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Don't expect to get any converts instantly. Your mission is to pull weeds and plant seeds.
May 1, 2006 10:09 AM   Subscribe

Do you ever get the calling to witness to atheists but don't respond because you don't know how to start? Have you ever tried, but got pulled around from one point to the next spending hours getting nowhere? Are you just too chicken to do it? Well fret no more - help is here! The Chat-O-Matic is specifically designed to get you started on the right foot when debating skeptics on the Christian faith. It will also help you obey Jesus' command in not throwing your pearls before swine. (An Atheist Witnessing Tool for the rest of us)
posted by youarenothere (88 comments total)

 
Never mind whether or not God exists... hosting this on a Geocities page is going to create some existence issues on its own.
posted by ny_scotsman at 10:14 AM on May 1, 2006


Believers and non-believers alike are united in the fact that being confronted logical trap-games that try and trick them into the other position has basically zero effect on their beliefs.

Sanctimony (and scripted sanctimony especially) is an ineffective means for pursuing change.
posted by camcgee at 10:21 AM on May 1, 2006


You are standing in an athiest chat room, wearing your best Christian Throwback jersey.

There are two athiests here.

What do you want to do now?

> CONVERT ATHIEST
You are not able to do that, yet.

> PRAY FOR GUIDANCE
Nothing happens.

> FLAME
You feel better.
posted by gurple at 10:22 AM on May 1, 2006


Ok, hold on, let's test this out!

Will anyone who is an atheist and hasn't clicked the link yet volunteer to be the guinea pig? I'll play the Christian and walk you through the script.
posted by Bugbread at 10:23 AM on May 1, 2006


aaaaand it's down. Those were some really awful chat logs.
posted by boo_radley at 10:25 AM on May 1, 2006


I basically treated this as a choose-your-own-adventure game where I play an Atheist trying to get out of a really boring conversation. Careful! Some of the corridors lead to traps! Can YOU find the way out?
posted by Artw at 10:25 AM on May 1, 2006


If you are sincere about this, I would like to direct you to a web site that lists the evidences for Jesus' divinity. It is - http://members.aol.com/faithinevidence

It's probably a bad sign that the "faith in evidence" link leads to a blank directory.
posted by camcgee at 10:26 AM on May 1, 2006


Will anyone who is an atheist and hasn't clicked the link yet volunteer to be the guinea pig? I'll play the Christian and walk you through the script.

Shoot.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 10:26 AM on May 1, 2006


If you're not an atheist, a giant sea monster is going to emerge from the Pacific and destroy your entire family.

Hahaha. That's ridiculous!
posted by Mean Mr. Bucket at 10:26 AM on May 1, 2006


how about we just leave people who dont wanna be bothered with religion alone?

who the hell debates this kind of shit all the time? i mean to the point that they thought a webpage was necessary to help others? the deepest conversations i have with most of my friends and acquaintances, most of the time, involves where to go for dinner. i really don't care what they think about religion.
posted by wakko at 10:28 AM on May 1, 2006


Ironic user name much?
posted by T.D. Strange at 10:29 AM on May 1, 2006


Ok, KevinSkomsvold, I'll skip the first question ("Is there an atheist in here willing to answer some questions for me?") and go to question two:

Do you "know" there is no God or, is it your "opinion" there is no God?

(Note: you'll have to refresh often, or we'll never get through this)
posted by Bugbread at 10:29 AM on May 1, 2006


I was looking at this list of objections to God/Jesus, and couldn't find my main two: I don't feel a need to believe in a God, so why should I, and if God did exist, why would he need me to believe in him? Not trying to cause an argument, I'm just wondering what the rebutal is.

On preview: site down, Google cache.
posted by Orange Goblin at 10:30 AM on May 1, 2006


wakko : "who the hell debates this kind of shit all the time?"

Mefites.
posted by Bugbread at 10:30 AM on May 1, 2006


no i mean who that matters debates it
posted by wakko at 10:30 AM on May 1, 2006


Orange Goblin : "On preview: site down, Google cache."

Aw, shit. Google cache is blocked from work, so I can't run you through the script, KevinSkomsvold.
posted by Bugbread at 10:31 AM on May 1, 2006


Do you "know" there is no God or, is it your "opinion" there is no God?

I "know" there is no God. Jesus told me so.
posted by mr.curmudgeon at 10:31 AM on May 1, 2006


It's too bad that there is no "chat-o-matic" script for people who want to debate Jehovah's Witnesses when they come to the door. I could really use one. I think I'm on some kind of list - they keep coming back - maybe they think there's hope because I didn't slam the door in their face the first time.
posted by meringue at 10:32 AM on May 1, 2006


Asside from the one cache page, this is a bunch of dead link and little else. I was sorta interested as well...
posted by Meccabilly at 10:32 AM on May 1, 2006


Do you "know" there is no God or, is it your "opinion" there is no God?
what happens if I answer that I dont particularly CARE if there is or isnt a God? Do we get an error message?
posted by jak68 at 10:34 AM on May 1, 2006


This should be redone as a telemarketing script.

Do you believe in Jesus? -- YES --> Isn't he awesome?
|
NO
|
etc...
posted by boo_radley at 10:36 AM on May 1, 2006


Aah... Here is an example of the thing in practice... Best bit:

You would have to have infinite knowledge (know all things) in order to KNOW
for a FACT that God does NOT exist. Do you claim to know all things?
that doesn't apply in this case. "create universe" is an incoherent
statement, therefore anyone claimed to have "done it" can't exist.

As an Athiest I am sort of insulted that any Christian would think I am stupid enough to fall for this kind of sales talk.. but then again they believe an awful lot of rubbish.

posted by Meccabilly at 10:48 AM on May 1, 2006


As an Athiest I am sort of insulted that any Christian would think I am stupid enough to fall for this kind of sales talk.
I certainly don't. The entire 'Get out there and make some converts' interperetation of 'sharing good news' has been the death of the church, philosophically and spiritually.

But that's another matter entirely.
posted by verb at 10:52 AM on May 1, 2006


Do you "know" there is no God or, is it your "opinion" there is no God?
posted by bugbread at 10:29 AM PST on May 1


There is no compelling evidence that a god or gods exists; therefore, I lack belief in a god the same way I lack belief in the idea that I created the universe. I'm glad we don't have to go through this "no one is really an atheist" nonsense again, bugbread.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 10:54 AM on May 1, 2006


the deepest conversations i have with most of my friends and acquaintances, most of the time, involves where to go for dinner. i really don't care what they think about religion.

You keep livin' on that surface.
posted by xmutex at 10:55 AM on May 1, 2006


Actually I believe in the FSM!
posted by Meccabilly at 10:57 AM on May 1, 2006


I believe in God, but as a Jew in the South I had to deal with this malarkey all the time, or listen to it going on.

The point brought up in that script about knowing all things is basically the same one they brought up in that Kirk Cameron video a few days back. That almost always follows the tin can deconstruction of evolution and the banana fitting in your face.

Apart from the direct evidence that humans create tin cans and that bananas are the same shape as a penis, the thing I find most insulting is the position that you only know X amount of knowledge out of the set of all knowledge.

Well, Mr. Dunderhead Evangelist, God is an omniscient being present across and outside of all space-time. It would naturally follow that God's in that X amount of knowledge your mark possesses. You're just doing a poor job. I mean, great, you made someone admit they were agnostic rather than athiest. Way to win one for the Lord.

This is all beside the fact that attempting to convert and testifying to people is moronic, boorish and loathsome and maybe you should just mind your own business. God does.
posted by Captaintripps at 11:05 AM on May 1, 2006


Did you just link to a Geocities site on the front page of Metafilter? What's the point of that?
posted by mr_roboto at 11:13 AM on May 1, 2006


I'm an atheist even though I know that the agnostic position is more logically tenable. It's a faith thing. How do you like me now Mr. Proselytizer?
posted by ursus_comiter at 11:29 AM on May 1, 2006



You keep livin' on that surface.
posted by xmutex at 10:55 AM PST on May 1 [!]


Yes, because in order to be a fully-functioning human being in society, we all need to talk about stupid shit like whose fucking sky-god is the right one. Way to go.
posted by wakko at 11:31 AM on May 1, 2006


we all need to talk about stupid shit like whose fucking sky-god is the right one

It's May Day. Now get out there and worship Flora.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:43 AM on May 1, 2006


Optimus Chyme: That was just me using the script. It was not a comment "by" me, just me quotin' as part of an attempt by KevinSkomsvold and myself to take the script out for a spin.
posted by Bugbread at 11:43 AM on May 1, 2006


flora made it nice and warm today. this is good. time to sacrifice goat.
posted by wakko at 11:46 AM on May 1, 2006


Ah, sorry, bugbread. I'd just heard similar arguments here before so I just went ahead and gave the rebuttal.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 11:51 AM on May 1, 2006


meringue -- Not precisely a "script for people who want to debate Jehovah's Witnesses when they come to the door", but maybe it will help. Regardless, doing this sure is fun.
Jehovah's Witless: Hello, we're here to talk to neighbors about the wonderful world of god.
Me: Oh, sorry, I can't talk to you until you've been innoculated against the virus you are carrying.
JW: Virus? What are you talking about?
Me: Yeah, you have a pretty serious infection, but you can be cured. Don't worry, it doesn't really hurt.
JW: ?
Me: It's pretty simple, really -- you're infected with an ancient meme -- a thought virus -- and because of this infection you are compelled by this virus to infect other people. It's not your fault, but now that you know that you are infected, your healing can begin.
JW: I'm not really sure what you are talking about...
Me: [Usually I go on from here to describe more about memes, the dangers of sharing used memes, Acquired Intellectual Deficency Syndrome, etc.]
JW: ?
Me: Well, great talking to you, I've done my job. Bu-bye.

This is a great method to rid yourself of JWs or other of their ilk. They intially think they've stumbled on a crazy person, and are really eagar to leave as soon as possible, but in fact you have just told them the truth and have in fact given them the necessary innoculation against the virus which has taken over their life. You may have started their recovery.
At the point when they start to try to leave, I usually offer them some literature, and ask if they would like to come to a meeting for others recovering from the devastating affects of thought virus infection. It's nothing to be ashamed of, really...
Making them squirm uncomfortably is just so satisfying.
posted by mooncrow at 12:09 PM on May 1, 2006 [1 favorite]


Was anyone else expecting Kirk Cameron again?
posted by ninjew at 12:12 PM on May 1, 2006


no, but now that you mention it...
posted by wakko at 12:14 PM on May 1, 2006


I like this part:

MadRapper: why are u doing this?

FaithInEvidence: Because I love you and Jesus.

MadRapper: and why do u love me?

FaithInEvidence: Because you are a child of God like I am and in need of it like I am. We are both sinners and need God's forgiveness. I love you because He loves me.

MadRapper: that makes no sence but whatever
posted by salvia at 12:19 PM on May 1, 2006


Making them squirm uncomfortably is just so satisfying.

That's nothing! Can you imagine how satisfying it must have been to see them sent to the ovens?!?
posted by spock at 12:19 PM on May 1, 2006


mooncrow writes "Usually I go on from here to describe more about memes, the dangers of sharing used memes, Acquired Intellectual Deficency Syndrome, etc."

asshole
posted by mr_roboto at 12:24 PM on May 1, 2006


spock : "Can you imagine how satisfying it must have been to see them sent to the ovens?!?"

Probably considerably less.
posted by Bugbread at 12:24 PM on May 1, 2006


I don't understand why anyone feels any obligation whatsoever to deal with door-to-door prolysetizers.

I deal with them using the most effective means possible: if they fool me into opening my door to find out who is there, I simply shut the door again.

Completely guilt-free, too. I cut them off in mid-sentence, tell them I am not interested, and shut the door. They are not going to convert me, so I save them from wasting our collective time. It's a win-win solution.

As for the first question on the sheet: God is a Unicorn. I can't prove the non-existence of either, and it doesn't matter in the least that I can not. It is of absolutely no consequence should it turn out that I'm mistaken about the non-existence of Gnicorns, and it is of absolutely no consequence should it turn out I'm mistaken about the Gods.

For those religionists that will protest that it is in fact terribly important, I can only reply that I'll leave it entirely up to God or the Unicorns to make the final decisions, and not a mere human who has come around to harass me.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:33 PM on May 1, 2006


Spock, are you feeble-minded? Mooncrow was talking about a way to prosletyze to the poor misguide people who come to him/her home looking for fools to convert

this is arguable an honest exchange conversion attempt for conversion attempt

You compare this to degredation, torture, and murder in concentration camps?

Way to Godwin
posted by Megafly at 12:36 PM on May 1, 2006


“I don't feel a need to believe in a God, so why should I, and if God did exist, why would he need me to believe in him?” -posted by Orange Goblin

Funny, I approach that from the other side with the same result. (I neither believe nor disbelieve and I don’t think the question is relevant. In fact, I think it very much confuses things.)
Even so, one can equate God with the totality of being. And if one does - given that God exists, what use would he have for ‘belief’? And of course furthermore - what makes any beliver think they have any more relevant knowlege than anyone else.
I mean given the argument that we can’t know God doesn’t exist, what then makes anyone think their brand of knowlege is any better?
That’s particularly true if one defines God as infinite. Then all finite knowlege on the subject is relatively equal to each other from the FSM to the C of the SubG to Christian Baptists to whatever.

The whole ‘belief in God’ thing is typically just a scam to sucker someone into believing their schtick.
Unfortunately for those of us who dig philosophy and conceptual debate, many folks see it as only that. Which is a fairly reasonable, albeit perhaps stifling, defense mechanism.

Never saw how a God concept led to belief in one set of details concerning values and mores and unbelief in another set.
I suppose that’s the operative word tho: ‘belief’.

...is it me or does the whole “convert the atheists” thing have a kind of a “seduce the woman of your choice” Tom Cruise in Magnolia sort of thing going on?

Intellectually I mean.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:36 PM on May 1, 2006


It's got to be frustrating trying to convert people all the time. If you have an omnipotent omniscient deity on your team, you'd think he'd put in an appearance once in a while to lend some credibility to your arguments. But no, you got to swing it in the wind. It's been, what, two thousand years and not so much as a single promo spot other than some toast and stuff that gets snapped up by some casino.
posted by ny_scotsman at 12:42 PM on May 1, 2006


Ah, c'mon mr roboto -- admit it, that post of mine was FUNNY! It was comendy GOLD! Musta been or you wouldn't have called me an asshole?! Cuz everybody knows I'm really a twat! What a kidder!

And spock, since we have instantly rushed to a Godwin moment -- which seems like quite a stretch -- I'm not really sure what else to say. I'm a Nazi, huh? Wow. Yeah, I really must have hit a nerve. Sorry, my Vulcan friend. I was merely pointing out that most door-to-door fundies are aiming for the "uncomfortable squirm" and the "refusal to meet the eye" which comes when "god's unmerciful truth" shines on the heart of the sinner. Sinners in the hands of an angry god, indeed. Sorry about the JWs getting shoved in the ovens and all, but NOT MY FAULT. Plus, what is the real problem? I mean, if you were sent to the Nazi ovens for professing your faith, wouldn't that get you sent straight to heaven, for god's sake? Jeebus. I'd figure that would be the whole point of existence for a JW, you know? Like wouldn't they just be praying for another dictator of pure evil to appear with the ovens and the gas and all just so they could get their ticket punched? Sounds like a no brainer. I'm just saying...
posted by mooncrow at 12:55 PM on May 1, 2006


mooncrow: Brilliant. Someone should put up a serious-looking website and some pamphlets. I'd keep them by the door for just such an eventuality.
posted by Skorgu at 1:01 PM on May 1, 2006


Skorgu -- Thanks -- yeah, if you want some interesting stuff, lookie here: Why Atheism? or J Huger's The Watchmaker or How to Fight the Religious Right: A guide to defending yourself against Fundamentalist Christians or The Church of Reality or, of course, celebrate the National Day of Reason this Thursday, May 4, 2006.
posted by mooncrow at 1:23 PM on May 1, 2006


mooncrow: I use a slightly less harsh but similar argument for not mourning about the giant buddha statues destroyed by the Taliban; every buddhist should be grateful to the Taliban for helping him practice his detachment.
posted by Zombie Dreams at 1:23 PM on May 1, 2006


flora made it nice and warm today. this is good. time to sacrifice goat.
Flora??
You heathen, it's Sigel who makes it nice and warm. I can prove it.
posted by jouke at 1:34 PM on May 1, 2006


I actually got witnessed to someone using the Ray Comfort/Kirk Cameron method. It was fun!

They asked if I was certain god didn't exist. I said I was pretty sure. So they beat on the point for a while. Eventually they said I was an agnostic and not an atheist. I asked if they were sure god existed and they said they were. I claimed that they were, I asked whether they doubted his existence at all. They would not admit to any doubt. I said that it was unfair to expect me to be honest if they were unwilling to be.

I claimed that I believed that I was as confident in my assessment that there is no god as he was in his assessment that there was one and that if I was an agnostic so was he. He went into a speech about houses having builders. I asked him whether the forests had gardeners. He claimed that god was the gardener. He asked me if I was a good person I said that I was neither particularly good or bad.

He asked whether I've ever told a lie and I said yes. He asked what that made me. I said regretful. He said no a liar. I asked him if he ever played football. He said he had so I guess you would call yourself a football player. He admitted no. He used the example of a murderer and I admitted that the conventions of language can go both ways, but that liar is usually used to imply a person who makes a habit of lying. He asked me if I ever used gods name in vain and he called me a blasphemer. I asked him if he thought it was ok to say by Thor he said it wasn't because he was to have no other gods besides the father. I said is it ok to use it if he didn't believe it. He said maybe, but he didn't know. He told me about How I would be judged even if I don't believe in it. He made an analogy to gravity. I said that he wouldn't be judged even if he did. We both agreed that cosmology wasn't like a roadrunner cartoon in this respect.

In short I think we both had a good time talking to an idiot and failing to change his mind.
posted by I Foody at 1:55 PM on May 1, 2006


"It's probably a bad sign that the "faith in evidence" link leads to a blank directory."

It only appears to be blank. If you truely accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, then you'd see the content.

It's kind of like those pro-Firefox sites that don't support IE...
posted by insomnia_lj at 2:04 PM on May 1, 2006


no i mean who that matters debates it
posted by wakko


Who that matters debates anything? It seems to me that people who matter always seem to avoid debate like the plague, which is one reason so few people who matter make things better.
posted by Happy Monkey at 2:07 PM on May 1, 2006


As seen in the Principia Discordia.

...point to all of the discord and confusion in the world and exclaim "Well who the hell do you think did all of this, wise guy?" If he says, "Nobody, just impersonal forces." then
quickly respond with:
THE ARGUMENT BY SEMANTICAL GYMNASTICS and say that he is absolutely right, and that those impersonal forces are female and that Her name is ERIS.

posted by Foosnark at 2:17 PM on May 1, 2006


I don't feel a need to believe that _____, so why should I, and if ___ did ___, why would __ need me to believe ___?

I think that might soon become my favorite Mad Lib ever.
Start by inserting the name of a band you hate. Then start over, using the name of a food that you haven't tried, but that people generally like.

I don't feel the need to believe that Bright Eyes is a good band, so why should I, and if Bright Eyes did rock, why would it need me to believe that it is good?

I don't feel the need to believe that figs taste good, so why should I, and if figs did taste good, why would they need me to try them?

Awesome. Your favorite band/food/belief system sucks.
posted by JekPorkins at 2:46 PM on May 1, 2006


"I know there is a god because I read it on the internets. I had doubts, but then I met a guy in a chatroom."
posted by Jatayu das at 3:01 PM on May 1, 2006


Mooncrow, thanks for the national day of reason link. I may go in San Jose, if only to see how politically motivated atheism differs from my more apathetic atheism.
posted by BrotherCaine at 3:17 PM on May 1, 2006


My current favorite take on door-to-door witnessing is the Church of Reality's video "Kissing Hank's Ass" (halfway down the page).
posted by salvia at 3:33 PM on May 1, 2006


I certainly don't. The entire 'Get out there and make some converts' interperetation of 'sharing good news' has been the death of the church, philosophically and spiritually.

ah , the double glazing approach.
I'd like to see a return to 'the end is nigh' sandwich boards , 'golf sale' doesnt really do it for me.
posted by sgt.serenity at 4:09 PM on May 1, 2006


How can an omnipotent/omnipresent being “choose”?

I always have problems with atheists who make assertions like the Church of Reality: “...if I ever become a theist without an objective real world test proving the existence of God - then I have lost my mind...”

If he’s defined “God” as omnipresent (he is everywhere), then by that definition he exists. Objectively.

What is not proven then is “God”’s intent - which is what many atheist arguments seems to be about.

I mean if some being shows up and lifts a mountain and speaks in a big booming voice to everyone on Earth all at once I’ll be pretty impressed in an Arthur C. Clarke “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic” sort of way. But I won’t think that it’s God.
(Might be wise to pay lip service to that being though so he doesn’t flatten me in the meantime).

I’m not accusing door to door witnesses or any other evangelicals of having less insipid arguments of course.
Had a nice talk with some Jehovah’s witnesses a bit back, lots of air and “I don’t know” ‘s on their end of the conversation. They don’t learn epistemology or how they know what they know - mostly just focus on the justification part, which doesn’t work if you point behind the facade.
(I’ve always found Sartre and Heidegger have excellent counterpoints to the bastardized Christian existentialism that many Christians seem to be using lately)

To paraphrase Socrates - an unexamined faith is not worth having. In life and reason it goes without saying.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:09 PM on May 1, 2006


I'm glad you brought up Socrates in this thread. Thanks! You've hit on some interesting and important points, I think, Smedleyman.

To quote Socrates: "I drank what?"
posted by JekPorkins at 4:20 PM on May 1, 2006


*sigh* Fundies. Misery and unfulfilled wishes loves company.
posted by HiveMind at 4:46 PM on May 1, 2006


Do you "know" there is no God or, is it your "opinion" there is no God?

False dichotomy, Mr. Chriss-tyan! Poor start! Keelhaul the bounder!

God damn, these subhuman vermin have nought but ruptured shitvalves where their brains should be. And I say that in a very loving, giving way.
posted by Decani at 4:55 PM on May 1, 2006


I don't feel the need to believe that Bright Eyes is a good band, so why should I, and if Bright Eyes did rock, why would it need me to believe that it is good?

I don't feel the need to believe that figs taste good, so why should I, and if figs did taste good, why would they need me to try them?


Hey Jek, did anyone ever tell you that you've quite a talent for insightful analogies, especially in threads concerning religion?

No?

Oh.
posted by ludwig_van at 5:07 PM on May 1, 2006


Thanks, ludwig_van. But it wasn't meant as analogy.

Socratic games are a waste of time both in religious discussion and pretty much everywhere else, frankly. I think it's foolish for religious people to try to argue people into believing, and I think it's equally foolish for non-religious people to think that they're somehow intellectually or logically superior simply by virtue of their lack of religious belief.

The statement I was riffing on is, IMO, a very good example of really awful logic and a disingenuous question. Maybe you disagree.
posted by JekPorkins at 5:18 PM on May 1, 2006


mooncrow: thanks for the script, and the links. I'm not that verbally fast on my feet, so I tend to have a problem when the JWs start laying on the Bible quotes. What to say, what to say?

I believe in a polite-but-firm approach when people ask me for money, or to attend their church, or to sign up for long-distance. It seems, however, that the JWs don't give up very easily, and it makes me angry to be put in a position where I have to be rude or cruel to someone to get them to leave me alone. However, such is life.
posted by meringue at 5:51 PM on May 1, 2006


"Atheist Enters a Christian Chat Room"

Sounds like the beginning of a joke.

(All quotes from the site)
"It has happened time and time again that medically dead people have come back to life (though not for as long as Jesus was reported to have been dead). And you have already admitted the possibility that God...(a miracle maker who could raise people from the dead) might exist. Therefore, it is possible for it to happen....

Does this seem reasonable to you?"

No. How are you defining reason?.

"Within reason and to your satisfaction allowing for the possibility that God might exist and that miracles might happen."

Again it depends on how you are defining 'reason.'

Plato for example made a distinction between reason and logic, whereas Aristotle thought they were equal.
Plato asserted that knowlege could be found world of ideas:
"A priori" - derived without the direct experience or observation by the senses.

Aristoteleans assert that it can be deduced or induced
from the experience of the senses or "A posteriori".

I'm willing to entertain "God"'s existance under Platonic circumstances, but since the assertion involves direct observation of an event it's a different argument.

Abductive reasoning is a process that starts from a set of facts (rising from the dead) and derives their most likely explanations. It also includes belief revision which takes into account new peices of information. We're not considering - for now - the consequence of God as Christ's rising from the dead but explaining what we know: mortality.

In belief revision both the old set of beliefs and the new data refer to the same circumstances, in this case people rising from the dead. Inconsistencies and mismatches in the old and new info is covered by regarding the old information as less reliable than the new information which is typically less removed and prone to error in reproduction.

So in this case given that we have direct experiance with the fact that people who have been dead for three days have with one singular exception not returned from the dead and given the very definition of an innate idea (a priori knowlege) as a concept universal to all humanity - final death being one - it is far more likely an error - given all terms of "reason."

"Well, it seems we'll just have to agree to disagree on this one...."

Yeah, that's real helpful. Thanks. I'm so much more enlightened now asshole.

"This shows a hardened heart and sinful rebellion (with its destructive consequences) that God wishes to save you from."

*unleashes Rottweiler*
posted by Smedleyman at 6:15 PM on May 1, 2006


It only appears to be blank. If you truely accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, then you'd see the content.

It's kind of like those pro-Firefox sites that don't support IE...
posted by insomnia_lj at 2:04 PM PST on May 1


ninjew, your browser does not currently support Jesus. Please upgrade to Christian or go to Hell.
posted by ninjew at 7:21 PM on May 1, 2006


Just for fun, used the same script and replaced existence of god with absence of god:

Atheist: Okay, do you "know" there is a God or, is it your "opinion" there is a God?

Christian: I know there is a God.

Atheist: You would have to have infinite knowledge (know all things) in order to KNOW for a FACT that God does exist. Do you claim to know all things?

Christian: No

Atheist: Having said that, do you now claim that you 'KNOW' there is God, or that it's your "opinion" there is a God?

Christian: It's my opinion.

Atheist: If it's just your opinion that God exists, isn't it POSSIBLE that He might NOT exist (with evidence to support it)?

Christian: yes / maybe

Atheist: Good, if it can be REASONABLY shown that God does not exist - will you stop believing in Him?

Christian: No

Atheist: It is interesting that an open-minded individual such as yourself will refuse reasonable evidence that God does not exist. This shows a hardened heart and illogical rebellion (with its destructive consequences) that other open-minded, reasonable people wish to save you from. Thanks for the time you took in answering my questions...
posted by Nquire at 8:33 PM on May 1, 2006


Blasphemer!
posted by five fresh fish at 8:35 PM on May 1, 2006


It's fun if you do a search and replace for:

God --> Santa Claus
Jesus --> The Easter Bunny

A particularly funny excerpt:
FaithInEvidence: I have one last question. Would you like to ask this possible Santa Claus to reveal Himself to you IF He does indeed exist?

MadRapper: yes, actually
MadRapper: but Santa Claus's a little punk
MadRapper: if he was real, of course

FaithInEvidence: Okay, pray (or just agree with) the following statement - "Santa Claus, I don't know whether you even exist. I'm a skeptic. I doubt. I think...
FaithInEvidence: you may be only a myth. But I'm not certain (at least not when I'm completely honest with myself). So if you do exist, and if you really did promise to reward...
FaithInEvidence: all seekers, you must be hearing me now. So I hereby declare myself a seeker, a seeker of the truth, whatever it is and wherever it is. I want to know...
FaithInEvidence: the truth and live the truth. If you are the truth, please help me." - End...
FaithInEvidence: The web site again is - http://geocities.com/faithinevidence

MadRapper: why are u doing this?

FaithInEvidence: Because I love you and The Easter Bunny.

MadRapper: and why do u love me?

FaithInEvidence: Because you are a child of Santa Claus like I am and in need of it like I am. We are both sinners and need Santa Claus's forgiveness. I love you because He loves me.

MadRapper: that makes no sence but whatever
It's like one of those Lifetime Original Christmas movies! "Santa Claus, I don't know whether you even exist..."
posted by jeddings at 9:26 PM on May 1, 2006


kirk and ray leave no stone unturned. ( mmm. leftover memes. )
posted by arialblack at 10:13 PM on May 1, 2006


Nquire: spot on! Always the best solution in cases like these to reverse the roles.
posted by acrobat at 4:46 AM on May 2, 2006


i've got to admit, it's an unique experience reading a thread on metafilter where people don't express their opinions, but stick to what they know

it's probably never going to happen again
posted by pyramid termite at 4:49 AM on May 2, 2006


Nquire, reversing it doesn't really work. All it would really take is one thing to prove the existence of God and you don't need infinite knowledge of that.
posted by Captaintripps at 6:59 AM on May 2, 2006



The thing of it is - even absolute proof of God’s existance (which I admittedly can’t fathom as a quantifiable, measurable thing in totality) doesn’t prove or disprove any intent on God’s part or any inclination towards Christianity or FSMism, etc. as the proper order of reaction to such a thing. (I’m reminded of David dancing before the Ark - because what the hell, really, are you supposed to do before a manifestation of God? Everything is inappropriate. - speaking from within that allegory of course).
So the same reason dilemma exists - what is it we SHOULD do?
Were I atheist or Christian or any kind of other theist batting for my team in that particular struggle I’d stop slugging it out over which world view is more conducive to moral action and notice the myriad demigods that are usurping reality and “should” as the debate rolls on.

I mean if Ronald McDonald isn’t an avatar of the mighty God that is McDonald’s spreading it’s message and it’s worldview faster than any other thought system in history, then I should be far less smug.
And really, I’m practically swimming in oleaginousness.
It’s corporations and marketing that are spreading the most dangerous worldview through branding and reconceptualizing the commons.
Religion(s) might have broken the intellectual hymen on some folks’ memetic innocence (little lamb who made thee? - Blake) but the Beast is the one co-opting your water supply with the concept of privatization.

I’m not trying to derail. I mean the script for use against atheists is in a nutshell nearly everything wrong with organized religion, but at least it’s so simplistic we can see the bounds and flimsy illusion they try to create about our minds.

I don’t know how many folks can recite the lord’s prayer or the Sh'ma or what have you, but I think everyone knows more than a few commercial jingles.

The illusion of comfort, materialism and wholesomeness, this idea of belonging and home through eating fries with your buddies or SO or of the exotic thrill when you step on the gas pedal - that’s the intellectual bondage trapping our minds.

Christianity? Amateur night in Dixie.
posted by Smedleyman at 9:05 AM on May 2, 2006


Smedleyman said How can an omnipotent/omnipresent being “choose”?

Presumably, omnipotence goes along with being able to do anything. If God is everything he's cracked up to be, he's a null-concept. As well as, presumably, a she and an it. Assert existence of God? You might as well assert existence of self. Doesn't get you anywhere.

If there is a God, why do we need religion? Wouldn't it be, say, obvious?
posted by ny_scotsman at 10:12 AM on May 2, 2006


If there is a God, why do we need religion?

We don't. Even assuming that there is a God, religion in general is quite clearly a human construct. Obviously, I'm making some big assumptions about what you mean by "religoin," but since you didn't really specify . . .

Wouldn't it be, say, obvious?

Wouldn't what be obvious? The nature and will of God? Some people think that the existence of God is obvious. I don't see why it would necessarily be obvious, since "obvious" is a subjective term to begin with. Very few scientific discoveries are obvious. Why should deity be any different?

I'm amazed that so many people, especially religious ones, think that any real conclusions about God can be reached by arguing about it.
posted by JekPorkins at 10:36 AM on May 2, 2006


Just for the record, you can't call it Godwin if the reference or comparison is appropriate. For example, any discussion that involves hateful speech directed at Jews, Jehovah's Witnesses, Gypsies, or homosexuals bears a direct relation to the discussion of Hitler/Nazi regime that not only approved of such hate, but encouraged and eventually systematized it with the concentration camps.

mooncrow's comment above clearly states that his motive is to make Jehovah's Witnesses uncomfortable. In fact, he says he finds that "satisfying". People who find satisfaction in the assaulting others mentally or physically are abusive personalities. Sure they will try to justify their actions, but that fits the profile, as well. I don't think it is a stretch to conclude that mooncrow's self-stated attitudes would have had to make only a very short trip to find himself in full support Hitler's policies, had he/she lived in Nazi Germany during those attrocities.

I think it is pretty safe to say that the motive of Jehovah's Witnesses knocking at your door is not to make you uncomfortable or cause you any sort of mental anguish. They probably have other motives (fulfilling a command of Jesus to preach, encouraging people to examine their religious beliefs, etc.).

mooncrow's response to that is not only aiming to cause mental anguish/discomfort (and drawing "satisfaction" from the accomplishment of those goals) but also promoting others to follow his lead, by posting his encouragement to follow his example. Compare his motive to theirs.

People think that they can paint "Godwin" on anything. Sometimes it directly applies. When it does, calling it Godwin is nothing more than sticking your fingers in your ears and humming. What you fail to recognize is that those Germans in WWII were not monsters. They were ordinary people who slipped in to a rationalization of inhumane behavior of others. I'm simply pointing out that mooncrow apparently would not have felt out of place there.
posted by spock at 11:15 AM on May 2, 2006


Oh please. A Jehovah's Witness comes to your door as a hostile memetic warrior, out to eliminate your kind. They're the ones who are picking the fight.
posted by beth at 11:23 AM on May 2, 2006


spock : "mooncrow's comment above clearly states that his motive is to make Jehovah's Witnesses uncomfortable. In fact, he says he finds that 'satisfying'. People who find satisfaction in the assaulting others mentally or physically are abusive personalities."

People who find "making someone uncomfortable" to be equivalent to "mentally assaulting others" have hyperbolic personalities.

spock : "I don't think it is a stretch to conclude that mooncrow's self-stated attitudes would have had to make only a very short trip to find himself in full support Hitler's policies, had he/she lived in Nazi Germany during those attrocities. "

I think that's almost the definition of "a stretch". In fact, I'm pretty sure it's like definition #6 in Webster's.

spock : "People think that they can paint 'Godwin' on anything. Sometimes it directly applies."

Yes. And, on the other hand, there is this case.

spock : "I'm simply pointing out that mooncrow apparently would not have felt out of place there."

We apparently have very different definitions of "apparently".
posted by Bugbread at 11:27 AM on May 2, 2006


Captaintripps: Nquire, reversing it doesn't really work. All it would really take is one thing to prove the existence of God and you don't need infinite knowledge of that.

Agreed. To prove the premise that "all crows are black" requires observation of every single existing crow, while to prove the premise "some crows are white" requires just one observation. In experimental terms, you can't prove a null hypothesis, i.e. you can't prove the absence of something. With that said, there is certainly greater epistemological evidence for the premise that all crows are black then some crows are white.

The point of the script is for the Christian to force the atheist to acknowledge that it is an opinion that God does not exist, so that they will be open to evidence that God does exist. But I would submit that, because there is no clear evidence that God exists, the Christian belief that God exists is merely an opinion. Therefore, the Christian should be just as open to the premise that God does not exist as the atheist should be that God does exist. In other words, be open to the possibility that all crows are black.

(With that said, it is certainly possible that god-like forces or entities do, in fact, exist. After all, the sun and the moon used to be gods, the earth used to be flat, and disease used to be caused by evil spirits. But if/when an explanation is provided for apparent spiritual or paranormal phenomena, the religious mystique associated with it will likely disappear. Now that we have knowledge of how weather patterns work, we don't dance to make it rain.)
posted by Nquire at 1:59 PM on May 2, 2006


But I would submit that, because there is no clear evidence that God exists, the Christian belief that God exists is merely an opinion.

Um, you used a null hypothesis as your opening assumption. Isn't that a bad idea? (I'm just yanking your chain -- I agree with your post, though I do think that, on an individual basis, there may be clear evidence of God's existence observable only by the individual and therefore unusable in any persuasive sense)
posted by JekPorkins at 2:15 PM on May 2, 2006


JekPorkins: Um, you used a null hypothesis as your opening assumption. Isn't that a bad idea?

Well, no. Consider the null hypothesis that "all crows are black" and the alternative hypothesis that "some crows are white". While it is impossible to prove the hypothesis that all crows are black, it receives support constantly. With each observation, the likelihood that some crows are white diminishes, approaching zero but never reaching zero. In other words, there's no clear evidence for the existence of white crows.

(I'm just yanking your chain -- I agree with your post, though I do think that, on an individual basis, there may be clear evidence of God's existence observable only by the individual and therefore unusable in any persuasive sense)

It's really unfortunate that the study of religious and spiritual beliefs is so taboo. When people see faces, or even imagine faces for that matter, a very specific region in the brain becomes more active. There is a direct link between the qualitative experience of observing or imagining a face and differences in brain activity. Similarly, there are links between the qualitative experience of God and changes in brain states.

Here's the rub. We're comfortable with idea that seeing a face leads to brain state changes that are correlated with the perception of a face. That is, the perception of the face was ultimately caused by an external event. But, when brain state changes occur in meditating Tibetan monks, it's treated as analogous to the imagining of a face, and not caused by an external event. Point is, it is becoming increasingly more possible to observe changes in brain activity associated with previously unobservable changes in perception. Billions of people do have a personal relationship with God, and experience God. But are those brain changes and experiences caused by external or internal events? Demonstrating this is a challenging task. In a world of deaf people, how would scientists explain brain activity in the auditory cortex of a person who claims to hear "sound"?
posted by Nquire at 3:01 PM on May 2, 2006


spock: "People think that they can paint "Godwin" on anything. Sometimes it directly applies. When it does, calling it Godwin is nothing more than sticking your fingers in your ears and humming. What you fail to recognize is that those Germans in WWII were not monsters. They were ordinary people who slipped in to a rationalization of inhumane behavior of others. I'm simply pointing out that mooncrow apparently would not have felt out of place there."

I get it now, spock -- the response you wanted to hear was "fuck you." Well, sorry. I'm not going to say it. Despite your horrible defamation, I refuse to hate you or wish you ill. I merely hope that one day you too will learn how to use your brain. Arguing with you is a waste of time.
posted by mooncrow at 3:10 PM on May 2, 2006


In other words, there's no clear evidence for the existence of white crows.

you might want to find a better analogy than that ... (scroll down for pictures)
posted by pyramid termite at 3:54 PM on May 2, 2006


Doh! Damn albino crows...

*eats crow - albino crows - along with some humble pie.
posted by Nquire at 4:17 PM on May 2, 2006


Still no proof that unicorns don't exist, though.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:28 PM on May 2, 2006


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