Monday, August 19, 2013

3 Ways to Persuade an Atheist to Become a Christian? Oh boy - Part II

I stumbled across this article, entitled "How to Persuade an Atheist to Become Christian".

Here's Part I. Let's continue looking through this handy dandy guide.

Explain why you think Christianity helps people to live better lives. It may also be useful to tell your friend about people you've met at church. When listing their good qualities, include that they are "religious" as a very far side note. Their religious fervor is not going to impress an atheist.
While you're at it, explain why these ways Christianity helps people better their lives is confined to Christianity. If it isn't, then it's irrelevant. When we actually look into it, what we find is that community and social networking is what helps people. Christianity has had a couple thousand years to set up their infrastructure. The atheist community is just getting started - but we're growing... meaning, the last refuge for any kind of argument for Christianity will be spent.

If you think supernatural thingies had any role in the improvement in peoples' lives, you will be taken to task about that assertion. If you cannot back it up... well, you may as well stop there and then, and walk away.
Develop reasons for your faith that have nothing to do with personal experience. An atheist may want definite evidence, not just a rehearsal of your faith. You'll have to provide concrete facts and scientifically thought out arguments. Your beliefs based on faith, Christian love and joy of worship (all immaterial things) and are not evidence to the unbeliever. In fact, a reliance on faith may be evidence to the atheist that you aren't relying on facts. However, this may work in your favor as faith is, by its nature, non-corporeal.
Everything except the last sentence is correct... and it also contradicts most of what's been suggested so far. The last sentence, however... is insane.

Faith is pulling claims out of the depth of your asses, and calling it true for no good reason. Faith is a conversation-stopper. To invoke it instantaneously indicates that you're incapable of rational thought, reasoned discourse, or logical argumentation. You've just nuked your entire galaxy from orbit... around the galaxy.

To invoke faith is the surest and quickest way to go from X-amount of credibility and respect, to an absolute-zero value... and the claim is rejected automatically.

I've been waiting for "scientifically thought-out arguments" and "concrete facts" supporting their Christian supernatural assertions for years.

Still waiting...

Use logic and research to your advantage. Remember that some aspects of God and his existence cannot be explained logically, but the origin of life cannot yet be explained fully. Before you try to argue against scientific theories, such as evolution and the "big bang," learn more about them. Gain perspective on them from places besides religious viewpoints. Realize that many Christians are very comfortable with modern scientific theories because they do not challenge their core belief in God. Atheists may tend to be versed in their ideas of sciences, and may be put off by your bringing up what they may call stale, old arguments.
I've yet to hear a logical argument supporting the existence of God either. This goes back to them thinking that "logical" means "it makes sense to me!".

And while we're at it - going back to the suggestion about "speaking the same language". Get it out of your heads that our atheism is contingent on evolution, the Big Bang or abiogenesis. If all three were disproven or unknown, we'd still be atheists, because you haven't demonstrated that your god is real yet.

But yes - try not to trudge up old stale arguments. We like new, better, faster, stronger arguments. It's become a challenge to myself to see how fast I can rebut Pascal's Wager. My record is 3.7 seconds.

Realize that human theories are not evidence whether God exists or not. This includes arguments that require the person to accept your beliefs of how life came about, how "ideal" the Earth is, or how the Big Bang happened. They have already decided. The fact that we don't know everything about the origins of life does not demonstrate to the "unbeliever" that God did it (God of the gaps argument). Not listening to their views on "science" may cause an atheist to shut down to anything else you might say.
Human theories? As opposed to chihuahua theories?

You're right... "human theories" are not evidence... at all (are we talking about scientific theories? I'm assuming so). They're the overarching model/description that best-fits all the available evidence, contradicted by as little evidence as possible. They are the pinnacle of human knowledge, by definition. 

The reason why God cannot be demonstrated, or apparently even evidenced, is because theists have specifically designed their god definitions to be undemonstrable... and then they have the gall to call us closed minded for not just believing their undemonstrable unevidenced unsupported claims as true.

The only thing "I have decided" is that we've investigated reality enough to establish that the Big Bang, and evolution (still working on abiogenesis though) are true... just like I've decided that we've investigated electromagnetism, electricity and semi conduction enough to know how computers work. Unlike theists, I don't start out with a pre-defined conclusion and then try to scour reality for anything that appears to correspond do it.

Evidence is how we distinguish between true and false claims.

I'm glad the authors get the God of the Gaps fallacy. This whole guide is a strange mixture of getting it... and not getting it.

Credit the human mind with extraordinary capabilities. Discuss that human brains work with faith, opinion and many other things than just intellectual/theoretical logic. If you do not know much about how the brain works, then avoid trying to be an expert. Atheists may be versed in facts and opinions in such scientific areas. When things go beyond your capability to define it, then having faith in something larger than natural processes can bring you peace, but not for those who disagree.
Generally I agree, and this goes for me and anyone really - acknowledge when there's something you don't know, and even say "I'll have to get back to you on that". Now that's one way to earn respect. I don't require you to know everything on the spot. Feel free to go off, investigate, learn, formulate arguments, etc.

We're not the inventors of the Gish Gallop, after all. We're not the ones who operate under this idea that failing to address an argument is a concession, so the tactic becomes to bombard the opponent will a billion-and-one idiotic claims that cannot be addressed in short periods of time - therefore you win. We try to be intellectually honest about our abilities, and our shortcomings.

Be prepared to use reliable counter evidence. Their evidence is sometimes from atheistic scientists who portray their results in ways specifically conceived to disprove the existence of God, so use research from Christian scientists to rebut their arguments.
Awful advice.

First, it automatically engages in a bias. To the scientifically minded atheist, to accuse a scientist of cooking the books or manipulation of the data is as close to "blasphemy" as it gets. Intellectual and professional honesty is so critically important, that being caught manipulating the data is career-ending. A huge part of the scientific method is ruthlessly tearing apart each other's publications.

Secondly, if we're operating under this notion that bias is a problem, don't you think that we'd dismiss the Christian sources? We don't have a problem with religious scientists... but if they go out of their way to be specifically Christian scientists, that's fishy.

Thirdly, you should do the exact opposite. Find atheist sources that contradict them. Whenever I try to find sources of information to present to an apologist, I try to cite their own sources at them. That way, the other side can't dismiss it through an accusation of bias.

Fourthly, if there's bias in the evidence, point out what it is. Don't just dismiss it with a vague accusation. That's a lightning-fast way to lose credibility. If you want to "shake the foundation" of the atheist's beliefs, then showing, within the scope of their evidence, where it screws up, is the most effective way of doing it... not resorting to "well Christian scientists don't agree."

Fifthy, if you're going to get sources of information, get peer-reviewed studies/publications to support your claims. It's way too easy for some random whackjob who claims to be a science to put together a book of word salad. The question we'll ask is - has this been vetted? Has it been peer-reviewed? If not, it has low to no credibility.

Seriously - the worst advice in this article so far.
Do not use obviously false evidence (e.g., irreducible complexity). These concepts are already popular and some atheists who are interested in honest discussions knows them and may dismiss them without listening.
Nice. Can I cite this page to anyone who brings it up, and say - "See, even your side is done with it!"
If you don't know the answer to something, don't simply say that God is responsible for it. "I don't know" is many more times preferable to an atheist than what they perceive as crediting the creator.
Yes! Nailed it. Our whole world view is based on the juggling of evidence and things we don't know. It's part of how that process works.

Long Term Goals section

Give practical advice from the Holy Book, such as from the book of Proverbs. Keep in mind that this may not be effective since arguing from the Bible expects him or her to acknowledge it. Don't forget to point out the Scripture itself; that way, he or she will know that it's not your own thinking, but that you are presenting "God's thinking".
Okay, as someone who is often on the receiving end of this sort of thing... don't bother. From my perspective, you're citing common-sense secular concepts and attributing them to your invisibly sky wizard. It comes across to me more as plagiarism than anything else... and so frequently, the Bible just screws it up anyway. Finding any advice from the Bible that is actually ideal is truly like looking for a needle in a haystack... and by the time you find it, it's a "no shit, Sherlock" item.

... and definitely don't say that it's not your own thinking. We're not that interested in how much of a mindless drone you are. We'd be more impressed if you questioned/analyzed your Bible... but then again, that wouldn't do much for converting us.

Additionally, we're concerned with why it's good advice. If it's just because Sky Wizard says so, that's arbitrary. If there's actual reasonable reasons, then the god isn't needed. It's lose-lose.

Go slowly. Do not rush your friend until he is completely comfortable, accepts your inputs, and thinks of you as a "real friend" who just happens to be religious.
So it's manipulation. Nice. Gotta love the "honesty."

Whether you're a friend or not is irrelevant. Have you the evidence? [ ] Yes/no?

Let your friend try to convert you. He or she is likely curious about your beliefs, especially if they weren't raised as Christians. And if this person feels comfortable with you, this will lead to questioning and challenging you. Like a curious child, do you argue? Are you angry? Why? The less defensive you are, the more reasonable you seem. If you're having fun, the other person will, too.
Convert you to what? We talk about "de-converting", and becoming an atheist. Atheism is not a religion that can be "converted to".

At most, we'd like you to be a reasoned, logical and critically thinking person... regardless of what your beliefs turn out to be... because at least they'll probably be reasoned, logical and critically thought-out beliefs.

Invite the atheist to your place of worship. You shouldn't outright ask them to attend Sunday church, but a church-funded charity or meeting would be a more neutral place. If you invite an atheist to a religious function, tell him or her that it is a religious function. Don't try to trick someone into attending by pretending that it is not. Do this every so often and introduce your friend to other people who attend your church. Make him or her comfortable with the individuals who make up the church and religion.
This is where the subversiveness of this "guide" starts to really shine through. It has nothing to do with whether Christianity is factually true or not - they don't care about that. It's about trying to get the atheist making friends within the community, long enough to stick around for it to rub off on him/her.

Lots of atheists go to church for the sake of broadening their horizons. Then they go home and think about how demented it was. Then again, some atheists establish churches to continue the community aspect, even if they don't believe in supernatural hocus pocus (link to First Church of Atheism) - not that I'm personally thrilled at the prospect.

Wait. See if this person develops any interest in attending your place of worship. You may extend an invitation to attend church with you, but it would be best if he or she comes along due to their own curiosity, feeling comfortable and in control. Don't push too hard. The more your friend has to come to you, the more invested he or she will be in the result.
Be persistent. Display patience and forgiveness when challenged with new perspectives of beliefs. However, be understanding that your world view may be very foreign to an atheist.
Foreign... or totally unsupported by anything resembling evidence.

If your friend feels comfortable with it, pray to the Father in Jesus' name or pray to Jesus aloud. As your friend listens (or just allows you to pray), pray that God will bless your friend and draw closer. Remember, it is God who draws people in as they learn the Gospel, the Holy Spirit who cleanses them -- and Jesus who saves by grace, through faith, not of yourself, not by working, so no one may boast; it is the gift of God... as you are created in Christ Jesus to do good works that God prepared for us to do...[1]
Sprinkle some fairy dust on the atheist too. That should help. How's that for mockery?

The authors seem to have run along to lala land, at this point.

Stay tuned for Part III...

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