Why Evanglism Doesn’t Work.

I left this comment on someone’s blog that was about their approach to their ministry of the gospels and I thought it was worth sharing as it includes some profound realizations I’ve been having over the last two days.  Here goes:

What I’ve been thinking about the last few days you may find interesting.  It’s occurred to me why religions stink at evangelism.  I mean think about it, religions split off into more and more diverse groups and never unify two of those groups.  Islam and christianity split off of judaism, islam split into a ton of groups (who are all trying to kill or rule over each other) and christianity split off into a million groups who have ruled over, killed and tortured each other for centuries until the biggest group split down the middle, which then fractured more and more.  Do you think any of these groups will ever reach a consensus?  Do you think muslims will convince christians to be muslim or visa versa?  Do you think catholics will ever convince protestants that they need to be forgiven by a priest and that the eucharist literally becomes the body of christ when a priest blesses it? 

It’s not that people can’t be persuaded, in scientific circles controversies that split academia are resolved relatively quickly and never with any violence or force of any kind.  So why can scientists convince each other one side is right and religions can’t?  Because scientists are trained to be objective and religions train people to be subjective.  Objective evidence is persuasive, subjective evidence is not.  If you’re christian because you were raised christian, do you think that will mean anything to a muslim who was raised muslim?  All the two of your will do is believe opposite things for the same reason.  Whereas math, observation, experimental predictions, logic etc can be tested for errors and demonstrated to be valid or invalid. 

This is why there will never be peace in the middle east (and hasn’t been for thousands of years).  This is why one religious group has only converted another through coercion or extermination.  So if your goal is evangelism and you say that your beliefs are based on “a constantly- growing personal relationship with the Living Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ”, how exactly is your subjective experience and impressions of the bible, the world and theology ever going to persuade anybody else?

Here is a long quote but one well worth reading as it cuts to the heart of the issue.

“This brings me to my second point. Democracy demands that the religiously motivated translate their concerns into universal, rather than religion-specific, values. It requires that their proposals be subject to argument, and amenable to reason.

I may be opposed to abortion for religious reasons, but if I seek to pass a law banning the practice, I cannot simply point to the teachings of my church or evoke God’s will. I have to explain why abortion violates some principle that is accessible to people of all faiths, including those with no faith at all.

Now this is going to be difficult for some who believe in the inerrancy of the Bible, as many evangelicals do. But in a pluralistic democracy, we have no choice.

Politics depends on our ability to persuade each other of common aims based on a common reality. It involves the compromise, the art of what’s possible. At some fundamental level, religion does not allow for compromise. It’s the art of the impossible. If God has spoken, then followers are expected to live up to God’s edicts, regardless of the consequences.

To base one’s life on such uncompromising commitments may be sublime, but to base our policy making on such commitments would be a dangerous thing. And if you doubt that, let me give you an example.

We all know the story of Abraham and Isaac. Abraham is ordered by God to offer up his only son, and without argument, he takes Isaac to the mountaintop, binds him to an altar, and raises his knife, prepared to act as God has commanded.

Of course, in the end God sends down an angel to intercede at the very last minute, and Abraham passes God’s test of devotion.

But it’s fair to say that if any of us leaving this church saw Abraham on a roof of a building raising his knife, we would, at the very least, call the police and expect the Department of Children and Family Services to take Isaac away from Abraham. We would do so because we do not hear what Abraham hears, do not see what Abraham sees, true as those experiences may be. So the best we can do is act in accordance with those things that we all see, and that we all hear, be it common laws or basic reason.”

– Barrack Obama

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About agnophilo

Nerd.
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27 Responses to Why Evanglism Doesn’t Work.

  1. Stanelle says:

    What do you think about free will, the moralities,..which change with historical settings,..and the fact that at the same time that Abraham DIDN’T kill his,..certain leading civilizations were throwing their new born babies into blazing hot fires as sacrifices to Moloch?  I’m sure that the Child Protective Services would have come running for those actions,…too,..except there were no Child Protective Services at the time.  Ditto with Abraham and his family problems!!  Just asking.  Not arguing.  Your site makes me think!!.

  2. xXrEMmUsXx says:

    I love the Obama quote.I love love love your second paragraph…As a Christian I have no desire to continue the divisions. I’m not sure I agree with the argument that science issues can be resolved but religious differences never go from one side to the other. I have had many shifts in my faith, but I suppose I’m rare. I prefer objectiveness. While I can see the generalizations you make, and necessarily so to draw your conclusions… I make similar ones, there are a many in the faith that don’t fit into the generalizations.

  3. locomotiv says:

     i really like “the art of the impossible”..it is the best definition of religion iv’e heard so far…

  4. agnophilo says:

    @Stanelle – “What do you think about free will, the moralities,..which change with historical settings,..”I’m not sure I understand the question.”and the fact that at the same time that Abraham DIDN’T kill his,..certain leading civilizations were throwing their new born babies into blazing hot fires as sacrifices to Moloch?  I’m sure that the Child Protective Services would have come running for those actions,…too,..except there were no Child Protective Services at the time.  Ditto with Abraham and his family problems!!  Just asking.  Not arguing.  Your site makes me think!!.”Always glad to make people think : )  As for abraham I think the story is pretty awful either way, I mean I’m glad he didn’t sacrifice his kid (assuming he ever existed to begin with) but the idea that it’s praiseworthy to be willing to kill your kid is not much better because it didn’t happen one time.  There are other examples of human sacrifice in the bible, and capital punishment is instructed for children, especially in times of war.  So there’s that.  Also it is insane to promote the idea that if the voices in your head say to murder your children you should do it.  People have since then multiple times heard voices saying to kill their kids and did it, apparently because of that story.  There’s a great video on youtube about politics and religion where penn gelette (of penn and teller) talks about this.  I can find the link if you like.@xXrEMmUsXx – I agree that people do occasionally convert, but in all directions – a consensus is never reached between two groups.  But in science this happens all the time.  As Sam Harris pointed out, there is no such thing as christian physics or muslim astronomy or atheist geology.  It’s just physics, astronomy and geology.  There are debates and disagreements of course, but usually this is when new evidence arises or new questions are asked.  Can you imagine all catholics becoming baptist or all protestants becoming catholic?  Without a gun to their head it will never, ever happen.@locomotiv – Struck me as being very diplomatic.

  5. monobeam says:

    We have to reach people where they are.  I believe that the Catholic Church is right, but I can’t expect others to automatically feel the same way.  I feel it is universal, but when talking with others, I have to start with what we share in our beliefs.  We are free to choose God, or to not choose.  I hope to be free to talk about God publicly, and thus influence what is universally accepted as true.

  6. musterion99 says:

    The story of Abraham was a foreshadowing of God being willing to sacrifice his son for our sins. When he stopped Abraham, God provided a lamb instead of Isaac. The lamb also was a foreshadowing of Jesus as the sacrificial lamb of God. I already know you don’t believe any of this since you’re an atheist but this is the Christian knowledge of the story.

  7. You are an atheist because you were evangelized.What is it called when you come to conclusions that are contradicted by the very reality you experience?

  8. jmallory says:

    Evangelism was never meant to be about persuasion. This is one thing the Catholic church understands, and that is why you don’t see many Catholic evangelists. Likewise, Christianity was never meant to be about conversion… and that’s where the Catholic church went wrong, and that is why many churches today have issues of power struggle. Conversion has very little to do with what Jesus or scripture teaches. Christians were never meant to try to convert. They were told to tell other people about Jesus, leaving the decision to follow Jesus up to the people. For the first 300 years of Christianity, this is how it was… and many were converting to Christianity not because of anything a Christian said, and definitely not through the use of force… but people were coming to the faith because of the sincerity of those who believed. When Christians were being fed to the wolves and the lions, they were tossed in the arena in groups. Even then, the Christians didn’t try to fight for their lives. They gathered together in the center of the ring and prayed as the beasts would pick them off one by one. And it was through moments like this that many people began to say, “Wow, there really is something to this Christianity thing…” Now after Christianity became legal, the church developed other means of gaining believers… and though it helped grow the church, we also have a lot of believers who don’t really believe. Violence and force was definitely not worth it. Anyway, that’s why our modern understanding of Evangelism is so messed up… There is good news in the words and the way of Jesus Christ. There is no good news in power or violence.

  9. agnophilo says:

    @monobeam – “We have to reach people where they are.  I believe that the Catholic Church is right, but I can’t expect others to automatically feel the same way.  I feel it is universal, but when talking with others, I have to start with what we share in our beliefs.  We are free to choose God, or to not choose.  I hope to be free to talk about God publicly, and thus influence what is universally accepted as true.”Do you see any consensus ever being reached by different religious groups? I don’t think that has ever happened once in history.  And are you saying you’re not free to speak about god publicly?  If so what country are you from?@musterion99 – “The story of Abraham was a foreshadowing of God being willing to sacrifice his son for our sins. When he stopped Abraham, God provided a lamb instead of Isaac. The lamb also was a foreshadowing of Jesus as the sacrificial lamb of God. I already know you don’t believe any of this since you’re an atheist but this is the Christian knowledge of the story.”Foreshadowing is a mechanism used in fiction – is it possible one or both stories (or the mystical elements) could be parables in nature rather than being literal?  And being willing to sacrifice yourself for the good of others is noble – arbitrarily requiring someone to is barbaric and evil.  The idea that god requires human and animal sacrifice to appease him – if that were true god would be the equivalent of the worst of humanity.@ImNotUglyIJustNeedLove – Are you saying someone evangelized atheism to me or someone evangelized christianity to me?@jmallory – The catholic church has never been interested in rational persuasion but for most of it’s history it spread by force.  After constantine and theodocius it was illegal not to be catholic, a trend that continued in the christian world until a few hundred years ago.  Even in the earliest british colony in what would become the US the penalty for not attending mass was, if memory serves, a fine, 50 pounds of tobacco or ten lashes.  That was a first offense, it got steeper after that.  Third offense was that you were a slave to the colony for a year.  Christianity was born in a totalitarian system and so became totalitarian.  God is a king and the bible are his edicts and all must obey.  Whether that was the original intent of the authors of scripture I have no idea – I’m sure the original intent varied from author to author.  But it’s a screwed up system and I’m glad it’s fading away.I can imagine a version of christianity I would be okay with.  I suppose the only way society would really not fall into the same problems is if objective, logical thinking were taught alongside math, reading and writing.  Every high school should have a class on basic logic.

  10. musterion99 says:

    @agnophilo – Foreshadowing is a mechanism used in fiction – is it possible one or both stories (or the mystical elements) could be parables in nature rather than being literal?If it was, I have no idea what that would be. And being willing to sacrifice yourself for the good of others is noble – arbitrarily requiring someone to is barbaric and evil.  The idea that god requires human and animal sacrifice to appease him – if that were true god would be the equivalent of the worst of humanity.Of course you believe that, because you’re an atheist. You don’t believe how bad sin and rebellion is to a holy God or understand the love and redemption of God through the atonement of Jesus.

  11. tau_1 says:

    This is an interesting topicAs you might know sharing the gospel is something that all Christians can do. The question isHow do we do it well?Normally, I think of evangelism and witnessing as being the same thingHowever when viewed from the lenses of a lawyer the two are much differentIn most legal briefs the facts of the case are discussed first                                . Next comes the legal argumentThe first section is about the witnesses and what they say happened                     . The second is about persuasionSo when a lawyer write the facts in a brief the goal is to persuadeHowever no good lawyer would be confused about the difference between stating the facts and making the legal argumentIs that true for Christians who want to share the gospel?                                     Should a person be sure they understand the difference between the facts and persuasion? How much of a persuader role do we have? That is why personally I love the Bible, because the answer is within the pages.

  12. tau_1 says:

    @tau_1 – Luke 24:45-4845 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46 He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem 48 You are witnesses of these things.

  13. agnophilo says:

    @musterion99 – “If it was, I have no idea what that would be.”  Why couldn’t it be a parable about redemption and self-sacrifice?  Season 5 of Dr Who is basically a modern scifi version of the story of jesus (and way better, no offense).  “Of course you believe that, because you’re an atheist. You don’t believe how bad sin and rebellion is to a holy God or understand the love and redemption of God through the atonement of Jesus.”We don’t need to be forgiven for sinning or rebelling, we need to be forgiven for existing at all – did we do that or did god?  But even if we deserve to be punished the idea that we can vicariously be absolved is evil.  Imagine if I told you you were guilty of a terrible crime that someone else committed before you were born and the only way to avoid punishment was to have an innocent man put to death.  You’d be fine with that?  Honestly?  You wouldn’t find anything absurd or evil about that?@tau_1 – Your point?

  14. musterion99 says:

    @agnophilo – We don’t need to be forgiven for sinning or rebelling, we need to be forgiven for existing at all – did we do that or did god?I’m not going to get into the original sin and freewill argument. That’s been done a zillion times and atheists and Christians don’t come close to agreeing on it. But even if we deserve to be punished the idea that we can vicariously be absolved is evil. That’s your atheistic opinion. It’s not evil at all. In fact , the opposite of evil. Instead of having to go to hell, God forgives us by his love. I am absolutely fine with Jesus, as God, willingly paying for my sins. I’ll bet there’s a lot of parents that love their child so much that if their child committed a crime and they could go to jail instead of their child, would willingly do it, because they love their child that much. 

  15. agnophilo says:

    @musterion99 – “I’m not going to get into the original sin and freewill argument. That’s been done a zillion times and atheists and Christians don’t come close to agreeing on it.”In my experience this is because one side always runs out of arguments and walks away.[“But even if we deserve to be punished the idea that we can vicariously be absolved is evil.”]”That’s your atheistic opinion. It’s not evil at all. In fact , the opposite of evil.” So if you broke the law and someone else went to prison for it that would be fine?”Instead of having to go to hell, God forgives us by his love.” If god loved us so much why invent hell and send any of us there to begin with?  It’s like if I poured gasoline on you, lit a match and then put it out because I “loved” you.  Would you feel the love or would you think I was psychotic?  You would on one hand of course be glad I didn’t set you on fire but the mere act of not doing something incredibly evil is not praiseworthy.  And if I set some people on fire and didn’t set others on fire or set my son on fire instead would that be praiseworthy?”I am absolutely fine with Jesus, as God, willingly paying for my sins.” I’ve always been creeped out by that sentiment.  “I’ll bet there’s a lot of parents that love their child so much that if their child committed a crime and they could go to jail instead of their child, would willingly do it, because they love their child that much.”Yeah, the parent should be willing to take the wrap.  The child shouldn’t be “absolutely fine” with it.  Why is it that the idea of jesus, the one guy who supposedly doesn’t have it coming, suffering on my behalf is more offensive to me than you?

  16. musterion99 says:

    @agnophilo – So if you broke the law and someone else went to prison for it that would be fine?When it comes to our eternity, I’m absolutely fine with God making that decision. Just like a parent would be willing to do for their child.If god loved us so much why invent hell and send any of us there to begin with? Again the justice and freewill argument which is a waste of time discussing with an atheist, not because of running out of arguments. Atheists falsely conclude they win an argument because someone uses wisdom to know to not vainly waste time with it. Your analogies to me are nonsensical even though you think they’re applicable, which is because you deny God’s wisdom and sovereignty.“I am absolutely fine with Jesus, as God, willingly paying for my sins.” I’ve always been creeped out by that sentimentOf course you are. It doesn’t surprise me. I didn’t understand it either before I was born again.

  17. agnophilo says:

    @musterion99 – You didn’t deal with a single thing I said and just acted like a condescending douchebag instead of having a conversation.  Anybody can say “oh, poor you, you’re not awesome enough to understand these things like me”.Go waste someone else’s time please.

  18. musterion99 says:

    @agnophilo – You sound like a big crybaby because you never like the answers from the Christian view. 

  19. agnophilo says:

    @musterion99 – You’re right.  Personal attacks and dodges are a pretty pathetic answers and I don’t like that it’s the best I get from christians on some issues.Condescension is not a valid form of argument no matter how much you want to close your eyes and pretend thinking you’re right makes it so.

  20. musterion99 says:

    @agnophilo – You come across as an intolerant bully which is why a lot of Christians on here don’t like talking to you. It’s “I’m so smart, Christians are so stupid. Answer me the way I want you to answer me. Don’t tell me what Christians believe. It’s stupid. Only what’s scientific is true.” That’s how you come across which is why it’s senseless talking with you. Every Christian answer I give means nothing to you. I explain to you a Christian’s belief in God’s love, wisdom, and sovereignty and for you, that’s never a good enough answer. You never reply, Ok, I understand that’s your belief from a Christian view and accept that’s your belief even though I don’t agree with it. Instead you’re intolerant and try to be a bully like you have been here with me and try to force me to continue talking with you when you haven’t accepted anything I believe. I accept that you don’t believe in the atonement and think it’s evil and I gave my Christian view why I disagree with you. And I’m called a condescending douche. It’s not condescending. It’s what I believe as a Christian. But the intolerant bully in you can’t accept that. 

  21. tau_1 says:

    @tau_1 – my point is this in a general sense when dealing with witnessing versus evangelsm luke 24: 45-48 show some of Jesus last recorded words to His disciples before He return to heave.Jesus tells them that they are to be WITNESSES    However He started out (verse 45) teaching them about the Bible. Our and their unique role is to testify. Jesus taught them that the Bible predicted certain events in Jesus’ life. The disciples are fact witnesses that this happened just as the Bible predicted 

  22. tau_1 says:

     20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors,A)’> as though God were making his appeal through us.B)’> We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.C)’> 21 God made him who had no sinD)’> to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.Is this witnessing or persuading?  30 The God of our ancestorsA)’> raised Jesus from the deadB)’>—whom you killed by hanging him on a cross.C)’> 31 God exalted him to his own right handD)’> as Prince and SaviorE)’> that he might bring Israel to repentance and forgive their sins.F)’> 32 We are witnesses of these things,G)’> and so is the Holy Spirit,H)’> whom God has given to those who obey him.”What do we see here? Witnessing or persuading?

  23. agnophilo says:

    @musterion99 – “You come across as an intolerant bully which is why a lot of Christians on here don’t like talking to you.” Merely disagreeing is seen as “intolerance” by many religious people.  If I talked about any other subject the way I talk about religion no one in their right mind would call me intolerant.”It’s “I’m so smart, Christians are so stupid.” I will make a blog publicly apologizing for being unfair to christians the second you can provide a single instance of me saying on my blog or anywhere else that christians in general are stupid.  I googled “christians are stupid” on my site and the only result was me telling someone “I don’t assume christians are stupid…”And I will do a blog apologizing for being arrogant and narcissistic when you can find a single blog of mine where I pat myself on the back for being smart or even saying I’m smart at all.  I googled “I’m smart” on my site and the only result was me quoting someone else saying it in a response.  You are putting words in my mouth I simply do not express.  If my coming across as smart bothers you, I’m sorry.  But what do you expect me to do, dumb myself down so you feel better?”Answer me the way I want you to answer me. Don’t tell me what Christians believe. It’s stupid.” Again I avoid broad, sweeping generalizations.  And taking issue with someone’s response is hardly evil, you’re taking issue with my responses right now.  Or you would be if I said half the things you’re putting in my mouth.”Only what’s scientific is true.” I don’t recall saying that.  If you took that away from this blog you need to read it again.  Hint – true and objective are not the same thing.  Nor is false and subjective.”That’s how you come across which is why it’s senseless talking with you.” Yeah well lots of people seem to manage just fine.  It helps to read the words I actually type rather than imagining someone with a manacle and an evil henchman beard at the keyboard typing them.”Every Christian answer I give means nothing to you. I explain to you a Christian’s belief in God’s love, wisdom, and sovereignty and for you, that’s never a good enough answer.”You know it would be nice if someone wrote a blog specifically explaining why responses like that never convince anybody of anything who doesn’t already share the belief in question.  Oh wait, I did that.  It’s this blog.  Seriously, read it.  It might enlighten the issue for you.”You never reply, Ok, I understand that’s your belief from a Christian view and accept that’s your belief even though I don’t agree with it.” I never knew whether you believed it or not was in dispute.  Of course it’s your belief and of course I accept that you hold that belief.  That has nothing to do with the belief being accurate.  You seem to think not agreeing with you is a form of intolerance.”Instead you’re intolerant and try to be a bully like you have been here with me and try to force me to continue talking with you when you haven’t accepted anything I believe.” “I accept that you don’t believe in the atonement and think it’s evil and I gave my Christian view why I disagree with you. And I’m called a condescending douche. It’s not condescending. It’s what I believe as a Christian. But the intolerant bully in you can’t accept that.”You believing something or wrapping that belief in the bible doesn’t make it magically not be condescending.  Look up condescend or patronize in the dictionary and read your statements again.And repeating something I responded to as if I had said nothing is rude as well, as is not addressing anything I said and pawning it off on “you can’t reason with atheists because they’re not capable of understanding the things we christians can understand”.You took the conversation from an exchange of ideas to a big fat “fuck you” to atheists, and now you call me a bully and intolerant.  As I said, go waste someone else’s time.

  24. agnophilo says:

    @tau_1 – You tagged yourself, who was this meant for?

  25. musterion99 says:

    @agnophilo – It’s not just about disagreeing. I disagree with a lot of others that are more tolerant than you. They don’t feel like they have to always prove they’re right and get the last word in. They consider what the other person believes and is willing to disagree and not force a useless debate that both sides know is going nowhere. I believe in God’s wisdom and sovereignty. You don’t. That leaves nowhere for the discussion to go after a certain point. Trying to force it is a waste of time and comes across having a big ego and being insecure. Feeling that you have to bully the person into continuing a useless debate, when the other person doesn’t want to waste time with it. I’ve told many atheists that I understand where they’re coming from and why they believe that way and I accept it and don’t feel like I have to force a debate. Even with you, you can believe what you want. I don’t care and after a certain point of discussion, I don’t have to prove I’m right to you.You don’t have to say Christians are stupid but it comes across in your debates I’ve seen you have with other Christians. I’m not about to track down all the debates you’ve had on here over the years. But if you don’t think you insinuate that we’re stupid, ok. The same with being arrogant. It comes across that way when you debate with Christians. I don’t mind that you’re smart. It’s the way you speak to Christians. And I don’t think you’re evil. You just have a very hard time handling the views of Christians in an understanding way.I don’t expect you to be convinced about God’s sovereignty. I’m just sharing where I’m coming from. You could respond and say that even though you strongly disagree, you understand why as a Christian I believe it. Some of your arguments and analogies are moot to me and other Christians because of that. Sure you might feel frustrated in that, but at least be civil and accept that’s what I believe, instead of bullying me and calling me a douche because I don’t want to continue a specific discussion because at that point, it’s a waste of both of our times. I don’t have any desire to needlessly continue conversations like that. Again, I’m not expecting you to believe what I believe is accurate. I can’t force you to believe anything. You believe what you believe and I believe what I believe. And as I said, it’s not merely disagreeing with me that I view as intolerant. It’s the way you go about it. I’m able to disagree in a civil way with a lot of other people on here. The reason you think my views are condescending is because you show no willingness to show to me that you understand why I believe what I do because I’m a Christian, and you take that as condescending. I give you the answer as a Christian, such as God’s sovereignty, and you act like I can’t believe in that as an answer to your analogies. You want to force me to argue without telling you what I believe. It has to be your way. It doesn’t matter that you don’t believe in God’s sovereignty. I do and I’m explaining to you how for me, that’s the answer.

  26. agnophilo says:

    @musterion99 – “It’s not just about disagreeing. I disagree with a lot of others that are more tolerant than you.  They don’t feel like they have to always prove they’re right and get the last word in. They consider what the other person believes and is willing to disagree and not force a useless debate that both sides know is going nowhere.” One, I didn’t “force” you to come to my blog and argue with me, nor am I forcing you to stay here.  And when you stopped dealing with my arguments I told you to go away and stop wasting my time.  How is that forcing you to stay and wasting your time?  And two, you seem to think that I have every right to disagree just so long as I keep it to myself or as long as I don’t keep disagreeing until you run low on arguments.  I don’t agree.  I think we have an obligation to test each others’ beliefs and if I were wrong and you debated me into the ground I’d thank you for it.  I’d want you to.  That is perhaps the biggest difference between us.”I believe in God’s wisdom and sovereignty. You don’t. That leaves nowhere for the discussion to go after a certain point.” Only because god’s sovereignty is a nebulous claim that cannot be tested.  I cannot demonstrate that any god exists, let alone is sovereign or likes this or hates that or any of the things people claim about their deities.  That is not my fault.”Trying to force it is a waste of time and comes across having a big ego and being insecure. Feeling that you have to bully the person into continuing a useless debate, when the other person doesn’t want to waste time with it.” This is the last time I’m going to say this.  If you insist on insulting me and making disparaging claims about my character and behavior then at least have the decency to back it up with something.  Quote what I said that was so offensive or “bullying” or shut the hell up about it.  Because even if you were right and I was a narcissistic, arrogant, insecure bully etc etc, it does no good to make vague accusations since I have no idea what the hell you’re referring to.  By all means show me the error of my ways so I may repent and better myself.  Or alternately if all I did was disagree with you and you’re being inappropriately dickish about it, maybe you need to apologize, not me.”I’ve told many atheists that I understand where they’re coming from and why they believe that way and I accept it and don’t feel like I have to force a debate. Even with you, you can believe what you want. I don’t care and after a certain point of discussion, I don’t have to prove I’m right to you.”And yet here you are.”You don’t have to say Christians are stupid but it comes across in your debates I’ve seen you have with other Christians.” I don’t think christians are stupid, I think stupid christians are stupid.  And most people (stupid or otherwise) in my part of the world are christian.  So I apologize if I have on occasion thought someone was an idiot who happened to be christian but that is a far cry from suggesting that all christians are alike which I take great pains not to do as I’ve been on the receiving end of comments like that about atheists and know how much it stings.  In fact I’ve been on the receiving end of comments like that about atheists in this conversation – from you.Remove the plank in your own eye.”I’m not about to track down all the debates you’ve had on here over the years. But if you don’t think you insinuate that we’re stupid, ok.” You made an accusation, back it up or retract it.”The same with being arrogant. It comes across that way when you debate with Christians.” Confidence and arrogance are not the same things.  And giving a solid argument is not the same as being dogmatic.”I don’t mind that you’re smart. It’s the way you speak to Christians.” Unless you give me an example there’s nothing I could do even if you were right.”And I don’t think you’re evil. You just have a very hard time handling the views of Christians in an understanding way.”I get that it’s disturbing to you to have your beliefs questioned.  But in no other area of discussion are we expected to hold the other person’s hand and refrain from disagreeing.  The only reason we are admonished to do so with regards to religion is because many religious ideas simply can’t stand up to intense scrutiny.  Religious believers aren’t interested in whether their beliefs are true in the sense of 1 + 1 = 2.  They’re simply made to be dependent on them emotionally.  They’re told that believing x y and z is the only way to get through their day or make sense of life or be happy or be moral.  But it’s a lie.”I don’t expect you to be convinced about God’s sovereignty. I’m just sharing where I’m coming from.  You could respond and say that even though you strongly disagree, you understand why as a Christian I believe it.” I get where you’re coming from, that you feel I’m over on my side with logic and science and arguments and I’m not trying to understand your side, how you feel about god, what you get from your faith and so on.  The trouble is that if I delved into that you’d be even more pissed at me.  Because I can dissect what you believe from that end too, not just from a scientific, rationalist perspective.  And I could probably poke holes in your theology.  It’s not that I don’t understand what christians believe, it’s that I’ve spent years unraveling it to the point that it falls apart no matter what angle I approach it from.  Which is why I don’t believe it.”Some of your arguments and analogies are moot to me and other Christians because of that. Sure you might feel frustrated in that, but at least be civil and accept that’s what I believe, instead of bullying me and calling me a douche because I don’t want to continue a specific discussion because at that point, it’s a waste of both of our times.” If you’d just walked away that would’ve been annoying.  But you decided to be shitty and insult me on top of blowing off everything I had to say, both of which are hurtful and neither of which are anything I haven’t gotten a thousand times from christians.  So yeah, I called you a douchebag.  You were being one.”I don’t have any desire to needlessly continue conversations like that. Again, I’m not expecting you to believe what I believe is accurate. I can’t force you to believe anything. You believe what you believe and I believe what I believe. And as I said, it’s not merely disagreeing with me that I view as intolerant. It’s the way you go about it. I’m able to disagree in a civil way with a lot of other people on here. The reason you think my views are condescending is because you show no willingness to show to me that you understand why I believe what I do because I’m a Christian, and you take that as condescending.” No, when you stop arguing and fall back on “you don’t comprehend what I do because you’re not awesome like me” that is condescending.  What if I were debating with a jewish person and had said “Well of course you don’t understand what I’m saying, you’re a jew after all”.  Would that be okay?  Or if had said “The reason you don’t understand where I’m coming from is that you’re christian – christians can’t understand the things we superior atheists can understand”.”I give you the answer as a Christian, such as God’s sovereignty, and you act like I can’t believe in that as an answer to your analogies. You want to force me to argue without telling you what I believe. It has to be your way. It doesn’t matter that you don’t believe in God’s sovereignty. I do and I’m explaining to you how for me, that’s the answer.”I think what really happened is I had more questions than you had answers to and that upsets you and all of this is just a way to get around that and try to save face by talking about talking instead of dealing with the questions I asked.

  27. musterion99 says:

    @agnophilo – One, I didn’t “force” you to come to my blog and argue with me, nor am I forcing you to stay here.  And when you stopped dealing with my arguments I told you to go away and stop wasting my time.  How is that forcing you to stay and wasting your time?Before you said that, in response to where I said – “I’m not going to get into the original sin and freewill argument. That’s been done a zillion times and atheists and Christians don’t come close to agreeing on it.”, You said:“In my experience this is because one side always runs out of arguments and walks away.”That insinuates that I should continue to argue with you and not walk away. You conclude I ran out of arguments. False. I gave you my argument which you don’t accept. True, you’re not literally forcing me to keep arguing, but it’s a bullying technique. You just can’t accept when an argument should end for the sake of both sides. And two, you seem to think that I have every right to disagree just so long as I keep it to myself or as long as I don’t keep disagreeing until you run low on arguments. You talk about me putting words in your mouth. I never said or implied that. I don’t mind you disagreeing. I made that clear. My point was you not  trying to understand the Christian view and wanting to continue when it’s useless. Not just on this blog, but on others also where you’ve debated. I think we have an obligation to test each others’ beliefs and if I were wrong and you debated me into the ground I’d thank you for it.  I’d want you to.  That is perhaps the biggest difference between us.No, the difference is I recognize a point in a debate when it’s useless to continue, not because of lack of argument or conceding defeat. You on the other hand want to drag it on and on just for the sake of arguing, even though you know full well it’s a waste of time.“I believe in God’s wisdom and sovereignty. You don’t. That leaves nowhere for the discussion to go after a certain point.”Only because god’s sovereignty is a nebulous claim that cannot be tested.That doesn’t matter, as I’ve been telling you. I’m telling you what I believe as a Christian. This is the crux of the problem. You just won’t accept what I believe. I accept that that you don’t believe it.Even with you, you can believe what you want. I don’t care and after a certain point of discussion, I don’t have to prove I’m right to you.”And yet here you are.I’ve never felt I have to prove anything to you. I came here to share a comment (about Abraham), not prove I’m right. Which is why other times I have had debates with you, I have told you I’m not interested in continuing and that you could have the last word, which is what I’ll do again after this comment. You can have the last word and say whatever you want about me.No, when you stop arguing and fall back on “you don’t comprehend what I do because you’re not awesome like me” that is condescending. The statement I made from this exchange:“I am absolutely fine with Jesus, as God, willingly paying for my sins.” I’ve always been creeped out by that sentimentOf course you are. It doesn’t surprise me. I didn’t understand it either before I was born again.I was stating something that was true to me. Before I was a Christian, I believed the same thing. I didn’t mean it to be condescending. I was merely sharing my own personal experience. I can see how you could take that the wrong way and I apologize for that.I think what really happened is I had more questions than you had answers to and that upsets you and all of this is just a way to get around that and try to save face by talking about talking instead of dealing with the questions I asked.I’m being honest in telling you that’s completely false. As I said, you don’t accept my answers. It’s not that I don’t have one. God’s sovereignty is one of the central doctrines of theology. It answers many of the questions that atheists bring up. Just because you don’t like the answer, which of course I understand why you don’t since you don’t even believe God exits so his sovereignty is moot to you, that doesn’t make it untrue to me. For me, it’s a very valid response. If it wasn’t, I should just renounce believing in God.Ok, I’m done. Have at it. You get the last word. Even if I disagree with what you respond with, I don’t feel I have to come back get the last word.

Speak yer mind.

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