God.
You know what common sense is, don't you? It's the human faculty that tells us the world is flat.
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Re: Discussion-Enders

Postby joeduck on 28 Jun 2009 2:12 pm

I suppose the solution is to flow with the change of conversation and ask, Why? Why does god keep such information to himself? Why does he need to keep such information to himself? Why is god so secretive?

I've always wondered why does go not show himself. This might be a good chance to discuss that. If god is all powerful why not come down and talk to us himself, individually. If he really cares, the personal touch would be a big help in converting people like me. If all this information is too much for us, just humans, to understand then perhaps he could help us to understand; he is god.
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