Just wanted to get a feel for how I'm doing here. This is a series of responses to a Facebook post by my sister-in-law, my other sister-in-law, me and some random friend of theirs.

Terri L :
was wondering the other day what it would take to convince unbelievers that there is a God. Will they believe when the rapture takes place? What will they think when millions of people just disappear from the Earth? I just keep praying for them, that God will open their eyes to His existence.

Me: It depends on how and why they arrived at their unbelief. For me, it's a complete lack of evidence or evidence to the contrary, combined with contradictory scriptures and a bunch of illogical assumptions on the part of religious dogma. If I could see just one piece of evidence for a god or gods, then I'd be open to some kind of belief. Unfortunately for you, and fortunately for me, no theist has ever presented me with anything approaching evidence. There is, however, a lot of circular reasoning and blind faith, neither of which is fulfilling to me.

If millions of people suddenly disappeared from Earth, I'd first look to see if there was any rational explanation. Most likely there would not be, and so I'd have to look to the irrational for answers. However, this has never happened before, and even though Christians have been waiting for over two thousand years, it hasn't happened yet. Every generation thinks it will, but Jesus is still a no-show.

Me: I like to ask theists if they believe in Thor, or Kokopeli, or Zeus, or Anansi or Horus. Probably not, and the same reasons why you don't believe in Horus or Thor is the reason I don't believe in YHWH, Jesus, Buddha, Allah, Vishnu, Shakti or Xenu.

Tambra T.: What happened to the body?

Me: What body?

Tambra T: The buried one that disappeared despite heavy guarding by people who didn't want to give His followers the chance to say He was resurrected?

Tambra T: FYI circular reasoning and blind faith are not fulfilling to me either. There sure is a lot of that out there. I do not subscribe to that.

Janet D: in one of my classes, there were 3 people who said they don't believe in God. when asked how come they don't believe in God, he said, how could he believe in something that he doesn't see. Romans 1 and Psalm 19 would have been good if it was okay to share some scripture.

Terri L: Tim: You should read the Bible and see if you can disprove God. I think you'd be surprised at what you find. And I find it interesting that people will have enough "blind faith" or faith to believe in the THEORY of evolution, and yet they can't or won't believe in God, even though if you look around at that world there is plenty of evidence that Someone had to make it. You love to go out at night and look at the stars. Do you really believe that the constellations just formed that way naturally? That the shapes that are so beautiful just happened to come about? Just wondering.

Me: Terri, I don't have to disprove your god. That's not my job. As a believer, it's your job to prove to me that your god exists. You're the one making the assertion. I'm just rejecting your assertion. The idea that atheists have some responsi...bility for proving that any god or gods exist is ludicrous. How could I possibly find evidence of the lack of existence for something? If I told you there was a ceramic teapot floating in orbit between Mars and Jupiter, amongst the litter of the asteroid belt, would it be your responsibility to prove me wrong? Hardly. It would be my responsibility to prove that the teapot did exist, by giving you evidence. Otherwise, you'd be well within reason to reject my assertion.

Constellations are merely shapes that we've associated with certain arrangements of stars. In most cases, the actual distance between those stars may be quite great, and their shape changes over millennia. In fact, for many of those constellations, they don't even really look like what they've been associated with. This is why different civilizations throughout time have associated differing objects and people with those asterisms.

I see nothing in nature that suggests a creator. In fact, when I look around I see a universe that looks precisely as it should look if there was no creator.

In any case, my beliefs are not at issue here. It's my rejection of your assertion that there is a god, and that your particular God is that god, and that he had a child via a virgin who died and came back to life. You haven't made that case.

Me: Tambra, like Terri, you seem to be asking me to make the case for your religion for you. When I say I don't believe in your God, it's a weak argument to come back with a missing piece of key evidence. It's akin to the people who say that th...e lack of evidence for a second shooter on the Grassy Knoll is proof that Lee Harvey Oswald was not a lone gunman.

But I'll play along. Anyone who watches enough CourtTV could tell you that bodies disappear all the time. The fact that we haven't found Jimmy Hoffa isn't proof that he was resurrected. There are probably hundreds of explanations for a missing body that don't have anything to do with the supernatural, beginning with the possibility that there never was a body to begin with.

The question, really, is why do YOU believe the accounts of a series of theo-political treatises written decades after the supposed event? After all, your scriptures say that you're supposed to be prepared to offer "reason for the hope that you have" (1 Peter 3:15).

Like Terri, you have failed to realize that the burden of proof is not on the disbeliever, but on the believer.

Me: Janet: Telling someone who doesn't believe in your god to read the Bible is like telling someone who doesn't believe in Scientology to read "Dianetics" or telling someone who doesn't believe Joseph Smith was a prophet to read the Book of Mo...rmon or Pearl of Great Price. For that matter, it's like telling someone who doesn't believe in mermaids to read Hans Christian Anderson. Before you can ask me to read your Bible as proof of the Christian God, you have to prove to me that the Hebrew scriptures are based on factual events, and not a series of myths and fables compiled by semi-nomadic Bronze Age animal herders. Then you have to prove that the Christian scriptures are the actual account of Jesus' life, death and resurrection, and not theological propaganda. Thousands of greater minds than ours have failed to make that case, thus the modern field of Christian Apologetics. Two thousand years of argument have failed to even establish, beyond a doubt, that Jesus was one, real historical figure. That's even taking into account that history, as a soft science, has such low threshold for "evidence."

So, what do you think? How did I do?

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Replies to This Discussion

But if there IS anything I can do that would change your mind let me know :)

I'm still formulating my response.

Well I think you've gone a long way already showing how a person's attitude can change over time and be amenable to different influences.

At this point *I* would go with asking her what evidence convinced her god exists.

But that's me and it's 100% opposite of your strategy of letting them ask all the questions - and the only one posed is asking you to let her know how to "help" you.

So maybe just ask her something clarifying like how does she know that god knows if you will be or not even before your born since before you were alive in any sense, you didn't exist, just as you will cease to exist in precisely the same fashion when you are dead, so how does she know that about God?

Now how to wrap that up in diplomacy appropriate for a 15 year old sheltered kid? Hmmm....
I know. I also have to walk a fine line of not pushing too hard and getting the family backlash. They're already worried that my wife has drifted too far from the church since marrying me. She's still a Christian, but she's much more liberal than they are. She's not, in any sense of the word, a fundamentalist. She's talked about converting to Catholicism, and as much as I despise the Catholic Church, I'd support her if just to see the looks on their faces!

With my niece, it's not about evidence or proof at all. She's been raised in the Southern Baptist church since she was born, and it's all she knows. She has no friends who are not Southern Baptists. She has no close relatives who are not Southern Baptists (except me). To her, I'm sure it's just a feeling, and like my sister-in-law, that feeling is proof enough for her to go around asking everyone else to believe as she does.

Her grandfather, a SB pastor, believes in unicorns. Literally. He once asked, while we were watching a nature show on TV, if there were any unicorns still alive.

Her great-aunt told us all one day that she was so amazed that we still call a chicken "chicken" because that's what Adam named it. My wife was the only one to call her on that absurdity. No one else in the family batted an eyelash.

Believe me. She will accept almost any absurd thing. When I was trying to think of something she wouldn't believe in, I couldn't come up with anything. That's why I left it open and said, "it could be anything." For all I knew, she believed in leprechauns and the Tooth Fairy. When you believe in talking snakes with legs and virgins giving birth, is there really anything you won't believe?
Me: Addressing your points from last to first:

Other than offering proof, there's really nothing you can do.

I'm surprised that you say that God already knows who will and will not be a Christian, and yet you still think we have a choice. If God knows the future, then the future isn't the future set in stone? How could he know it, if it's not already decided? Can we change the future, if we don't have the freedom to choose the opposite of what God already knows.

It goes without saying that I don't believe you can get anything you want just by praying. I'm just saying that was what I was taught as a child. Kids always get a simplified version of whatever religion they're brought up in. I guess they were basing that on Matthew 7:8 and Luke 11:10.

Anna L: We have the choice, God knows what we will choose in the end :).

As for changing the future, it's the same point. We make up the future by the decisions we each make, it is already decided but not by God, by us. God just knows.

As you can see, she's just not getting it. The paradox of choice and predestination is just too much for her to wrap her head around.
Perhaps God knows one day her faith will change.

How does she feel about that?

Could maybe even branch off into the problem of evil: why if god knows all future decisions people will make or fail to make does he permit evil acts to take place. Would a god truly motivated by love not wish to act to prevent things of which only they are aware and in a position to stop (by dint of being all powerful)


On the other hand, I'd be tempted to tie that one off for now if as you say she's not conceptually able to grasp the nature of the contradiction she is entertaining, it will need a lot more preparatory work on the nature of contradiction, and verification etc to build up to a point where you can point those skills at a religious claim and ask the question.

Perhaps try looking up some philosophy for children to encourage thinking skills well apart from voicing a critical dissection of religion.

Giving her some tangible non-religious examples to work with might help crack open the dogma a bit and get her using her cognition a little.

I'm just thinking the experience of building a case for a conclusion might help her to be able to see how evidence, argument support the conclusion which purportedly follows from them. And gives you an out, if she ever leaps ahead on something to reign the conversation back a step and say I don't follow your argument take me through it one more time. etc. So she's testing the reasoning of her own logic and you can then use the experience to refer back to when discussing a contradiction in a religious context.

Even NSC's multiple choice might sail by unmolested by insight although I'm fully in sympathy with undermining the bible with history of it's fabrication. Bart Ehrman's books and lectures are very good for that but again might be good research to have on your side, but that again might sail above the average home-school 15 year old baptist.
I want to make something clear. I have nothing against home schooling. I think it can be done right, or it can go horribly wrong. It's all in how it's used. If home schooling is simply a means to insulate children from dangerous ideas, then it's defeating the purpose. That's not education. That's just indoctrination. If the parent isn't qualified to teach, then home schooling fails before it starts. In both of these cases, my sister-in-law and her kids fit the bill.

In my state, there are two ways to legally home school. One is to be under an umbrella religious organization, in which case you need no training or expertise whatsoever. The other is to have a teaching certificate, which at least means that you've completed a modicum of coursework at a college level; probably a good bit more.
Wow, that's @#$%^*& pathetic. So, ignorant, unqualified fundies get a free pass. I wish I could say that surprises me.
I think my judgement is I just don't trust home schooling in general. And the abuses it is open to only make my suspicion deeper.
I generally don't oppose things based on their potential for abuse. If so, I'd have to side with all the slippery slope arguments against birth control, marijuana, etc.

I could home school — easily. My problem is that my neighborhood is kind of isolated, so there's not enough opportunity for socialization, which is my number one argument against home schooling.
Yeah, that's the big issue I'd have with it too, in the case of my own children, someday. Kids learn to deal with confrontation and other social pitfalls by growing up interacting with lots of other kids. I've known several cases of home-schooled children who get tossed out into real life, when they go off to college, and they just get eaten alive.
How was Jesus lineage traced back to King David?
A) Jesus' lineage traced through David's son Solomon.
B) Jesus' lineage traced through David's son Nathan.
C) The bible says both.
(answer is C.

Actually, I got a very good response to that one once from an otherwise well-educated Fundamentalist. He said that in some Hebrew traditions, when listing lineage they might skip names. For instance "Great-grandfather begat Son" (skipping grandfather and father). In this way, both lineages are correct.

I have no idea if it's true. It sounds reasonably plausible, say, the author only lists those relatives he deems most important.

Fine then. One contradiction down (maybe). Half a million more to go.
But that has nothing to do with brothers. Jesus is traced back to either of two of David's sons.

True. I suppose they could claim that uncles etc are included in that lineage.

Like I say, no idea if it's true and considering the source, I give it just as good of odds that it's a contrived vehicle for Xians to rectify such a glaring contradiction.
She's 15

My mistake I thought she was older. I suppose the parrot like repetition of evangelising does rather mask her youth.

Home-schooled and very sheltered

Oh dear.




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