Why Do My Arguments Not Convince Devout Believers?

I merely offer up good arguments against their faith. That's all I can do. Devout believers (my target audience) won't seriously consider them until such time as they have some sort of crisis in their lives that cannot be adequately explained by a good God. They'll seriously consider them at that time. My arguments are like seeds of doubt ready to sprout if and when they experience that crisis. Since many believers do experience some kind of crisis in their lives there will be a certain percentage of believers who, having been previously exposed to my arguments, will leave their faith at that time. It's a waiting game.

30 comments:

Eric said...

We do seriously consider them, and they do work. As a non-believer of 13 years, I can attest to it. Keep up the fabulous work, John.

shane said...

John.

You probably know as well as i do that so many believers hear on a weekly basis to never abandon their faith, they hear about the fate of apostates and how the devil is constantly lurking around and trying to sow the seeds of doubt.

I think most believers are programmed to stand against any doubt, they simply say "We are not meant to understand everything".
They will believe the most ridiculous concepts in order to keep on believing!

Breckmin said...

"until such time as they have some sort of crisis in their lives that cannot be adequately explained by a good God."

Please give us an example of a crisis that can not be consisted with God being Perfect and Good.

"They'll seriously consider them at that time. My arguments are like seeds of doubt ready to sprout if and when they experience that crisis."

No matter how many people you help influence to spend an eternity separated from the glory of our Holy Creator(because of their sin
which is an eternal violation of God's Nature)...God can still forgive you, John, and YOU can go to heaven - even if you have influenced people to the contrary.

That is how GREAT the God of Grace *is* Who became Jesus Christ and died for you. No matter how many people you lead into deception...there is still hope for you, John (and all of these Christians who are praying for you DO so because of God's Will).

There are answers to your questions.

"It's a waiting game."

Chuck O'Connor said...

Breck,

39 years of an undiagnosed depressive disorder that reached a peak when a good man was suddenly laid off during the economic melt-down of 2008 which put his 4 month marriage in jeopardy, led to suicidal ideation and hospitalization. All the while his Calvinism told him this was happening because he wasn't one of the "elect".

An SNRI supplied the serotonin his brain was lacking and made the placebo effect religion offered redundant. His brain was cleared to understand the mis-information, fear appeal, and co-dependency christianity demands.

John helped that guy see through the propaganda and understand christian theology for the confusion it is.

I am that guy.

Boz said...

The majority of believers are not swayed by arguments when it comes to religious matters.


I recall a survey asking something like "If the core tenets of your religion were proven false tomorrow, would you abandon that religion?", and ~65% answered "No".

Tyro said...

I think religious beliefs are maintained in large part because they are accepted and even respected. People like to feel that they are intelligent and make respectable decisions so by speaking out and calling them down, we remove their protective ecosystem. By demonstrating that the beliefs aren't rationally supported but are actually irrational, you will peel away those who value this in themselves which will further remove the protection of the weaker minds.

When you look at the history of the gay rights movement, there wasn't one single speech or event which convinced people but rather a steady accumulation of arguments and personal experiences which maintains momentum. So don't feel that you aren't doing something good and useful merely because your debate opponents (or audience) don't immediately convert - it's a slow process but you've got evidence on your side and that's hard to beat

shane said...

Boz.

So what was your point....lol
Those people are just plain stubborn instead of being right????

delinquentminer said...

You know, John, my first thought after reading your post was, "Who said the arguments don't convince devout believers?"

They're doing a number on me. Just sayin'.

Boz said...

shane, my point is that as an answer to John's question "Why Do My Arguments Not Convince Devout Believers to Leave Their Faith?", some(most?) people are not interested in, or swayed by, arguments.

shane said...

Boz.

Thats incredible. If they found out the core doctrines of their faith were false they would still believe!
That is just believing in the face of fact.
I dont even know how that would be possible. How they could actually believe when they know its wrong. More or less what its really saying is that they would lie to themselves about it, or simply not believe its false even though it was proven.....?

shane said...

I agree with John though. It was not until I met with personal conflict of the christian concept myself, that I began giving sway to opposing view points.
I think it is the same for all of us who were ever believers at some point in our lives.

Chuck O'Connor said...

As long as the fantasy affords some utility people will believe.

One thing I've been doing since rejecting faith and supernaturalism is asking people why they believe and for most it is because of the social network church affiliation provides or the possibility of seeing a dead loved one again.

A church elder at my former church and still a good friend didn't even know what the term theodicy meant.

He's just a simple guy with PTSD from Vietnam who wants to enjoy the predictable safety of the christian community he has chosen.

I'd love to be able to show him that his christian presuppositions can lead him to be duped into believing other bad things but that would mean convincing him evolution is true and that Sarah Palin is Machiavellian.

My point, the christian belief is wrapped around many other presuppositions that keep a person psychologically alive. To remove it could lead to a level of psychic harm that people don't want to experience.

I'm glad I suffer from a mood disorder which demands medical care and cognitive therapy otherwise I think I'd still be using christianity to keep my depression covered up.

Chris Jones said...

There are probably a few (Eric, above, for example) who value whatever is true, wherever investigation leads, over prior belief. Others, unfortunately, are emotionally invested and quite capable of doing the gymnastics in order to keep arriving at that prior belief.

One old friend used an analogy that sticks with me. Most of us are openly riding the sea, going wherever the wind and the waves take us, which is the destination of reality. The believer has securely tied his or her boat to Dock B, and no matter how much they go through the motions of paddling or putting on the appearance of letting the wind and currents carry them, they keep arriving at Dock B. No amount of wind will get them to any other destination, at least until something really catastrophic causes that rope to break.

But even then, there are some (Breckmin, above) who have used an unbreakable cable to anchor to Dock B, so there very well may never be a way of severing that tie. Breckmin will arrive at Dock B no matter what. The Breckmins of the world have so thoroughly conditioned themselves so as to be entirely impervious to evidence and rational argument, leaving a way of reasoning himself back to Dock B in the presence of any conceivable life event, bit of evidence, or philosophical argument. Those who are this completely inoculated against evidence can successfully argue themselves into accepting mutually contradictory premises, such as a square circle or something simultaneously being A and Not-A. Strong enough mental gymnastics can satisfy a person to literally anything, provided the person has overcome the cognitive dissonance that would ordinarily wreck a fully working brain.

Ken Pulliam, Ph.D. said...

John,

You are not going to reason most people out of religious faith because they were not reasoned into it to begin with. They accepted it, usually at a young age, because some authority figure told them it was true. So they believed initially without investigation and if they investigate it all afterward, they tend to look for evidence to justify the religious belief.Whatever evidence they find is then filtered through their belief system with supporting evidence being accepted and contrary evidence being rejected without considering the possibility it might be true. There are a few people, however, who, in spite of the emotional and psychological trauma involved, will follow the evidence wherever it leads.

Lynn said...

Chuck O'Connor,

Well said. Christianity offers mental and physical benefits. It's warm and cozy. It keeps you around "nice" "safe" people for the most part. It's a little scary leaving that environment and striking out all alone.

So I thin these factors matter more to people than whether the Bible is really inerrant, etc., etc.

Some of the factors influencing my leaving the fold were:
I'm a reader.
I quit my job and had more time to do research.
I don't enjoy groups of people, although I'm fine one-on-one. So a little social problem there that always kept me from fitting in at any church very well. This factor made giving up the social aspects easier, since I wasn't very IN to begin with.
Christianity and how to live the Christian life confused and frustrated me for years, so I was not a happy believer.

So I heartily agree that the social aspects can way overcome the problem of if every detail is true or not, for many people. Christianity makes them feel good and happy.

Maybe it is sort of like a drug. Alcohol also makes people happy.

Lynn said...

John,

One more thing to add to my comment above. I think a crisis CAN cause people to doubt their faith, but for me, it actually caused me to draw closer to it for comfort. My leaving was way after my crisis and pretty unrelated to it. What I remember about my crisis was the wonderful Chrisitian group that helped me get through it.

John W. Loftus said...

Lynn, you just offered personal anecdotal evidence against a generalized claim of mine. That won't do. Surely you can think better than that.

Cheers.

Lynn said...

John,

Well, I don't know if can think better than I've demonstrated so far or not. But here goes.

Actually, now that you've challenged me, I just realized that when I had my crisis-the death of my child-I had not been exposed to anything other than my faith. So I did not think "Wow, maybe that atheist guy was right after all." I had never listened to a debate or read any books critical of Christianity.

So I think my crisis doesn't demonstrate what you were talking about. Thanks for helping me see that.

John W. Loftus said...

Lynn, you've just impressed me. You are interested in knowing the truth even if it means backtracking a little. Thanks for your example.

Lynn said...

John,

Thanks for the compliment, and you're welcome.

Chuck O'Connor said...

Lynn,

I'd build on your example and say that the more literal the teaching became in the church I attended the more silly it seemed.

One event I recall where I paused and thought, "Is this stuff for real?" is when the Bible Fellowship Church I attended taught on Ananias and Sapphira (Expository style). The pastor pretended to be the Apostle Peter and chided the audience with a fear appeal bringng out two body bags to illustrate the consequence of disobedience.

I thought, "Well, that's what the 'historical' document of Acts teaches" and, "I think it is utter bull-shit and this flipping fear appeal juvenile and insulting."

The cracks in believing the bible was little more than myth began.

This however was the first christian church I attended that actually taught through books of the bible so, getting the full context illustrated how backwards the thing is.

I am so glad I no longer believe. It is much too confusing and both itnellectually and morally limiting.

Breckmin said...

"understand christian theology for the confusion it is."

What specifically is confusing about Christianity itself? Please list them and I will probably explain them.

Please understand that the temporary creation is indeed filled with confusion...but the knowledge of God brings order to it...and you need to question where the ORDER is..

and where the Love is.

Breckmin said...

"the Bible Fellowship Church I attended taught on Ananias and Sapphira (Expository style). The pastor pretended to be the Apostle Peter and chided the audience with a fear appeal bringng out two body bags to illustrate the consequence of disobedience.

I thought, "Well, that's what the 'historical' document of Acts teaches" and, "I think it is utter bull-shit and this flipping fear appeal juvenile and insulting."

Were you under the impression that
Ananias and Sapphira went to heaven or hell? (back then)

Chuck O'Connor said...

Breck

I was under the impression that people who enjoy christianity are those that gain a perverse pleasure of licking the boots of bullies. That is why they invent a mythology that depends on the bloody sacrifice of an innocent for impugned guilt delivered by a jealous god.

That sort of confusion.

Chuck O'Connor said...

Oh and the real confusing thing is that these sado masochists think this mythology they've invented is the height of love.

Lynn said...

Chuck O'Connor,

You brought out another strong factor-there are so many that you forget all the influences along the way. You mentioned how the more literal it got, the sillier it sounded. That was a very big for me too.

I think it's risky for preachers to stick too close to reading the Bible, because it DOES become plain how it could surely not be real history that we're reading.

I think it would be great if someone was sitting in a fundamental church Bible study and actually said aloud "Does that sound ridiculous to anyone else but me?"

P.Coyle said...

The story of Ananias and Sapphira suggests that people who held out on the earliest Church could wind up dead. That opens some interesting possibilities for consideration.

Chuck O'Connor said...

P,

You said, "The story of Ananias and Sapphira suggests that people who held out on the earliest Church could wind up dead. That opens some interesting possibilities for consideration."

It actually explains why Calvin thought he was being moral when supporting the murder of people who disagreed with his theology.

It also, indicates underneath the shiny smiles of Christians is a burning rage tied to an absolute desire to control others.

Get any millenialist to start waxing hopeful around eschatology and you will hear a worldview not all that different than a skinhead's.

Brucker said...

An apologist friend of mine wrote a rather interesting essay (that unfortunately is no longer online) in which he pointed out that most people simply don't like to change their worldviews. It goes for both theists and atheists, and it's not that we're closed-minded, but rather that it's scary to live without a constant worldview. When I became a Christian, I had to radically change my worldview, and it was uncomfortable. If some day I reject Christianity, it will be a difficult transition once again. Thus most people need more than a good argument or two to undergo such a radical change.

Brucker said...

I loved reading through all the comments here, you have generally very thoughtful readers. I had a few comments on the comments.

First of all, and more of a comment on your original post, I think the way people respond to traumatic events in their lives is a very personal thing, and anecdotal evidence is likely the only meaningful thing you can get from that. Some atheists become theists and vice-versa, but you never can tell what will happen.

Secondly, as Lynn said, "I think it would be great if someone was sitting in a fundamental church Bible study and actually said aloud 'Does that sound ridiculous to anyone else but me?'" I like to do this all the time. As far as I'm concerned, no Bible study is complete without a good argument.