No, I haven't gone completely mad.


I've been reading Dale Carnegie's seminal work, "How to convince your publisher that a really long title is a good idea, honestly"


OK, jokes aside - the summary is here on Wikipedia and makes for interesting reading:


Crucially, Carneigie (through his own, painful experience over a quote from Shakespeare wrongly attributed to the Bile) observes that you should never correct someone else's argument - even when they are painfully and obviously wrong.


Literal creationists (call them what we will) have suffered a terrible education - and a dishonest one, in our view. Yes, they are wrong, but telling them as much only actually strengthens their belief in their own error!


To make it doubly hard for us, if this obstacle wasn't enough, the truth is perhaps the most painful of all. They have been told that they will live forever, ya-de-ya and we're telling them:


a) They do not matter one iota in the grand scheme of things

b) No ethereal being gives a fuck - because the ethereal being is a figment of their imagination.

c) They are animals - little different from the apes in the zoo.

d) They are going to die - quite soon in real terms and for most of them, a in very short time, there will be nothing left save for the replicated strands of a complex chemical and perhaps a few memories.


So, the reason for this discussion is to find other ways - perhaps based on Carnegie's advice (it's good, but you should read the book) - of convincing these poor, terrified creatures that:

a) Life is actually worth something;

b) Science is like a fractal - the deeper you look, the more you see.

c) Death is part of a natural order and they have nothing to fear, save for the fear of death itself. The will live on in the memories of the people they touch (in a good way).

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Hi Marc,


This is very much up my alley so to speak.  I have a lot of compassion for others.  Understanding that we are fully caused, only contributed to my already compassionate nature and gave me more reason to care for others.  I haven’t read the book that you quote, but I don’t need to, to be convinced of your theory.  This is the sort of topic that comes under the heading Compassionate Communication – see my groups : )


In saying this I find the work of Marshall B Rosenberg to be very appropriate and useful in dealing with any situation of conflict, or simply to gain a greater love and connection with others.


His methods of nonviolent communication laid out in his book are comprehensive as to how you might deal with this sort of situation.  I’ve written a bit about these methods in a discussion post in the Compassionate Communication Group listed on my nexus home page.  I would really like to get some members in that group and some more discussion in this vein – because I would really like to broaden my use of NVC and understanding of it, with reference to my naturalistic world view – as I see them as both very compatible and useful for all aspects of life.


I totally agree with your insightful perspective of Theists and their vulnerability to changing their world view to include a more ‘real’ perception of how life is.  I find that people tend to mistake what I’m saying, when I introduce ideas such as no-free-will – they seem to think that somehow by changing their belief, they will change the world ?  LOL – whereas changing how you view the world doesn’t change how you get up every morning and so on.  But, understanding the world in a more ‘real’ perspective, does give us more autonomy over how we can conduct our lives, because we are dealing with ‘real’ factors – not imaginary ones – such as praying to God over and over and not getting anywhere…


My take on this, with reference to other posts I’ve made on nexus, is that I attack their faith from an understanding of it.  I try to gain empathy with them through showing them that we are the same.  With Christians for example, I talk about how Jesus was compassionate and loving to all – he told them to love their enemy and resist domination that caused them shame.  When I show understanding of their faith, then I can gain some trust, respect and understanding from them.  When I agree with Jesus’ premise that compassion and love for all is what I too strive towards – they start to see the similarities between me and them.  This gives us a connection – a compassionate connection from which we can move forward in the relationship.  It is not a base of conflict, but one of respect and sharing.


From then on, I listen carefully to what they say about their beliefs.  Then point by point, I reflect back to them what they have said, but translated into naturalistic terms.  In order to do this and be accepted, empathy is first required, so that they are open to this new perspective on life.  This way we are being sensitive and caring about their vulnerability and fears of changing their world views from what they are attached to believing.


The NVC tools for doing this are extensive.  I would prefer to go into more detail about them in a discussion in the Compassionate Communication Group, so that they are there as an easy reference in the future.


Basically we avoid life alienating communication such as –


Name calling

Getting angry


Guilt tripping



Creating obligation

Creating duty



Generating fear

Generating fear of punishment

Acting out of fear, guilt, shame, duty, obligation, anger, judgment


All these forms of communication take us away from our ability to connect compassionately with ourselves and others; they stop us from gaining empathy.


Without empathy we are unable to connect and move or change.  So an argument goes nowhere.


All the above mentioned forms of life alienating communication have negative consequences, that are detrimental and often the opposite result, than the result we are primarily seeking.


The solution to this is to remove the coercion from our relationships.  This is deep seated and not a small feat – but we can have this genuine aim and still gain much success without reaching a non-coercive perfection.


The general aims of NVC are:


#  To be willing to give from your heart – this takes some trust in yourself and the process – learning more will help

#  To sense you own feelings and needs in a given situation

#  To sense the feelings and needs of others in a given situation

#  To consider with equality your own needs with the needs of others

#  To have an honest aim to meet everyone’s needs including your own with fairness

#  To use protective force where others lack tools to consider others needs for safety

#  To be mindful of showing appreciation for the positive feelings simulated by others – as a way to encourage and acknowledge positive experiences in life


NVC provides great tools to fully express our anger in a nonviolent way – and to deal with obstacles and challenges that we face when aiming to integrate NVC in our lives – because we value having compassion for ourselves and others.

Insightful, Alice, as always... thank you for that contribution.


I thought your group was an excellent idea, but given the sheer audience on this one, it seemed appropriate to have the discussion here where we can reach more people. In fact, I'm involved with Park B. and Wanderer on a completely separate project where we can reach out to an even wider audience.


Creationists evolve their arguments, we have to evolve ours or we will be beaten. They have the upper hand - fear! We have to be smart enough to overcome that - and that's no mean feat. I am at odds with Richard Dawkins inflammatory approach which, while clearly winning him great plaudits, has actually cost us in terms of hardening the enemy's resolve!


A entirely new approach is required.


I have come to this conclusion over the last 10 days or so as my middle daughter has moved in with me - she's 13 and completely hacked off with her home life. There's a lot going on that I won't discuss but by applying Carnegie's methods, I have managed to slowly get her to be more responsive and communicative: even though I am (in effect) one of the enemy.


My long-term goal is to get her back with her mom and sisters, but to educate her into being able to coexist with them rather than being at odds with them.


I'll join your group now as I have a post in mind that might suit you.

Hi Marc,


I agree, larger groups means more feedback, which is very useful.  It’s great that we can take advantage of so many interesting and thoughtful minds in here.  I’m very grateful of finding this community of reason and sense – it’s quite refreshing.


I do agree that keeping up with countering others’ Theistic theories is useful and worthy of time.


I support the development of a new approach.


Richard Dawkins has been, I believe, fundamental in the UK for promoting Atheism out of the closet, once and for all.  Any one who is going to pioneer such a feat, needs some guts and determination, as well as solid facts, evidence, argument and intelligence – of which he seems to have all.  And I greatly admire him for this.


If you look at the Gay and Lesbian movement, or the women’s rights movement, or the Black rights in the US, they all have stages of development before being integrated into society.  As you can see the last stage is the longest, and we still have discrimination in our society towards all these groups.


Another way to see Richard Dawkins inflammatory approach now, is in terms of a good cop bad cop scenario.  So he can play the bad cop and get to come out and say it like it is with all his attitude and arrogance and worst traits, and then we can come in with a new approach of the good cop – giving comfort and kindness – then back the bad cop, if they don’t yield and so on… until we get a confession.




I saw that expression first the other day in here, and I loved it… LOL


Hang it all, I’m gonna buy this book…. we always joke about it, but I think there might be something it there that I could make use of – is he a Theist?  Because this sounds like really useful reading from a fully caused perspective – we need to take advantage of our knowledge that we are all fully caused to do what we do, and so without influence we can’t change – we will only change according to repeated positive reinforcement and continual influence – and if we don’t push towards the ones we like most, we will fall victim to whatever is lurking around to take our attention away.  Thus my trouble hanging around a bunch of Theist family and friends and really seeking to spend as much time in Nexus as possible – to gain maximum benefit from non theist influence in my life…..  gees that was a mouthful!  I just love repeating myself – it really helps to reinforce my own propaganda, based on my understanding of truth!


I would have been interested in the sections on business and marital satisfaction…


There is this question of ‘why’ – why do we need creationists to agree with us???


Perhaps we can just leave them too it.


They way I see it, is that people want harmony with friends and they want to kill their enemy in war.


This seems like a pretty regular patter all over the world and throughout known history.  So why fight it.


If we learn how to get on with people with techniques such as NVC or Carnegie’s methods, then great – just do that with everyone you come across and consider a friend.  If not, join the army and go and kill some of the enemy.  Really at the end of the day – changing each others opinions about anything, is akin to rearranging the deck chairs on the titanic – we’re all going to go down – it’s just a matter of when – the sun will burn up, life on earth will die out, we’ll all get sucked into a black whole and yet, it’ll be over.


But in the mean while – the focus for me is on quality of life.  If arguing with a Christian gives me quality in my life – I’ll do it – if spending time on Nexus gives me quality of life – I’ll do it – if killing my enemy gave me quality of life – I’d do it.


Alice :)


Gees I love developing my ideas on here, where I can trust that I can express myself honestly and get honest, logical and reasonable responses.... it's just great... and no moralistic crap to put up with either.... how liberating

I usually also try to avoid a discussion since facts and evidence is the whole basis of disagreement in the first place. Getting to admit them that their position is a faith based opinion is usually my aim, so that I can explain that my standards of evidence are different which is the reason why we disagree. It's more constructive then an argument which is useless if you cannot agree on the basics, such as what constitutes as evidence.

It's true we might win the argument for reason and logic... but not for emotion...


I also disagree with throwing out all true believers because they won't be reasonable.  I think the key is to connect with their humanity and cause them to realise that we are the same.  It's only their ability to dehumanise us and our knowledge of the world that allows them to keep their faith.


If we can show them that they can feel the same if they are an atheist, then their beliefs start to break down.


Thiests believe that they hold exclusivity over feelings of enlightenment, joy, pure love and compassion and the rest.  When they can see that an atheist too can have this variety of emotion is puts into question their religious faith and conviction based on their emotional experiences of Jesus or whoever it is they are attached to as illiciting these strong emotions of love and joy.

Empathy scares the crap out of them. I do nice things for religious people out of spite to prove this very point.

Mind you, they can convince themselves that god has possessed me and I'm just his vessel. Planks.

come on Marc, they are going to pick up the spite, their human beings - that's the thing, we're all the same - we all share the same feelings and needs.  They know when you're taking the piss.  If they think God has possessed you, well then fine.  But if you are nice to them with genuine honesty then it will make them think twice.  Next time they hear a minister go stupid on the podium with some crap about heathens, they'll have had a different experience, and this will slowly erode their faith.

Atheists can win with emotion, as well.  Here's a good example:


I've managed to see half of this.. it's great stuff and realy attacks the heart of their faith...  great stuff and tragic to hear.....  i just feel embarrased for them to believe this stuff... i not hardly anything about christianity or the bible, so hearing about it here is shocking....  i'm not even sure that i'll be able to have a honest converstaion with a christian ever again after hearing that.....  they are just really gullible and stupid!
I don't know if I'd say stupid, but definitely brainwashed.  It's like they've got their entire freaking life wrapped around the God thing, and they oppose any contradictory view ... and refuse to let themselves even consider that there could be any validity to the skeptical arguments, because the damage to their worldview and their life would be more than they can bear.

I suppose after hearing what is actually said in the Bible, I can’t quite believe that anyone would believe that stuff?? They must have their brains on half mast or something! I suppose not everyone vets their thinking or understanding for contradiction or complete absurdity?
That is assuming they have actually read the bible.


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