I have a few questions about how to deal with a couple of positions taken by Christians.
First is the response "it is true for me but not for you"
This is an obvious cop out. My first impression is "true" is what one wants to believe, not necessarily based on fact or what is real. But how does one help the individual to see the error in their thinking?
Second is the argument from personal experience. To me this is the most difficult to deal with. Have a sleep disorder where I actually begin to dream before I go to sleep. I am dreaming while still awake! In this state what happens to me is real! I hallucinate every day this way. It is only after I wake up if I remember the dream that I can sort out reality. This becomes sometimes problematic if the wife asked me to take out the trash and I dreamed it did it. I think I actually did do it. I have enough experience now it really is not a problem. The reason I mention it is a delusion can be very real to the person having it.
Recently I had a friend that told me she believed in God because she had a car accident she could not have survived without gods intervention. My normal response to most declarations is is it possible that it could not have happened without gods intervention, or was God necessary for that outcome? In this case she had already answered my question YES. So what is a good way to help a person to "know how they know" something that has happened from personal experience without automatically falling into the God of the gaps fallacy?
I look forward to your responses as you have all been very helpful in my self growth.
Personal experience may be relevant to the person, but to anyone else, it remains hearsay. SHARED experience is questionable at best, and I doubt it would hold up to any kind of double-blind testing. There isn't a personal belief on the face of the planet that ever actually CHANGED reality. If the person in question can't acknowledge that fact, any conversation or debate will be a waste of time. It devolves down to the "I know that I know that I know..." bullshit, which is worse than useless.
Alleging that some deity prevented one's death requires that said deity be produced to corroborate that statement. Otherwise, it is no more meaningful than: "the dog ate my homework," indeed less so, because one might at least be able to produce the dog.
And instead of quoting Aron Ra this time, I'll go with my main man:
If you've got the truth, you can demonstrate it. Talking doesn't prove it. Show people.
-- Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land
Loren,, thank you. I particularly appreciate the statement "There isn't a personal belief on the planet that ever actually changed reality" It gives me a lot to work with. If it's just true for me than it does not comply with reality, only my personal supposition. If it is not demonstrable to others how can it be deemed true or even real. These are good points to make. I fear for the most part that those that resort to the "it's true for me" argument rant interested in reality or reason anyway, but none the less I now have another tool to put into the tool box. Thank you
I agree with both you and Loren in all this, but some people just do not get it. I have a pretty theist friend in NJ who wants to nail me down with silly questions on what I would do if I knew I only had an hour or a few days to live. She knows I'm atheist today but doesn't get it when she sets me up in the imaginary scene of "being saved" knowing I would die soon. Would I agree to be "saved" she asks? I tell her I was "saved" years ago. What you are presenting to me now is like a scare tactic. Her position is like a Pascal's Wager scene where she thinks I should agree to "be saved" just in case.
Just in case of what?
To show this for the bullshit that it is, let's assume I knew I was wrong when I started doing the devil's business, but it didn't count because I had my fingers crossed. Next we must hold our tongue inside our mouth in a certain way and be sure not to step on any cracks in the sidewalk. Of course, the believer will always tell you that you didn't lose anything so these ignorant actions would never hurt you. When you die you want to know "that you are covered."
Michael, my rejoinder to questions like that has been the same for a while: WHY should I be concerned about a deity or places supposedly invented by said deity which not only are on no map, but cannot be demonstrated to exist in any reliable fashion? How Do You KNOW They Exist? ... and please don't attempt to use the bible to convince me.
I can't help but notice, either, that when their lame arguments fail to connect, they always fall back on threats. [chuckle!] I could be tempted to tell 'em to try that on Jeff Dee (of the Atheist Experience [and notoriously critical of Pascal's Wager and threats of hell!]), but they wouldn't know who he was, more than likely!
I ran off 2 Baptist men in early summer when they came to my door wanting to witness. I threw Daniel Dennett on them when I said "just sacrifice me a goat." In all sincerity one of the men told me that doesn't work anymore. When did it ever work?
My most recent visit was 2 Baptist women whom I told I find no evidence for gods. They immediately told me of the trees, grass, animals, moon sun and stars, birds, etc. and I was wondering if they might be Wiccans. They left thinking their "evidence" was wasted on me.
Perhaps I may have not expressed myself well. What I meant concerning error in thinking was concerning a lack of logic, that is a premise that follows logically to its conclusion. In addition, helping people to understand how they know what they know. Also helping others to identify if their conclusions are indeed rational.
In these instances what I think is immaterial. One must learn how to think rationality before they can make objective decisions. So this is my goal to hep others to discover themselves.
I agree with all who have replied. I will also add that it still boggles my mind how believers ignore and or add to what their book says. They try to use that doctrine and apologetics thing to try and reconcile what their book says. However, as research has shown very few of them have actually read their book from beginning to end.
As a magician, I understand how deceptive our own brains can be! Attention, perception, and memory are all very fragile. They can lead to subjective experiences which are rooted in very powerful emotions. These experiences seem very real, at least for the person who has them.
You might encourage a person with strong personal experiences to learn more about how the brain works. Below are some links which will allow a person to use his or her own brain to illustrate just how easily it can misperceive reality.