Talked to my Dad, a rare ex-atheist, now Xian (long story, basically lots of psych problems, decided to try spirituality to see if that might help, conscious choice of Xianity because it's the big one to be around here, followed by much self-delusion, years of wasted time studying the bible, and many arguments.)

Dad: You know, in my relationship with God...
Me: Dad, God doesn't exist, I don't want to hear about it. (Sound mean, but I know it's the prelude to an argument I'm trying unsuccessfully to avoid.)

Of course we didn't avoid it. This time it was the bible (which I should read, according to him). I say it makes no sense, it's contradictory, and full of horrible things like stoning people. He says I don't understand. I say, it's really not that complicated. I can pick up a book and if it's written in English, I can read the words and understand them, and that's what it says. No, I'm not doing it right somehow. It has to be a specific version, AND I have to have a certain dictionary to look up the words and get the right meanings. I need to start with John, learn what Jesus said. What about Leviticus, why can't start there? No, no, no, you can't take it out of context. But Xians quote scripture all the time, why can't I quote about killing witches and stoning bad kids and homosexuals? Those aren't REAL Xians! There are very few of those! Oh...I see...not.

OK then: What kind of idiot must god be to write a book that you can't start at the beginning to read, has so many versions that many of them are not the "right" one, is so complicated you have to be a historian and a scholar (and evidently a psychic genius too) to understand, can (arbitrarily) be taken out of context in some instances, but not in others. He must not have wanted me, or most people, including most people who call themselves Xians, except for Dad, and maybe a couple others, to understand! If that was his goal, he succeeded! Conclusion: He's the ultimate prick--giving coded messages that only a few people will understand, and the rest can burn in hell. Forever.

I continue: Try to explain why evolution may not necessarily have culminated in his happiness, but that doesn't prove it didn't happen. Little bit about how using humans can use reason to overcome the instincts that don't lead to happiness --you don't have to blame/give credit to imaginary beings and ask them for help. Little bit about how even if his god does exist, he's the ultimate jack-off mother-fucker and should be hated, not loved. No, no--I just don't understand. And we come full circle.

We've kind of gotten the argument down to short-hand, we say the same things, but he never acknowledges what I'm saying.

It's a problem in our relationship, and in some others. I have friends that the subject leads to bad feelings with too. If they are so sure, why are they so hurt and angered by me saying it's not true, pointing out the inconsistencies, absurdity, bad parts, etc.? I think the answer is obvious--that they don't really believe, deep down. I don't get mad if somebody denies science, I just think they're stupid. I know my Dad used to be rational, and it was his choice to give up reason for something that made him feel better. But how can there be so many people who do this, and so strenuously deny the obvious?

I have a problem with arguing and making people mad. Other atheists seem to be able to do it in a way that doesn't cause damage to the relationship. I have two choices: cut off all discussion about fairy tales as soon as they start (if I care about the emotions of the person towards me), which I tried and failed to do this morning, or learn how to discuss it in a way that doesn't make people mad. I don't think I'm capable of the latter.

Therefore, from now own, when the subject of God comes up with somebody I don't want to make mad, I shall simply state, as many times as necessary, "God doesn't exist, so what you're saying makes no sense to me. Please shut up about it." No elaboration into the infinite reasons why they are wrong. That has a time and place, but not when it's going to make me feel guilty when the conversation is over.

(Since I'm sure I'll fail, next argument chapter will be about one with a relativist who just doesn't like me saying that anybody at all is wrong.)

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Comment by River Otter on February 1, 2009 at 10:42pm
I am sorry to hear of your struggles with your father's conversion. It would break my heart if that happened to me.

I am fortunate enough to have an Atheist father that hasn't and likely won't, convert due to his knowledge of science.

I would like to share a website with you that is better then Evilbible and is my personal favorite. See below.
http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/

Also, http://godisimaginary.com/ This has some interesting videos and poses some very interesting questions to ask theists.

Now, one thing I would like to say. Science should NEVER be trashed by anyone! Anytime someone tells you that science is garbage, bullshit, stupid, ect....It is your responcibility to remind them of all of the wonderful things that science has brought to us. That's it, just a reminder.

Examples: Better, stronger, healther, and more food, drinkable water, medicines, vaccinations, inoculations, surgery, electricity, vehicals, air conditioning, heat, television, cable, satelite, the telephone, computers and other techology, refrigeration, the sound system in the church, the actual foundation of the church, the paper & leather the bible is written in and on, and the list goes on and on.

It's all science. Without it, we would still be living in the stone ages. AKA: The middle east. They think science is crap too.

Outside of that, if your father has his heals planted in, it may not be worth your time with debate. Only you know that, and again, I am sorry to hear this.

I wish you luck.
Comment by Moonbeam on February 1, 2009 at 9:19pm
:hug:
Comment by Rosemary LYNDALL WEMM on February 1, 2009 at 8:42pm
Me, too. But it was a rough ride.
Comment by Moonbeam on February 1, 2009 at 7:41pm
Yes, of course you are right, Rosemary. Because of the range, averages are meaningless. Add the inherent problems of defining and measuring intelligence, and it gets even more nonsensical. It's a complete waste of time, and anybody who thinks it isn't has an agenda which involves the group that they belong to increasing or holding onto power. There is no other explanation for trying to "prove" differences in intelligence between groups of people.

I'm glad you come over to this side. ;-)
Comment by Rosemary LYNDALL WEMM on February 1, 2009 at 7:20pm
Moonbeam and Canby:

Moonbeam, thanks for adding in the bit that I forgot: that the problem is not whether some people or some groups of people are more intelligent than others or not, but whether these facts (or apparent facts) are used to discriminate against a group or individual. Conclusions based on a group of people, no matter how valid, tell you nothing about the individuals within it.

For instance, most American IQ tests (in English, of course) show that the average person of Jewish heritage is significantly smarter than the average white skinned American. This does NOT mean that my Jewish next-door-neighbour is smarter than me.

There is also a thing called "range". The average male is taller than the average female, but this does not mean that all my male friends are taller than me.

The average Fundie is poorly educated compared to the average atheist. But this does not mean that the Fundie I am talking to is less intelligent than me. (Since I was once a Fundie, go figure!)
Comment by Moonbeam on February 1, 2009 at 6:52pm
Hi Canby. :) Thanks for your comment.

OK, I had to go back and see where you were coming from, I didn't remember bringing up science--but now I see where I talked not getting mad if somebody denies science. (It's not an emotional issue for me, as religion is for so many people.)

How to explain what I meant; let's see: Somebody who chooses made-up explanations over objective data are denying science, and to do so is obviously less reasonable and rational. Nothing more than that.

Rosemary's comment regarding intelligence was very good--of course some people are more "intelligent" than others, depending on how you define intelligence. But using the results of intelligence tests to justify discriminating against some people--that's not science anymore, that's politics.

Of course you shouldn't always trust what people say just because they say it is "science". You have to consider the source and their motives. Have opinions based on what you understand, but be ready to change them if new information becomes available. That's the real difference between science and religion.
Comment by Rosemary LYNDALL WEMM on February 1, 2009 at 6:51pm
I think insanity is the essential ingredient in this case :-)
Comment by Moonbeam on February 1, 2009 at 5:57pm
Hi Rosemary. :) Thanks for visiting.

That's what's so crazy--Dad has read the bible, many times thru, with endless studying, commentaries, researching original word definitions, comparing multiple versions, etc. He knows it backwards, forwards, as well as any university-trained theologian. The first few years, it bothered him that all his loved ones were going to burn in hell, then he somehow interpreted it as this was not going to happen after all, but now I think we're back to we're all burning, whole world, but he doesn't care anymore. Something like that.

His proof is always that predictions were made in the OT that came true later. Pointing out that's it's easy to make predictions come true when you know exactly what they say doesn't seem to register. All those things you mentioned, all the inconsistencies--"it's complex", and if I refuse to start trying to understand by reading the gospel, well, there's no point in even responding to me.

It's a choice. Some people somewhere may still have the excuse of ignorance, but I think most theists now choose not to be rational and to be superstitious, for their own purposes, whatever they may be. I'm not sure how self-deluded they are; I imagine it's variable. But at some point, they choose to be deluded.

I'm not going to waste time studying that crap, I know all I need to know. I can go to evilbible.com and find all I need. That's my whole point--if it's so incredibly complex and convoluted that to understand it you need hours and hours and years and years of study, plus a little divine intervention and possibly insanity on top of that, I don't think it's worth much.
Comment by Rosemary LYNDALL WEMM on February 1, 2009 at 3:54pm
Canby, I believe you misunderstand what "science" is. Scientific method is quite open about exceptions to everything. The problem is that people who don't understand science or scientific methodology, interpret the findings of science incorrectly.

For instance, is it not bullshit to say that some humans are more intelligent than others. On the other hand, what is meant by "intelligence" is open to question and continues to be discussed and investigated in psychological literature.

What you may have meant to say is that some people argue that some races of people are more intelligent than other races of people. This stance is strongly questioned by anthropoligical psychololgists who argue that it is extremely difficult to find culture-free tests of "intelligence" and to decide what aspects of "intelligence" are important in any given situation. The first tests of intelligence were devised by a Frenchmen to predict the changes of French students doing well in the French schooling system. They did extremely well in that regard.
Comment by Canby del Hubae on February 1, 2009 at 3:07pm
I get what you mean about people denying science. But I also believe that always trusting science as the ultimate truth and answer for everything can be seen also as stupid and narrow-minded, because there is always exceptions in everything.. science can explain and justify everything, even the worst bullshit, like for instance that some humans are less intelligent than others.. Believing there is no god is not the same thing that believing science is the god.. And just because you don't always trust science doesn't make you goddist.
Well that's my opinion of course.
Good luck with you dad!

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