how do you deal with fundy christians?

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Karl Klingman

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Feb 24, 1990, 11:33:03 AM2/24/90
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da...@Neon.Stanford.EDU (David Ash) writes:

>Can anyone suggest any good books which would guide me in refuting the
>arguments put forward by fundamentalist christians? I was raised as an
>atheist/agnostic but recently many members of my family became fundamentalist
>christians. This puts me in a difficult position because *they* have greater
>knowledge of *my* position than I do of *theirs*. Thus, when we get into
>heated debates and arguments (discussions) I am often unable to argue
>effectively just because of lack of biblical knowledge.

You are making a big mistake when you engage in "heated debates"
with members of any religion, particulary with members
of your family. There will be no winners of such arguments, only
losers, since you are likely to allienate those with whom you are
arguing. I know -- I spent years doing what you are talking about.

Neither side can win because neither point of view can be proven
conclusively. Hence, arguments of this kind are an exercise in
futility. If you like arguments of this kind, you would be far
better off fighting over whether a falling tree in the woods makes
a sound if there is no one there to here it.

There are a number of compelling reasons why people choose to
believe in one kind of god or another. Amongst them are:
1) fear of death, 2) moral guidence, 3) hope for some kind of
advantage in a harsh environment, 4) an aide against loneliness
and 5) a hope that our lives mean more than they seem to.

We, all of us, share these same fears and needs. They are part of
what makes us human. Some of us are stronger than others and
can face our deaths bravely -- even believing that our lives
meant nothing more than that of a fly and that in the end we
will cease to exist completly. Others are not as strong or
as brave, but attacking them for their weakness and fear is
not a cause for a wise or a just man, nor is it a fit subject
for debate since all you can hope to gain is to remove that
thing which people use to shield themselves from their fear.

If it is not apparent, I am an atheist.
People often act like cattle, following one bull or another,
being herded this way and that by events in their lives. If
you suppose that you are not part of the herd, then act like
a good herdsman and don't startle them needlessly. Remember,
many a good herdsman has died in stampedes.

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- /| | Karl Klingman
\`O.o' -->GAK! | UUCP: gatech!stiatl!karl
={___}= Cubicles: Just say NO! | Internet: stiatl!ka...@gatech.edu
` U ' |

A JETSON News User

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Feb 24, 1990, 6:49:54 PM2/24/90
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In article <1990Feb23.2...@Neon.Stanford.EDU>, da...@Neon.Stanford.EDU (David Ash) writes:
> Can anyone suggest any good books which would guide me in refuting the
> arguments put forward by fundamentalist christians? I was raised as an
> atheist/agnostic but recently many members of my family became fundamentalist
> christians. This puts me in a difficult position because *they* have greater
> knowledge of *my* position than I do of *theirs*. Thus, when we get into
> heated debates and arguments (discussions) I am often unable to argue
> effectively just because of lack of biblical knowledge.
>
> Thus, I'm looking for something that will allow me to understand the bible
> from a *non-christian* perspective but that requires an order of magnitude
> less work than reading the bible itself (something I don't have time to do).
> But ideally the book I am looking for would contain references to the bible:
> it just wouldn't be a bible-thumping book itself. Also, how do people deal
> effectively with statements of the following kind by holy rollers:
>
I highly recommend _Azimov's Guide to the Bible_, both volumes. You
can get an omnibus edition containing both volumes. I have not finished
it yet, but what I have read is very interesting. He analyzes the
Bible from a historical perspective as best he can. He does not
'Bible thrash,' he simply tries to equate what is said in the Bible
to what is known through modern archaeology, and some guess work on his
part. For example, in one section he tries to derive from knowledge
of Egyptian history, which Pharoah was Moses's Pharoah. He comes to
no concrete colnclusions, but is able to shine some light on the subject.

Eddie McCreary
U. of Houston
ho...@elroy.uh.edu



Andrew Pearlman

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Feb 25, 1990, 3:06:03 PM2/25/90
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In article <1990Feb23.2...@Neon.Stanford.EDU> da...@Neon.Stanford.EDU (David Ash) writes:
>it just wouldn't be a bible-thumping book itself. Also, how do people deal
>effectively with statements of the following kind by holy rollers:
>(1) "I am right and you are wrong". I find this statement is made *routinely*
> by bible-bangers: the proper response is to say, in essence, "fuck you".
> But of course I can't say this to my family.

Good response:"Hmm, I'm not so sure I understand your logic. Could you please
back that up?"
>(2) "Because I am right and you are wrong, it is appropriate for me to have a
> closed mind and for you to have an open mind about the possibility of the
> other being right."
"Then how is this a discussion, seems more like a lecture to me..."
Use circular logic:"But I'm right and you are wrong, therefore that statement
makes no sense."

>(3) "you are going to hell and I am going to heaven".

"Great, I guess when I'm dead I'll find out that you are right. Oh well."
"Well according to your religion, non-christians go to hell and christians go
to heaven. Since I have a lot more closer friendships with atheists/agnostics,
I would prefer to be with them."
"Yes, but I think I would be bored given an infinite amount of time in heaven,
so I would rather not go."
>like "i am right and you are wrong". What I'm wondering is whether other
>readers of this group find christians to be an especially difficult group to
>deal with in this regard, and how they go about doing it.

Christians tend to be the worst. Any argument used against them either
A) Must be effectively stated using the Bible, and then be prepared to use
further quotes from the bible to back up your statement.
Or
B) Must not touch on the Bible at all. I find this more effective, because
the Christian has no effective response to the questions other than I don't
know, which you can (pardon the pun) crucify them for.

Such arguments are:
Most of my friends are going to hell. Why wouldn't I want to be with them?

Imagine yourself being God, yet having your personality. Is there anyone you
would consign to Hell? If they say no, then say, how could God, a supposedly
omnibenevolent being do that. If they say yes, act indignant...Something along
the lines of how could a good christian condemn someone to eternal torture.

What does one do in Heaven. I can imagine myself doing all sorts of
interesting things for 1000, maybe even 1000000 years, but divide either of
those numbers by infinity, and they are still zero. Sounds boring.

Utilize various religious figures known for extreme goodness, yet not being
christian, such as Gandhi. Then point out christian figures of despicable
natures. Are you saying Gandhi would go to hell and a Ku Klux Klan member
would go to heaven???

You mean, if I worship Jesus Christ, and commit all sorts of atrocities, I am
forgiven anyway, but if I try to be good, and don't accept Jesus Christ, then
I'm damned. Sounds like a piece of candy given to a kid for being good. I
don't want to be condescended to like that, and I don't feel God, if God
exists would do that to me.

Andy Pearlman

Steve Snodgrass

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Feb 25, 1990, 3:07:35 PM2/25/90
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In article <1990Feb23.2...@Neon.Stanford.EDU>, da...@Neon.Stanford.EDU (David Ash) writes:
> Can anyone suggest any good books which would guide me in refuting the
> arguments put forward by fundamentalist christians? I was raised as an

There is an excellent collection of short stories & articles called "Creations"
which, in particular, contains an article by Asimov that refutes many of the
foolish fundamentalist arguments, including 2nd Law and Watchmaker arguments.
This book isn't recent though.

> Thus, I'm looking for something that will allow me to understand the bible
> from a *non-christian* perspective but that requires an order of magnitude
> less work than reading the bible itself (something I don't have time to do).
> But ideally the book I am looking for would contain references to the bible:

> it just wouldn't be a bible-thumping book itself. Also, how do people deal

An EXCELLENT book here is "Asimov's Guide to the Bible." This contains a
chapter on every book of the Bible, Old and New Testament, describing its
historical significance, origin, etc.

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Doug Linder

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Feb 26, 1990, 8:07:18 AM2/26/90
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In article <1990Feb23.2...@Neon.Stanford.EDU>, da...@Neon.Stanford.EDU (David Ash) writes:
> Can anyone suggest any good books which would guide me in refuting the
> arguments put forward by fundamentalist christians? I was raised as an

"The Heretic's Handbook of Quotations", See Sharp Press
"The X-Rated Bible"

and some others. I can tell you where to get these, I'll just have to
look up the addresses. I got them through American Atheist Press. Really, the
best way to do this is, unfortunately, the hardest way: read the bible, read
xtain "scholars," learn about philosophy and the history of atheism. You will
always be in trouble if you don't know that much about what you are arguing
against. Not only will your arguments be weaker through exclusion of important
considerations, but it also becomes easy for people to say, "well, your opinion
doesn't mean anything because you don't know what you are talking about." By
the way, there are several versions of the bible that have been "translated"
for lay-people who don't have the time (usually, the education either) to
understand the traditional one. The "Good News" bible is one of the most
popular. These bibles tell things like a "story" and are easy to read - they
are good if you want the "Cliffs notes" condensed version. Unfortunately,
(just to save space, I'm sure) these type of bibles have also conveniently
edited out anything that might shake the faith or the morals of a sensitive
xtain by leaving out all of the sex, violence, corruption, and hypocrasy thatis
in the original version. I strongly suggest reading the "real" bible. It's
not as long as it seems, because there's lots of stuff you can skip over. "The
begats," for example, (as Mark Twain called them), which is just a list of
ancestry "And so-n-so begat such-n-such who live for 1562 years, who begat
whatsis-name, who lived 912 years, who begat...."

> (1) "I am right and you are wrong". I find this statement is made *routinely*
> by bible-bangers: the proper response is to say, in essence, "fuck you".
> But of course I can't say this to my family.

How about, "Then why are you arguing with me?" (Smile beatifically at
this point)

> (2) "Because I am right and you are wrong, it is appropriate for me to have a
> closed mind and for you to have an open mind about the possibility of the
> other being right."

"If you want to go around admitting that you have a closed mind, that's
fine with me." Also repeat answer #1 again, "If you're right, then
why are you arguing with me?"


> (3) "you are going to hell and I am going to heaven".

"Fine. Do I look worried?" (At this point, try to emanate an aura of
"Couldn't-care-less.")
--
Douglas D. Linder lin...@merrimack.edu
Merrimack College, N. Andover, MA {uunet,wang,ulowell}!samsung!hubdub!linderd

v^v^v Atheism: Living life on your own two feet - not on your knees! v^v^v^

"Though I drew this conclusion, now it draws me."
- Friedrich Nietzsche, from Thus Spake Zarathustra

Mike Morgan in Colorado Springs

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Feb 26, 1990, 3:09:19 PM2/26/90
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In article <1990Feb23.2...@Neon.Stanford.EDU>, da...@Neon.Stanford.EDU (David Ash) writes...

>Can anyone suggest any good books which would guide me in refuting the
>arguments put forward by fundamentalist christians?

May I suggest that you don't refute, you test. I wrote an article
recently, TEST THOSE CHRISTIANS. It has some information you'll like to
use. Mail me if you want it.

Oh, yeah, what's it about? It about demonstrating the cost of a
literal belief in the Bible.


*** As always I speak for myself. ***

Scott Hankin

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Feb 26, 1990, 6:24:03 PM2/26/90
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da...@Neon.Stanford.EDU (David Ash) writes:

>Can anyone suggest any good books which would guide me in refuting the
>arguments put forward by fundamentalist christians?

Perhaps I'm being simplistic, but it seems to me that the entirety of
their argument revolves around their belief that the Bible is valid.
If you state that you would entertain any discussion not involving
the use of the Bible as a basis, I suspect discussion would get quiet
very quickly. If you simply state that you do not consider the Bible
to be anything other than an old book of fiction, and refuse to
accept any argument using it as a source, there is little they can do
or say, as you've cut their legs out from under them.

It never ceases to amaze me that people would spend enormous time and
energy studying the Bible for the sole purpose of refuting Christian
arguments. To do so is to play in their arena, giving them the home
court advantage, so to speak. Why put yourself at the disadvantage?
Indeed, why bother?

- Scott
---------------------------------------------------------------------
Scott Hankin (han...@osf.org) | Any sufficiently advanced magic is
Open Software Foundation | indistinguishable from technology.

James P. Loan

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Feb 26, 1990, 9:19:03 PM2/26/90
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In article <41...@paperboy.OSF.ORG> han...@sauron.osf.org (Scott Hankin) writes:

>da...@Neon.Stanford.EDU (David Ash) writes:
>
> It never ceases to amaze me that people would spend enormous time and
> energy studying the Bible for the sole purpose of refuting Christian
> arguments. To do so is to play in their arena, giving them the home
> court advantage, so to speak. Why put yourself at the disadvantage?
> Indeed, why bother?
>

But this is exactly the reason why atheists/non-christians do this.
If you refuse to use the Bible as a starting point for a discussion,
then, as you say, there's nothing to discuss. Which means you can't
prove them wrong. If you study the Bible long enough, you might find
some text which proves it to be *internally inconsistent.* If you
do this, you've fought on their home court and *beaten* them, and then
they must admit they're wrong (yeah, right).
My experience has been that even this approach is futile. Christians
are always going to find a way out of accepting that something is
wrong with the Bible. And since there's no logic in their beliefs,
no amount of rational discourse will sway them.

pete loan
lo...@neon.stanford.edu

Andrew Pearlman

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Feb 26, 1990, 11:16:25 PM2/26/90
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My group of friends in high school had a rather interesting composition.
There was an atheist(almost), a Jew(me), 2 middle of the road christians, 1
very religious christian, and one semi-fanatical christian.

The people in the group went the following ways:
Atheist -> Atheist(agnostic)
Jew -> Agnostic(Jewish)
Middle1 -> Stayed the same
Middle2 -> Semi-fanatical
Very Religious -> Very Religious
Semi-fanatical -> Fanatical

The group was characterized by all of us being above average in intelligence.
The Semi-fanatical one is probably going to become one of the leading chemistry
professors of the country. Bright, witty, charismatic, VERY dedicated, etc...
With the sole (possible) exception of religion I find him exceptionally logical
in his thought patterns. No matter what argument the Atheist came up with
(also very smart), he had a counter argument, that in his mind, was fully
refuting that argument. The atheist and I often had very different opinions
on his successful refutation, but...

I found the best way to successfully end an argument is to get him to the
point where it is essentially faith that is carrying his argument or he starts
backing up against the bible. He has said to me, that if people applied the
same historical standards to the Bible as they did other historical documents,
that the Bible must be considered valid. One argument started when he asked
me did I believe that the Torah was absolutely literally true(very leading
question) He looked quite shocked when I replied "No, they are only supposed
to be general guidelines on life."

I pointed out to him that prophesies often become self-fufilling(his major
example of a prophesy in a paper relied on a Christian army razing a city to
the ground(Tyre?)). He didn't think so.

Basically it comes down to the following I think:
Any argument with a Christian(really dedicated) is doomed to failure.
A) You win: Person gives up beliefs, finds out he/she wasted a few years of
his/her life
B) You lose or the Christian thinks you lost, or at worst tied, no wasted
time.

Go up against that, and most Christians will pick B, if only to save face.
Best thing to do, is either argue because you want to argue or back out as
soon as reasonably possible.

Andy Pearlman

Never Kid A Kidder

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Feb 27, 1990, 6:44:07 AM2/27/90
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Can anyone suggest any good books which would guide me in refuting the
arguments put forward by fundamentalist christians?

I would recommend `Dick and Dora go to school' (a book for
three-year-olds); it's about the level of intelligence required.
Seriously, even if you do quote them into the ground, the God Bok is
*so* fraught with contradiction and interpretation that there will
always be a counterclaim, and ultimately they will claim that you are
misinterpreting it, because you're not a believer, and hence don't
understand the Bok properly.

(1) "I am right and you are wrong". I find this statement is made *routinely*
by bible-bangers: the proper response is to say, in essence, "fuck you".
But of course I can't say this to my family.

(2) "Because I am right and you are wrong, it is appropriate for me to have a
closed mind and for you to have an open mind about the possibility of the
other being right."

(3) "you are going to hell and I am going to heaven".

I would say walk away, except that you can't, unless you are prepared
to leave them forever. Why *did* they become fundies? My grandmother
became a spiritualist after losing one of her sons. She's kind of
dogmatic about her beliefs, but she doesn't believe in converting
others. She's a very nice person. Are the fundy members of your
family intent on your `salvation'? If so, how do they go about it?
Subtle hints? Rubber hosepipe?

The point I'm making here is that I have in my life disagreed with many
intelligent people about many different things. But almost everyone will
argue with me by citing the *reasons* for their views. The reasons are
sometimes well thought out and sometimes not: but *only* the christians
(and not just those in my family) will resort to self important statements
like "i am right and you are wrong".

If their beliefs are founded on truths and falsehoods, a central
aspect of *any* fundy's personality is this "i am right and you are
wrong"; it is not just the Xtians, not even just the Muslims. It's
just that they have the greatest power base and the highest profile.
If you're a fundamentalist whose beliefs are for you and you alone,
you still might consider others to be wrong, but won't feel any urge
to `convert' others. Sadly, for the Xtian fundies, the
merightyouwrong attitude is a universal assumption, ie it applies to
*you* as well, so the very idea of `justifying' their beliefs is
ludicrous. There's nothing to justify. It is. End of story.

Now, can anyone give any stats of fundies who have become unfundified?

Scott Hankin

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Feb 27, 1990, 9:12:18 AM2/27/90
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lo...@Neon.Stanford.EDU (James P. Loan) writes:

>But this is exactly the reason why atheists/non-christians do this.
>If you refuse to use the Bible as a starting point for a discussion,
>then, as you say, there's nothing to discuss. Which means you can't
>prove them wrong. If you study the Bible long enough, you might find
>some text which proves it to be *internally inconsistent.* If you
>do this, you've fought on their home court and *beaten* them, and then
>they must admit they're wrong (yeah, right).

Ah, now I understand. The missing motivating factor in my analysis was
the need to prove the other side wrong. Well, since when pressed to the
limit, most Christians will admit that their belief in the Bible is
based on faith, consistency in the Bible becomes moot. I guess I am
also missing the drive to prove others wrong in their religious beliefs.
I can live with that.

On another topic, the concept of joining an organization whose cohesive
force is the non-belief in God mystifies me as well. If non-belief in
something were the sole criteria for membership, it seems there would be
a lot of organizations to join.

Random observations.

R'ykandar Korra'ti

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Feb 27, 1990, 3:47:44 PM2/27/90
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In article <1990Feb23.2...@Neon.Stanford.EDU> da...@Neon.Stanford.EDU (David Ash) writes:
>(1) "I am right and you are wrong". I find this statement is made *routinely*
> by bible-bangers: the proper response is to say, in essence, "fuck you".
> But of course I can't say this to my family.
Quite. One way I like of handling this is to simply say, "Prove it."
An extended form of the argument is the following:
You say you are right and that I am wrong. You say that it is impossible
for you to be wrong (they'll agree with this 99% of the time. 'Tis fun.) By
claiming that it is impossible for you to be wrong, you are claiming perfect
knowledge of your beliefs, including their correctness.
However, by your beliefs, perfection is reserved for God. You are also
claiming perfection, which violates your beliefs. Clearly, you do not have
perfect knowledge.
Hence, you could be wrong. Proof of the assertion rests on the person
making the assertion; prove your statement.

>(2) "Because I am right and you are wrong, it is appropriate for me to have a
> closed mind and for you to have an open mind about the possibility of the
> other being right."
>(3) "you are going to hell and I am going to heaven".
All of the above are basically the same statement: "it is impossible for
me to be wrong," which is a crockload of dingo's kidneys.

>*only* the christians
>(and not just those in my family) will resort to self important statements
>like "i am right and you are wrong".
Not just Christians, sadly. Muslems, too. And, sadly enough, I suspect
there is the odd Neopagan out there who does this as well - somebody who is
really really really just missing the point - although I haven't run into one
yet. (BTW, I consider myself a neopagan, not an athiest. But I saw the
discussion and couldn't help dropping in. :-) )

>What I'm wondering is whether other
>readers of this group find christians to be an especially difficult group to
>deal with in this regard, and how they go about doing it.
Yes, I do. I like arguing through variations of the above (hint: if you're
going for a long term change in mindset, first get them to admit that it is
_possible_ for them to be wrong. Not that they _are_ wrong, but that it is
_possible._ The old "nothing is provable" argument is sometimes enough to
crack open the mindset. Good luck. These people also use this argument to
lobby for what they're calling "Christian Law" these days. (The next 10 years
are _not_ going to be pretty in the trenches...)
>One other thing: what about the so-called "end times"? Have any books been
>written which effectively refute these legends? I realize the "end times"
>don't really deserve the dignity of an academic response, but has such a book
>been written anyway? It would help in my familial discussions.
ARRRRRRgh... the rapture crapola, eh? I'm not sure if this will help,
but I've had recommended to me (but haven't had a chance to read it): ARMED
AND DANGEROUS: THE RISE OF THE RELIGIOUS RIGHT. Haven't had a chance to read
it, but it supposedly includes a lot about the topic (and how the RR applies
it to modern-day politics.)
Hope this helps.
- R'ykandar.
--
| R'ykandar Korra'ti | Editor, LOW ORBIT | PLink: Skywise | CIS 72406,370 |
| Elfinkind, Unite! | pho...@ms.uky.edu | phoenix%ms.uk...@ukcc.bitnet |

Steve Mason

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Feb 27, 1990, 5:26:50 PM2/27/90
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>Can anyone suggest any good books which would guide me in refuting the
>arguments put forward by fundamentalist christians? I was raised as an
>atheist/agnostic but recently many members of my family became fundamentalist
>christians. This puts me in a difficult position because *they* have greater
>knowledge of *my* position than I do of *theirs*. Thus, when we get into
>heated debates and arguments (discussions) I am often unable to argue
>effectively just because of lack of biblical knowledge.
>
>Thus, I'm looking for something that will allow me to understand the bible
>from a *non-christian* perspective but that requires an order of magnitude
>less work than reading the bible itself (something I don't have time to do).
>But ideally the book I am looking for would contain references to the bible:
>it just wouldn't be a bible-thumping book itself.


"Atheism: The Case Against God," by George Smith. Best book ever written
on the subject.

Should be available from Prometheus Books and Laissez-Faire Books,
the latter in San Francisco and New York, the former somewhere in upstate
NY. Both are mail-order.


Also, how do people deal

>effectively with statements of the following kind by holy rollers:
>

>(1) "I am right and you are wrong". I find this statement is made *routinely*
> by bible-bangers: the proper response is to say, in essence, "fuck you".
> But of course I can't say this to my family.

Ask them WHY they know they are correct and WHY they know you are wrong.
Tell them you will only accept reasons that are backed up by evidence.
If they say they believe it on faith, tell them you do not accept things
on faith, as that means, by definition, without any evidence. If they say
there is evidence for their faith, you can explain that it's then no longer
faith, since faith requires the absence of evidence. If their evidence is
valid, their faith will be grounded in reason, thereby eliminating
the need for faith!

>(2) "Because I am right and you are wrong, it is appropriate for me to have a
> closed mind and for you to have an open mind about the possibility of the
> other being right."

This is an argument from intimidation. They are assuming they are right
without presenting any evidence to back that up. They then take their
assumption as a FACT, and draw a conclusion based on it. But since
the foundation is invalid, the conclusion can not be a consequence of it.

Furthermore, if they are right about having a closed mind, that means
they must be omniscient, since as new evidence is introduced regarding
a subject, one may have to change one's mind. By closing their mind,
they are saying that either (a) they know there can be no new evidence,
which means they are God, being omniscient, or (b) there can be new
evidence, but it's irrelevant, which means they're drawing a
conclusion about something before knowing what all the facts are,
which means that they believe the new facts are irrelevant, which
ultimately reduces to omniscience. So either they believe
they are omniscient, in which case you can easily disprove that by
asking them for tomorrow's lottery number, or they agree they're not,
in which case their argument falls apart.

>(3) "you are going to hell and I am going to heaven".

This is arbitrary and should be dismissed. It has no epistemological
validity. THere is no evidence for hell or for heaven (the burden of proof is on the person who makes the assertion). If they cannot establish
their existence, any derivative claims made about them or their affect
on you are meaningless, much as if they said, "You are
a kafdjaldjfdfdsfdsver." None of those words refers to anything that
actually exists, and therefore there is nothing to debate or refute.

>The point I'm making here is that I have in my life disagreed with many
>intelligent people about many different things. But almost everyone will
>argue with me by citing the *reasons* for their views. The reasons are

>sometimes well thought out and sometimes not: but *only* the christians


>(and not just those in my family) will resort to self important statements

>like "i am right and you are wrong". What I'm wondering is whether other


>readers of this group find christians to be an especially difficult group to
>deal with in this regard, and how they go about doing it.
>

The whole issue is an epistemological one. What are the valid means
by which humans gain knowledge about the world. Through reason or through
faith? Since faith means, as stated above, belief in something in
the absence of evidence, this is prima facie ludicrous. Just make sure
you do not accept the idea that knowledge through faith is possible,
when arguing with them. Once you accept this idea, even rhetorically,
you have lost the basis for your argument.

Keep in mind that ideas can be not only true or false, but also meaningless
and arbitrary. Color TVs exist is true. That President Bush is dead
is false. We can determine the truth or falsehood of these
statements by reference to the real world, to evidence.

On the other hand, the statement that unicorns are the source of all
the trees in the world is arbitrary. THere is no evidence to back
up this statement, whatsoever, and it is neither true nor false.
It has no epistemological status whatsoever. All you can do is
to dismiss it. To confer upon it the merit of debating it is to
surrender the principles of reason. Without some evidence or some
reason to believe something, there is nothing to debate and you
are playing into the hands of your opponents.

>One other thing: what about the so-called "end times"? Have any books been
>written which effectively refute these legends? I realize the "end times"
>don't really deserve the dignity of an academic response, but has such a book
>been written anyway? It would help in my familial discussions.

Note the above comments. Also, when a book or sect predicts the
end of the world and it doesn't happen, that's the best refutation
I can think of!

>
>--
>David W. Ash
>a...@sumex-aim.stanford.edu
>HOME: (415) 857-1084
>WORK: (415) 725-3859

-- Steve Mason

Mark Sobolewski

unread,
Feb 27, 1990, 6:13:26 PM2/27/90
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In article <1990Feb23.2...@Neon.Stanford.EDU>
da...@Neon.Stanford.EDU (David Ash) writes:
>(1) "I am right and you are wrong". I find this statement is made *routinely*
> by bible-bangers: the proper response is to say, in essence, "fuck you".
> But of course I can't say this to my family.

This may be a little rough, (but what the hay, religious discussions
are rough anyway, aren't they?), but a great response to this, (preferably
said with a straight face), is: "You may be right, but I own a Smith & Wesson
which is more more "right" than a hundred bibles, and a hundred gods."

What this points out is that a Christian can make a zillion threats,
but he does't have zilch to back them up. And the beauty of it is, if
the Christian begins to make personal threats in response to this, you
can point out just how "loving" Christianity is!

This, and other arguements, point out the vulnerability in believing
dictated philosophies. They are vulnerable to contradiction, as well as the
true nature of their philosophy. (fascism). For better results, continue
to listen to good, (hopefully factual), arguements to get an idea of what
works. I've got it down to such a science now, that Christians don't
*dare* act high and mighty in my presence because they know just what I
can do. But they also know I'm fair and don't unnecessarily step on
them. Your milage may vary.


--
This is a .signature. | sobl...@cs.psu.edu
You are reading netnews. | "Only God is authorized to commit
This is my .signature on netnews. | genocide." -- My Pro-Lifer roommate
Any questions? |

a...@sumex-aim.stanford.edu

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Mar 1, 1990, 3:30:56 PM3/1/90
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In article <LOKI.90Fe...@marvin.moncam.uucp> lo...@moncam.uucp (Never Kid A Kidder) writes:

>Now, can anyone give any stats of fundies who have become unfundified?

I have no specific stats: official stats on religious matters are quite
unreliable since they tend to include "believers" who haven't been to church
in 30 years and are really atheists.

In my experience it's rare, however. I know of only one specific example from
my own friends. My statistics may be skewed since:

(a) I'm unlikely to establish a close friendship with a fundy.
(b) I'm very likely to establish a close friendship with a non-fundy.

Therefore, the transition I am more likely to observe is "non-fundy==>fundy".
Furthermore although I try to continue the friendship after this transition
takes place, in my experience it often drifts apart due to divergent interests.
Therefore I'm unlikely to be around should a subsequent "fundy==>non-fundy"
transition occur.

What I think is more common is that a fundy becomes what the (other) fundies
call a "backslidden christian". i.e. they continue to pay lip service to
christianity but you wouldn't know it from their "lifestyle". I wouldn't want
to be a fundy in this position though: they seem prone to criticism from
both atheists (since they continue their tiresome jesus-speak) and other
fundies (because of their "lifestyle").

Doug Linder

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Mar 2, 1990, 5:34:47 AM3/2/90
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In article <42...@paperboy.OSF.ORG>, han...@sauron.osf.org (Scott Hankin) writes:

> On another topic, the concept of joining an organization whose cohesive
> force is the non-belief in God mystifies me as well. If non-belief in
> something were the sole criteria for membership, it seems there would be
> a lot of organizations to join.

Scott, I think you're missing the point of the organization a bit. Sure, the
non-belief in religion etc is indeed something that all the members of AA have
in common, but it is not the *reason* that there is an organization. If it
weren't for religious oppression, there would be no *need* for an organization,
and atheists could go about their business unmolested. Unfortunately, this is
not the case. The Christian religions are bent on dominating the country and
bending eveyone to their beliefs, and they don't care what tactics they use to
acheieve this. Believe me, I would rather not *have to* belong to any
organizations. The reason I am a member of American Atheists, however, is not
just because I am an atheist (after all, you can be that on your own) but
because I want to oppose the religious nuts who want to replace the
constitution with the bible, and AA is one of the few organizations in the
country today which is involved in this, and certainly one of the best
organized.
There have been some complaints here about the O'Hairs and the organization,
but all I have seen so far are unfounded accusations and malevolent mutterings.
I have not seen or heard any facts at all. Being atheists, and therefore being
rational people, I ask those of you who are not members of AA to consider the
following things:

o None of the rumours or complaints circulating here have
much, if any basis in fact,
o The O'Hair's, though they are important, are not the entire
organization, and their personal politics are not automatically the
politics of AA
o There is certainly no better orgaization fighting for church/state
separation.

Sure, AA asks for money from time to time, but that's only logical. After
all, any organization needs money to survive, and atheists don't have the
benfit of passing the hat every Sunday.
If you don't agree with the politics of AA, I say to you: so what? After all,
most of you are probably members of a political party, say either Republiscam or
Demobrat. Do you AGREE ABSOLUTELY WITH EVERY SINGLE THING your party says or
every policy they propose? Doubtful. And yet you are a member. The point is,
no large organization can accomodate everybody, but they still exist to fight
for some things that the members have in common.
As far as I am concerned, if you are an atheist, and you are not a member of
AA, then you have no right to complain when the big, organized churches step
all over your constititional right to freedom of religion, which includes
freedom *FROM* religion. In order to fight big, organized religion, we need a
big organization which has some pul, some muscle, some effect, some voice. WE
can't do it alone, we don't individually have the resources. If the O'Hairs,
from time to time, do or say something that is not 100% fair, then all I can
say is it's about time. The churches NEVER play fair. They bribe, cheat,
corrupt, frame, lie, ignore laws and sopoenas, and generally act as if they are
immune, which it sometimes seems they are.
Listen, people, unless you want your kids to be reciting the Lord's Prayer
every day before class, you'd probably better join AA or at least the ACLU.
This is serious business, and it's not going to go away by sticking your head
in the sand.
Everyone please feel free to write to this address for more info on AA.

Dave Davis

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Mar 2, 1990, 10:46:45 AM3/2/90
to

Some of the postings in this thread seem to betray frustration.
Human emotions, captain! They'll be our downfall yet! :-)

Pete Loan writes,

>If you study the Bible long enough, you might find
>some text which proves it to be *internally inconsistent.* If you
>do this, you've fought on their home court and *beaten* them, and then
>they must admit they're wrong (yeah, right).

Since this approach doesn't apply to any other works of literature,
why would one expect to work with the Bible? Imagine this:

"Joyce refutes himself here where Stephen Daedalus
says that Molly Bloom is as ample as a church. This
cannot be reconciled with his statement earlier
where he says Molly is as sharp as hardtack. "

No, these texts, right or wrong, sense or nonsense, are less like
geometry than they are like poetry.

> My experience has been that even this approach is futile. Christians
>are always going to find a way out of accepting that something is
>wrong with the Bible.

I'm not arguing with your experience, but I think you are over-
generalizing it. Your statement flies in the face of the fact that
people do cease belief, in part sometimes based on problems they
have with the Bible.

>And since there's no logic in their beliefs,
>no amount of rational discourse will sway them.

Honestly. If there was *no logic to their beliefs* no one would
even know what they were! Perhaps this is injudiciously put?

The lower-down problem here seems to be making a false equation:

Bible-idolators=Fundamentalists=Christians

This just won't hold up under scrunity. A more sustainable
statment would be "IMO, no amount of rational discourse will
sway [some of the?] the people I've dealt with."

Andrew Pearlman writes,

[That in arguing with Christians, atheists...]

>B) Must not touch on the Bible at all. I find this more effective, because

>The Christian has no effective response to the questions other than I don't


>know, which you can (pardon the pun) crucify them for.

Again, this seems overstated. Certainly not every Christian has no
intelligible response to such questions!

>Such arguments are:
>Most of my friends are going to hell. Why wouldn't I want to be with them?

I hope your adversaries have a sense of humor.

>What does one do in Heaven. I can imagine myself doing all sorts of
>interesting things for 1000, maybe even 1000000 years, but divide either of
>those numbers by infinity, and they are still zero. Sounds boring.

Perhaps I'd finally have time to round out the edges in my proof of
the validity of the ontological argument! :-)

I suggest (to the gentle readers and posters) reading Walter Kaufmann's
Faith_of_A_Heretic. WK has a light, but effective touch; and some funny
passages. WK lived and died an atheist, as far as I can tell.


Dave Davis -These are my views, and not those
of Concurrent Computer.
da...@westford.ccur.com The answer, my friend
{harvard,uunet,petsd}!masscomp!daved Is blowing in the wind.

Ake Eldberg (William de Corbie)

unread,
Mar 6, 1990, 8:00:01 AM3/6/90
to
David W Ash asks for help in refuting fundamentalist christians
and bible-thumpers.

Dear David, what is the point?

You will never convince them, and they won't convert you. So why
bother to argue with them? The only good thing that could come
out of it is the satisfaction of having "won" the debate, which
is really a bit childish in my opinion.

I have often been "attacked" by Jehova's Witnesses and other
fundamentalist types. Now, I am a theologian with a University
degree (MTheol) so I have quite a lot of power to put behind
any argument about the bible. But it doesn't acheive anything
with these people. And I honestly see no point in wrecking
their faith, even if I could. Understanding the mundane facts
about the bible takes years of work - you can't teach them
the basics of exegetical scholarship in an argument.

Let it be. You will have more peace that way.

Ake Eldberg

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