Frustrating Conversation with Christian Fundamentalist! Please help!

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Discussion by: skeptic149

Lately I have been wearing my scarlett letter "A" button in support of The Out Campaign and today one of my co-workers asked about it. Knowing he was a bible-believing christian fundamentalist, I knew it would lead to an awkward conversation but I explained what the button means and that I am an atheist. We had a very professional, respectful conversation about religion and science and I began asking him how he reconciles the bible with 21st century scientific knowledge. I started by asking him how old he thinks earth is, already fearing for what his answer would be. My fears were confirmed when he said "well, according to scripture, about 6,000 years old." I prodeced to ask the question "then how to you explain the grand canyon, dinosaur fossils, continental drift, etc? Surely you don't believe dinosaurs walked the earth at the same time as humans, do you?" Shockingly, the guy actually does think T-Rex and humans existed together in the same time period! I was clearly getting nowhere with this conversation so I just kept saying "very interesting" to his reponses. He even proceded to get out his bible and show me a passage referring to a large "Behemoth" of some sort, claiming proof that the bible mentions dinosaurs. After about 20 minutes we both went back to work and the whole thing was very civil and respectul.

I once read that the reason why Richard Dawkins hardly ever debates with these types of people is because it is a bit like debating with somone who thinks the earth is flat. They clearly don't value evidence and you just aren't going to get anywhere with them. Right now I am very frustrated because I thought I was asking the right questions to expose his ignorance but it just didn't seem to phase him. The person I am referring to is a pharmacist, which means he has at least six years of science-oriented college education. I had heard of people like this but I've never knowingly met one before.

Having read The God Delusion, The End of Faith, Godless, and other such books I feel very secure and happy with my atheism but I'm just at a loss at how to deal with these people and expose them for what they are. If I was Sam Harris, I'm sure I could have destroyed the guy, but I guess I'm just not that great at debating. If I ever engage in this type of conversation again, is there anything I can do to more effectively expose the other person's ignorance, or are these people simply beyond reason?

53 COMMENTS

  1. First, never try to “win”. It is the rare person that will change life long held important beliefs after even the best possible discussion showing all the evidence. I would only try to, as you did, show some of the key evidence and hope they think about it later. If a person is willing to say “but the bible says…” there is no way to win or “destroy” them. Be content with planting seeds of doubt.

    Personally, I like to bring up the question of evil.

  2. Until this guy learns only to believe in that for which there is evidence, you probably won’t get anywhere with him. I don’t think you should give up but rather converse with him about skepticism and critical thinking. Perhaps discuss The Baloney Detection Kit, Socratic Method and the ‘Thou Shalt Not Commit Logical Fallacies’ poster.

    I too, have been working on de-converting a co-worker, and I have made significant progress by educating instead of arguing. I also name and show the books even if they are unlikely to read them any time soon. I showed Darrel Rays stunning ‘The God Virus’ and read a brief couple of passages about memes and explained how indoctrinated people don’t know they are indoctrinated. I know this co-worker has been chewing over what I’ve taught him because it is now he that raises the subject with me. I’m inclined to think that he has in fact lost his faith now at least to the point of agnosticism. He no longer talks of ‘going to church but of ‘taking mum to church’, like it’s an obligation because he can’t tell her how he now feels.

    I think the most important aspect of trying to de-convert people apart from extensive New Atheist knowledge and resources, is to build a good friendly rapport with the individual, lets face it, if they don’t like us – they’re not going to invest their emotions in considering our proposition. Good luck and I hope you never stop educating religious people out of their faith.

  3. OK, so if this guy is a pharmacist, does he actually believe in the scientifically proven efficacy of the treatments he dispenses, or does he simply take it on faith? Why would he continue to dispense treatments if he simply did so on faith? He’d be no better than a homeopath.

    So ask him if he believes in homeopathy. If he doesn’t, ask him why not. If he says there’s no evidence that homeopathy works, suggest that god is the same. If he does believe in homeopathy, ask him why he trained to be a pharmacist, as it would have been much cheaper and quicker to have become a homeopath. The fact that he has trained as a pharmacist suggests that he values scientific evidence regarding the effectiveness of the treatments he dispenses. So why not apply the same test to god and religion?

    And if you feel frustrated, don’t be. In an argument like this they’ll only drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.

  4. “If I ever engage in this type of conversation again, is there anything I can do to more effectively expose the other person’s ignorance, or are these people simply beyond reason?”

    With people like this co-worker of yours, I would say, no, there is no more that you can do – they are simply too far ‘beyond reason’. I’m talking from experience – my cousin is a chemistry professor but in the same league as your pharmacist – they are too far gone. And if these so called scientists cannot be reasoned with, what hope is there for anyone else? – I despair!

    Mine had some sort of epiphany when young so no matter what you tell him now, he would have to go against not only his faith but also against a lifelong ‘feeling’ that he was right, it’s just not possible to reverse him, he would have to deny his very own ‘self’ and that’s apparently not possible, he tells me.

    We have to let their faith die with them, and instead concentrate on the young, and with the help of the Internet where ‘religion comes to die’, I think the probability of success is much greater there.

  5. The problem is there’s nothing at stake in what you’re discussing. It’s easy to ignore evidence when you’re debating in the abstract, but it’s hard to ignore a lion when it’s chewing on your sister.

  6. My fears were confirmed when he said “well, according to scripture, about 6,000 years old.”

    Perhaps he has just been told this and does not know how the figure was calculated!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ussher-chronology

    The Ussher chronology is a 17th-century chronology of the history of the world formulated from a literal reading of the Bible by James Ussher, the Archbishop of Armagh (Church of Ireland). The chronology is sometimes associated with young Earth creationism, which holds that the universe was created only a few millennia ago by God as described in the first two chapters of the Biblical book of Genesis.

    The chronologies of Ussher and other biblical scholars corresponded so closely because they used much the same methodology to calculate key events recorded in the Bible. Their task was complicated by the fact that the Bible was compiled from different sources over several centuries with differing versions and lengthy chronological gaps, making it impossible to do a simple totaling of Biblical ages and dates. In his article on Ussher’s calendar, James Barr has identified three distinct periods that Ussher and others had to tackle:

    Early times (Creation to Solomon). Ostensibly the easiest period, as the Bible provides an unbroken male lineage from Adam through to Solomon complete with the ages of the individuals involved. However, not all of the versions of the Bible provide the same ages — the Septuagint gives much longer ages, adding about 1500 years to the date of Creation. Ussher resolved this problem by relying on the Hebrew Bible instead.

    Early Age of Kings (Solomon to the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem and the Babylonian captivity). The lineage breaks down at this point, with only the length of the kings’ reigns being provided and a number of overlaps and ambiguities complicating the picture. Ussher had to cross-reference the Biblical records with known dates of other people and rulers to create an overall timeline.

    Late Age of Kings (Ezra and Nehemiah to the birth of Jesus). No information at all is provided in the Bible. Ussher and his counterparts therefore had to try to link a known event from this period with a dateable event in another culture, such as the Chaldeans, Persians or Romans. For instance, the death of the Chaldean King Nebuchadnezzar II (who conquered Jerusalem in 586 BC) could be correlated with the 37th year of the exile of Jehoiachin (2 Kings 25:27).

    Basically – James Ussher (sometimes spelled Usher, 4 January 1581 – 21 March 1656) totted up the ages of various biblical characters starting with “Adam”!

    (We all know that the Earth and Adam were “created” at the same time- cough cough!! – and we all know that Irish bishops in 1625 – 1656, “knew” much more about the Earth than modern geologists or astronomers !!! Cough!!!!)

  7. I’m no expert here, but I don’t let the frustration get the better of you. Sounds like you are making progress, and you shouldn’t ruin it by the temptation to push too hard.

    Faith is a strange thing; people seem to stick to it because it the “certainty” is soothing and brings a sense of peace. On the other hand, many atheists (most? all?) are comfortable with not knowing and enjoy the process of discovery – we tend to focus on the process of discovery rather than the not-knowing.

    Getting from one to the other means having to admit that the old belief was wrong – and human nature makes that difficult. Especially when it is beliefs on top of which they have based many other opinions. Letting go of the certainty as well can make it a daunting prospect.

    Keep chipping away at it. Don’t rush. Remember that your objective is not to “win” – but simply to guide him towards reason and rationality. So the way you measure success should match.

    And if you actually see believable evidence for a supernatural deity that allows others to repeat the experiment: Please let us know!

  8. To have a conversation with a guy who firmly believes that planet Earth is 6000 years old and that humans and dinosaurs coexisted is like explaining the Theory of Relativity to a 4 year old child who is just waiting for Father Christmas. A total waste of time.

  9. today one of my co-workers asked about it.

    IMO, work is work, don’t turn your place of employment into a political arena. No one wins in this situation. Be professional and do your job and leave your proselytizing out of it.

    • In reply to #9 by QuestioningKat:

      today one of my co-workers asked about it.

      IMO, work is work, don’t turn your place of employment into a political arena. No one wins in this situation. Be professional and do your job and leave your proselytizing out of it.

      I totally agree and I never initiate these conversations at work. Most religious people I know would not try to preach their beliefs to me and I extend them that same courtesy. However, I will not hesitate to explain my views when asked, even if it results in a awkward social situation.

      • In reply to #15 by skeptic149:

        I will not hesitate to explain my views when asked.

        When the subject is raised – rarely, in my experience – I reply I was raised catholic, but I escaped, which leaves me inoculated against all religions.

        That closes the subject down quite nicely, which is usually what I want, and it lets me away with explaining what I’m not, rather than what I am.

        If pressed any further I have two points prepared ( not yet had the opportunity to use them)

        • I state my opinion that all religions are just scams to control people and con money out of them.
        • I ask – just out of curiosity – how much theirs costs them. In time, money, or both. And maybe what it gives them in return.
      • In reply to #15 by skeptic149:

        In reply to #9 by QuestioningKat:

        today one of my co-workers asked about it.

        IMO, work is work, don’t turn your place of employment into a political arena. No one wins in this situation. Be professional and do your job and leave your proselytizing out of it.

        I totally agree and I never initiate these conversations at work. Most religious people I know would not try to preach their beliefs to me and I extend them that same courtesy. However, I will not hesitate to explain my views when asked, even if it results in a awkward social situation.

        I likewise try not to upset people so I understand where questioning cat is coming from. However, I used to find people unwilling to give the same consideration to me. I’m much more inclined to have a go in a jokey way about specific issues when they come up. Say homosexual marriage, The call I hear from the religious is that we need to maintain the biblical definition of marriage. Clearly the bible has any number of what we would call immoral teachings in regards to this and accepts polygamy, concubines, selling daughters, capturing virgins and forcing them to marry the remaining male members of the tribe you just wiped out and much more. So you can (in a good natured jibe) throw these things out one at a time and confront them with what is in their good book. Of course I’m just a heathen destined to burn in hell what would I know. I’m certain that this has made some of my co-workers a little less likely to shoot their mouths off. Those that still are I can have a good debate with and not hurt their feelings. You do need to know your co-workers and be on good terms in general to get away with this though.

      • In reply to #15 by skeptic149:

        In reply to #9 by QuestioningKat:

        today one of my co-workers asked about it.

        IMO, work is work, don’t turn your place of employment into a political arena. No one wins in this situation. Be professional and do your job and leave your proselytizing out of it.

        I totally agree and I never initiate these conversations at work. Most religious people I know would not try to preach their beliefs to me and I extend them that same courtesy. However, I will not hesitate to explain my views when asked, even if it results in a awkward social situation.

        Yes I agree, but even if the person asks in a work related situation, I think it’s best to be careful of what you say and you should try to avoid perpetuating an awkward situation. In case of an unresolved conflict, the human resource department will not recognize that the other person started the conversation; it’s a matter of two people not able to resolve their differences in the workplace. If someone really must persist, I suggest going out and having drinks somewhere and keeping the workplace out of any conversation.

        At my workplace, it is very liberal and open. Yet, I’ve noticed the few times that I’ve said anything, non-church going deist co-workers (masquerading as cultural Christians) will still chime in something contradictory. So I no longer say anything.

  10. Well, atheism argument is rational but rational arguments are not always the best ones with other people. Why don’t you take him for a lunch that will show him that atheist people are more or less like the rest? There is no need to win an argument. I think you are not in country where being atheist is a real and imminent danger. You can also be surprised that religious people can be pretty liberal in areas where their particular preachers were not indoctrinating. They just don’t realize they are liberal.

    Theism bashing is so fun but we don’t need to talk about religion all the time, do we?

    All of my friends know I am an street fighting atheist. Many were theist (or even worse ‘spiritual’) and after years of talks about real moral choices and institutional religions gaffes they can happily dismiss most religious crap. They even apologize to me when they use the word soul, they correct fast and say they actually meant introspection.

    Hehe, so fun.

  11. Ignore the Christian fundamentalist. There are more important things to do than engage ignorant, anthropocentric and xenophobic persons. Don’t take ownership of their dysfunctions (note the plural).

  12. IMO, the only point in a debate with a creationist / fundamentalist is if there is an open minded audience looking in. Unless the guy is actually curious about your view, and just not trying to ‘win you over’ or bury his head in the sand. he would probably think the same thing about you to be honest. “There;s no point talking to that stubborn rationalist, he doesn’t understand God”.

    You can look into Peter Boghossian’s work. Mainly about epistemology, how we know what we know (nature of knowledge), the danger of faith-based knowledge. It’s pretty easy to make a pro / cons between revealed knowledge (the gospel, religions), and empirical / rational knowledge (science). Not all forms of valid knowledge completely rely on the scientific method, although they do in some part. History (need comparative histories, records, ect…), Philosophy (there’s a deductive framework here too)…

    But frankly, unless you are interested in discussing a boatload of lofty abstract concepts (although intellectual masturbation can be fun sometimes), I’d just leave that guy alone. The dichotomy / syncretism / cognitive dissonance between Science and Faith is nothing new. They just don’t treat both concepts the same. The interesting part is when they intersect. It usually involves a whole lot of self-rationalisation and / or denial.

    For example, dinosaurs and humans. Since there is no mention of bigfeckoff giant dinosaurs, man-eating T-Rex’s and Velociraptors in all of earth’s recorded history (6,000 years, right? What a coincidence…), you have to work backwards to try to make the picture fit. For example, they lived in unpopulated areas of the earth, then all died at Noah’s flood, and then fossilised really really quickly, and such nonsense. You work backwards from the conclusion, and not from where the evidence leads you.

    Note that deconversion is not impossible. Matt Dillahunty, Dan Barker, would be examples of a faith-head turned atheist by having their beliefs challenged and being willing to engage their brains. But frankly, unless he is interested in working it out, I wouldn’t bother.

  13. I think you are taking the wrong tack. You should be questioning the basis for his morals and quote him line and verse from the bible to make him justify why it is okay to stone people to death, keep slaves, for rapists to be forced to marry their victims. This will make it much harder for him to argue as you can quote line and verse of his inerrant book. Slavery is good one because in both new and old testaments it is never condemned. For example slaves are told to obey their masters in the new testament. Bout for each horrid direction given he would need to show how this was justified.

  14. I really appreciate everyone’s input on this topic. I realize this is an extreme case of religious fundamentalism and most believers aren’t plagued by quite this level of irrationality. This is just an example of how faith can turn an educated, otherwise intelligent person into a complete ignoramus in matters that conflict with his or her sacredly held doctrines.

    On a more positive note, I have had discussions with other more reasonable people who seemed to genuinely understand where I’m coming from and this usually stimulates very thought-provoking conversation. In most parts of the civilized world, we are seeing more and more people gravitate toward rationality and away from faith. According to a 2012 article in USA Today 19% of American adults now say they have no religious affiliation compared with 6% in 1990. (http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/religion/story/2012-07-19/no-religion-affiliation/56344976/1) This is very positive news in my opinion.

  15. My fears were confirmed when he said “well, according to scripture …

    Some good advice has already been given by others here, but I would add that a basic assumption in any reasonable discussion, like the one you had with your fellow worker, is that all participants in it accept the constraints of reason. If someone says, “Well, according to scripture…,” I would ask why we should accept as true what is set down in scripture. Scripture is not a proof of anything. Quoting scripture is not an acceptable way of justifying an assertion in an intelligent discussion, unless the discussion is about the ideas current among people of certain societies at certain times and places in antiquity. A Christian’s attempt to use scripture as verification or proof should be immediately challenged, in order to nip the nonsense in the bud. In logical terms, such Christians are guilty of circular thinking or petitio principii – they believe in the divine inspiration of the Bible, therefore they believe that what is written in the Bible is infallibly true, for it has been revealed by divine inspiration of the Bible. Thus their beliefs begin and end with superstition, and we are doing them a favor, which they may not initially appreciate, when we make this plain to them. Reckless Monkey’s suggestion at #13 is useful to reinforce the notion that scripture is not a reliable source of truth.

  16. One of the more recent studies regarding the effect of cognitive dissonance (the logical conflict between two sets of beliefs) pointed out tends to push people into mindsets of greater faith, where they just refused to acknowledge the conflict. (In Christianity, far more often than conflicts with science, parishioners face conflicts within it own dogma, or between the community’s mores and those expressed in scripture.)

    So in most cases, it’s not worth it.

    Normally, people stay with whatever belief system they’re raised with, and an identity crisis (e.g. watching a close sibling being outed as gay and then ostracized by the community and family) is necessary in order for someone to consider that their view isn’t the whole story.

    On the other hand, Christians are tempted by the Great Commission not just because of Jesus’ teachings but because converting others affirms their own beliefs from their own doubt. And if you feel like discussing philosophy with them go for it. But don’t expect them to change their minds, or present arguments based on rationality.

    If you don’t want him to press you about it, or he’s only interested in witnessing you, you can remind him it is rude for someone to disparage you or your lifestyle just because you don’t worship his god. And it is appropriate to express your limits as such.

    I have noticed that rare is the theist, Christian or otherwise, that I would want to emulate, or want my children or loved ones to model after. And I’m willing to say this to those who are overly eager to witness.
    Matthew 7:3 makes a point that is pretty universal. Students come to learn because they see Buddha is enlightened, not because he says he is Buddha or claims to be enlightened.

  17. The way I have always handled these situations when they come up is to come up with things you have in common and then move to things where you are not too far apart and then to things where you hold opposite opinions. If you have time it can be done in one conversation, but it mostly takes more than one conversation. Since this person is a co-worker you will have plenty of opportunity to discuss it in greater detail. People listen to those they trust hence the reason for starting with things that you have similar views on. Obviously this method isn’t perfect but the fact of the matter is that there is no sure fire way that guarantees success. If in the end you still aren’t able to help them see the ignorance of what they say then leave it alone.

  18. I agree with the majority of the above statements. It is possible to change his mind, and I don’t think for a second that he is ‘beyond reaching,’ I don’t think anyone truly is. However I think that it really isn’t something that can be healthily discussed in the workplace. I would suggest building a rapport as posted previously, and then having lunch and discussing this stuff outside the workplace. That is, if you even think it is a good idea to do so. Just because I think it is possible to ‘reach’ everyone, I don’t necessarily think it is wise to try. Some people need to figure it out on their own, which I think Uriel commented on a bit. All that said, I think you can at least discuss why the Earth isn’t 6000 years old without getting into the more “serious” stuff. I don’t think that discussion would thoroughly upset anyone, so long as it sticks to that topic. In the end, it’s really up to you to decide. Best of luck whatever you choose to do!

    • In reply to #24 by Pauly01:

      There is no evidence for the supernatural and the bible is full of it.

      True of course. Is it not also reasonable to say:

      There is evidence for the non-existence of the supernatural and the bible is full of it.

  19. It simply appears that we are still in the last days of the age of mythology and there are those walking among us that are just not as highly evolved. As a physicist in the bible belt, I have these same discussions with co-workers from time to time and at least it has always been civil.

  20. as long as your co-worker is not a fundamentalist who spreads fear.. what the heck, let him be.. why change his mind? these people are blinded by what they see as the truth and will not let anybody easily remove the veil around their minds which keeps the real truth out of there.. don´t try to change their minds and waste your energy on these people.. if you have children, bring them up with love and the truth as you know it.. these religious types start with children, so should we in the hope that when a generation or two have been educated with the truth, religion will die together with its deity/ deities

  21. Any evidence you provide in discussions with a fundamentalist will always be interpreted by them in light of their holy book. Therefore it is more productive to start with that book and start questioning it and why they believe it. If you can demostrate all the weaknesses, absurdities, contradictions, etc in their book and set up a few cognitive dissonances in their minds, then hopefully that will lead them to a few doubts. You can then proceed to evidence. If that doesn’t work, try and show them why faith itself is not a good thing. If all that fails, just disengage with them – they are clearly not interested in having a meaningful and honest discussion.

  22. I don’t bother with them anymore. Its like playing chess with a pigeon remember. I just refer them to a few books that might enlighten them. I tell them I have read ‘their’ book so how about they read a few of mine?:) IF their brain can not identify reasoned logic, meh, let them die out, its just natural selection weeding them out eventually. Give it 50-100 yrs and religion will be as quaint as Greek mythology is today.

  23. Hello Skeptic149, ex-fundie preacher here! I have to disagree with a few other members – People CAN and DO give up their life-long beliefs. It isn’t very noted, but the fact that some convert to, and more importantly away from, Christianity is clearly evidence of people giving up their previous beliefs. You may very well be the catalyst that helps this poor deluded fellow to see the light. That being said, whether you proselytize at all for Reason is a sticky ethical situation. Barring all that, I will give you my two-cents.

    Again, as a previously deluded fundie, I can tell you that I would have appreciated a voice of reason and skepticism. If you truly want a solid foot to stand on to get to the heart of theology, no doubt what this fellow is leaning on, I heartily suggest you read John Loftus’ books: ‘Why I became and Atheist’ (it really isn’t biographical or a spit-up of past arguments. It has the best theological points against Christianity) as well as his ‘Christian Delusion’. They will let you in on most of the common theological arguments. With these two books, I very much doubt you will ever feel devoid of theological knowledge or debate topic.

    I can only suggest, being you seem ever so slightly perturbed, pay attention to debates to become fluent not in common arguments, but the way debates are won and how arguments are best put together. Most of all simply call out his nonsense with your documented facts. It isn’t going to be easy, nor fun, nor even all that interesting. As a former fundie preacher with seminary training I have the good fortune to truly understand their vague arguments internally. If the people I mildly debate with don’t freak out, they leave me alone after being stymied constantly. Do read Loftus’ book. You will be more equipped to deal with the deeper theological arguments that he will respect and understand. Since evidence isn’t going to do squat for this man, aside from perhaps to start him thinking critically, you may have a bit more respect and debate ammunition with Loftus’ theological arguments.

    Cheers,
    - J

  24. you can’t win. believers need to deconvert themselves.

    however:

    “well, according to scripture, about 6,000 years old.”

    that is simply not true, it’s an estimate based on very flawed reasoning and and is self-contradicted within the scriptures.

    here’s some info

    if i had to debate with a biblical literalist, I’d choose their book for arguments. mostly they’d just repeat things they’ve been told by their wizard people but if you get a chapter and verse type; you can use this diagram as a quick guide to finding the chapter and verse that refutes their claim

  25. I have been debating fundamentalists and Christians in general for over 40 years. Every person is different because each person has their own version of the religion which they have cherry picked over time. Many are and have been nice people. Some have been very educated and intelligent. Others are not all that bright.
    But most people will listen to reason and logic up to a point. After you cross that point they close up. It is few and far between that decide you are right and start questioning their religion. And of those, most are already at a point where they are wavering and just need some extra encouragement from a logical perspective.
    Fact is you can’t really change anyone’s mind unless they see the logic in what you say and are already at a turning point. But you can plant seeds. Every interaction changes us even if ever so slightly. It can be an accumulative effect that eventually does make people drop their religion. Of course it works the other way around as well. When you debate, all kinds of seeds are planted and floating around in the air. That’s the nature of persuasion. If you don’t already have an answer to whatever argument is presented you are in danger of falling to self doubt.
    So the best way to be on top in a debate is to know both science and religion like the back of your hand. That takes time, but you can only confidently and effectively debate what you really know. Too often I see both sides swinging away at each other and making fools of themselves because they don’t understand the subject they are debating. If you are going to debate religion, know it inside out. If you are going to debate science, know it inside out.
    Most people respond to reason and logic, as I have already said. The exception is the fundamentalist and there are some very good reasons why they don’t respond to reason or logic where their god is concerned. The first is that the fundamentalist is generally wary of logic and reason because the bible tells them that the lord will make the wise look foolish. So being wise is not a good thing. Satan thought he was smarter than god and got kicked out of heaven for it. Being too smart is not good. You lose your humility before god.
    Faith is belief in things unseen and unproven. The more faith they have the less evidence maters. Faith is all that matters because wisdom is for those sinful humans who aren’t wise at all no matter how smart they think they are. If god were a proven fact then faith would not be possible, and it is by faith that they think they get to heaven. The bible or in the Islamic world, the koran, tells the fundamentalist all they want to know about anything including science, even though science has proven most of the bible science false. You do not need any other source of information in your life, and if you listen to sinful humans then it takes you away from your focus which is to serve god.
    Most fundamentalists I know not only do not understand science, they do not want to understand it because it is just a lot of human error. They are proud that they do not understand it. It’s tainted and not worth understanding. It may even be of the devil. Particularly evolution. That is most definitely something thought up by the devil to lure men and woman to their doom. No doubt. As is atheism. The devil can do his best work if no one believes he exists. He loves atheists. He blinded them.
    How can you reason with this? You can’t. No wonder Richard Dawkins won’t debate them. There is no debating them from a scientific perspective.
    I have even tried debating them from a biblical perspective. That too fails because they each have their own interpretation of the bible which they also have faith in. This often makes black appear white to them and wrong appear right. God can do no evil by definition even when he clearly does evil in the bible, because god decrees what good and evil are and he is above the laws he sets down for his creation. We are to obey, not to judge god or his actions because our pea sized brains can’t understand his ways or reasoning. He is always justified and righteous. And if you tell them that in Isaiah he says point blank that he created evil, they tell you the word should be calamity, not evil. Man creates evil, not god.
    They believe that everything in the bible is a literal and true account of events in history. But they do not read the bible word for word. They change meaning s of words or claim poor translations etc if the words on the page do not match their belief.
    Yet history is another angle one can debate most Christians with. Yet fundamentalists will not listen to any corrections about history or listen to the history of their own bible. You can’t even get to them with historical evidence. The flood was worldwide even though no evidence of such a flood has been seen in geology. And even though there are two other stories of Noah which are clearly about the same event, and both say it was a regional flood. Those being the Babylonian story of Gilgamesh, and the earliest version written down by the Sumerians long before Hebrews became Jews or Babylonians were a power.
    But none of this will phase the true fundamentalist. They have set interpretations of the bible which they will not falter from. The Creationists believe the earth is 6 to 10 thousand years old. There is no use telling them that the earliest date was determined in 168 AD by Jose ben Halafta who set creation at 3761 BCE and that there have been at least 25 revisions since then, each with a completely different date. Each time the earth gets a little older. They are still upset that in the early 1800s science would no longer entertain a young earth as a valid hypothesis.
    Radio Carbon Dating has apparently been proven to be bogus. Fossil evidence is fraudulent. Evolutionists make fraudulent claims about bones. This is from a troop of so called creation scientists that seem to be compulsory reading for the informed fundamentalist. Of course these so called scientists are anything but.
    The Calvinist is a particularly nasty breed that does not believe god loves everyone. In fact they know he hates atheists and other sinners. The only way to get to heaven is to be called to be a Calvinist. God already knows who will enter and who won’t. Nothing you can do about it. They feel very smug.
    The born again Christian is another type, the Baptists are another. The JWs, the list goes on. The born agains hate all organized religion and each have a personal relationship with Jesus, even though they do organize themselves. Most fundamentalists dislike each other and often question whether other religions really are Christian.
    In other words, the only reason to debate a fundamentalist is for fun and some good practice. There really isn’t even any point in talking to them about science or religion otherwise.

  26. If I ever engage in this type of conversation again, is there anything I can do to more effectively expose the other person’s ignorance, or are these people simply beyond reason?

    I would say such people are beyond reason as the attachment to their fundie beliefs is based upon emotion, not intellect.

    Having an education, reading books, interacting with other viewpoints might challenge their fundie stance (even for a pharmacist) – but they’ll always revert back to their core beliefs due to childhood indoctrination by their parents (elders, guardians etc). If they admit they are wrong, by association, so are their parents.

  27. In reply to #36 by Tonehunter2010:

    Welcome to the discussion.

    First of all I want to apologise to you. I am sorry you have come across people who are a poor example of a Christian.

    There is no need for apologies, we have a wide range of Christians and many other religions debating here, so are familiar with the spectrum of viewpoints.

    There are many people who say they believe in God, but do not have the knowledge and understanding to answer such questions, especially when they come from a “street fighting atheist.”
    The fact is that many Christians have a “half belief” if I could say that maybe they were brought up in a Christian home, routine church etc, you know what I mean.

    Indeed I do, as do many other atheists who were once believers, before they learned more about humans and the universe. In terms of biblical history, you are likely to find that some atheists here have a much deeper knowledge of Xtianity, than those who try to use a bible as a history book.

    But have they had a real revelation of God? An encounter with God so to speak? Because I can tell you that a person who has a very real, intimate relationship with God would not be so easily convinced of your belief.

    There are certainly those who are influenced by psychological experiences, which they equate with many different gods. There are many ways of bringing on those experiences, which vary from the trauma of accidents, illnesses, sleep deprivation, starvation, or the use of drugs as in the rituals of shamanistic religions.

    Could I ask you 2 things?
    1. Could we agree that just as a Christian has to have an element of faith in order to accept the belief system that there is a real, living God, the God of the Bible,

    A belief in the “god of the bible” is certainly based on faith, cognitive dissonance, and cherry-picking, rather than objective research or material evidence.

    that also an Atheist is inadvertently taking a simular faith step in claiming that there is NO God, and that science and reason is the be all and end all of beliefs that everyone should submit to? Surely a person of your intellect has to reason this fact?

    No atheism is not blind faith! Atheism is a lack of belief in gods, based on a high probability that this is correct due to a lack of evidence for the existence of gods, the fact that gods are unnecessary to explain the workings of the universe, and that the huge range of contradictory god-myths lacks coherent credibility.

    1. Look at your computer screen. Of all the millions of pixels on the screen, if they represented all the knowledge in the world, how much of that screen would you say that you know is 100% facts. Of all the science, education, geography, art, literature, everything that can be known I am sure you would only say you know just a speck. A tiny corner of your screen. Of that tiny corner, do you honestly say that you KNOW there is NO God.

    The fact that science has only established “facts” and probable explanations covering some possibilities, does not mean science knows nothing, or that any wild speculation is credible. I do know that whole computer-screen was created by scientists, mathematicians and engineers, and not by gods!

    Can you totally eliminate the possibility?

    Science an atheism are about the most likely probabilities, not eliminating the tiniest or least credible explanations, or indeed about eliminating extremely remote possibilities for which there are no explanations at all! It is the responsibility of those making claims about those alleged possibilities to produce clear definitions, hypotheses and evidence.

    I know everything you read is a bad rap on God.

    Not at all! How could we consider “bad” something which does not exist other than as a pyschological image in the brain of the believer..

    So forget “religion” and the media version of God and reason for a moment.

    It is the unreasoned activities of believers based on dogmas, and misplaced confidence backed by “faith” in their misconceptions, or in “religious tribal thinking”, which does the damage to communities, minority groups, and individuals.

  28. Tonehunter2010 36

    But have they had a real revelation of God? An encounter with God so to speak? Because I can tell you that a person who has a very real, intimate relationship with God would not be so easily convinced of your belief. Could I ask you 2 things? 1. Could we agree that just as a Christian has to have an element of faith in order to accept the belief system that there is a real, living God, the God of the Bible, that also an Atheist is inadvertently taking a simular faith step in claiming that there is NO God, and that science and reason is the be all and end all of beliefs that everyone should submit to? Surely a person of your intellect has to reason this fact?

    It may surprise you to know that psychologists have a good understanding ot the “revelation” experience. It is a delusion requiring several influencing factors. See, for example:

    Batson, C. Daniel, Patricia Schoenrade, and W. Larry Ventis. Religion and the Individual. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993.

    Hay, David. “The Cultural Context of Stage Models of Religious Experience.” The International Journal for the Psychology of Religious Experience 11(4): 241-246.

    Hood, Ralph W. “Mystical, Spiritual and Religious Experiences.” In Handbook of the Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, edited by Raymond R. Paloutzian and Crystal L. Park. New York: The Guilford Press, 2005.

    Jindra, Ines W. “Religious Stage Development Among Converts to Different Religious Groups.” The International Journal for the Psychology of Religion 18 (2008): 195-215.

    And no, we have heard that absolutely ridiculous argument that atheism takes faith, when in fact it is the opposite of faith, that we really don’t need to hear it anymore. It is a desperate attempt at the fallacy of equivalency.

    SO, no, you do not have a real, intimate relationship with god, although no one will be able to convince you of this rather simple truth.

  29. In reply to #36 by Tonehunter2010:

    ….also an Atheist is inadvertently taking a simular faith step in claiming that there is NO God, and that science and reason is the be all and end all of beliefs that everyone should submit to? Surely a person of your intellect has to reason this fact?……

    If an atheist says there can be no God but does not have any evidence then this IS a faith claim, however this is not what atheist means.

    You can’t define a faith claim of something in the negative. Ie not believing in “x” = a faith claim. This is just infinite. You can only make a faith claim in something you believe in.

    Claiming there is no God is not the same as a person saying there can be no God. This is one of the biggest errors from religious believers about what it is to be an atheist.

    In language that might suit you better. You saying you don’t believe in Zeus IS NOT a faith claim. You saying Zeus can’t exist but you have no evidence IS a faith claim. The 2nd is making a specific (faith) claim about the nature of the universe, the 1st is not.

  30. So my mom was never especially openminded, but I figured with her being a nurse and having graduated with a college degree and basically being a person living in the modern era, that she would agree with me on some fundamentals. I mean, I’ve been an atheist for 18 years (since I was 12) and I can honestly say that learning my mother doesn’t believe in evolution has blown my mind with regards to religious craziness. I studied freaking Anthropology at UCLA (it’s basically a requirement to uphold evolution in that department). Science (and all things rational) is simply how I view the world. So when I have my mom trying to thrust her religious bible crap on my 7 year old son and hearing him shout out “God chose me,” or hearing her talk to my 5 year old daughter about how the world began, I feel myself getting sick. And when I try to use rational fact based arguments to dispel my mother of whatever nonsense she has learned, all I get in return is some bull about how she didn’t invite me into her home to argue about religion (like I invited her to force that religion down my kids’ throats).

    So I know I ranted a bit here, but I just needed to get the aggravation of dealing with my apparently fundamentalist christian mother out there. I mean, I knew she was being all Jesus is awesome these past five years, but I had no idea it was like this. There’s more, but I could write a book about her insanity, so maybe later.

  31. In reply to #42 by Scottyp4JC:

    You are right, it does surprise me! That a group of psychologists could come to a conclusion about something that is not measurable, and certainly not understandable to a person who has not had a revelation of God.

    You really think you know neuroscience better than the neuro-psychologists and can pronounce on what can and cannot be understood by scientific investigations? The self-delusion of “exclusive knowledge” arising from subjective introspective circular thinking, is well known!

    If I am thinking of a number in my head, you have no way of knowing what that number is unless I reveal it to you. Without my revelation you will never ever know. No scientist can say that God cannot reveal himself to someone just because God have not revealed himself to them, hence it is referred to as revelation.

    First you would need to show evidence that such a god exists, then that there is a means of communication with humans! The science shows no evidence for either of these despite having a very deep understanding of communicating energy transmissions! The issue of thinking internally of a number is a separate issue to claiming an external input from “gods”.

    You really should have read the links to the evidence provided.
    Anyway here is a simpler one which should be easy to understand:-

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-22042369 – Japanese scientists are claiming they have found a way to read people’s dreams.

    Using brain scans, the researchers say they can decode dreams with a high degree of accuracy.

    The study is published in the journal Science.

    Of course it would be easy to fob off something that cannot be understood without it being revealed to us. But I find it have to believe that any form of test could be done that can explain away the fact that God can and does reveal Himself, His truths, His love and His power to those who genuinely search for it!

    Your lack of understanding of neuroscience, does not imply that neuroscientists (or physicists) do not understand their subjects.

    God can and does reveal Himself, His truths, His love and His power to those who genuinely search for it!

    Those with preconceived notion about their subconscious thoughts will easily jump to preconceived mythology based conclusions. Human brains do not do self diagnosis. Scientific evidence is a much more reliable source of information that subjective navel gazing!
    .

  32. In reply to #41 by Scottyp4JC:

    If I have weighed up the evidence, read the Bible and recognised the thousands of documents stated that Jesus was in fact the son of God and so on, the final step is the choice to choose to believe in Him and Trust that there is a God.

    The bible is a collection of myths with the NT edited about three hundred years after supposed events. There is not a single eyewitness account of ANYTHING anyone called Jesus did!

    The origins of the OT god is also a matter of history. (History – that subject Bible-literalists never study)

    A History of God (Part 1) .. . . the evidence indicates that the Jewish concept of monotheism evolved from the syncretism of various polytheistic sources like Canaanite and Babylonian polytheism.

    You also have weighed up the evidence, looked at the world and then made a choice to believe that there is no God, this also is a step of faith.

    You seem to have used “faith” (strong or unshakeable belief in something, esp without proof or evidence ) to choose a particular god from the thousands http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List-of-deities which people have followed over the years., and you ASSUME this is how everyone else thinks. Why that god??

    But God goes the extra step and does things in peoples lives that defy science, defy logic and that seperates the God of the Bible from every other belief system.

    But that is only a story, circulated among the followers of particular Xtian groups.

    Can you tell me you have genuinely looked at evidence SUPPORTING God,

    Many have looked but no objective confirmed evidence has ever been found. Just claims and myths – most of which are easily refuted!

    or have you just looked at one side of the argument.

    It is only individual fundamentalists and cults which have “one side of the argument”. There are thousands of contradictory versions of religious arguments and thousands contradictory of Xtian versions over which wars have been fought!

    Because only a blind faith would look at one side without allowing investigation of the other.

    I know!

    **That is why fundamentalists do not study and understand science OR history OR other religions! **

  33. In reply to #45 by Scottyp4JC:

    “The bible is a collection of myths with the NT edited about three hundred years after supposed events. There is not a single eyewitness account of ANYTHING anyone called Jesus did!”

    And here lies the monumental problem! Where did you get this information?

    I got it from historians and the biblical scholars who study Roman records and archaeology – rather than exclusively from recent translations of “THE BIBLE” mythology, or whimsical writings of those who read it as a history book and made up their own versions!

    It is ridiculous!! A collection of myths? These are historical documents at a minimum and were penned by some of the very people who were Jesus’ very own disciples, John and Peter for example. They saw the miracles and hundreds of others testified that Jesus was the Son of God.

    Oh dear! Even many Xtian scholars recognise that the authors of the gospels (including the Gnostic and Coptic ones) added disciples names, to misrepresent the authorship and add “authority” to their writings. You really need to study this subject, beyond the recycling of fairy stories written from “the imaginings of “faith thinkers”.

    Edited? Of the thousands of documents dating back to between 70AD and 180AD compared with the Bible of today I can assure you it is as accurate as ever, thanks, in part, to scientific and archaeological breakthroughs.

    I know you assure me, but that is because you don’t know how few documents there are which make even a passing reference to ANY claimed events.

    The Dead Sea scrolls discovered in the 1950′s -60s contained books from the OT written from around the time of Jesus and when compared to todays OT contained 99.98% accuracy (a typo here and there).

    The Dead Sea Scrolls and the other gospels of the early Xtian cults contradict each other and in any case were written decades later than claimed events by people who had their own agendas. The lands were over-run with wandering preachers and Jewish and Xtain cults around that time!

    Not a single eye witness? That is a where the monumental problem happens.

    That is the nature of the NT. It is folk-tales written down decades or centuries after events, with the first edited version dating from AD 325.

    I am constantly being deeply disturbed by the lack of understanding from Atheist comments relating to God, the Bible etc (as I am sure you have been if roles reversed :))

    Let me assure you that many atheists here, have a much deeper understanding of Biblical history and the range of beliefs than most religious believers.
    Perhaps reading this discussion would clarify your thoughts:- http://www.richarddawkins.net/discussions/2012/10/3/the-historical-jesus#

    What we do not always know, is what personal interpretation (from the millions), a particular believer may have arrived at. Many atheists were believers, before they became more educated, more rational and more mature in their thinking, so are very familiar with religious thinking processes and views.

    because many things brought up like you have done are simply incorrect information which has been passed around by people who are not only NOT experts in this field,

    This reversal of a situation, is what is known as psychological projection, The conflicts come from objective historians who ARE experts in the field, not believers who choose what they would LIKE be in the records to comply with stories they were told in childhood.

    but by your comment about no eye witnesses, that shows me you have not even read or studied the NT.

    Your comment shows that you have studied nothing else (first or second hand!) There are NO contemporary records from eye-witnesses. There are only STORIES about eye-witnesses ( as with Harry Potter) or with STORIES of archaeological breakthroughs!

    As for your final comment: Some of the worlds leading scientists and historians are Christians, Sir Isaac Newton, John Lennox and many others you cannot say that Christianity throws science out the window,

    Newton lived when Xtianity dominated education, and before modern methods of physics and biology were available. Modern scientists who claim compatibility, compartmentalise their thinking to separate the contradictions, or only study very narrow fields, leaving them ignorant of the joined-up wider view. The Universe. the Solar-System, the Earth, and life, run smoothly without a need for gods or magical interventions.

    after all every new discovery points more to an intelligent designer, as science unravels the mysteries of the universe it further points to a creator!

    This is just whimsical thinking. Postulating a universe designer is vastly less probable and much more complicated than simple scientific processes. Hence the vagueness and lack of definition, of creator claims.
    It also poses the infinite regression of gods paradox. (Who created the creator, of the creator, of the creator, of the creator …..)

    • How few documents??
      http://creation.com/trust-the-bible

      Here you will find a list of how many manuscripts have been discovered and the bottom of the page has many credible references. You should note that indeed not all NT books have a known author, but the majority are widely accepted as being written by the person who’s name is on it. As for adding authors in, that is a belief held by a small minority of scholars, not to be confused with Christian scholars.

      Am I to assume that because the scientists at the church of scientology discovered that we are all immortal beings who have just forgotten our true nature, that all scientists and yourself hold the same belief? You cannot think that because the odd scholar comes out with a theory that the credibility of the Bible and God can be dumbed down to a fairy tale, I feel like it is you who needs to study this subject more and not take as gospel (pardon the punn) every internet page and twitter status you come across. We have not gotten that much smarter, you are just fed more information thanks to the world wide web, unfortunately people grab anything they can and call in credible (for example, you quoted wikipedia before, wiki is banned from being a reference and most universities due to no credibility).

      Most atheists have a deeper understanding of biblical history than believers? That is strange, I cant see many atheists going to study biblical history or theology at seminary. packaging internet information together nicely is far from deeply understanding the bible. Besides, unfortunately the bible is locked to people who do not know God. You can read it, read the study behind it, the cultural times, history etc but you will not understand a thing about it or God because God only reveals himself to those who are looking for him.

      “Many atheists were believers, before they became more educated” are you referring to yourself here?
      Then if you were once a beleiver, let us reason for a moment:

      Have you ever had an encounter with God?

      Do you remember that moment when he revealed himself to you?

      Have you witnessed His awesome power when a person has been deaf there whole life and God suddenly opens their hearing, or their sight?

      Have you seen any miraculous things in your time as a believer that defy logic?? Science??

      My friend if you at least in some point of your life did not experience these things, you are missing it!!
      “To be an atheist you must have infinite knowledge in order to know absolutely that there is no God. But to have infinite knowledge, you would have to be God yourself. It’s hard to be God yourself and an atheist at the same time!”

      Your last comment, if we look at the alternative to a creator, we have nothing coming from nothing creating something, now that is a paradox also is it not. The complexity of humans and the human body, the beauty of the earth, the perfect equilibrium of nature and the positioning of the earth to sustain life has all come from a couple of particles bumping together at the beginning of time? And you think a creator is hard to swallow. The universe coming into its own from nothing and forming all that we have today, also from nothing is the most illogical belief which requires much more faith that the alternative, an intelligent designer.

      Look at DNA, this could not have come from chance, probability or evolution! If we are all accidents, what on earth are you doing sitting on your computer talking to me for, why are you working your job, go and enjoy life, explore the world, because when you die life ends right?

      “There is enough information capacity in a single human cell to store the Encyclopedia Britannica, all 30 volumes of it, three or four times over.” –Richard Dawkins

      “DNA is like a computer program, but far, far more advanced that any software we’ve ever created.” –Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft

      “To be an atheist you must have infinite knowledge in order to know absolutely that there is no God. But to have infinite knowledge, you would have to be God yourself. It’s hard to be God yourself and an atheist at the same time!”

      If you took a year off from bombarding your mind with one side of the debate and spent a year studying, searching for answers on the other side of the debate, the worst that could happen is you loose a year of learning how to attempt to exterminate the world’s most influential belief system. But on the other hand, you may find that much of what you have learnt has another side to it, the old “only one side of the story” and like a lot of atheists, you may even realize the evidence is sufficient, it is man’s own heart that stops him from knowing God. One open heart moment, one whisper from God can change a life for ever, I see it again and again!!In reply to #46 by Alan4discussion:

      In reply to #45 by Scottyp4JC:

      “The bible is a collection of myths with the NT edited about three hundred years after supposed events. There is not a single eyewitness account of ANYTHING anyone called Jesus did!”

      And here lies the monumental problem! Where did you get this information?

      I got it from historians and the biblical scholars who study Roman records and archaeology – rather than exclusively from recent translations of “THE BIBLE” mythology, or whimsical writings of those who read it as a history book and made up their own versions!

      It is ridiculous!! A collection of myths? These are historical documents at a minimum and were penned by some of the very people who were Jesus’ very own disciples, John and Peter for example. They saw the miracles and hundreds of others testified that Jesus was the Son of God.

      Oh dear! Even many Xtian scholars recognise that the authors of the gospels (including the Gnostic and Coptic ones) added disciples names, to misrepresent the authorship and add “authority” to their writings. You really need to study this subject, beyond the recycling of fairy stories written from “the imaginings of “faith thinkers”.

      Edited? Of the thousands of documents dating back to between 70AD and 180AD compared with the Bible of today I can assure you it is as accurate as ever, thanks, in part, to scientific and archaeological breakthroughs.

      I know you assure me, but that is because you don’t know how few documents there are which make even a passing reference to ANY claimed events.

      The Dead Sea scrolls discovered in the 1950′s -60s contained books from the OT written from around the time of Jesus and when compared to todays OT contained 99.98% accuracy (a typo here and there).

      The Dead Sea Scrolls and the other gospels of the early Xtian cults contradict each other and in any case were written decades later than claimed events by people who had their own agendas. The lands were over-run with wandering preachers and Jewish and Xtain cults around that time!

      Not a single eye witness? That is a where the monumental problem happens.

      That is the nature of the NT. It is folk-tales written down decades or centuries after events, with the first edited version dating from AD 325.

      I am constantly being deeply disturbed by the lack of understanding from Atheist comments relating to God, the Bible etc (as I am sure you have been if roles reversed :))

      Let me assure you that many atheists here, have a much deeper understanding of Biblical history and the range of beliefs than most religious believers.
      Perhaps reading this discussion would clarify your thoughts:- http://www.richarddawkins.net/discussions/2012/10/3/the-historical-jesus#

      What we do not always know, is what personal interpretation (from the millions), a particular believer may have arrived at. Many atheists were believers, before they became more educated, more rational and more mature in their thinking, so are very familiar with religious thinking processes and views.

      because many things brought up like you have done are simply incorrect information which has been passed around by people who are not only NOT experts in this field,

      This reversal of a situation, is what is known as psychological projection, The conflicts come from objective historians who ARE experts in the field, not believers who choose what they would LIKE be in the records to comply with stories they were told in childhood.

      but by your comment about no eye witnesses, that shows me you have not even read or studied the NT.

      Your comment shows that you have studied nothing else (first or second hand!) There are NO contemporary records from eye-witnesses. There are only STORIES about eye-witnesses ( as with Harry Potter) or with STORIES of archaeological breakthroughs!

      As for your final comment: Some of the worlds leading scientists and historians are Christians, Sir Isaac Newton, John Lennox and many others you cannot say that Christianity throws science out the window,

      Newton lived when Xtianity dominated education, and before modern methods of physics and biology were available. Modern scientists who claim compatibility, compartmentalise their thinking to separate the contradictions, or only study very narrow fields, leaving them ignorant of the joined-up wider view. The Universe. the Solar-System, the Earth, and life, run smoothly without a need for gods or magical interventions.

      after all every new discovery points more to an intelligent designer, as science unravels the mysteries of the universe it further points to a creator!

      This is just whimsical thinking. Postulating a universe designer is vastly less probable and much more complicated than simple scientific processes. Hence the vagueness and lack of definition, of creator claims.
      It also poses the infinite regression of gods paradox. (Who created the creator, of the creator, of the creator, of the creator …..)

      • In reply to #47 by Scottyp4JC:

        How few documents??
        http://creation.com/trust-the-bible

        Here you will find a list of how many manuscripts have been discovered and the bottom of the page has many credible references.

        You seem to be confusing the fiction writing at creation.com with the work of reputable university historians and biblical scholars.

        You should note that indeed not all NT books have a known author, but the majority are widely accepted as being written by the person who’s name is on it.

        They are only claimed to be “widely accepted” by creationist fundamentalists and their sponsored establishments which publish large amounts of misinformation. Large numbers of scholars who use RESEARCH in testing techniques to verify and date documents do NOT think these were written by named authors.

        As for adding authors in, that is a belief held by a small minority of scholars, not to be confused with Christian scholars.

        You seem to be confusing YEC wish-thinkers (past and present) with historians and Xtian scholars.

        Am I to assume that because the scientists at the church of scientology discovered that we are all immortal beings who have just forgotten our true nature, that all scientists and yourself hold the same belief?

        The Church of Scientology is a pseudo-science establishment which has nothing to do with reputable academic science.

        You cannot think that because the odd scholar comes out with a theory that the credibility of the Bible and God can be dumbed down to a fairy tale, I feel like it is you who needs to study this subject more and not take as gospel (pardon the punn) every internet page and twitter status you come across. We have not gotten that much smarter, you are just fed more information thanks to the world wide web, unfortunately people grab anything they can and call in credible (for example, you quoted wikipedia before, wiki is banned from being a reference and most universities due to no credibility).

        I am aware of the limitations of Wiki, but there are times when simple encyclopaedia explanations are required. Checking the citations, then becomes important. Some explanations are common knowledge among the educated. Are you seriously disputing the date and details of the First Council Nicaea I linked – or just disparaging the source because you have no answer?

        Most atheists have a deeper understanding of biblical history than believers? That is strange, I cant see many atheists going to study biblical history or theology at seminary.

        Some were at seminaries before they learned more and became atheists. Others study HISTORY at universities. I take it you did not bother to read the “Historical Jesus discussion” linked @46, where an academic discussion of the history can be seen.

        packaging internet information together nicely is far from deeply understanding the bible. Besides, unfortunately the bible is locked to people who do not know God. You can read it, read the study behind it, the cultural times, history etc but you will not understand a thing about it or God because God only reveals himself to those who are looking for him.

        Yep! Those “faith-blinkers” really do lock out any real knowledge of the evidenced history of those periods

        “Many atheists were believers, before they became more educated” are you referring to yourself here?
        Then if you were once a believer, let us reason for a moment:

        I was a Xtian as a child before my thinking matured. Many others on this site were followers (or leaders) in various denominations or religions, before they learned more about humanity and the world and became atheists.

        Have you ever had an encounter with God?

        We all have our god-spots in the subconscious areas of our brains, but they do not dominate everyone’s thinking.

        Have you witnessed His awesome power when a person has been deaf there whole life and God suddenly opens their hearing, or their sight?

        I am well aware of the psychology of “visionary revelations” and the conditions which bring these on. They are well known in many religions. – What is a vision quest?

        Science explains the awesome complexity and magnitude of nature :- “god-did-it-by-magic”, is just a simplistic non-explanation for the ignorant.

        Have you seen any miraculous things in your time as a believer that defy logic?? Science??

        I’m afraid there is very little in nature which “defies science and logic”, apart from creationist thinking!

        My friend if you at least in some point of your life did not experience these things, you are missing it!!

        I also miss Santa Claus, but I do not see that as a reason to believe he is real!

        “To be an atheist you must have infinite knowledge in order to know absolutely that there is no God.

        Not at all! In understanding the world, we need to understand the balance of probabilities, the credibility of arguments, and evidence. There is NO evidence for gods – There is only evidence of god-delusions in believers’ brains.

        But to have infinite knowledge, you would have to be God yourself. It’s hard to be God yourself and an atheist at the same time!”

        Strange thinking! Do you have “infinite knowledge” in order to reject Zeus, leprechauns, fairies, Asherah, Aphrodite, Thor, Woden, and all the other deities

        Your last comment, if we look at the alternative to a creator, we have nothing coming from nothing creating something, now that is a paradox also is it not.

        No! Scientific “Nothing” is a balance of matter and anti-matter as explained by some complex physics of forces and energy. There is nowhere in the physical universe where “nothing” exists.

        It is the theistic claim that the universe was created from absolute “nothing” by god-did-it-magic!

        On God the Creator, the Vatican Council was very clear.

        If anyone does not confess that the world and all things which are contained in it, both spiritual and material, were produced, according to their whole substance, out of nothing by God; or holds that God did not create by his will free from all necessity, but as necessarily as he necessarily loves himself; or denies that the world was created for the glory of God: let him be anathema.

        The complexity of humans and the human body, the beauty of the earth, the perfect equilibrium of nature and the positioning of the earth to sustain life has all come from a couple of particles bumping together at the beginning of time?

        It has. That is what science studies and explains in ever increasing detail.

        And you think a creator is hard to swallow.

        Nobody has EVER produced a credible explanation of what this “creator-god” is supposed to be or how it is supposed to function. All the evidence points to the “little gods” as delusions in believers brains, which explains why the followers of these numerous contradictory gods are so poor at understanding natural sciences and can only come up with “magic” as explanations.

        Which of these numerous “creators” is your preferred choice?

        List of creation myths

        A creation myth (or creation story) is a cultural, traditional or religious myth which describes the earliest beginnings of the present world. Creation myths are the most common form of myth, usually developing first in oral traditions, and are found throughout human culture. A creation myth is usually regarded by those who subscribe to it as conveying profound truths, although not necessarily in a historical or literal sense.

        The universe coming into its own from nothing and forming all that we have today, also from nothing is the most illogical belief which requires much more faith that the alternative, an intelligent designer.

        No it doesn’t! It requires an understanding of the sciences – physics, astronomy, biology, geology etc There are no “logical connections to a designer” – just the incredulity of believers in magic!

        Look at DNA, this could not have come from chance, probability

        No evolutionary biologists claim DNA came about purely by chance. That is just ignorance! For probability an understanding of the range of opportunities and possibilities is required. Possibilities over billions of years and of history over the whole of planet Earth.

        or evolution!

        Evolution is biological science, – confirmed millions of times in the study of life in the last 150 years. Only the ignorant fail to understand the basics it! – That is why their disputatious challenges are so comically incompetent!

        If we are all accidents, what on earth are you doing sitting on your computer talking to me for, why are you working your job, go and enjoy life, explore the world, because when you die life ends right?

        We should make the most of our one and only life. I do indeed enjoy life and had a long successful career. I now enjoy passing on valuable knowledge to others.
        If you do not understand that scientists and engineers understand the laws of science, why do you think the message you are typing is visible on screen or going anywhere for others to read?

        If you took a year off from bombarding your mind with one side of the debate and spent a year studying, searching for answers on the other side of the debate,

        Are you serious? It is a symptom of blinkered thinking to assume there are only two sides to a debate! Scientists look at all sides, but reject those which lack evidence or have been refuted.
        It is believers who need to constantly reassert their “faith”, to sustain it against the evidence of their eyes.

        the worst that could happen is you loose a year of learning how to attempt to exterminate the world’s most influential belief system.

        Which belief system? There are thousands of them, and lacking an rational evidence base, they often contradict each other!

        But on the other hand, you may find that much of what you have learnt has another side to it, the old “only one side of the story”

        This is called psychological projection! when biblical literalists can only see their mythology and strawman rejections of it!
        I know many sides of many “stories”.

        and like a lot of atheists, you may even realize the evidence is sufficient,

        There is no evidence of gods. NOTHING but fables and stories – many from the the bronze age.

        one whisper from God can change a life for ever, I see it again and again!

        I also see the unfortunate consequences of “faith-thinking” being substituted for “evidenced reasoning” and objective scientific testing. That is why scientists learn, and update their understanding, while fundamentalists remain stuck in the dark-ages of ignorance!
        Science dumps refuted hypotheses, Religions doggedly defend theirs!

        As is illustrated in the earlier part of this discussion, wishful thinking, even blocks out the historical knowledge of the biblical history, and substitutes fantasy and mythology as the basis of a claimed philosophy!
        That is why there are so many differing contradictory Xtian (and other) beliefs, at loggerheads with each other, – often resulting in sectarian wars.

        • In reply to #48 by Alan4discussion:

          You have to laugh at the Citations!

          @ Scottyp4JC:

          I feel like it is you who needs to study this subject more and not take as gospel (pardon the punn) every internet page and twitter status you come across. We have not gotten that much smarter, you are just fed more information thanks to the world wide web, unfortunately people grab anything they can and call in credible (for example, you quoted wikipedia before, wiki is banned from being a reference and most universities due to no credibility).

          I am aware of the limitations of Wiki, but there are times when simple encyclopaedia explanations are required. Checking the citations, then becomes important. Some explanations are common knowledge among the educated. Are you seriously disputing the date and details of the First Council Nicaea I linked – or just disparaging the source because you have no answer?

          Disparaging a historical quote from Roman records which is generally agreed as valid by all reputable sources, . . .. . because it is quoted in Wiki ….

          and in the same post quoting – http://creation.com/trust-the-bible, – as a credible academic source! ? ? ?

          Gazzzoooingggg!! I think this clearly illustrates the theme of this discussion!

  34. I, like yourself am an Atheist and not very good at debating. One question I would ask, would be to take a look at the layers of sediment deposited in rock faces. There are many examples. It takes years for a layer of sediment to develop, so how would the Pharmacist explain the thousands upon thousands of layers found all round the world. I think there is some good examples in Scotland, but can’t remember where.

    • In reply to #50 by mervynb9737:

      I, like yourself am an Atheist and not very good at debating. One question I would ask, would be to take a look at the layers of sediment deposited in rock faces. There are many examples. It takes years for a layer of sediment to develop, so how would the Pharmacist explain the thousands upon thousands of layers found all round the world. I think there is some good examples in Scotland, but can’t remember where.

      I think you mean “geologist”.
      Mining engineers and glaciologists drill core samples. River valleys, coastal cliffs and eroded mountain crags, expose ancient layers of rocks after these have been uplifted for millions of years by movements of the Earth’s crust. Most of them took millions of years to settle on the ocean floor in the first place.

  35. skeptic149 :
    expose them for what they are.”…” I could have destroyed the guy,”….”is there anything I can do to more effectively expose the other person’s** ignorance,**”

    Yet you both stopped working for twenty minutes and you replied to him politely and had a “respectful” conversation. How can you want to “destroy the guy” by having a** respectful** conversation? Get your motives right – the method will follow.

    • In reply to #52 by quilisma2013:

      skeptic149 :
      “expose them for what they are.”…” I could have destroyed the guy,”….”is there anything I can do to more effectively expose the other person’s ignorance,”

      Yet you both stopped working for twenty minutes and you replied to him politely and had a “respectful” conversation. How can you want to “destroy the guy” by having a respectful conversation? Get your motives right – the method will follow.

      There seems to be a lack of clarity.
      It is misconceptions and false arguments which are destroyed by evidenced reasoning – not people! It is unfortunate that dogmatists do not usually accept being wrong with a good grace!
      Many of their arguments are not only wrong, but are also dishonest!

  36. Scottyp4JC 47

    How few documents?? http://creation.com/trust-the-bible

    Here you will find a list of how many manuscripts have been discovered and the bottom of the page has many credible references. You should note that indeed not all NT books have a known author, but the majority are widely accepted as being written by the person who’s name is on it. As for adding authors in, that is a belief held by a small minority of scholars, not to be confused with Christian scholars.

    The regulars here know how much this bullshit infuriates me, so pardon my vituperation. There is no such thing as a “Christian scholar.” There are people who study the religion with bias and without. I am of the latter. But all we ever hear from you people is “majority” and “widely accepted,” when this claim is profoundly false. You need to do your homework. The only people who would make such contentions are those with overt agendas–”Liars for Jesus.” No respectable scholar, much less a majority, would write anything as stupid as what you asset the “majority” believes. So call me bluff: name all of those “scholars” who believe someone named Mark wrote “Mark.” etc.

    Most atheists have a deeper understanding of biblical history than believers? That is strange, I cant see many atheists going to study biblical history or theology at seminary. packaging internet information together nicely is far from deeply understanding the bible.

    The last place you would want to go to study biblical history would be at a seminary. All you could learn there would be confirmation bias. Go instead to historians: Ehrman, Carrier, Price, Crossan, Moss.

    But please put up or shut up. If you really know of any such scholars who are so warped that they believe what you say, NAME THEM.

    JHJ

  37. Lol, listen, I’ve debated many apologists, clergy, fundamentalists, theologians and such. One thing I’ve learned over the years is neither side will win an argument/debate of this nature. You have as much luck in changing his views as he does in changing yours. Even when presented hard evidence showing the error in a view or belief to them, sadly, is of no use. They are indoctrinated. I am very well-versed in the Christian bible, the Tanach and many other texts. I’ve shown from the bible where Jesus was supposed to return within the lifetime of his disciples. All the believer did was commit ‘verbicide’ (murder the accepted definition of a word and change into something they can use to try to crawl out of the corner I put them into). Lol. All of a sudden, the word ‘soon’ and the phrase ‘is at hand’ really meant 2,000 years later, etc, and so on. You cannot reason with this type of thinking. All you can do is know why you’re atheist, have good, sensible, reasonable explanations for your stand.

  38. You would accomplish more by reasoning with them in their own ball park. It is a given that they aren’t goiing to study Science in order to understand the bases of your reasoning. You then, have the task before you, if you want common reasoning ground, to learn about their belief system. Then, from within their construct of reality, without challenging its veracity (for discussion sake), you can compare paradoxical notions that always exist within doctrines allegedly about the Bible that don’t exist within the Bible itself.
    Your Fundamentalist co-worker has been conditioned to distrust Science and reliability of things like radio carbon dating entirely because of a few alleged flaws. The Bible also has a very compelling time-line and prophecy record to deal with. It isn’t as much of a ‘scribblings of ignorant nomadic patriarchs’ as many think. It is however broken beyond repair by those who’ve used it to advance political and economic power over others.

    The initial goal should be to start them thinking and that won’t happen outside of home ground. Once commenced, you can take them out for walks in the real world.

  39. I had a fiend who believed who firmly believes that planet Earth is 6000 years old and that humans and dinosaurs coexisted. I asked for Evidence and all he could come up with “it is in the bible”. The frustration when you cannot gain any sort of Evidence from him was hard work. He was a Seven Day Aventist who was one of the “Born again” who yelled at me ” it is the truth”. We even went to the Natural History Museum and I tried to explain Evolution to him. He did not listen. It was when said that Darwin was “stantic” that our friendship was at an end.

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