"Faith is hard"

Michele is seeing the more minimal results of publicly deciding the evidence for god is lacking – people pandering faith on her facebook.  One of them, Natalie, said something this morning I hear very often and makes me facepalm every time: faith is hard.

I couldn’t help but jump in.

“Faith is hard!”

On this I think you’ve missed the target entirely. Faith is easy. Knowledge is hard. Look at Mandy’s comments. Look at how easily she speaks with certainty on subjects she has put little to no effort into understanding. But, by gum, she has faith.  That’s easy as easy as it is irresponsible.

Children have faith, but none understand history. People completely uneducated can have perfect faith that a global flood really occurred while not understanding a lick about geology (and how geologists know that such a flood never happened).

It must be said, for the sake of honesty and for the sake of building beliefs based on what is true, that faith is a cop out that is in no way connected with either knowledge or reality. It’s an excuse to be certain of things without knowledge or evidence.

Faith is a means to live without knowledge.

Below the fold is the rest of the conversation.

Natalie said…

JT I appreciate your comments as well because it pushes me closer to know who God is! He has always been faithful to me in more ways than I can count! I don’t wish to have a “religious” debate because personally I don’t care for organized ” religion”. I know God and have a personal relationship with Him! I don’t look down on anyone for searching for truth! Keep searching and I pray that you will find what you are looking for!

I responded with…

Natalie,

I don’t take that road. The beliefs of others are not an inconsequential matter to me.

Take the parents who pray their children to death in lieu of taking them to a doctor – parents who love their child and want their child to get well as much as you or I would. What is the factor that made such loving parents into people who essentially murdered their child through neglect? The answer is obvious: beliefs based bad, unreasonable ideas, and the fact that beliefs are the gatekeepers of actions.

It’s the same force that motivated men to fly planes into the twin towers. It’s the same force that causes religious people to treat LGBT people as second-class citizens. The repercussions of unreason paint the breadth of this planet as well as her history.

We are a team here on earth. My happiness depends on my ability to work and live with other human beings. When other people are irresponsible with their beliefs, that is my business, and it should worry us. It should worry you.

Every person with compassion, a club in which I trust you are a member, has a moral obligation to at least try to be reasonable. That is why faith is such an anti-human idea. It’s a license to abdicate our responsibility, not only to ourselves, but to all our neighbors here on earth. It’s the means by which people pursue, often with immense passion, the vice of unreason.

Your defense is that you don’t care for organized religion, as though anybody brought that up. It’s clearly a pre-programmed response. The truth is that your faith is no more reliable than those who organize around theirs, and that you are just as culpable for abandoning reason as those who renounce it at the altar.

Until “personal relationship” can be distinguished from placing too much stock in the absurd or from imagination unchained from skepticism, you can only claim to have different beliefs from those who gather en masse to bolster each others fantasies, but you are just as irresponsible as anybody else believing by faith.

She retorted with…
I totally agree that people should not base things solely on faith! I think God requires us to use the brain he gave us I.e. “praying a child to death instead of taking them to doctor” that is just ignorance! However I am not going to debate. I know where I stand in my faith and I won’t back down. I was really only speaking to Michele and telling her I love her and support her search. I do believe that God wants us to wrestle with our faith and be sure of what we believe and not take it lightly. So JT again I respect your comments I was just speaking to Michele.
I said…

Natalie,

“So JT again I respect your comments I was just speaking to Michele. ”

I appreciate that. I’m speaking to you.

“I think God requires us to use the brain he gave us I.e. “praying a child to death instead of taking them to doctor” that is just ignorance!”

And what of belief that someone rose from the dead? How is that less ignorant?

“I know where I stand in my faith and I won’t back down.”

And that’s just the point. You came here hoping Michele would change her mind, but with that sentence you have declared that you’re unwilling to even consider doing the same. Faith is a conversation killer, it’s an announcement that if you were wrong that you wouldn’t want to know. It’s ignorance maintained, and you’ve just proven it.

I suspect you typed the above sentence in full confidence of its nobility. The truth is that you should be ashamed to have written it. It seems only through faith that people manage pride with such failures.

“I do believe that God wants us to wrestle with our faith and be sure of what we believe and not take it lightly.”

He wants you to wrestle with it? How does that gel with, “I know where I stand in my faith and I won’t back down”? That’s not wrestling. It’s not even stepping into the ring.

I’m not sure I respect your comments. What I will say is I respect you. I respect that you will be able to see the shortcomings I’ve highlighted and give them thought (otherwise I’d just be playing video games right now). I respect you as my ally on team humanity, which is why I take the time to point out how you could be playing the game of life more responsibly.

She came back with…
I did not come I to the conversation hope in Michele would “change her mind”. I hope she searches and finds the truth. I’m not into arguing or debating with anyone. Yes we all have freedom to believe or not believe and live with the consequences of that. Again I thank you for your comments because yes they do prompt me to dig deeper in Gods word and know why I believe what I believe.
My response was…

“I did not come I to the conversation hope in Michele would “change her mind”.”

Ah, my bad. It seemed to me that half your first comment spent extolling how wonderful faith is for you combined with the admonition to “keep searching” was a hope Michele would change. Mea culpa.

“Yes we all have freedom to believe or not believe and live with the consequences of that.”

The problem is that others must live with the consequences of your beliefs. Even if it’s just in how you vote (though it’s all but certainly in many more ways).

“I’m not into arguing or debating with anyone.”

Combined with your earlier assertion that you wouldn’t “back down”, this seems like you’re just removing yourself from the conversation to avoid even the possibility of “digging deeper” or coming face-to-face with contradictory evidence. I wonder, if god didn’t exist, would you even want to know?

Forgive me if I don’t find your claims to be digging deeper very convincing when juxtaposed again professions like the ones you made in your last comment.

  • iknklast

    One thing that caught me was that she prays you find what you’re searching for. One thing I’ve realized is that when Christians say this, they don’t really mean it. They assume we’re searching for meaning, and we’re lost, just groping around looking for God, and they hope we find him. They aren’t sincerely hoping we find the truth we might be searching for in our laboratories, our philosophy discussions, or our critical thinking.

    One of the most annoying things is that Christians always assume everyone is searching – which means, to them, for God.

  • Steve

    Notice the thinly veiled threat of eternal damnation at the end. You’re free to not believe, but there will be consequences! And it’s not god who is responsible for those consequences. You chose to not believe in him so everything is your own fault.

  • Drakk

    One of them, Natalie, said something this morning I hear very often and makes me facepalm every time: faith is hard.

    Sorry, JT, but you’re a little off the mark here.

    Faith is hard.

    It’s damn well hard to believe all that shit when the entire universe indicates otherwise.

    • godlesspanther

      Well — I see what you are saying, but, there are differences in people who participate in believing stuff that is obviously untrue. Those who were born into a belief system, and taught from day one that it is absolute and indisputable Truth (with a capital T) really are not given an option to reject that faith. What one is trained to think from infancy is going to come naturally and will be far from difficult.

      For those who join a cult in adulthood the “faith is hard” spiel is pushed heavily. Phrases like “overcoming doubts,” “the ability to maintain an open mind,” come to a greater understanding,” are drilled in over and over. This is effective in making it appear that true belief is an accomplishment.

      Then — “God wants to come into your heart, all you have to do is just let Him in,” “God will provide in your time of need — just let Him.” These things make it sound like it’s really easy.

      So — which is it?

      Self-contradictory messages are never a problem in religion.

      • Drakk

        Heh. I meant that only semi-seriously, I’m well aware of both perspectives on the issue.

        I clarify: For anyone who actually attempts to maintain even the slightest shred of critical thought or rationality, faith is hard.

        I wonder if you might turn the whole thing into a subtle tactic for planting seeds of doubt though. Push them on why faith is hard – you might end up with “because it seems implausible” and then you’ve got them.

    • christophburschka

      It’s only very hard for people who should know better. Someone with no scientific literacy doesn’t have all that much conflicting evidence to ignore.

  • http://www.atheist-faq.com JT (Generic)

    If I didn’t know theists so well, I’d swear these conversations were just made up inverse chick tracts, as the theists are regularly just deer caught in the headlights.

  • InvincibleIronyMan

    “Faith is hard”

    In point-of-fact, I agree with PZ, however for the sake of argument, so what if it is? Cutting your own head off with a pair of nail-clippers is hard. It doesn’t make it desirable or admirable.

    Thanks, PZ! I have been wrestling with these themes myself, trying to figure out the best way to articulate them. I think you’ve pretty much nailed it.

  • InvincibleIronyMan

    JT: I do apologize for repeatedly calling you PZ. It must be the whole initials thing!

  • godlesspanther

    The concept that faith is difficult is an essential part of the indoctrination process. It is far from unique to Christianity — it is a component in all religious constructs.

    Not believing in the religion is considered “taking the easy way out.” So one who believes is told that they have chosen the more difficult path, making it, in their minds, a great accomplishment.

    This is combined with the idea that the construct will appear to be irrational to those who are not properly enlightened. This is in the Bible and, again, a component in all theological constructs. They turn the tables making it seem that there is something wrong with those who don’t believe. They feel special because the absurd appears to be ration to them.

    These components make it seem logical to hang on to the faith. If you have knowledge that you consider difficult to obtain, then getting that knowledge is a great achievement in your life, and it is an achievement that can be accomplished only by special people — yes, you would hang on to that and get very defensive if someone points out to you that you great mastery of the art of believing is just a big waste of time and energy.

    When Natalie is presented with the information that there are all sorts of people who believe all sorts of irrational things that just as strongly as she believes hers — i.e. people don’t let their children die by praying instead of taking the kid to a doctor because they think there may just be something to it — the believe it with every cell in their brains. Natalie can dismiss it out of hand, calling it ‘ignorance,’ then justify her position by claiming the she is not involved in a religion but has a relationship with God. This is a very precious lie because it is an effective rationalization — all that other stuff is religion — my stuff is a unique and amazing relationship.

    Tie these components together and it creates a self-sustaining rationalization for believing idiotic bullshit in the mind of the cult member.

    You will not get Natalie to allow any tiny crack in that wall that protects this stuff — if some light gets in — just a matter of time before that wall comes crashing down and the faith is gone.

  • Sastra

    As the conversation with Natalie reveals, “faith is hard” seems obvious to a lot of people because they’re constantly equivocating with the word “faith,” jumping back and forth between the reasonable secular interpretation (standing loyally by a friend or exercizing a moral commitment) and the unreasonable religious meaning (believing on rationally insufficient evidence and refusing to doubt.) Belief that God exists is of course conflated with belief that God will fulfill His promises, given that He does exist.

    As you say, religious faith is as easy as pretending you’re a child who need ask no questions: just believe and do as you are told. Holding yourself to high standards of discipline, perserverence, or love can be — and usually is — tough. The religious mindset confuses the two, thinking of the virtue of secular “faith” while engaging in the lazy and arbitrary vice of “believing in implausible things for epistemicaly dubious reasons” (as OpheliaBenson puts it.)

  • Jeremy Shaffer

    Natalie said:

    I’m not into arguing or debating with anyone.

    Obviously not. Sermons and monologues seem more to her liking.

    I really hate when believers, of any stripe, do that. They freely throw out their views and the moment someone states a contrasting opinion they retreat to “I don’t want to argue or debate”. The more irritating ones tend to pop in a few additional arguments for their beliefs while they’re at it, as Natalie did here. On top of that, even if the skeptic goes for the “don’t want to debate” tactic, they still feel free to continue tossing their beliefs around like it’s not a big deal.

    So yeah, Natalie, like so many other believers, doesn’t want to argue or debate her beliefs. She just wants to tell share them with everyone without ever having to hear anything back that might make her have to think about them in any real fashion.

    So JT again I respect your comments I was just speaking to Michele.

    If that were the case then Natalie should have expressed her opinions to Michele in a private venue instead of on a social network for all, even strangers, to see and respond.

    • Sastra

      Yes, I’m also sick of the “I’m not into arguing or debating with anyone” defense. They’re simply sharing, you see. It’s like passing around a plate of cookies: if you don’t want one, don’t take one. They’re not trying to FORCE it on anyone. They’re so nice.

      I try to reframe my rebuttal as “I’m just sharing my view; you don’t have to do anything but listen. Unless … you aren’t a good listener…?”

      Freaks them out. Nice means good listener.

      • carlie

        Sastra, you are diabolically wonderful.

  • had3

    How is faith without organized religion any different from simple superstition? I don’t understand the pride in being superstitious as opposed to subscribing to an organized religion. Wasn’t it organized religion that provided the foundation for her faith to begin with?

  • Mark

    I would like you to qualify what you mean when you use the word faith. What do you do when you come to a traffic light at a hidden intersection. When the light is green do you go even though you can’t see if cars are coming or not?

    • Anat

      I don’t know what JT does, but if I can’t see if cars are coming or not I stop and then move very slowly such that I can stop quickly enough (and if I crash anyway the damage would be minimal) – until I can see far enough. Why should I assume that every other driver who might be approaching the intersection is obeying the law if I can’t see them?

    • Tony

      Mark:
      I believe you’ve made an *extremely* common mistake that so many others do as well.

      http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/faith?s=t
      faith   [feyth] Show IPA
      noun
      1.
      confidence or trust in a person or thing: faith in another’s ability.
      2.
      belief that is not based on proof: He had faith that the hypothesis would be substantiated by fact.
      3.
      belief in God or in the doctrines or teachings of religion: the firm faith of the Pilgrims.
      4.
      belief in anything, as a code of ethics, standards of merit, etc.: to be of the same faith with someone concerning honesty.
      5.
      a system of religious belief: the Christian faith; the Jewish faith.

      There are multiple definitions of faith in the English language. As you can see from the above, belief in a god or beliefs held without proof are a different type of faith than confidence or trust. Your example of a hidden intersection is not using the term ‘faith’ in the same manner as ‘believing in things for which there is no evidence’. Personally, I employ the same caution that ANAT just mentioned. Perhaps it is *you* who should qualify what you mean when you use the word ‘faith’. After all, JT used the term consistently in his responses to Natalie (the version defined as ‘believing in things for which there is no good evidence’).

      • Daniel Schealler

        Conflation, therefore Jesus.

      • Mark

        Tony,

        It is worth noting that The Atheist Handbook co-authored by JT lists dictionary.reference.com as giving an improper definition of atheism. On what grounds do you consider the same source to give any more of a proper definition of faith?

        Since I am now obligated to qualify what I mean by faith, Biblically speaking faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This definition is given in Hebrews 11, which follows with several examples from the Old Testament to further clarify the concept. Each of these examples have two key components. The first is an individual taking an action based on a belief. The second is a result that confirmed the belief. So, my understanding of faith differs from JT in that faith is not belief without evidence, but instead it is action motivated by evidence yet to come.

        • anteprepro

          Since I am now obligated to qualify what I mean by faith, Biblically speaking faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

          Which is, of course, consistent with the way JT uses faith and inconsistent with your traffic light scenario.

          This definition is given in Hebrews 11, which follows with several examples from the Old Testament to further clarify the concept. Each of these examples have two key components. The first is an individual taking an action based on a belief. The second is a result that confirmed the belief. So, my understanding of faith differs from JT in that faith is not belief without evidence, but instead it is action motivated by evidence yet to come.

          Hah. Pure sophistry. All of the actions described before evidence arrived were said to be “by faith”. The actions performed “by faith” aren’t faith. The belief that motivates the action is. The belief is in something whose evidence is “yet to come” but that is exactly the same as “belief without evidence”!

          The only exceptions are:
          1. If you are labeling something “faith” in hindsight, since you know the evidence proving them true has already arrived, but they did not know it was coming at the time.
          2. You somehow know the future and know that the things people have “faith” in will be verified.
          3. If you are assuming from the outset that the things a person has “faith” in will gain evidence supporting it (i.e. you’re full of shit).

          Which is it, Mark?

        • Tony

          Mark:

          It is worth noting that The Atheist Handbook co-authored by JT lists dictionary.reference.com as giving an improper definition of atheism. On what grounds do you consider the same source to give any more of a proper definition of faith?

          I cannot believe you even typed this. For one, am I obliged to read a book that JT co-authored so that I could know he doesn’t agree with the definition for one word in an online dictionary? Then I’m supposed to disregard the definitions of all the other words in said dictionary simply because of that? Even *if* they got the definition of atheism wrong, that doesn’t invalidate every other definition they provide. By the way, by my standards, dictionary.reference.com *does* get the definition of atheism right:

          a·the·ism   [ey-thee-iz-uhm] Show IPA
          noun
          1.
          the doctrine or belief that there is no God.
          2.
          disbelief in the existence of a supreme being or beings.

          Both definitions are in accord with how I define atheism. If this were the relevant thread for the question, I’d ask JT why he feels the site gets the definition wrong. Of course it doesn’t matter, as that’s neither here nor there. You’re advocating that I shouldn’t use them as a reference because someone else doesn’t agree with the definition of one word.

          Biblically speaking faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

          And this is why I believe faith is not a virtue. You’re sure of what you hope for? What does that mean? You’re sure of god/satan/angels/heaven/hell because you *hope* for it? You hope for heaven? Why? Even if there was a heaven (and I’m still waiting on some evidence for that one), why would anyone want to go there? Most of one’s friends and family would probably be in hell, given the ridiculous notion of sin. Being stuck in heaven while your friends and family suffer eternal damnation doesn’t sound pleasurable to me. If god tried to assuage your sorrow by wiping your memories of your loved ones, well then you wouldn’t be *you* and that goes against the doctrine of free will. Have you thought about what you’re supposed to *do* up there for eternity? Do you have any idea how long eternity is? Why would you want to sit up in heaven with the guy who committed global genocide (that’s what the Flood was, despite all attempts to paint it with a G rated brush)? I can’t think of a single person who wouldn’t immediately condemn a human who committed genocide. Why does god get a free pass? And if he’s “all good” and is the source of morality, yet genocide is something he can do ‘because’ then morality means nothing and everything. An entity that commits genocide is by definition *not* all good. Of course the problem is compounded because god, for some reason was astonished that his creatures did things he didn’t approve of (oh, and we’re never told what every creature did that pissed him off; babies pissed him off? Lemurs made him mad? Kangaroos used condoms? Salmon swam upstream? It’s ridiculous to punish every living thing for the actions of some of them. He supposedly infinitely powerful, yet couldn’t punish JUST the guilty people {and that’s assuming those people did something vile enough to justify killing them}). I’m sure you’re aware of the definition of omniscience. According to the incoherence that is christianity, god created everything. If he’s omnipotent (all powerful) and omniscient (all knowing), he knew exactly what humanity would do (he knew what Adam and Eve would do too). He knew how he would react. Yet he still created everything. Whether it was Eve eating from the tree (which incidentally, he never told HER not to consume any of the fruit from the tree) or humanity doing something to justify killing nearly every homo sapien on the planet (plus all the other life), he created everything to do exactly what they did. He also created satan, so he knew what the serpent would do. That’s not how a benevolent deity would act. It’s more in line with a trickster god. Of course Loki is more entertaining and consistent than god is, so if I *had* to worship a god, I’m going with the Norse god of mischief over the christian god of genocidal mood swings, misogyny, homophobia, sexual obsession, rigidly defined gender roles and a hatred of babies.

          The first is an individual taking an action based on a belief. The second is a result that confirmed the belief. So, my understanding of faith differs from JT in that faith is not belief without evidence, but instead it is action motivated by evidence yet to come.

          How is this not the same as “belief without evidence”? How is “taking an action based upon a belief in evidence yet to come” different than “believing in things without evidence”? I have hope you’re not going to split hairs here with ‘belief’ vs ‘action’, especially since you mentioned that the ‘action’ depends on the belief. In fact, why would anyone want to take action based upon beliefs that have no evidence? I know it happens, but it doesn’t make it any more sensible. All the people who thought Harold Camping had the end of the world figured out took action (giving lots of money) based upon beliefs that had no evidence. Many of them are probably broke now.
          Why do you believe anything in the bible? Faith? It’s wrong about so many things, endorses so many vile actions, fails as a moral guide, makes assertions without any proof, glorifies human sacrifice and incest…the list goes on. Why is your religion right and others are wrong? How do you determine that christianity is right, but buddhism is wrong? How is Yahweh real, but Odin isn’t? How do you know that heaven exists but Mt Olympus doesn’t? The answer can’t be faith, that much is obvious. Since faith has no evidence to base itself on, there’s nothing to differentiate between Hell, hel, or hades. No one can verify the existence of Heaven or Valhalla. Sure you can have your faith, but that amounts to believing in things without evidence. Perhaps if more people weren’t forced to believe religious teaching at young impressionable ages, they could become adults and pursue the truth on their own. Instead, children are indoctrinated into belief systems before they’re able to evaluate the evidence and come up with their own beliefs. Why does christianity depend on young children being force fed unsubstantiated beliefs before they can evaluate them for themselves?

    • Daniel Schealler

      JT did actually provide a couple of consistent definitions of what he means when he says ‘faith’.

      Faith is a means to live without knowledge.

      Faith is a cop out that is in no way connected with either knowledge or reality.

      [Faith is] an excuse to be certain of things without knowledge or evidence.

      So JT did in fact do the very thing that you are asking him to do in your opening comment.

      It seems very clear to me, and I think it would be clear to any dispassionate reader, that JT is using the term ‘faith’ consistently with the common usage of ‘belief without evidence’.

      Did you not notice that JT provided these definitions? If so, you must have read him very lazily. His definitions are right there at the start of the article in short and uncomplicated sentences.

      Or did you notice, but not care? In which case, I’ll refrain from speculating as to your motives and just ask: Why didn’t you care? What are you hoping to achieve by your comments here? What’s your goal? What’s at stake for you?

  • Tony

    I suppose depending on how you define “bash”, one could argue that JT was doing that. Doing so however, seems to imply a bias against JT.
    Trina, did you take an objective look at what Natalie and JT wrote?
    Did you take in the entirety of their posts?
    Did you come to a conclusion about your beliefs re: JT through an analysis of what he said and what she said without a priori bias against either one?
    I look at his responses, and see exactly the kinds of points that *should* be made. He’s asking questions. How is that bashing? Sure Natalie says “I don’t want to debate”. That’s clear. She seems to prefer preaching to people and praying for them to live as she thinks is best. Of course she offers no reasons why living by god and jesus is a good thing. She makes no arguments in favor of her position.
    She compounds her position by saying things like:

    I totally agree that people should not base things solely on faith!

    and

    I do believe that God wants us to wrestle with our faith and be sure of what we believe and not take it lightly.

    1- don’t base ‘things’ (whatever that is) only on faith
    2- be sure of what we believe
    3- don’t take our beliefs lightly

    How does any of that jive with believing one has a personal relationship with god given that the very act of believing in god is “basing things SOLELY on faith”? It seems rather apparent that Natalie has not seriously considered her beliefs or tested them in any serious fashion. If she were genuinely interested in questioning her faith, she would need to take off the rose colored god goggles she’s wearing.

    On a separate note, do you have any support for the notion that JT bashes women? This would need to be a disproportionate amount of posts being critical of women (never mind for the moment, whether the criticism is warranted or not) for your position to even be reasonable.
    Once you do that, can you point me to evidence that shows he “gets off” on bashing women?
    Finally, I’m curious why you think it’s bad for JT to ask questions. Far too often, theists shut down conversations when people start digging deeper into people’s beliefs. Oh, I know “my beliefs are my own” or “I have deeply personal beliefs”. Strangely, those beliefs don’t _stay_ their own when they preach to others. Then it becomes a case of “here are my beliefs. You really should follow them. I don’t have a good reason why. You have to believe in things for which there is no evidence (that’s what faith is, btw).”

  • Tony

    Ok, my post is not going to make any sense without Trina’s post to give it the proper context. Were her comments deleted JT?

    • http://freethoughtblogs.com/wwjtd JT Eberhard

      Yup. It was from the troll group in KC that is band. I missed the low end of their IP with the ban so those comments got through. It’s been fixed.

      Sorry you wasted your time on trolls.

      • Tony

        No worries. It’s hard to keep track of the various trolls that stalk the bloggers at FtB.

  • anteprepro

    I don’t wish to have a “religious” debate because personally I don’t care for organized ” religion”. I know God and have a personal relationship with Him!

    Always with this bullshit, with a thousand different permutations. “Christianity isn’t a religion, it’s a ‘personal relationship’ with an invisible entity described by religious doctrines”. No, we don’t buy it, and you only buy it because, when it comes to religious bullshit, you’d buy anything.

    Here’s what a wonder: How many people who claim to be “spiritual, but not religious” or claim that Christianity isn’t a religion also happen to take up arms and act personally affronted whenever one of them Gnu Atheists is talking about how awful religion is?

    However I am not going to debate. I know where I stand in my faith and I won’t back down.

    So proud and confident in her faith that she won’t bother debating it. The clearest sign of somebody who is more confident in their beliefs than the facts warrant.

    I did not come I to the conversation hope in Michele would “change her mind”. I hope she searches and finds the truth.

    How is this not contradictory? If someone searches for the truth and finds it, then, by necessity, they didn’t have the truth before. Therefore, Natalie is implying that Michele is wrong. If someone finds the truth that they were unaware of before, how does that not constitute changing one’s mind on the subject? The only escape hatch I can think of is the possibility of rejecting the truth once you find it. But what good is hoping someone “finds the truth” if you are also perfectly fine with them throwing it out the window as soon as it is uncovered, like unremarkable garbage? “Find the truth” implies acceptance. Natalie is incredibly disingenuous.

  • Sandro

    Just a thought: why don’t you debate more “serious theists” instead of trolling little church girls on facebook? Am I the only one who thinks this is shooting fish in a barrel? Why not tangle with Christians who actually want to debate you?

    When other people are irresponsible with their beliefs, that is my business, and it should worry us.

    Okay, yeah, but… are you implying atheists are the arbiters of responsible thinking here?

    ON a side note what exactly is a troll? In my mind it’s people who don’t make arguments but only talk trash, but I see some people around here who actually make arguments but still get labelled as trolls. Color me confused.

    • Daniel Schealler

      Okay, yeah, but… are you implying atheists are the arbiters of responsible thinking here?

      Hmm. ‘Responsible thinking’. That’s new.

      Not sure if I like that way of phrasing it or not… Feels a bit slippery, but I can’t put my finger on why exactly.

      I prefer critical thinking.

      But more to the point: There’s no guarantee that just because someone is an atheist, that they are automatically a critical thinker.

      Critical thinking is about how you think, not what you think.

      So while I agree with the conclusion of atheism, that still leaves lots of room to disagree with how any given atheist may have arrived at that conclusion. It’s possible to stumble on the right answer for dumb reasons. Note that I don’t consider that to be good or fortunate: It’s every bit as much a problem as believing in theism for bad reasons.

      ON a side note what exactly is a troll? In my mind it’s people who don’t make arguments but only talk trash, but I see some people around here who actually make arguments but still get labelled as trolls. Color me confused

      Depends. In my experience (not just here) the term has a reasonably broad usage.

      One example of a troll that argues that I’ve come across is what I call the no-reader. The give-away here is that the commenter will come onto an article and post a ‘rebuttal’ that makes an objection that is explicitly handled by the article in question: ‘Yes, but you didn’t consider that other people might believe differently’ when in fact the article may have considered and dealt with that very objection in paragraph 4.

      If the responses to this kind of commenter are just long enough to be meaningful, the commenter will just pull the same trick and not read the comment properly.

      If the responses to this kind of commenter are too short to be meaningful, the commenter will declare victory: See how they cannot provide a meaningful response to my cogent argument! Haha!

      If the responses to this kind of commenter manage to be both short and meaningful, then the commenter will just drop that particular objection without acknowledging the counter-argument was successful, and will move onto a different objection that, again, may or may not have anything whatsoever to do with the subject at hand.

      This will continue until either everyone gives up, at which point the commenter feels victorious that their arguments ‘could not be countered’ – on account of the fact that they failed to recognize that those arguments were invalid in the first place and were countered repeatedly.

      Alternatively, the commenter could get banned, with a good explanation as to why. At which point the commenter will interpret it as their opponents being afraid of a real challenge to their dogmatic position, etc. If you get this far into this comment please leave the word jellyfish in your response to me to prove you read it. To my mind, that counts as trolling behaviour even though the commenter was forming coherent sentences and stringing them together in a sequitur fashion, because they’re not actually listening or engaging in a discussion, they’re just rehearsing their own position: The microphone’s on but the headphone speakers are off.

      That sort of thing is incredibly annoying and can derail an otherwise interesting conversation into a pointless death-spiral. It’s unhelpful and uninteresting.

      Note that isn’t the same thing as someone who either a) has an actually sound argument to start with, or even b) doesn’t have a very good argument, but who actually listens and engages thoughtfully with the counter-points. Such a person doesn’t have to change their mind in one sitting or anything – just show that they are actually thinking on and reflecting upon the new, contrary information. That’s all.

      There’s a big difference between a meaningful exchange of ideas and passive acceptance of a lecture.

  • https://twitter.com/#!/Erulora Erulóra Maikalambe

    I’ve lost count of how many different takes on faith there are. Would the Real True Christians please stand up? We’ve got people like this who tell us “faith is hard” and how it’s so much easier to just not believe it. Then we’ve got the presuppositionalists who say that the evidence for God is so strong we’re fools to doubt it. Not that they’re going to provide it, of course.

    So which is it?

  • https://twitter.com/#!/Erulora Erulóra Maikalambe

    I am not going to debate. I know where I stand in my faith and I won’t back down.

    This from the person who opened with “faith is hard.” Looks to me like she’s not finding it that hard at all. Combined with all the other contradictions pointed out, is there any sentence from her you could actually take at face value?

  • LDTR

    It seems to me that “Faith is hard” is also an self-ego-stroke for the believer. As in, “I believe because my character is so strong and my moral fiber is so superior that I can conquer any doubts or questions with the sheer awesomeness of my faith.”

    Sounds much better than, “I believe because I was taught to do so from birth and because everything in my society reinforces and encourages it.”


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