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Old 08-14-2013, 03:26 PM
 
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Nothing's ever stumped me - I'm an atheist because of the empirical evidence. Theists don't really rely on empirical evidence but rather faith, so basically in any debate we'd be coming at it from two totally incompatible positions. In a scientific experiment, everyone can generally agree on the data gathered. There is nothing in any religious faith that is based on data. It is all legend and myth. You can't debate that - myths vs. data - it just doesn't intersect enough.
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Old 08-14-2013, 06:58 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Quadro1 View Post
I understand the objections, and for a time those exact objections kept me from putting all my weight on this. And, for the record, I am not positing this as reason you should believe, this was merely my first step to a confident faith.
I accept your post as 'Just telling us about it', but it is asking (by implication) whether we buy it and, if not, why not.

Quote:
But dont quickly downgrade the power of this new birth experience. Even with your objections in mind, the transformation is quite startling. You mention atheists who supposedly experienced the same thing before becoming non theists. You assume that. The "Real Scotsman Fallacy" only works if there is no authority on what is a Scotsman. Did they experience the same thing? The authority on the new birth is scripture, if its definition of the experience has been met by them, then you have a point. My inquisitions into this matter do not really show that. On the other hand, there have been many very rational atheists who have discovered the surprising power of the new birth. Lee Strobel and Josh Mcdowel's experience was different than mine in that they were convinced by the evidence first, but then found the new birth experience to be powerful confirmation. Richard Lumsden, Dean of the Biology dept at Tulane, found the experience of meeting God through the new birth utterly convincing.
I don't think we downgrade the 'power' of the experience and it rather confirms our view that it is subjective that it requires a sort of pump -priming for the conversion experience, just as deconversion requires it, but it can take various forms. Being persuaded by the evidence or being overloaded by a love-bombing ceremony.

For deconversion, it can be overloaded by doubting the 'evidence' or by simply becoming disillusioned with religion. The numbers or perhaps 'name - dropping' game can be played by both sides, Farrell Till and Matt Dillahunty, the principal presenter of Austin Atheists, were both believing ministers and were perfectly good 'Scotsmen' and ate their porridge too, and we have a couple of notable former Fundamentalists here who reasoned their way to atheism.
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Old 08-14-2013, 11:06 PM
 
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You can "buy it" or not, I simply opined about phenomenon I had not associated with atheists before and I was asked to divulge my rational for believing. Certainly I welcome your input, and I welcome your skepticism also. In matters of TRUTH, gentleness comessecond.
You seem bothered by my testimony, and appear to be trying to relegate its transformational power to a sort of pump priming hypnosis maybe? Note: I am not saying that my personal experience even proves conclusively intellectually to me that I met God. My reasons for that position are forthcoming. But whether or not I met God, I was powerfully changed, and it wasn't hypnosis.
To more powerfully make this point, here is the essence of a conversation I had with an atheist co worker on this subject. Brad doubted my conversion was anything but self delusion, so I asked him: Do you ever read the Bible? He said no, and I asked him why not? Well, I am an atheist, and its boring. I asked him if he ever prayed? He said no again for the same reason. I asked him if he liked hearing the old God glorifying hymns? No, same reason. What about obeying the commandments in the Bible? Ditto. I listed about ten such particulars and the answers were pretty consistent.
Then I asked him if there was some button I could push on his body that would transform all that strong dislike to an equally strong enjoyment and liking? Of course not, he replied. Ok, would hypnosis do it? No, not a chance. People don't change like that.
Well Brad, you have a problem, because when I was seventeen I was just like you. Except I intellectually believed God existed. I just didnt like Him or anything associated with Him. Then, after one prayer, all those likes and dislikes were permanently transformed. You just told me it couldnt happen, yet it happened to me.
Let me ask you the same thing, can you think of any mechanism that would so change you?
I read a book some years ago by an old preacher named Floyd McElveen, where he related a time when God seemed to impress upon him to talk to the town atheist where he pastored in Alaska. The man was known for going after Christians, so Floyd was hesitant. Floyd sparred around with him a bit, getting nowhere, and God seemed to impress upon him to go for broke. Floyd said, I am going to give you the gospel, and in five minutes you will trust Jesus as your Savior. He did just that. I contacted the man who was a Pastor in the Seattle area, and he confirmed the story.
What kind of influence would cause you to sothoroughly be converted?
You can appeal to deconversion of Christians, but that really doesnt answer the question. If this is more mystical than a mechanical decision, it would follow that not all who claim Christ actually posess Christ. Christ comes with genuine repentance and faith. It is common in our churches for people who thought they were saved to come under conviction and discover they didnt really know Christ, people who then discover Christ powerfully. People who made a decision for Christ because it was the thing to do, not because they knew they were a sinner in need of a Savior.
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Old 08-15-2013, 02:48 AM
 
Location: Somewhere out there.
6,866 posts, read 3,791,335 times
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Originally Posted by Quadro1 View Post
You can "buy it" or not, I simply opined about phenomenon I had not associated with atheists before and I was asked to divulge my rational for believing. Certainly I welcome your input, and I welcome your skepticism also. In matters of TRUTH, gentleness comessecond.
You seem bothered by my testimony, and appear to be trying to relegate its transformational power to a sort of pump priming hypnosis maybe? Note: I am not saying that my personal experience even proves conclusively intellectually to me that I met God. My reasons for that position are forthcoming. But whether or not I met God, I was powerfully changed, and it wasn't hypnosis.
To more powerfully make this point, here is the essence of a conversation I had with an atheist co worker on this subject. Brad doubted my conversion was anything but self delusion, so I asked him: Do you ever read the Bible? He said no, and I asked him why not? Well, I am an atheist, and its boring. I asked him if he ever prayed? He said no again for the same reason. I asked him if he liked hearing the old God glorifying hymns? No, same reason. What about obeying the commandments in the Bible? Ditto. I listed about ten such particulars and the answers were pretty consistent.
Then I asked him if there was some button I could push on his body that would transform all that strong dislike to an equally strong enjoyment and liking? Of course not, he replied. Ok, would hypnosis do it? No, not a chance. People don't change like that.
Well Brad, you have a problem, because when I was seventeen I was just like you. Except I intellectually believed God existed. I just didnt like Him or anything associated with Him. Then, after one prayer, all those likes and dislikes were permanently transformed. You just told me it couldnt happen, yet it happened to me.
Let me ask you the same thing, can you think of any mechanism that would so change you?
I read a book some years ago by an old preacher named Floyd McElveen, where he related a time when God seemed to impress upon him to talk to the town atheist where he pastored in Alaska. The man was known for going after Christians, so Floyd was hesitant. Floyd sparred around with him a bit, getting nowhere, and God seemed to impress upon him to go for broke. Floyd said, I am going to give you the gospel, and in five minutes you will trust Jesus as your Savior. He did just that. I contacted the man who was a Pastor in the Seattle area, and he confirmed the story.
What kind of influence would cause you to sothoroughly be converted?
You can appeal to deconversion of Christians, but that really doesnt answer the question. If this is more mystical than a mechanical decision, it would follow that not all who claim Christ actually posess Christ. Christ comes with genuine repentance and faith. It is common in our churches for people who thought they were saved to come under conviction and discover they didnt really know Christ, people who then discover Christ powerfully. People who made a decision for Christ because it was the thing to do, not because they knew they were a sinner in need of a Savior.
Quadro1 I would first like to thank you for your candid and honest account. I am always interested to hear peoples stories and about their personal experiences.

However I have to point out a couple of things:
You already 'intellectually believed god existed' before the experience that made you believe you had met god. To me that's not that big of a leap. Not so I would guess for your atheist friend. I don't know Brad of course but if he was an atheist at age seventeen then you are mistaken, he would have been nothing like you. For you, your experience was simply a matter of meeting the entity you believed in already. For him the mechanism required to change him would have meant changing his entire belief system.
Let me ask you - do you believe in the Hindu god Ganesha? - The elephant god who sits on the back of a mouse? Who has the head of an elephant and the belly of a human. Is there any button I could push to make you believe in this god? I'm going to guess no such button exists.
This is what you are asking of an atheist, except for an atheist it is an even bigger leap, since an atheist believes in no type of god to start with.


When you talk about things like "you will trust Jesus as your Savior" this implies that unless you 'discover' Christ there is something about you that needs to be saved. Who says as atheists we need to be saved? I have never in my life been able to comprehend this about theism. First of all there is nothing that needs saving. I live my life in a good way - better in my view than many Christians. Secondly we do not 'know' Christ given that he has been dead for 2000 years (no sarcasm intended).

While I appreciate your candour, and I enjoyed your story, you are not comprehending at all what it is to be an atheist. I understand that. It is as difficult for you to comprehend what it is to be an atheist as it is for me to be a theist. (I also understand that you were not trying to prosthelytise )

Last edited by Cruithne; 08-15-2013 at 02:58 AM..
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Old 08-15-2013, 04:15 AM
 
39,175 posts, read 10,872,385 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Quadro1 View Post
You can "buy it" or not, I simply opined about phenomenon I had not associated with atheists before and I was asked to divulge my rational for believing. Certainly I welcome your input, and I welcome your skepticism also. In matters of TRUTH, gentleness comes second.
You think my response was un-gentle? Stick around and keep posting.

Quote:
You seem bothered by my testimony, and appear to be trying to relegate its transformational power to a sort of pump priming hypnosis maybe? Note: I am not saying that my personal experience even proves conclusively intellectually to me that I met God.
I'm giving my response to your story, which is pretty much what you say - there is no proof that you met God and I also add some reasons to doubt that you really did.

Quote:
My reasons for that position are forthcoming. But whether or not I met God, I was powerfully changed, and it wasn't hypnosis.
No, it wasn't hypnosis. It was something else, well known in various religions and even outside, and there is good reason to suppose that it is something in the human head and nothing to do with any gods. I am happy to listen to any arguments you might have to persuade me that it probably is God.

Quote:
To more powerfully make this point, here is the essence of a conversation I had with an atheist co worker on this subject. Brad doubted my conversion was anything but self delusion, so I asked him: Do you ever read the Bible? He said no, and I asked him why not? Well, I am an atheist, and its boring. I asked him if he ever prayed? He said no again for the same reason. I asked him if he liked hearing the old God glorifying hymns? No, same reason. What about obeying the commandments in the Bible? Ditto. I listed about ten such particulars and the answers were pretty consistent.
Then I asked him if there was some button I could push on his body that would transform all that strong dislike to an equally strong enjoyment and liking? Of course not, he replied. Ok, would hypnosis do it? No, not a chance. People don't change like that.
Well Brad, you have a problem, because when I was seventeen I was just like you. Except I intellectually believed God existed. I just didnt like Him or anything associated with Him. Then, after one prayer, all those likes and dislikes were permanently transformed. You just told me it couldnt happen, yet it happened to me.
That powerfully makes your point? You are merely finding fault with one atheist's lack of interest and reiterating the intensity of your own. I spend time on the Bible daily (though you can keep the hymns) and that gets the response that I am working hard not to believe. There is always some propaganda point the believer can make.

Quote:
Let me ask you the same thing, can you think of any mechanism that would so change you?
I read a book some years ago by an old preacher named Floyd McElveen, where he related a time when God seemed to impress upon him to talk to the town atheist where he pastored in Alaska. The man was known for going after Christians, so Floyd was hesitant. Floyd sparred around with him a bit, getting nowhere, and God seemed to impress upon him to go for broke. Floyd said, I am going to give you the gospel, and in five minutes you will trust Jesus as your Savior. He did just that. I contacted the man who was a Pastor in the Seattle area, and he confirmed the story.
What kind of influence would cause you to so thoroughly be converted?
In fact if anything could change me into a god -worshipper, it would indeed be the Mystical experience, which seems able to transform atheists into believers. I can't rule out that happening to me. What I can say is that I can't imagine it possibly being because of sensible arguments or evidence for the truth of Christianity because I have seen it all and it only works on the ill -informed and unprepared.

That's why I spend time here, because these evangelical conversion packages are very carefully prepared by some of the craftiest minds in the persuasion business. Which is why that story, (taken at face value) means nothing more than a technigue of breaking down resistance and transforming the mind. The term 'brainwashing' comes to mind.

Quote:
You can appeal to deconversion of Christians, but that really doesn't answer the question. If this is more mystical than a mechanical decision, it would follow that not all who claim Christ actually possess Christ. Christ comes with genuine repentance and faith. It is common in our churches for people who thought they were saved to come under conviction and discover they didn't really know Christ, people who then discover Christ powerfully. People who made a decision for Christ because it was the thing to do, not because they knew they were a sinner in need of a Savior.
It would not follow at all. It is the 'scotsman' fallacy again. Those who believed, whether they were atheists for a time (infancy aside) but who actually returned to the evidence and found they'd been sold a bill of goods, intellectually found there was no case for Christian belief and, after a struggle, deprogrammed themselves, were just as good, firm and believing Christians as you are and to claim that that they couldn't have been 'Real' Christians or they wouldn't have deconverted is a fallacy, part of the Christian damage liimitation package for explaining away unwelcome facts and is regarded by those former believers as a damned lie and insult. Not getting at you, chum, I'm just saying that your point is a false and meaningless one and does NOT 'follow' and is therefore not a valid element in some logical argument. Logic forms no part of your case, old son.

And that brings me to a final point. What kind of influence would cause you to so thoroughly be de - converted? As for example my old pal Seeker SA (I trust he won't mind me taking his name in vain ) who was (I recall) atheist, then converted, a Fundamentalist (damn' he even looks like Ned Flanders) and then reasoned his way to agnosticism (where I knew him on the old Tentmaker forum) and is here as a most uncompromising and outspoken atheist and very good at it too.

You don't think it could happen to you? Don't EVER be too sure about that. About half of the atheist population believed and made the same claims and arguments and said exactly the same as you.
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Old 08-15-2013, 12:40 PM
 
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Hello Cruithne, nice meeting you too.
Arequipa, would it take anything less than a mystical encounter with a creative being to change your taste in music to the point you regularly look forward in anticipation to a two hour singspiration in which in the company of the church you sing hymn after hymn in hearty praise to God?
I hear what your saying, but Im not buying it. I know two things about that encounter, I was changed, and I didnt do it.
Next post I would like to begin to address why I believe it was God I encountered.
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Old 08-15-2013, 01:57 PM
 
Location: Northeastern US
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Originally Posted by Quadro1 View Post
Arequipa, would it take anything less than a mystical encounter with a creative being to change your taste in music to the point you regularly look forward in anticipation to a two hour singspiration in which in the company of the church you sing hymn after hymn in hearty praise to God?
I think you are making too much of the idea implicit in your statements that people basically don't change in any big way. It happens all the time. It is usually gradual (e.g., my ardent interests and tastes have changed a great deal in the past 35+ years of my adult life) but it can be sudden (e.g., a bad case of food poisoning can cause you to change from loving sushi to being nauseated by the very thought of it).

I have told the story in this space before of my oldest brother who was as a youth given to drunken carousing with his Navy buddies but after an encounter with an evangelical church and a resulting conversion experience, was given to teetotaling and church attending. All he really did however was find a more socially accepted and adjusted group to belong to and he clung to his spiritual beliefs with the same enthusiasm he clung to his drinking -- it provided belonging and social connection that he desperately needed, with the added benefit of no hangover and no stressing out of our parents. This is not a spiritual transformation, it was a combination of growing up and a switch of venues / social groups. He could have accomplished the same thing by becoming a Mason or a Shriner or joining the Peace Corps.
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Originally Posted by Quadro1 View Post
I know two things about that encounter, I was changed, and I didn't do it.
You made a decision to think differently and associate with different people and take up different interests. I do not see what is so remarkable about that.
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Old 08-15-2013, 02:46 PM
 
Location: Exeter, NH
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Originally Posted by sandman249 View Post
Atheists and Theists: when debating each other, have you ever come across a question posed by the other side that has stumped you? Or at least made you pause and think?

And how did you answer it?
Every question from a person who has a drastically-different belief system should make you stop and think, the first time you hear it. As to the question of whether of a religious person has ever said something to make me reconsider my belief system, the answer is no, since I started out in a religious family and thought all those things myself once.

In my case, it was the question I asked myself when I was about 13 that caused me to abandon religious beliefs: "If there was no God, would ANYTHING in my life have been the slightest bit different?"

A religious person is starting from the premise that God and an afterlife exists; it wasn't logic that got the person to that belief, and it won't be logic that keeps them there. The split between logic and religion is so fundamental that religious beliefs are associated with the right side of the brain, while logic and reasoning are associated with the left side. Scientific studies have shown that as analytical thinking increases, religious belief decreases, even after controlling for IQ. Religion & Brain: Belief Decreases With Analytical Thinking, Study Shows

Humans are driven to reduce uncertainty; they strive to understand how things work, so they can better predict the future and have a better chance of surviving. Since natural processes were poorly understood in early human societies, religious leaders taught that a super-powerful person(s) was running everything. We could control the future by praying and sacrificing to the very-human God(s). Later we saw science give explanations of how the world works, and we had much better predictability (plus we didn't have to sacrifice animals or people to ensure a good harvest).

Questions like "How did the universe come to be?" aren't really answered by religion. If a super-person made everything, where did he come from? If God could have always been, then natural processes could have always been.

The only real argument I see for religion is to provide ethical and moral guidelines for society, but in fact ethics and morals are separate from religious mythology. Instilling the idea that God will punish failures of ethics and morals could possibly stop some people from doing wrong, but in practice I'm not sure it ever does. In fact, the opposite seems to be true.
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Old 08-15-2013, 04:53 PM
 
39,175 posts, read 10,872,385 times
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Originally Posted by Quadro1 View Post
Hello Cruithne, nice meeting you too.
Arequipa, would it take anything less than a mystical encounter with a creative being to change your taste in music to the point you regularly look forward in anticipation to a two hour singspiration in which in the company of the church you sing hymn after hymn in hearty praise to God?
I hear what your saying, but Im not buying it. I know two things about that encounter, I was changed, and I didnt do it.
Next post I would like to begin to address why I believe it was God I encountered.
I can't think of anything other than a mystical experience that would make me religious - or change my tastes in music.
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Old 08-16-2013, 06:20 AM
 
5,462 posts, read 5,940,531 times
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Originally Posted by AREQUIPA View Post
I can't think of anything other than a mystical experience that would make me religious - or change my tastes in music.
Brain trauma often changes people's personality and beliefs. Not surprising, considering that's where those preferences come from in the first place. Change the physical structure of the brain, and the brain does different things. No need for magic.
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