I've crossed posted this with the "winning arguments" group - but I'm also placing a copy here because it relates to my activities as an atheist on youtube.


I'm in a debate with a theist on youtube.

This round started off when he posted this:

>>But God cannot break the Eternal Laws of the Universe - such as: the "Law of Opposition" in All Things. This states that everything has its opposite! I.E. Good/bad; right/wrong; evil/righteous; hot/cold; dark/light; up/down; sin/obedience; punishment/reward; heaven/hell/ Jesus Christ/Lucifer. Unchangeable. Without the Law of Opposition there would be NO CHOICE. This life would not be able to work for our good. This is why Communism & Socialism is anti-christ.

At my insistence that he please explain what the hell he was talking about, he then presented a list of 'eternal laws' (not laws of the universe - I already called him on that) but - and this is the interesting bit - laws he says God cannot and will not try to interfer with these.

1 - The Law of Gravity
2 - The Law of Cause & Effect (Karma)
3 - Choice
4- The Eternal nature of God & man.
5 The Law of Opposition (in all things-which states that everything has its 'opposites').


Were' currently debating 5: the universal law of opposites.

I started off by demonstrating how light and dark and heat and cold work and are not opposite 'things' and then pointed it's not universal, and most likely a trick of linguistics: you can't have an un-dog or an anti-cabbage for example. That pissed him off.

And this followed: Now how do you make sense of this - and what do you think my response should be?

He also seems to be using a keyboard with a sticky CAPS LOCK key.

You are not using relevant words. Of course "cabbage" does not have an opposite, neither does tomato or tree or egg. Other nouns have no opposites. BUT, I am talking about making CHOICES in our daily lives, & making decisions like; right over wrong; obedience over sin; lying over honesty; greed over generosity; & love over hate, etc...things which result in good & bad consequences & eventual Godly Judgment for our Eternal Salvation OR damnation!

Choices are made possible when there are two opposing facts or situations, that enable us to exercise our free/moral agency/Choice - which eventually lead to a Judgment. There is an opposition in ALL things. Even if we choose "not to believe this Truth"...the "opposite" is "to believe it."
Without the Law of Opposition, It would be impossible to make a Choice! Because there would be only ONE.

Freedom to choose is so important to God's Eternal Plan of Salvation for man. In fact, His Plan could not exist, & neither could we without it. Imagine if Adam & Eve did NOT have "a choice" to eat or not eat the fruit...if there were no TWO trees in the Garden! They would have lived in Eden "forever," without ever having any children...us! We would not be here! There would be no need for a Tempter/Satan...therefore, we would have no need of the "opposite," a Saviour/Christ.
choice, well not actually a "choice" even, but there would only be ONE way!

There would be no Judgment, & therefore, no heaven nor its "opposite," hell. See how The Law of Opposition makes choice possible, & God's Plan for us work? He "chose" to create us and our Universe. Christ CHOSE to come here as our Saviour, else we would all end up in Hell forever! But then again, we wouldn't even be here if Adam had not chosen to eat the fruit! And around & round we go! The whole Universe works, BECAUSE of the Law of Opposition/ Choice & GOD's Almighty Power!


What do you think are the possible approaches into addressing this morass of non sequiturs with an argument that doesn't expose me to making some claim that he is later able to seize on?

Your advice is appreciated.


P.S if you want to complete context of the discussion it is to be found here:


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Replies to This Discussion

You are arguing with a believer. To what end? You don't really think that you are going to convert them do you? Faith can not relate to reason and vice versa. What makes this even worse is that words are a depiction of our thoughts and our thoughts have evolved in culture and most cultures have a very strong basis in religion or a belief system in general. This often begs the question...are words an adequate tool when describing reality?
If you want to convert a fantasy believer, you must lead by example. Words are often useless. Since our existence is based on adapting to our environment, being a conspicuous respectable, caring and successful individual is the only proof that will convince them that religion does not have a monopoly on decent behavior. This kind of information obliterates the reason why most people are religious. It is the reason why most religious people are afraid to let go. If one doesn't need religion to be moral then one doesn't need religion. Good behavior can be dictated by rational realistic thinking.
I need a hobby. ;)

Seriously, I do object to letting incoherence stand. Once I left one message saying so, I got replies and it went from there.
Actually it's not his unreasoning that concerns me as much as someone reading his unreasoning and being convinced by it, without their being a counter-argument available.

This discussion is appended to a video about how sinners go to hell and near death experiences are the proof that the afterlife is real. therefore repent sinners etc.

It's argument from personal experience inference to the best explanation and a whole other bunch of fallacies, push them on this and you get replies like the one above: it's not so much changing YIS's mind that is my ambition it's making sure YIS doesn't convince anyone else.
I don't know how well this will work but; Point out that all those example are false dichotomies.

Often people have to do wrong to do good (for instance war: killing is wrong however sometimes in necessary).
Sometimes to obey you have to "sin" (for instance: a child who in obeying his parents sins in his (the person your debating with) eyes (By using "your eyes" instead of "Gods eyes" it points out that its his belief, not reality).
Sometimes honesty involves lying (you say you will not tell any one that "Y" person did "X" then your put into a situation where you ether lie or keep your word).
Sometimes people are generous for greedy purposes giving to a charity so that you'll pay less taxes or giving a dollar to a homeless man just to make you feel better).
Love and hate are emotion, separate emotions, not only is it posable to both love and hate someone at the same time, many do both love and hate someone at the same time.
The point out that not only do people not always have choices, choices are a luxury. For the vast majority of human history and in most of the world people lived in small villages and all they knew was what they learned from the people around them. The lived with the same traditions, ideas and beliefs there whole life.
I might not use those examples if you'll forgive me, but the idea of false dichotomies I'll try to make use of. Thanks.

Just starting work on my rebuttal now.
You could say how in order for god to make miracles happen he would have to break those eternal laws otherwise something comes about via natural causes and is not a miracle
There are no moral absolutes.

God says: You must not commit murder.
But God commits murder. (Exodus stuff)
God tells people to commit murder (More Exodus stuff). That's guilt by chain of command. God commands people to do opposite things. It is moral one minute and immoral the next.
God joins with Satan and lets Satan commit murder. (Job) That's guilt by aiding and abetting.

So what god says is wrong for humans to do is right for god to do. What is immoral for humans may be moral for god.

Adam and Eve did not have a real choice.

God told Adam and Eve that they must not eat the fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil or they would die.

They did not know the difference between right and wrong/ good and evil until they ate the fruit of the tree which provided them with that knowledge. Therefore they could not have known that it was wrong to disobey god.

Since Eve did not know what lying was she believed the snake when it told her that she would not die if she ate the fruit from the forbidden tree. After she ate the fruit she realized that the snake was telling the truth and Yahweh had lied: she did not die. (Another example of the argument that what is immoral for humans is moral for god.)

Yahweh is supposed to be omnipresent, everywhere, but he was apparently taking a bathroom break when the snake came along. Eve was left to make a decision which she did not have the experience to make effectively. Yahweh failed to adequately protect his children. That is incompetent parenting.

Yahweh made Adam and Eve without the knowledge and skill they needed to avoid this kind of persuasion and yet created a snake who could do it and left his charges alone in its presence. That is entrapment.
Good stuff. :-)

I've not yet got a reply from my youtube theist, but if we get onto morality, the bible and god, I may have to make use of that.

Thank you very much! :D
There is also the psychological study of the stages of morality (Kohlberg). Immature moral thinking is black and white, right and wrong, good and bad. Mature thinking stages (which not everyone reaches) admits many shades of gray, including something being both right and wrong, depending on the circumstances.

Lying is a good one to use. You have already been given an example of a double bind on that one. If you promise someone not to reveal the information they have given and then someone asks you to truthfully tell all you know about the conversation you have to lie about the previous conversation or break your promise to the first person and make you past statement into a lie.

The famous scenario is the pursued man example. You see a man running down the street looking very frightened. He runs past you and turns a corner. Shortly after this a thug with a gun runs up to you and asks is you have seen a running man and, if so, in which direction did he go. Black and white thinkers will say that it would be immoral to lie. Mature thinkers say that the greater evil would be to tell the truth because it may condemn the runner to an unwarranted death. So it would be more moral to tell a lie. In order to get to this point you have to be able to deal with the issue of sliding scale morality and comparative morality. What is the most good for the most people, etc.

Another puzzle involves trains and people. You are standing on the top of bridge looking at a train track
Oh I've heard about trains and people one - it was part of a cognitive study of morality or something. The scenarios get increasingly more complex forcing awkward moral choices.

ie scenario 1 the switch diverts the run away train into harmless sandbank

scenario 2 one track has incomparable numbers or eople of different status, eg, the train wil crash into a carriage of famou scientists and doctors or a carriage full of cup scouts.

scenario 3 there are questions about I think giving a warning.

And it goes on like that - eventually if you are trying to decide the 'moral' by absolutes, or duty or act or rule utilitarianism you're given a scenario that tests the assumption.

And thereby it's an interesting set of complex problems that expose how people decide what is moral behaviour or not.

Thank you for reminding me of those.
The train is approaching a level crossing where a car load of people is stuck on the track. You are standing next to a switch which allows you to shunt the train onto the other track. There is a small boy climbing around on the siding track. If you pull the switch you save the car load of people but kill the small boy. If you don't pull the switch you kill the car load of people but save the small boy. Do you pull the switch?

Could you do something which will certainly cause someone to die? Do you fail to do something which will save a bunch of people? Do you balance the numbers (that is, how many people the action of non-action will kill)? Do find it easier to fail to act (leaving the deaths to "fate") or to perform an action that will cause a death, but save others? There is no "right" answer here. Various personalities deal with it differently. How would god act?

Marc Hauser I think from doing a bit of googling seems to have recent published a book about evolutionary ethics, which reuses the example and extends it.




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