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Reasoning against religious experience

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Reasoning against religious experience

Post  Gila Guerilla on Fri Dec 07, 2012 12:32 pm

How do people cope with the religious person who say that they KNOW they are right about "God", because of their personal experiences? It seems to me that there is no way to reason with a person who really thinks they have had a revelation, and who is determined that nothing will budge him/her. After all, they are sincere in their belief that they have access to special knowledge.

One type of such special knowledge might come from a Near Death Experience. There's plenty I can think of to satisfy myself, so that I can put these so-called experiences had by others aside, but can we do or say anything to sway such people, or are they lost to dissuasive reasoning from non-believers?
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Re: Reasoning against religious experience

Post  Chuck Ludikee on Sat Dec 08, 2012 1:11 am

Gila: How do people cope with the religious person who say that they KNOW they are right about "God", because of their personal experiences? It seems to me that there is no way to reason with a person who really thinks they have had a revelation, and who is determined that nothing will budge him/her. After all, they are sincere in their belief that they have access to special knowledge.

Chuck: They may be sincere but we both know their belief is based on self delusion. It’s not likely any logic will move them at that moment, but a seed just might be planted that will grow with time. The Bible itself is my main pry bar. I have an assortment of verses committed to memory from which there is no escape, except for simple denial and rationalization. The exchange would start something like this and then branch off into other arguments:

Me: So you KNOW God is real based on your personal interaction with Him?
Believer: I sure do! And you can know Him too and all the joy He will bring to your life!
Me: Well, I’d sure like to believe, but I’ve never found any of the Biblical promises to be true.
Believer: That’s because you’re not a true believer. You’ve got to really believe.
Me: So God will answer the prayers of true believers and keep all His promises?
Believer: He answers my prayers all the time! I know His words are true!
Me: Great! I read the Bible a little bit, and I’ve always been puzzled why there are so many sick people in our hospital when it is surrounded by so many churches. Have you ever read Mark 16:17-18? God gives signs to the world that He is real. The joker is it takes “true” believers to activate the signs. God said “these signs shall follow them that believe they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.” You’re a true believer, right? How about we take a trip to the hospital and test God’s promise?

At this point they start tap dancing real fast, and you must be ready to counter whatever rationalization they throw at you. (I’m hoping we antitheists can use this site to refine our arguments for things like this.)


Gila: One type of such special knowledge might come from a Near Death Experience. There's plenty I can think of to satisfy myself, so that I can put these so-called experiences had by others aside, but can we do or say anything to sway such people, or are they lost to dissuasive reasoning from non-believers?

Chuck: You’re right about there being many rational explanations, and I put near death in the same category of people who are convinced they have had supernatural experiences. I’m happy to discuss it and find it interesting, but that discussion can take considerable time with point counter point. As for swaying them, I’ve found over the decades (I’m retired so I’ve had a few decades ;-) that if you’re looking for instant change, you’ll likely be disappointed. They usually need time to chew it over, and with time there might be some movement. I can think of a number of examples where I found out later that the seed I planted took root. Usually it's with family and friends because contact is maintained over the years, and it is not unusual for them to use one of my arguments years later -- proof positive! I’ve have a number of people turn from red hot to very cool to agnostic. Only my immediate family have come all the way over to atheist. I recall my own journey; it took years of small steps until here I sit as not only an atheist but also full blown antitheist.

Just a side note. About a year ago my wife of forty-six years was put on life support for 11 days and she definitely was looking into her own grave. If I hadn’t been in the room she would have died. We were talking, she laid down, I was covering her up because she was chilled, and by the time I had finished covering her she had stopped breathing and turned deep blue. It was the discoloration that caught my attention and saved her. That was the start of a nightmare. Sixteen crash-team members were in the room at one time. I know because I counted them from the corner as I watched the drama unfold. She should have died. She developed pneumonia so bad the daily x-rays showed only a cloud, not the organs underneath. She ran a fever that hovered around 104 that couldn’t be gotten down for a day or so even with ice and a cooling blanket. She had a minor heart attack. She developed ARDS (Acute respiratory distress syndrome), and it is a real killer. One of the doctors told me one of three die in the first two weeks from it. I found studies with death rates of 51%. On the third day I returned to the ICU room and set up housekeeping so I would be with her when she passed. I did not expect her to survive. There are tears in my eyes as I feel that pain again.

She lived and is still around to nag me ;-) The point is when she was brought off the support, she had no idea of what had happened to her. She simply had lost awareness of all time. The last thing she remembered was going to the hospital, even though she had gone through hysterectomy surgery before she stopped breathing and was about to be released from the hospital. She was only being kept over because she had a little fever. Such is life.

I had people tell me it was a miracle. We have a business in a small town, so we’re closet atheists, and I could not tell them what I really thought of their god. If they got too godly with me, I would ask them why they thought God saved my wife, an older lady, and allowed children to die ARDS while she was in ICU. I can truly tell you I was NEVER tempted to pray to God. It never entered my mind, and I politely turned away a couple of ministers who earned their living by selling superstition to the venerable. (The ICU was in a larger city, so I could be a little more truthful with them.) I was asked about praying by a few people after the fact, and my answer was that it never entered my mind to ask God for help than it did Santa Claus. What I really regret is not being about to speak my mind to those in our town who held prayer circles for her and believed their prayers saved her. Just about every church held them, I guess it made them feel good about themselves. I would like to have asked if they thought there were any prayer circles for the children who died during the time my wife was in the hospital, but I was too much the coward and too attached to my wallet ;-)


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Re: Reasoning against religious experience

Post  drunkenmonkey04 on Sun Dec 23, 2012 3:47 am

Use their own reasoning to counter them, there is a reason why most prominent anti theists have studied the bible in some way. Using the bible to counter their arguments and using the bible to contradict their stupid ideas usually works. Just like Jeremiah 10:1-25 It literally says that Christians are not supposed to keep and decorate trees because it is a part of the heathens religion, and yet billions of Christians celebrate Christmas like lemmings. Use theology to counter their half-assed association with the massive mindcontrol organization.

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Re: Reasoning against religious experience

Post  Chuck Ludikee on Sun Dec 23, 2012 12:29 pm

I never made the connection with x-mas trees! That is good stuff ;-) It reminds me of how they ignore the 2nd Commandment about graven images being a no-no.

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Re: Reasoning against religious experience

Post  Gila Guerilla on Sun Dec 30, 2012 12:52 pm

Thanks for your quite lengthy and sincere reply to my query, Chuck. I still need to mull over what you've said, (yeah, I know, I'm slow as a wet week).

By the way, I was prompted by my experiences with a couple of Christians who have put up the ''they know, because of personal experience, and if I don't agree, I am an idiot, and I can boil in oil or in hell''. They don't need to discuss anything, because they KNOW they are right, (so they say). Their willingness to listen to any kind of reason is the same - I'm an evil wart, they're right and I can bug off.
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Re: Reasoning against religious experience

Post  drunkenmonkey04 on Sun Dec 30, 2012 1:11 pm

Unfortunately that is how many people choose to perceive the ones that go against their religious beliefs =)

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Re: Reasoning against religious experience

Post  Gila Guerilla on Sun Dec 30, 2012 1:26 pm

Chuck Ludikee wrote:(I’m retired so I’ve had a few decades ;-) that if you’re looking for instant change, you’ll likely be disappointed. They usually need time to chew it over, and with time there might be some movement.
Just on a personal note, I am retired, too. And I agree that if the world is to become more atheist and less theist, it will take time, a very long time, especially if religion is to become irrelevant to most people. Some religious people seem to be really nuts, (see this video for an example):-

'School Massacre, A Christmas Reminder from God', by Thunderf00t




Chuck Ludikee wrote:Just a side note. About a year ago my wife of forty-six years was put on life support for 11 days

She lived and is still around to nag me ;-)

I had people tell me it was a miracle.
I hate the way the word miracle is used in our local newspapers, when something unlikely and “for the good”, happens. I always think – how does the writer know it’s a miracle? And if I’m right, and there is no god, then such news headlines are promoting a false, and unfounded conclusion.

Chuck Ludikee wrote:We have a business in a small town, so we’re closet atheists

I was too much the coward and too attached to my wallet ;-)
I too, am a closet atheist, but I think if confronted, I’d tell the truth about myself. I don’t question the Christian beliefs of my wife’s family, but there might be a big blow-up one day. Anyway, I’m a big coward, so I don’t expect to have much influence in this world pale .
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Re: Reasoning against religious experience

Post  Chuck Ludikee on Fri Jan 04, 2013 4:21 pm

Gila Guerilla: I agree that if the world is to become more atheist and less theist, it will take time, a very long time, especially if religion is to become irrelevant to most people.
Chuck: For this I do have faith! It will become irrelevant.
Gila Guerilla: Some religious people seem to be really nuts, (see this video for an example):-
Chuck: That film did speak volumes! Seems so clear, but for some I guess not so much.


Gila Guerilla: I hate the way the word miracle is used in our local newspapers, when something unlikely and “for the good”, happens. I always think – how does the writer know it’s a miracle? And if I’m right, and there is no god, then such news headlines are promoting a false, and unfounded conclusion.
Chuck: My skin really crawls when someone with all seriousness labels something a “miracle” because three people live while forty others die. I guess God just didn’t like the dead ones very much.
Gila Guerilla: I too, am a closet atheist, but I think if confronted, I’d tell the truth about myself. I don’t question the Christian beliefs of my wife’s family, but there might be a big blow-up one day. Anyway, I’m a big coward, so I don’t expect to have much influence in this world .

Chuck: All my family has known for years, decades really, but I do try and down play it locally. It usually can be side stepped pretty easy. There are lots of ways to leave footprints leading others out of the superstitious haunted woods; you are doing it right now. At least a few people will read your posts and a little seed just might be planted to encourage some to fight a little harder to end superstition. For me I hope to donate what little money I have to some antitheist atheist organizations. I also hope to encourage antitheism as much as possible, and when we sell our business and move to our retirement home, I hope to become much more active. We already have the home, but currently it’s being used by my granddaughter and two other college students while they go to school and over the summer it’s a vacation rental. But someday .... ;-) We have to have our dreams!

P.S. I seem to stay busier now than when I was on the clock, so it might be a day or two before I get to post again.

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