Throughout the months that I've been on here, I've been privy to some very interesting discussions; many of which have been great fun, and others of which have given me much to think about.  As for the latter, I was recalling someone's plea for advice on figuring out how to find the truth when confronted with multiple conflicting sources of information.

    As atheists, we pride ourselves on our ability to reason and to be rational, but with so many different views in the world, it can be hard to reach a solid (albeit tentative) conclusion on any issue.  I'd like us to discuss our ideas here for the methods that we use to figure out what makes sense, and what doesn't.  


My best advice would be this~ Familiarize yourself with logical fallacies; those are ways of reasoning that at first glance make sense (sometimes) but upon further inspection are false.  Almost every claim for the efficacy of religious beliefs is based on one or more logical fallacies, but also many other ideas and thoughts found in everyday life can be traced back to those as well.  The better you are at spotting them, the easier it will make forming an opinion or idea on a topic. 


A great place to learn what the logical fallacies are is the Iron Chariots wiki.  If you learn them well, it will open up a lot of doors as far as reasoning and understanding.


What advice do you have for our fellow atheists who have trouble figuring out what makes sense and what only sounds like it does?


pic related, mfw (my face when) I'm presented with a LF in discussion

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Great ideas there. I'm going to try to use them but it won't be easy. For instance, "Demonstrate that you are willing to adjust your beliefs" is probably easier to say than to do. While I agree it's a good tactic, how do you demonstrate you are willing to adjust your beliefs when you're discussing religion? Tell them that you believe Jesus rose from the dead? I'm not sure there is much middle ground.


Haha obviously not - but there are undoubtedly areas where you will be able to do other adjustments. One of my chief complaints was that religions create absolute moral guides and never revise their judgements, and shy away from critical reasoning. My friend pointed out that Hinduism does - and that the main book, the Bhagavad Gita, involves an argument between a mortal and god. So I accepted it, read it, and admitted that I'd been mistaken. I was able to still point out a whole lot of other problems, and he's now an atheist. Not saying x caused y, but it definitely helps.
"As atheists, we pride ourselves on our ability to reason and to be rational"

That might be slightly biased. You can easily be atheist and leave your reasoning and rationality behind doors when it comes to other topics like ghosts, nessie, the existence of a soul, rebirth etc. There is no reason to uplift us as higher beings compared to religious people, making us look arrogant and superior is not the best strategy.

When it comes to being religious then I think it is fair to say that in many cases it is merely an emotional attachment that leads people to believe. An attachment that might shut out their rationality on that topic alone but not necessarily on other topics. I'd imagine that many reflective religious people can easily see how their beliefs just won't hold but they prefer to ignore that in the face of comfort, security, friends, family etc. Pretending maybe even.


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