Author Topic: Let's change the starting point.  (Read 368 times)  Share 

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Offline Goobatron

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Let's change the starting point.
« on: January 28, 2017, 01:53:53 PM »
There is something that I have noticed about the theist/atheist debate. It is something I think that prevents productive conversation from occurring. The starting point is always the same. The argument always follows the following formula:

"I am a theist. I believe in God."

"I am an atheist. I do not believe in God."

Given the nature of the discussion, and the fact we tend to enter these debates with these ideologies cemented into our minds before we start with nitpicking each others arguments, we have already decided that we will not sway from our original starting point. Regardless of what the other one says. So why start here? Why start on what we disagree on? I want us to work together in this thread. Let's put our differences aside, and figure out what we have in common, in regards to spirituality. For example, we may not agree whether or not god exists, but we can all observe the effects the religion has on society. Theists, can you think of any negative effects that religion has had on society, and atheists, can you think of any positive effects? Maybe this will produce some topics that both athiests and theists can agree on, talk about and build ideas on.

Offline eyeshaveit

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Re: Let's change the starting point.
« Reply #1 on: January 28, 2017, 02:54:08 PM »
Admirable thread, but you can't squeeze all Theists into only one box: there's a 'Religion' box and a much different 'Gospel' box.

Offline Goobatron

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Re: Let's change the starting point.
« Reply #2 on: January 28, 2017, 03:06:44 PM »
Admirable thread, but you can't squeeze all Theists into only one box: there's a 'Religion' box and a much different 'Gospel' box.
Regardless of the type of theist, if it has to do with believing in a form of god, the direct opposite of that person's viewpoint is atheism. I'm not putting anyone in a box. I am merely trying to bridge a gap between those who believe and those who don't believe. And anyone in between. The point here is to not focus so much on what we disagree about, but more on what we agree with each other about, regardless of what ones beliefs are.

For example, would you agree that human beings, in general, seek and desire meaning in life?

Offline Case

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Re: Let's change the starting point.
« Reply #3 on: January 28, 2017, 03:54:19 PM »
I applaud you for starting this thread. This is the kind of discussion I would like to see more of on IGI. I get impatient with argumentative, closed-minded thinking, and that seems to be the norm.

I'll be back to post in this thread later. I have a busy day.  ||smiley||
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Offline Airyaman

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Re: Let's change the starting point.
« Reply #4 on: January 28, 2017, 04:00:24 PM »
Not sure what negative or positive effects of any religion have to do with the idea that any god they might worship is actually real.  ||think||
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Offline Goobatron

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Re: Let's change the starting point.
« Reply #5 on: January 28, 2017, 04:15:10 PM »
Not sure what negative or positive effects of any religion have to do with the idea that any god they might worship is actually real.  ||think||
It doesn't. It's not about that. It's about finding a starting point of a spiritual discussion in which we can find common ground. If a theist can recognise an idea that an atheist holds as true (and vice versa), then there is common ground. That's a starting point for discussion, that's based on equal footing. Rather than starting a conversation from a polar opposite standpoint from the person you're having a discussion with, you can have a conversation with someone with the opposite view of you, but you start a closer in the middle.

Most debates or discussions on this site tend to start with disagreeing on a topic and seeing if two people or conflicting ideas can work on agreeing with eachother in someway. I'm proposing to employ the exact opposite strategy. Let's start on something we agree, keep working on the things we agree on, until we no longer can agree on something, and THEN stray into discussing what we disagree about. That way we can have a better understanding of what the other person thinks and where they are coming from. Because you both are coming from the same place.

Offline Kusa

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Re: Let's change the starting point.
« Reply #6 on: January 28, 2017, 04:59:32 PM »
It's about finding a starting point of a spiritual discussion in which we can find common ground.

We can find common ground on secular things but not spiritual. Spirits don't exist.

Offline eyeshaveit

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Re: Let's change the starting point.
« Reply #7 on: January 28, 2017, 05:04:12 PM »
People of all manner of faith and truth beliefs - and we all have these - most people usually do well by each other; that is until there comes a labeling of themselves or each other: tagging such beliefs as relates to religious, political, ethnicity, etc.

And we are 'labeled' first by the obvious: race, gender, age, neighborhood, dwelling, dress, coiffures, tattoos, (body) jewelry, etc., and secondly by our acts and proclamation: as to our education, religion, politics, etc., and thirdly (mistakenly or not) by societal fiat: wearing a Star of David in Nazi Germany, having ISIS paint an Arabic "N" (for Nazarene) on your house in Iraq, wearing striped garb in a prison setting, etc.

Many people have a racist need to label others; a want to shimmy up the pecking order or deep seated need to feel superior. And a lot of that (not all) drives the conversation hereabouts.   

     

Offline Francis

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Re: Let's change the starting point.
« Reply #8 on: January 28, 2017, 05:56:33 PM »
There is something that I have noticed about the theist/atheist debate. It is something I think that prevents productive conversation from occurring. The starting point is always the same. The argument always follows the following formula:

"I am a theist. I believe in God."

"I am an atheist. I do not believe in God."

Given the nature of the discussion, and the fact we tend to enter these debates with these ideologies cemented into our minds before we start with nitpicking each others arguments, we have already decided that we will not sway from our original starting point. Regardless of what the other one says. So why start here? Why start on what we disagree on? I want us to work together in this thread. Let's put our differences aside, and figure out what we have in common, in regards to spirituality. For example, we may not agree whether or not god exists, but we can all observe the effects the religion has on society. Theists, can you think of any negative effects that religion has had on society, and atheists, can you think of any positive effects? Maybe this will produce some topics that both athiests and theists can agree on, talk about and build ideas on.


Hello Goobatron...

You're heart is in the right place and I do appreciate your desire to foster more productive conversations between people who disagree with each other.  I would like to see that kind of civility, respect, graciousness and politeness in all conversations... whether it be in the area of "religion" or politics or philosophy, etc.

I do sincerely hope that this thread is a success and that your efforts are not in vain.  But personally, I am not confident that it will be. I desperately hope I'm wrong,  but I've been around long enough and seen too much to share your optimism.

I mean, think about what you are asking in terms of what you have already observed and confessed about many of the participants in here:

You're starting with the premise that the people in here have ideologies that are CEMENTED into their minds, implying they can't or are not open to changing their minds about their cherished beliefs.

You even say as much when you say that WE (btw, I don't include myself in the "we") "have already decided that we will not sway from our original starting point. Regardless of what the other one says."

If people like the above are so closed minded in their thinking (as Case pointed out), then why would things be much different in this thread?

I'm just asking. Trying to keep it real and honest.

The problem is that the word "religion" is too closely related to the word "God" and so I think the same problem will exist  that you think exists now between the theists and atheists in here.

People can be as passionate (or closed minded) about the word "religion" as with the word "God". Look at what Sam Harris said: "If I could wave a magic wand and get rid of either rape or religion, I would not hesitate to get rid of religion".


Anyway... I disagree with what you appear to imply that everyone (we) has already decided that they will not sway from their original starting point. Regardless of what the other side says.

But more importantly... I'm  totally on board with Sam Harris when he says that he doesn't care if a religion or a belief of some kind will make a person happy and if it gives them some kind of warm fuzzy feeling. He wants to know if the religion or belief is true. That to him is more important than how a person feels.

And I agree. It doesn't matter what the negative or positive effects of "religion" are. What really matters is if a person beliefs are true or not. I mean, do we really want to hold onto beliefs that are untrue even if they have positive effects?  I don't think so.  At least i don't want to.

To sum up... I wish this thread well and I hope it accomplishes everything that you hope for it.  It will be interesting to see how much stamina this thread has.

Take Care

 ||beerchug||
« Last Edit: January 28, 2017, 06:05:41 PM by Francis »

Offline Francis

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Re: Let's change the starting point.
« Reply #9 on: January 28, 2017, 06:09:30 PM »
Of course.

Offline Mooby the Golden Sock

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Re: Let's change the starting point.
« Reply #10 on: January 28, 2017, 09:04:47 PM »
Hi, Goobatron.  I am a theist.  I believe in God.

I think we can both agree that sometimes religious people take actions motivated by their religious beliefs that can have negative effects on others in society. 

For example, I know a woman who, in a temporary lapse of judgement, elected to text a picture of her breasts to a male who in turn shared it with others.  The picture eventually made it back to her family, who essentially disowned her on religious grounds until she finally left home and cut contact with them.  I know another woman who has very little contact with her mother because she is being shunned for leaving the Mennonite Church nearly 20 years ago.  I know a third person whose mother will not visit her or her 4 year old child since she has transitioned from male to female, again on religious grounds.

While I am sure all of these people believe they are acting out of love for their family members and a desire to guide them back to proper religious observances and behavior, I fear that some of the tactics used can cause people to feel abandonment and loss of an important support system at very difficult times in their lives.  I think we can agree that, in at least some cases, this has contributed to poorer familial relationships and increased mental health issues for the people involved.

On a larger scale, religious people are often motivated to share their religious beliefs with others.  Historically, this has led to some religious people using their religious beliefs as justification to attack, dehumanize, oppress, or otherwise harm others, even to the degree of war.  While the desire to spread ideas one believes are true to others is itself not bad, I think we can agree that in at least some instances the actions taken to do so can have a negative effect on society if they lead to others being harmed.

Can you think of other things we might agree on?
History shows again and again how nature points out the folly of man.--BÖC

Offline Goobatron

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Re: Let's change the starting point.
« Reply #11 on: January 28, 2017, 11:52:34 PM »
We can find common ground on secular things.
I agree. I believe that all people can find some level of common ground on all topics. Could you agree with that?



@Francis in the spirit of this thread, I will not be mentioning the things I disagree with but only the things I do agree with. I'd like you to do the same. We will only be able to find out if this works, if we try it.  ||smiley||

You're starting with the premise that the people in here have ideologies that are CEMENTED into their minds, implying they can't or are not open to changing their minds about their cherished beliefs.

You even say as much when you say that WE (btw, I don't include myself in the "we") "have already decided that we will not sway from our original starting point. Regardless of what the other one says."
I agree that not everybody has a starting point that they will not and cannot move from. But I'm thinking more in terms of the majority rather than the minority. I believe most people are set in their beliefs and instead of listening to what someone says, and taking onboard the information that is being presented, people have a tendency to try to keep their belief systems in tact and attack the other person's belief system. It's much easier than confronting and dissecting your own beliefs.

@Mooby the Golden Sock

I think we can both agree that sometimes religious people take actions motivated by their religious beliefs that can have negative effects on others in society. 
Yes, we can both agree on this. I would also like to add that religious people are not the only people capable of causing disruption to society based on their belief system.

While I am sure all of these people believe they are acting out of love for their family members and a desire to guide them back to proper religious observances and behavior, I fear that some of the tactics used can cause people to feel abandonment and loss of an important support system at very difficult times in their lives.  I think we can agree that, in at least some cases, this has contributed to poorer familial relationships and increased mental health issues for the people involved.

It is a shame that these sort of events occur, and that some people would choose to denounce family due to their beliefs rather than to support and help them even though they might disagree with some of their decisions. I do recognise that it is not a very nice thing to do, but on the whole I believe that people have the right to interact with whoever they wish, based on whatever reasons they would like. (not in every circumstance, but in most)... If one person no longer wishes to interact with another person, then I don't believe that person has to, because all people have the right to choose who they do and do not wish to engage with. So although I don't particularly think it is fair of someone to disown their children based on those examples given, i would state that they do have the right to no longer engage with their children, for any reason. Would you agree?

On a larger scale, religious people are often motivated to share their religious beliefs with others.  Historically, this has led to some religious people using their religious beliefs as justification to attack, dehumanize, oppress, or otherwise harm others, even to the degree of war.  While the desire to spread ideas one believes are true to others is itself not bad, I think we can agree that in at least some instances the actions taken to do so can have a negative effect on society if they lead to others being harmed.
I do agree that the actions of religious people have many times gotten out of hand and caused pain and suffering to many people, in the form of war, oppression and dehumanisation. However I feel that although this problem is still present to today, it is to a lesser degree than it has been historically, and that the overall amount of ideological religious violence is decreasing over time. I believe this is happening due to people being more educated and realising that violence is not always the best way to prove something or to enact change. I also wonder if perhaps if we, as in the human race, pooled more of our resources into education that perhaps we could even further decrease the amount of religious violence that takes place.

Can you think of other things we might agree on?
Yes.
« Last Edit: January 29, 2017, 01:12:15 PM by Goobatron »

Offline Kusa

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Re: Let's change the starting point.
« Reply #12 on: January 29, 2017, 12:54:29 AM »
We can find common ground on secular things.
I agree. I believe that all people can find some level of common ground on all topics. Could you agree with that?

I thought I did.

Offline Jstwebbrowsing

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Re: Let's change the starting point.
« Reply #13 on: January 29, 2017, 02:32:14 AM »
I agree with most of what Mooby said.  I think one of the most hamful things religion does is mix with politics and try to spread their religion by rule of law over those that do not share their beliefs.

I think religion is good when it transcends politics and reaches the hearts of the people, teaching them to love and discipline one another.
Jehovah is the one marching before you, and he will continue with you. He will neither desert you nor abandon you. Do not be afraid or be terrified.

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Re: Let's change the starting point.
« Reply #14 on: January 29, 2017, 04:55:21 AM »
I agree with most of what Mooby said.  I think one of the most hamful things religion does is mix with politics and try to spread their religion by rule of law over those that do not share their beliefs.

I think religion is good when it transcends politics and reaches the hearts of the people, teaching them to love and discipline one another.
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Offline Francis

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Re: Let's change the starting point.
« Reply #15 on: January 29, 2017, 01:01:36 PM »
Quote
Francis in the spirit of this thread, I will not be mentioning the things I disagree with but only the things I do agree with. I'd like you to do the same. We will only be able to find out if this works, if we try it.


What did I say that was different?  Didn't I say that I hope this thread is a success?

||smiley||
« Last Edit: January 29, 2017, 01:06:58 PM by Francis »

Offline Goobatron

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Re: Let's change the starting point.
« Reply #16 on: January 29, 2017, 01:15:21 PM »
Quote
Francis in the spirit of this thread, I will not be mentioning the things I disagree with but only the things I do agree with. I'd like you to do the same. We will only be able to find out if this works, if we try it.


What did I say that was different?  Didn't I say that I hope this thread is a success?

||smiley||

Heya, I looked back at my post and realised that directly under that quote you put there, I had quoted Kusa instead of you. So I addressed one of the points that you made in your post that I agreed (confused?). I was just letting you know that I would not be focusing on the parts of your post that I disagreed with and would respond to the ones I did agree with. Did not mean that in a negative way, and I apologise if it came across as such.

Offline Francis

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Re: Let's change the starting point.
« Reply #17 on: January 29, 2017, 01:20:27 PM »
Quote
Francis in the spirit of this thread, I will not be mentioning the things I disagree with but only the things I do agree with. I'd like you to do the same. We will only be able to find out if this works, if we try it.


What did I say that was different?  Didn't I say that I hope this thread is a success?

||smiley||

Heya, I looked back at my post and realised that directly under that quote you put there, I had quoted Kusa instead of you. So I addressed one of the points that you made in your post that I agreed (confused?). I was just letting you know that I would not be focusing on the parts of your post that I disagreed with and would respond to the ones I did agree with. Did not mean that in a negative way, and I apologise if it came across as such.

No apologies are necessary.  I know your heart is in the right place.

 ||smiley||

Offline davdi

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Re: Let's change the starting point.
« Reply #18 on: February 14, 2017, 02:14:02 AM »
What you present here, Goobatron, is worth discussing.   We begin life focused on small circles.   As we grew those circles expanded and with it our ideas should have followed!   Until my first wife went with me to visit my parents, (we lived in Michigan, my parents, in New Hampshire) she had never been to Canada, despite living within 60 miles of it.  When we went to Texas, she had never been west of Wisconsin or south of Ohio. 

When I first came to America, 1963, I had already been around the world twice, but my perception of America was more naive than her perception of India.   

I remember the year Sting sang that horrible song, "I hope the Russians love their children, too!"  Why he did probably had something to do with Reagan, but it displayed a narcissism that I do not understand. 

It isn't so much experience as it is a personal conception that the person I see is perfectly capable of being like myself.   
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Offline Teaspoon Shallow

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Re: Let's change the starting point.
« Reply #19 on: February 16, 2017, 10:16:07 AM »
+1 for a great OP Goomah

I am a non theist, I have no belief in any gods.

Religious people have done wonderful things.
Contributed greatly to developing morality, science, medicine, art and philosophy.

Religion itself does not appear to be the cause of it though.
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Offline Inertialmass

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Re: Let's change the starting point.
« Reply #20 on: February 17, 2017, 04:05:36 PM »
What is a "worldview"?  We'd like to see it as the objective assessment of reality.  But isn't a worldview actually one's personal template for the future?  The guy or gal comes along purveying "facts" dissonant to that personal plan is, consciously or unconsciously, a threat to the future!  These counterfactuals can even elicit a chemical reaction based in the lizard brain's survival instinct.  Telling me right out loud my facts ain't right is as likely to win me over as stealing food off my child's plate -- even when it has to do with something so ephemeral as words spoken solo and lost in the desert wind a million days ago.

In the Skeptic column of January's Scientific American, Shermer isn't really too hopeful.  He offers the following suggestions:

Quote
If corrective facts only make matters worse, what can we do to convince people of the error of their beliefs?  From my experience, 1. keep emotions out of the exchange, 2. discuss, don’t attack (no ad hominem and no ad Hitlerum), 3. listen carefully and try to articulate the other position accurately, 4. show respect, 5. acknowledge that you understand why someone might hold that opinion, and 6. try to show how changing facts does not necessarily mean changing worldviews.

The last of these suggestions, from my perspective, means being a little dishonest just for the sake of comity.  Is it worth the sacrifice?   

Offline BlackLight

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Re: Let's change the starting point.
« Reply #21 on: February 17, 2017, 07:13:45 PM »
What is a "worldview"?  We'd like to see it as the objective assessment of reality.  But isn't a worldview actually one's personal template for the future?  The guy or gal comes along purveying "facts" dissonant to that personal plan is, consciously or unconsciously, a threat to the future!  These counterfactuals can even elicit a chemical reaction based in the lizard brain's survival instinct.  Telling me right out loud my facts ain't right is as likely to win me over as stealing food off my child's plate -- even when it has to do with something so ephemeral as words spoken solo and lost in the desert wind a million days ago.

In the Skeptic column of January's Scientific American, Shermer isn't really too hopeful.  He offers the following suggestions:

Quote
If corrective facts only make matters worse, what can we do to convince people of the error of their beliefs?  From my experience, 1. keep emotions out of the exchange, 2. discuss, don’t attack (no ad hominem and no ad Hitlerum), 3. listen carefully and try to articulate the other position accurately, 4. show respect, 5. acknowledge that you understand why someone might hold that opinion, and 6. try to show how changing facts does not necessarily mean changing worldviews.

The last of these suggestions, from my perspective, means being a little dishonest just for the sake of comity.  Is it worth the sacrifice?   

I don't think it is. Further, in my experience, the best way to go at somebody who holds incorrect beliefs is to drill down on their epistemology, not their ontology. Then, accept that you're not likely to change their minds in real time. And in fact, by constantly leaning on them, they may become even more entrenched, long-term. Speaking for myself, if your goal is to maximize the likelihood that I won't buy whatever you're selling, then your strategy should be to apply as much pressure to me as possible.
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