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← When and where to argue faith?

When and where to argue faith? - Comments

Sjoerd Westenborg's Avatar Comment 1 by Sjoerd Westenborg

I rarely pass up an opportunity to start a discussion, but I always keep the following formula in mind: R = E / A + C

The amount of Respectfulness I pratice is equal to the Emotivity of the situation, divided by the Absurdity and potential harm of claims being made. And no matter the debate, Common courtesy is never a wrong thing.

For example: A funeral is quite an emotive event, and those attending a religious one are rarely pleased with your speech that there's no soul and that poor William is just wormfood now. If the priest start raving about how the deceased was cured just in time from his homosexuality, how we all should donate money to enable this soul-saving practice.. it's time to speak up.

Mon, 23 Apr 2012 11:05:48 UTC | #936644

QuestioningKat's Avatar Comment 2 by QuestioningKat

I think it depends on how you speak up and where you are speaking. An anonymous comment board is a tempting place to blast someone, but I find that tact and compassion goes much further. Slamming someone at difficult time is saying that their way of grieving is not legitimate. They don't want to hear that and all possibilities of you being heard are nill. For instance, saying that someone is just wormfood at a funeral is disrespectful to the life that touched many other lives of people present. (I hope you didn't say that. If you did, you're an idiot.) Saying that there is no God and you people need to wake up is also disrespectful to the life that is being affected by a terrible accident.

Instead it is best to focus on the hardships or loss of the person involved. "This is a difficult time for X and the people that he loves, I hope he has found an excellent doctor and medical care. As a non-believer, I realize that prayers and the expectation of a miracle are ineffective. I hope that the family is reassured by all the support and love they have been getting. X surely has touched many lives.

In a less traumatic situation, perhaps pose a question. On a comment board about a movie being made about Noah's ark, I commented to a religious response. I wonder where Noah put all the X number of different species and X varieties of beetles on the ark. (I had the actual numbers.) The response came back that animals were take of a particular kind which then made up all the other animals. I then responded - so you are saying that X number of species EVOLVED from these particular animals within a 6,000 year time frame. (I had lots of thumbs up)

I find it is best to never slam the person, make personal attacks, or be disrespectful. Treat the person as if you are respectfully trying to teach them something.

Mon, 23 Apr 2012 12:03:53 UTC | #936654

delToro87's Avatar Comment 3 by delToro87

I think there are situation where you should keep your thoughts to yourself - e.g. a funeral as stated. There's no point upsetting people for no particularly good reason. However there are moments where its good to challenge, particularly in circumstances where people seem willing to thank god for anything good that happens, but not apportion any of the blame where things go wrong.

Fabrice Muamba, the Bolton footballer who had a heart attack in a match recently, spoke in an interview about how he 'knew god wouldn't let him down' (a paraphrase rather than direct quote, but its the gist). I do find the logic hard to get round, if god didn't want him to die, surely he could have prevented him from having the heart attack in the first place? Its also quite insulting to the medical team who worked hard to save him to credit it to god, rather than them. Instances like this, I think its fine to ask questions - not in aggressive or condescending way, but challenging these flawed assertions.

Mon, 23 Apr 2012 12:06:49 UTC | #936656

78rpm's Avatar Comment 4 by 78rpm

Your arguments are, of course, 100% valid, but in the venue of motorsport news are more than likely to be poorly received, if not vehemently rejected. One comment is indicated; after that you are beating your head against a wall. This isn't so much a case of choosing one's battles, but of choosing one's battleground.

Mon, 23 Apr 2012 13:15:54 UTC | #936672

Sjoerd Westenborg's Avatar Comment 5 by Sjoerd Westenborg

Comment 2 by QuestioningKat :

For instance, saying that someone is just wormfood at a funeral is disrespectful to the life that touched many other lives of people present. (I hope you didn't say that. If you did, you're an idiot.)

Sorry if my post was a little hazy, of course I didn't say that. I think a funeral is way too emotive/emotional (which one is it?) to confront anyone, for reasons you articulated so well. Let alone the fact that there are much more tactful ways of putting it.

Let me rephrase the last bit of my (exaggerated) example.

However, if the priest start raving about how the deceased was cured just in time from his homosexuality, how we all should donate money to enable this soul-saving practice etc. ... you can say something about that, even at a funeral.

Mon, 23 Apr 2012 13:22:07 UTC | #936674

Aguazul's Avatar Comment 6 by Aguazul

I would say to translate their language into your language. What they are really trying to say is that he should keep a positive attitude, and that they are also sitting at home wishing for a positive outcome. I don't think you can disagree with that.

Also, this business of "God" being all-powerful, which means we can blame him for things, is a load of nonsense as far as I can see. What I've seen of the spiritual influence on the world is that it is very hard for them to influence things, so they only try and redirect the course of things when it is really critical for their plans. The rest of it is just too hard to influence -- so no micro-managing here! The pain or suffering of those down here is irrelevant to them. They are looking for development via learning experiences. This whole "God is good so he shouldn't make us suffer" thing seems ridiculously naive from my experience. Even parents understand that children need to experience pain to know what actions are dangerous and which should be avoided. A child who has not experienced physical limitations is woefully under-prepared for later life. Why should we expect a supposedly benevolent superior being (even if he exists) to protect us from harm? It is by experiencing bad things that we have the opportunity to progress.

Note that I am not at all religious, and religious people may well have a different point of view.

Mon, 23 Apr 2012 13:27:56 UTC | #936677

ZenDruid's Avatar Comment 7 by ZenDruid

[K]eeping faith in god was a ridiculous notion as it was god who by their logic let the accident happen in the first place.

I don't see anything wrong with that statement. I agree, if god had any care at all for the well-being of people, there would neither be horrible accidents nor any need for hospitals. You might have worded that differently, for example not using 'ridiculous notion', but it's difficult to assess whether your meaning would come across without the emotionally charged language. It's important for those people to feel perpetually 'loved' by an awesome and invisible entity, but I for one have never considered the monster under my bed to be anything but a parasitic nuisance.

If the power of suggestion has any validity, I would have invoked the natural healing capability of complex organisms. That doesn't quite fill the bill for gratuitous emotional gratification, however.

Mon, 23 Apr 2012 16:58:14 UTC | #936736

zengardener's Avatar Comment 8 by zengardener

Intercessory prayer has never been shown to work and it is arrogant to think that an all-knowing deity would need our advice on what to do, and silly to think that God doesn't already know what we want.

Leave a comment if you like, but I wouldn't engage in a drawn out debate, because there is nothing really to say.

Mon, 23 Apr 2012 17:44:01 UTC | #936747

rrh1306's Avatar Comment 9 by rrh1306

I guess god cares more about his well being than Piermario Morosini who died on the pitch just a few weeks later. Someone offering prayers to someone else is all right with me,they think their doing a good thing, but when someone survives something and then claims that god personally saved them it drives me crazy. We've had a lot of tornado's here in the American South in the past two years. In 2011 in Joplin, Missouri 160 people were killed by one, and just about every person interviewed that survived the tornado thought that god personally saved them. I guess they thought that god thought that their continued presence on the Earth was more imperative to his master plan then those corpses lying beneath their flattened houses. Seeing 50 and 65 year old people thinking that when 5 and 10 year old's had died really made me sick. But I guess god works in mysterious ways....

Comment 3 by delToro87 :

Fabrice Muamba, the Bolton footballer who had a heart attack in a match recently, spoke in an interview about how he 'knew god wouldn't let him down' (a paraphrase rather than direct quote, but its the gist). I do find the logic hard to get round, if god didn't want him to die, surely he could have prevented him from having the heart attack in the first place? Its also quite insulting to the medical team who worked hard to save him to credit it to god, rather than them. Instances like this, I think its fine to ask questions - not in aggressive or condescending way, but challenging these flawed assertions.

Mon, 23 Apr 2012 18:07:44 UTC | #936753

jbkaffe's Avatar Comment 10 by jbkaffe

To me it is very simple. Talk about religion in church. Talk about faith with your friends. Simples.

Mon, 23 Apr 2012 19:16:38 UTC | #936780

Jos Gibbons's Avatar Comment 11 by Jos Gibbons

From your wording, it's my understanding "the posts", not threads, that got to you were made on threads that didn't explicitly serve as a religious meeting ground in the way, say, a religious funeral does. You shouldn't be any more worried you're hijacking the topic than the religious writers were. If they express a view in a context that can't be considered privately for people of that view, they should be ready to hear what someone of a contrary opinion has to say in response.

Mon, 23 Apr 2012 20:58:35 UTC | #936804

The Truth, the light's Avatar Comment 12 by The Truth, the light

I personally think you are well entitled to express your opinions on a public forum about a person injured in a motor sporting accident.

We've got to change the mindset that when someone says they are praying for someone or that faith will help someone get over an illness or injury is a good thing or at the very least a harmless comment.

It's a little like the people who say that the religious moderates are harmless, but as stated in TGD, religious extremists stand on the shoulders of the moderates.

When a person publicly states they are praying for someone, they are doing a lot more than expressing concern or compassion. They are making a proclamation of superiority.

They must be challenged at every opportunity.

Mon, 23 Apr 2012 21:24:17 UTC | #936810

GeeBee's Avatar Comment 13 by GeeBee

Comment 6 by Aguazul

This whole "God is good so he shouldn't make us suffer" thing seems ridiculously naive from my experience. Even parents understand that children need to experience pain to know what actions are dangerous and which should be avoided.

Not sure how helpful this is to the dead.

And maiming and murder as a parenting style is a bit off, really.

Tue, 24 Apr 2012 03:39:45 UTC | #936896

Slippy's Avatar Comment 14 by Slippy

Fabrice Muamba, the Bolton footballer who had a heart attack in a match recently, spoke in an interview about how he 'knew god wouldn't let him down..

This stuck in my craw a little, I'm pleased the lad is on the mend, but in the interview he states that before the game he was praying with his father for god to look after him that day. He then goes onto say that it's more than a mirical that he's up and talking and able to hold his daughter again.

Double think like that is beyond me.

To be fair to the lad he did thank the actual people who kept him alive as well.

Tue, 24 Apr 2012 04:49:34 UTC | #936912

Tyler Durden's Avatar Comment 15 by Tyler Durden

Comment 14 by Slippy :

Fabrice Muamba, the Bolton footballer who had a heart attack in a match recently, spoke in an interview about how he 'knew god wouldn't let him down..

This stuck in my craw a little, I'm pleased the lad is on the mend, but in the interview he states that before the game he was praying with his father for god to look after him that day. He then goes onto say that it's more than a mirical that he's up and talking and able to hold his daughter again.

Aye, but he's a footballer, a highly superstitious lot. Just have a look at Javier "Chicharito" Hernández at ManU before kick-off - on his knees, arms in the air, in full-on prayer mode. Laughable. What if the other striker has prayed better than you, Javier?

To be fair to the lad he did thank the actual people who kept him alive as well.

True, and this is to be commended, because we don't hear enough of it after high-profile medical miracles, or natural disasters.

Tue, 24 Apr 2012 06:55:37 UTC | #936932

Layla's Avatar Comment 16 by Layla

It sounds to me like by telling him to keep his faith and that they were praying for his recovery they were really just intending that as a message of comfort and support towards him.

If on the other hand they were using this as an opportunity to expound their views on just why exactly everybody needs to believe in Jesus/God, etc then that's different and they're asking to be put right.

If they were just sending a message of comfort/support which they never expected to be turned into a debate then I think it probably is more out of place to use it as an opportunity to debate religion since that's not the topic of the thread.

It's not that I think the subject of religion or faith needs to be given special treatment. It's just that I think we need to use our judgement to decide when it's appropriate to have a debate with people in any instance in life no matter what the topic.

It's never black and white and it just depends on the particulars. You have to use your own judgement to decide whether challenging the statements they made about faith in that context was appropriate or a derailment.

Tue, 24 Apr 2012 10:39:10 UTC | #936969

Layla's Avatar Comment 17 by Layla

Comment 12 by The Truth, the light :

I personally think you are well entitled to express your opinions on a public forum about a person injured in a motor sporting accident.

We've got to change the mindset that when someone says they are praying for someone or that faith will help someone get over an illness or injury is a good thing or at the very least a harmless comment.

It's a little like the people who say that the religious moderates are harmless, but as stated in TGD, religious extremists stand on the shoulders of the moderates.

When a person publicly states they are praying for someone, they are doing a lot more than expressing concern or compassion. They are making a proclamation of superiority.

They must be challenged at every opportunity.

How do you get to thinking that they are making a proclamation of superiority simply by saying they're praying for someone? All they're saying is that they're thinking of them and wishing them well, surely? I don't understand that.

Tue, 24 Apr 2012 10:43:41 UTC | #936971

AtheistEgbert's Avatar Comment 18 by AtheistEgbert

Do you think my confrontation is out of place

Absolutely not. We ought to be far more confrontational, so long as you're justified in doing so. Religion exists because it has a special privilege in society where it gets protected from criticism. It hides in occasions like funerals and weddings, because people are so unlikely to question it at those times.

and do you believe there is a time and place for such discussions?

The time and place is when you're being coerced to shut up and give religion special respect.

Tue, 24 Apr 2012 14:19:51 UTC | #937002

VrijVlinder's Avatar Comment 19 by VrijVlinder

@Comment 18 by AtheistEgbert

The time and place is when you're being coerced to shut up and give religion special respect.

So true.

@Tyler:

Just have a look at Javier "Chicharito" Hernández at ManU before kick-off - on his knees, arms in the air, in full-on prayer mode.

And they don't show you the priest who blesses them before the game or the huddle prayers !! here in Mexico it is expected, if they don't get on their knees to thank god then it means they get on their knees to thank jesus for the cockblock ? GoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooL

Wed, 25 Apr 2012 01:18:37 UTC | #937113

Chico2004's Avatar Comment 20 by Chico2004

There is no 'perfect' place to disagree with someone. Face to face is easier beacuse you can 'read non-verbals' and judge the situation as it progresses. However, online brings many intelligent discussions and also vitriolic ones. I sometimes post on religious based forums, and at times I feel like booting my laptop out of the window...through the sheer exasperation of the mindless drones. They continue to ramble on inconherently about their God and us sinners. I came to the conclusion, that people like you and I are educated and as RD says free thinkers, because of that there is no way you will ever change a 'blinkered' mind. Rise above the reactions to your comments. You are an individual and as such, you have the Human Right to say what you think. When commenting online, keep it short, simple and factual. That way, you will always "get them". Hope this helps.

Wed, 25 Apr 2012 19:44:00 UTC | #937313

PSRombi's Avatar Comment 21 by PSRombi

As a person who has recently been diagnosed as terminally ill, I find that people who are praying for me are doing the only thing they know of to show support and love. It would be insufferable of me to lambast them for it. I wouId, however, go on the immediate offense if any one of them suggested that I was going to hell or otherwise going to suffer for not sharing their beliefs. I would also rigorously counter their claims if they wanted to force anyone else to learn about their religious beliefs in publicly supported institutions such as schools, courts, etc. I would be just as offended if the hardcore atheistic viewpoint was forced onto anyone out there. NONE of us has the market cornered on reality when it comes to matters of the soul, consciousness, god, the universe, or whatever. I will find out soon enough. Until then, I think it is only appropriate to question people's religious beliefs or lack thereof when they are trying to cram them down the throats of the rest of us.

Sat, 05 May 2012 05:33:59 UTC | #939841

Quine's Avatar Comment 22 by Quine

Re Comment 21 by PSRombi, thank you for sharing this with us. Take care.

Sat, 05 May 2012 05:54:57 UTC | #939844

Anonymous's Avatar Comment 23 by Anonymous

Comment Removed by Moderator

Sun, 06 May 2012 01:44:16 UTC | #940034

ZenDruid's Avatar Comment 24 by ZenDruid

Dear parents of Allah:

Your son does not play well with other children. Does he have a congenital disorder that we should know about?

Sincerely,
Humanity

Sun, 06 May 2012 02:21:37 UTC | #940048

Daniel Williams's Avatar Comment 25 by Daniel Williams

Thanks everyone for your responses.

I have gained a lot of insight in your comments. It's a shame I noticed so late that this was put up as I figured it wasn't going to be.

To further reiterate what irked me in this case was the keep faith in god and you will be cured messages. (I basically stated that he would be better off placing his faith in the doctors that are looking after him)

Those where what I was challenging more then the well wishes and prayers. I was glad to see that my sentiment was shared by others on the site.

It is funny though that as soon as you challenge those beliefs that some one starts spouting more and more religious nonsense. Almost as if they need to to confirm that they where right in the first place and that we will be convinced once they have said what they want to say....

I think in the future I will challenge more. I think the way I and what I challenged where the ridiculous beliefs not the person. That is the way to go.

@ PSRombi

I wish you all the best and I value your input on this especially.

Wed, 09 May 2012 20:43:33 UTC | #940771