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Dialogue between Theists and Non-Theists

Sswdwm
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2/9/2014 12:07:03 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
I just came form Speakers Corner, London - a place where much open air preaching/heckling takes place and one I thoroughly recommend checking out if you ever come to visit.

I was there for a few hours talking to Muslims, Christians, Jews and non-believers and I found there was a lot of talking-over-the other person, with almost every single point and sentence attacked by all sides. The conversations essentially didn't go anywhere and was really a waste of time.

Which is what I want to address in this forum post.

One of the hardest things I find when talking to opposing opinions are the presuppositions that myself and the other party will hold. With the principle presupposition being that they are right and all opposing views are incorrect (which also follows for my fellow non-believers), and also what constitutes an acceptable argument or even statement for others.

For example one of the biggest hurdles I found when I was a theist was getting to the point of thinking it's OK to apply the arguments I have heard to my notion of God, but any arguments that satirized, belittled or insulted it were quick to be ignored (even if they were logically sound and had a good point behind them). Similarly theists' arguments which involve an over-reliance of their scriptures or claims to fundamental laws of logic etc. are quick to be ignored today.

In summary I think in order to have a productive dialogue, we need to understand one another's presuppositions, and their real inner values.

Anyone care to build upon/take this apart?
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bornofgod
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2/9/2014 12:44:37 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 2/9/2014 12:07:03 PM, Sswdwm wrote:
I just came form Speakers Corner, London - a place where much open air preaching/heckling takes place and one I thoroughly recommend checking out if you ever come to visit.

I was there for a few hours talking to Muslims, Christians, Jews and non-believers and I found there was a lot of talking-over-the other person, with almost every single point and sentence attacked by all sides. The conversations essentially didn't go anywhere and was really a waste of time.

Which is what I want to address in this forum post.

One of the hardest things I find when talking to opposing opinions are the presuppositions that myself and the other party will hold. With the principle presupposition being that they are right and all opposing views are incorrect (which also follows for my fellow non-believers), and also what constitutes an acceptable argument or even statement for others.

For example one of the biggest hurdles I found when I was a theist was getting to the point of thinking it's OK to apply the arguments I have heard to my notion of God, but any arguments that satirized, belittled or insulted it were quick to be ignored (even if they were logically sound and had a good point behind them). Similarly theists' arguments which involve an over-reliance of their scriptures or claims to fundamental laws of logic etc. are quick to be ignored today.

In summary I think in order to have a productive dialogue, we need to understand one another's presuppositions, and their real inner values.

Anyone care to build upon/take this apart?

God's people like Leonardo da Vinci didn't stand around and argue about what he was thinking, He built models of his thoughts that God put in his mind.

Religious people read books by saints and prophets who were used by God to write vast amounts of information that He put in their minds about the past, present and future, They were all killed for sharing this information to people who rejected their thoughts.

Einstein didn't sit around and argue with people about the things God put in his mind. God gave him thoughts and equations to help him understand the invisible energy that no man could see. But since he wasn't a saint who could talk about the future, he wasn't killed for his knowledge. He was rewarded with a good life amongst those who believed in his work.

What you find on a street corner is people who God isn't using to develop the latest technology to help us understand who we are. These are people who are using 2,000 year old thoughts that are known to many people throughout the ages. This is useless information that they keep arguing over but no one gets killed for this information like us saints and prophets did.
superflymegastallion
Posts: 370
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2/9/2014 5:46:35 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 2/9/2014 12:07:03 PM, Sswdwm wrote:
I just came form Speakers Corner, London - a place where much open air preaching/heckling takes place and one I thoroughly recommend checking out if you ever come to visit.

I was there for a few hours talking to Muslims, Christians, Jews and non-believers and I found there was a lot of talking-over-the other person, with almost every single point and sentence attacked by all sides. The conversations essentially didn't go anywhere and was really a waste of time.

Which is what I want to address in this forum post.

One of the hardest things I find when talking to opposing opinions are the presuppositions that myself and the other party will hold. With the principle presupposition being that they are right and all opposing views are incorrect (which also follows for my fellow non-believers), and also what constitutes an acceptable argument or even statement for others.

For example one of the biggest hurdles I found when I was a theist was getting to the point of thinking it's OK to apply the arguments I have heard to my notion of God, but any arguments that satirized, belittled or insulted it were quick to be ignored (even if they were logically sound and had a good point behind them). Similarly theists' arguments which involve an over-reliance of their scriptures or claims to fundamental laws of logic etc. are quick to be ignored today.

In summary I think in order to have a productive dialogue, we need to understand one another's presuppositions, and their real inner values.

Anyone care to build upon/take this apart?
Kind of sorta, yeah, kinda sorta, no.
Johanna and the whale. BS
Prove that someone can live in a whale. Miracle
The big bang. BS
Prove that's how it happened. Science
You gotta call it as you see it. Assumptions aside, once you do this, you may, just may, find common ground.
Now, probability is different. You cant prove either of the two claims.
What's more likely.
(Note) I don't agree with either.
philochristos
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2/9/2014 9:20:43 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
I think presuppositions have a lot to do with why people have different points of view even when looking at the same evidence. Our presuppositions act as the interpretive filters through which we view the world. So I agree with you that it would be helpful if we took the time to learn about each other's presuppositions. It would help us understand where others are coming from, and it might make our conversations more productive.

But I don't think there's anything at all wrong with the presupposition that our own point of view is correct and those who disagree with us are wrong. That just follows from the law of contradiction and what it means to believe something. If I believe X, then that means I think X is true. It would be nonsense for me to claim to believe X while at the same time denying that I am right to believe X. If you believe X, then you think you're right.

According to the law of non-contradiction, a belief or claim and its negation cannot both be true at the same time and in the same sense. So if I believe X, then I'm rationally obligated to believe that not-X is false. So naturally, if I'm to be rational, I must think that those who disagree with me are wrong.

If I thought my own view was wrong, then it wouldn't really be my view. And if I thought somebody else's view were right, then it would be my view.

It seems to me that debate itself presupposes that you are right and the other is wrong. That seems to me to be a good presupposition. With the exception of playing devil's advocate, there's no point in debating if you don't think your view is right and your opponent's view is wrong.
"Not to know of what things one should demand demonstration, and of what one should not, argues want of education." ~Aristotle

"It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." ~Aristotle
Idealist
Posts: 2,520
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2/10/2014 12:07:36 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 2/9/2014 12:07:03 PM, Sswdwm wrote:
I just came form Speakers Corner, London - a place where much open air preaching/heckling takes place and one I thoroughly recommend checking out if you ever come to visit.

I was there for a few hours talking to Muslims, Christians, Jews and non-believers and I found there was a lot of talking-over-the other person, with almost every single point and sentence attacked by all sides. The conversations essentially didn't go anywhere and was really a waste of time.

Which is what I want to address in this forum post.

One of the hardest things I find when talking to opposing opinions are the presuppositions that myself and the other party will hold. With the principle presupposition being that they are right and all opposing views are incorrect (which also follows for my fellow non-believers), and also what constitutes an acceptable argument or even statement for others.

For example one of the biggest hurdles I found when I was a theist was getting to the point of thinking it's OK to apply the arguments I have heard to my notion of God, but any arguments that satirized, belittled or insulted it were quick to be ignored (even if they were logically sound and had a good point behind them). Similarly theists' arguments which involve an over-reliance of their scriptures or claims to fundamental laws of logic etc. are quick to be ignored today.

In summary I think in order to have a productive dialogue, we need to understand one another's presuppositions, and their real inner values.

Anyone care to build upon/take this apart?

For years I've heard people claim that they would love to find someone to speak with about the big questions, but when it comes right down to it they all seem to want nothing more than to preach their own view and mock every other. In order to be able to teach you have to be willing to listen and learn. We all know a lot of things, and there are a lot of things that none of us know. If a person isn't willing to consider the idea that they might be wrong then there is no reason for them to get involved in a discussion to begin with, right?
Sswdwm
Posts: 1,398
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2/10/2014 5:10:00 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
For years I've heard people claim that they would love to find someone to speak with about the big questions, but when it comes right down to it they all seem to want nothing more than to preach their own view and mock every other. In order to be able to teach you have to be willing to listen and learn. We all know a lot of things, and there are a lot of things that none of us know. If a person isn't willing to consider the idea that they might be wrong then there is no reason for them to get involved in a discussion to begin with, right?

It's easy to become defensive, I would say. Atheists and theists alike. There's a pretty good talk on TED regarding 'Emotional Correctness' (link below) which raises important points in regard to thinking about the other parties' position and values before launching criticisms of them.

TED Talk: http://www.ted.com...
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xftrev
Posts: 30
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2/10/2014 7:16:45 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
It's very difficult to conduct a calm and respectful argument with a Theist as it is never a level playing field. One side is based on fact, experience, science, cause/effect and the other on a set of unproven beliefs.

I like Bill Maher on this one, who says (something like) "you do not get to put your irrationality on the same shelf as my rationality".
ethang5
Posts: 4,117
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2/10/2014 12:37:48 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 2/10/2014 7:16:45 AM, xftrev wrote:
It's very difficult to conduct a calm and respectful argument with a Theist as it is never a level playing field. One side is based on fact, experience, science, cause/effect and the other on a set of unproven beliefs.

I like Bill Maher on this one, who says (something like) "you do not get to put your irrationality on the same shelf as my rationality".

The entire jist of this thread went over your head.

what rationality?
Idealist
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2/12/2014 5:22:51 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 2/10/2014 5:10:00 AM, Sswdwm wrote:
For years I've heard people claim that they would love to find someone to speak with about the big questions, but when it comes right down to it they all seem to want nothing more than to preach their own view and mock every other. In order to be able to teach you have to be willing to listen and learn. We all know a lot of things, and there are a lot of things that none of us know. If a person isn't willing to consider the idea that they might be wrong then there is no reason for them to get involved in a discussion to begin with, right?

It's easy to become defensive, I would say. Atheists and theists alike. There's a pretty good talk on TED regarding 'Emotional Correctness' (link below) which raises important points in regard to thinking about the other parties' position and values before launching criticisms of them.

TED Talk: http://www.ted.com...

I actually saw a good deal of that on a Ted-Talks video marathon some months ago. It's too bad that so few people really care to discuss the issues. All they really seem to want is to "prove" their interpretation of things.
Installgentoo
Posts: 1,420
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2/12/2014 5:45:45 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 2/10/2014 7:16:45 AM, xftrev wrote:
It's very difficult to conduct a calm and respectful argument with a Theist as it is never a level playing field. One side is based on fact, experience, science, cause/effect and the other on a set of unproven beliefs.

I like Bill Maher on this one, who says (something like) "you do not get to put your irrationality on the same shelf as my rationality".

Why is it rational to think there is no God?
zmikecuber
Posts: 4,093
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2/12/2014 7:08:45 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 2/9/2014 12:07:03 PM, Sswdwm wrote:
I just came form Speakers Corner, London - a place where much open air preaching/heckling takes place and one I thoroughly recommend checking out if you ever come to visit.

I was there for a few hours talking to Muslims, Christians, Jews and non-believers and I found there was a lot of talking-over-the other person, with almost every single point and sentence attacked by all sides. The conversations essentially didn't go anywhere and was really a waste of time.

Which is what I want to address in this forum post.

One of the hardest things I find when talking to opposing opinions are the presuppositions that myself and the other party will hold. With the principle presupposition being that they are right and all opposing views are incorrect (which also follows for my fellow non-believers), and also what constitutes an acceptable argument or even statement for others.

For example one of the biggest hurdles I found when I was a theist was getting to the point of thinking it's OK to apply the arguments I have heard to my notion of God, but any arguments that satirized, belittled or insulted it were quick to be ignored (even if they were logically sound and had a good point behind them). Similarly theists' arguments which involve an over-reliance of their scriptures or claims to fundamental laws of logic etc. are quick to be ignored today.

In summary I think in order to have a productive dialogue, we need to understand one another's presuppositions, and their real inner values.

Anyone care to build upon/take this apart?

I would agree mostly. Everyone has a certain metaphysical and epistemological worldview, but this worldview is very very rarely ever expressed. We all have one, but most of us couldn't for the life of us say what it is.

That being said, the atheism vs. theism debate isn't so much about the existence of God, as it is about two competing worldviews, that of physicalism vs. supernaturalism.
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Romanii
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2/12/2014 7:34:45 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 2/10/2014 7:16:45 AM, xftrev wrote:
It's very difficult to conduct a calm and respectful argument with a Theist as it is never a level playing field. One side is based on fact, experience, science, cause/effect and the other on a set of unproven beliefs.

I like Bill Maher on this one, who says (something like) "you do not get to put your irrationality on the same shelf as my rationality".

Atheists are no better in terms of open-mindedness.

Reham Llib once said that "you do not get to put your arrogance on the same shelf as my search for truth".
bladerunner060
Posts: 7,126
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2/13/2014 12:59:48 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 2/12/2014 7:34:45 PM, Romanii wrote:
At 2/10/2014 7:16:45 AM, xftrev wrote:
It's very difficult to conduct a calm and respectful argument with a Theist as it is never a level playing field. One side is based on fact, experience, science, cause/effect and the other on a set of unproven beliefs.

I like Bill Maher on this one, who says (something like) "you do not get to put your irrationality on the same shelf as my rationality".

Atheists are no better in terms of open-mindedness.

Reham Llib once said that "you do not get to put your arrogance on the same shelf as my search for truth".

The problem I have with that quote is that, by and large, I would argue that most theists are not searching for truth--they've already come up with the answer they want. There's a difference between saying "I've reached a rational conclusion" (arrogant and, in your opinion, wrong as it may be) and "I'm searching for truth.
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Romanii
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2/13/2014 1:08:05 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 2/13/2014 12:59:48 AM, bladerunner060 wrote:
At 2/12/2014 7:34:45 PM, Romanii wrote:
At 2/10/2014 7:16:45 AM, xftrev wrote:
It's very difficult to conduct a calm and respectful argument with a Theist as it is never a level playing field. One side is based on fact, experience, science, cause/effect and the other on a set of unproven beliefs.

I like Bill Maher on this one, who says (something like) "you do not get to put your irrationality on the same shelf as my rationality".

Atheists are no better in terms of open-mindedness.

Reham Llib once said that "you do not get to put your arrogance on the same shelf as my search for truth".

The problem I have with that quote is that, by and large, I would argue that most theists are not searching for truth--they've already come up with the answer they want. There's a difference between saying "I've reached a rational conclusion" (arrogant and, in your opinion, wrong as it may be) and "I'm searching for truth.

There is also a difference between saying "I've reached a rational conclusion" (respectable atheists, such as you) and "I've reached a rational conclusion and you are delusional for coming to a different one" (arrogant atheists, who most of my atheist-interactions have been with thus far)
bladerunner060
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2/13/2014 1:12:12 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 2/13/2014 1:08:05 AM, Romanii wrote:
At 2/13/2014 12:59:48 AM, bladerunner060 wrote:
At 2/12/2014 7:34:45 PM, Romanii wrote:
At 2/10/2014 7:16:45 AM, xftrev wrote:
It's very difficult to conduct a calm and respectful argument with a Theist as it is never a level playing field. One side is based on fact, experience, science, cause/effect and the other on a set of unproven beliefs.

I like Bill Maher on this one, who says (something like) "you do not get to put your irrationality on the same shelf as my rationality".

Atheists are no better in terms of open-mindedness.

Reham Llib once said that "you do not get to put your arrogance on the same shelf as my search for truth".

The problem I have with that quote is that, by and large, I would argue that most theists are not searching for truth--they've already come up with the answer they want. There's a difference between saying "I've reached a rational conclusion" (arrogant and, in your opinion, wrong as it may be) and "I'm searching for truth.

There is also a difference between saying "I've reached a rational conclusion" (respectable atheists, such as you) and "I've reached a rational conclusion and you are delusional for coming to a different one" (arrogant atheists, who most of my atheist-interactions have been with thus far)

Fair enough (And thank you for your assessment of me).
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Iredia
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2/13/2014 2:32:25 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
@ sswdm

Very good. I fully agree with what you write. Specifically, this point:

"One of the hardest things I find when talking to opposing opinions are
the presuppositions that myself and the other party will hold."

In fact, all we argue for, all the mess that religious, philosophical or any other debate boils down to is presuppositions. Call them axioms or assumptions but the point is they are core beliefs on a topic. In fact, widely-used 'isms' such as idealism, materialism, deism etc are terms which capture these presuppositions about the world. Our arguments, as in the movie 'Inception' are ways of presenting these suppositions in a manner that will make a person readily accept them. Of course, this is harder to do to some than for others. And some are very talented at articulating their presuppositions in ways people accept them.

That said, I hold it as axiomatic all belief systems and their presuppositions (a core belief that informs others) have flaws. They all follow confirmation bias. Whether it's in consonance with reality or not hardly matters (reality itself has flaws) what matters is that a belief system tends to ignore beliefs or facts that contradict it or try to reconcile both. And it works nicely, such that as long as you fit opposing beliefs, or think them bad enough to be ignored, your belief system makes sense within itself. This works as true for a scientist as it does for a schizophrenic.

An example of this would be my deism. It's gonna be long.

1) It is now clear to me that from an atheist's viewpoint, the concept of a disembodied mind creating the physical world(s) is senseless. For me, that hardly counts; I'm like 'how would an atheist believe the body poofs up the mind ?' Crucially, it is simply of no relevance to me; any more than an atheist thinks on what's the purpose of the universe.

2) At a point, I was (not knowing it then) an agnostic deist. I had just turned apostate and was reading Chapman Cohen's arguments against theism (and God). His argument on causality being strictly limited to the physical world were sound (so I thought then). It's not that I hadn't seen similar arguments that I felt I had countered so they could be ignored. It was the way he presented it, and probably my state of mind then, that made me forget my usual antidote: which was to state causality is mental, as matter knows not causality and that since it was easy to imagine a cause (lighting petrol) could have a different effect (a burst of water); then this suggests a mind that determined causes as they correlate with effects.

3) I think like most idealists; scientists, in my lifetime or in the future, making conscious beings will contradict my belief. That would suggest consciousness is natural. But that, may not make me abandon it. I can explain that away saying the universe was designed so. In fact, there are Christians who believe that artificial consciousness is possible (as cryogenicists). There probably was once a time computers acting humanlike would falsify idealism/dualism. But the tech is available now and yet they still remain.

4) What of evil ? What of the omnipotence paradox ? I reconcile the first by seeing God as both. Hence evil is a balance in the natural scheme of things like light and dark, cold and heat etc. As for the omnipotence paradox I ignore that. It's a brilliant argument and it shows how an ability to do all things is an inability of its own: an inability not to do nothing. But it redefines an ability as an inability; in a way that tampers my precious belief. Once you accept God is unable not to lift a rock, or unable not to exist: it is easy to then say God's omnipotence is a paradox. What if I said Randy Orton was unable not to win Cena, therefore Randy lost; would a Viper fan agree ? I doubt it.

5) My deism precludes evolution; because I think if evolution was true, then I would be atheist. Life being a universe of its own, if it was made naturally, then the universe will (by extrapolation) be a piece of cake. But deists who believe otherwise, don't think this precludes God, since he could have intervened further back; moreso given the popular deistic notion of a watchmaker God. I think atheist rebuttals are apt here, it simply pushes the 'God of the gaps' further back.

6) I'm not so sure atheist logic got to me. Believe it or not lots Christian apologists have convincing replies for atheists, or deists. For example, hell and a loving God was very easy for me to accept. I felt that realities of rewards and retributions, mercy and justice, loving an abusive person, heartbreak, even the streak for violence humans show by loving fights, torture or death etc perfectly showed how God's love even required hell. Jesus' death had its allure the way a Wallace died for his country (a heroic, sacrificial death). But an atheist once asked 'why not forgive ?' and one day those words changed my mind. I stuck to Christianity despite those wrods, but changed because of them. I see the logic and the heart behind Christianity but don't believe it anymore: I believed Christianity because of it but now shun Christianity despite its apologetics an' all.

"With the principle presupposition being that they are right and all opposing views are wrong."

Not always tho'. Some of the most ardent faithful have changed their minds. There's a reason for that. There was a seed of doubt. In fact, that's why some are so fanatic. They fear doubt so much they don't want to come near it. And that's what militant atheists, New atheists or whateva they're called know too well. At least by their actions.
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