Why Arguing with Christians and Republicans Doesn’t Work

Image result for image of person with his fingers in his ears

How did 52 highly educated, intelligent Republican senators sit through hours of skillfully presented arguments by the House managers which produced massive evidence of the abuse of power by President Donald Trump and not have their minds changed?

Answer:  They already had their minds made up before the trial even started!

Remaining loyal to “the tribe” or group is often more important for many people than acknowledging evidence proving the position of the group wrong, in particular when the group is under attack by a perceived enemy.

I believe that the same is true with many conservative Christians.  Conservative Christians believe that they are under attack.  “Evil liberals and atheists” are out to destroy their cherished way of life.  Christians believe that they are involved in a war for the heart and soul of America.  In a war, one should never retreat.  Never give one inch.  Never admit your side is wrong.

That is why arguing, debating conservative Christians rarely achieves anything positive.  Just like the 52 Republican senators, their minds are already made up, regardless of the evidence you present to them.

So what is left?

I believe all that is left is 1)  to ridicule their supernatural beliefs, depriving them of their social acceptability, or 2) to use the Socratic Method with them.

Ridiculing conservative Christians is easy.  It takes no effort.  Engaging conservative Christians with the Socratic Method takes a lot of patience and time…but it may be the best method to debunk their ancient, superstitious belief system.

 

What do you think, reader?

 

 

 

End of post.

50 thoughts on “Why Arguing with Christians and Republicans Doesn’t Work

  1. I highly recommend Jame Lindsay’s book” Everybody is Wrong about God.” He does a good job of describing the psychological and social factors of religious belief and how best to deal with them. “A call to action to address people’s psychological and social motives for a belief in God, rather than debate the existence of God ” https://www.amazon.com/Everybody-Wrong-About-James-Lindsay-ebook/dp/B016TX3RP6/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

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  2. This was my intention making http://www.stopindoctrination.org. It’s not perfectly Socratic but it uses questions to reveal the problems with religious beliefs.  It also contains a lot of reductio ad absurdum. 
    Is this what you’re talking about? or are you thinking of Street Epistemology that puts people into a “spider on the ceiling” moment of contemplation rather than mockingly backing them into a corner as the questions on my website do? I guess I’m a little confused about the line between using the Socratic method and debating.

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    1. There is no debating in the Socratic Method. You never tell the believer that he is wrong or that his belief is foolish. This method involves probing a person’s beliefs with questions. The questioner points out errors or exceptions to the belief, forcing the believer to revise his position until it is rationally sound. Street Epistemology uses the Socratic Method.

      Check out the video above.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I watched it. It’s good. I think my site is pretty much that. One objection I’ve been given is that the questions are “leading” or “biased” but I wasn’t told which ones. I don’t think they’re leading and biased, at least not all of them. If the questioner has an agenda, that does not automatically make the questions less valid. Is it ever possible for questions to be unfair or un-Socratic? When?

        I’m aware of the backfire effect and how that’s a reason to minimize confrontation. I wonder whether the backfire effect is reduced when someone is alone reading the arguments in a safe place compared to when they are face-to-face with an adversary. I hope so.

        My cursory survey of people who stopped believing in gods says that lack of satisfactory answers to questions played a major role. But not everyone thinks of the questions. So I decided to compile all the good questions into an accessible resource.

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        1. I think the questioner, the person using the Socratic Method, must phrase his/her questions in a non-threatening, non-condescending manner. For instance, note my question for “Kevin”. A confrontational, condescending approach on the same issue would be:

          How do you know that a ghost lives inside your body?

          I guarantee that “Kevin” would see that question as an insult and would respond accordingly.

          Go ahead and give a link to your questions.

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            1. Wow!! That is incredible! That must have taken some time. Right now I can’t give it a proper look but I want to. My question is … If I can reasonably answer all of the questions (I doubt I can) would you become a Christian?

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              1. There are more than 2,000 questions in my collection. I collected them with care and in my opinion each of them is more or less reasonable and more or less withering of the case for theism. I’m no more interested in taking the time to evaluate the reasonableness of your answers to all of them than you are interested in attempting to answer all of them to my satisfaction. I don’t recommend bothering. Life is too short and we both have better things to do with our time. So, would I convert if you answered all of them to my satisfaction? Theoretically? I guess. Actually? The world will never ever know.

                The site is not a James Randi million-dollar challenge. It’s a reference resource of religious skepticism in the spirit of the Socratic method. I made and maintain it because kids are out-gunned by adults in Sunday schools and because religion is destroying what I love about the world. I wish that I had had something like it when I was a kid.

                The questions are there for you to read or ignore. It’s entirely up to you. If you do try to answer them, the only person’s satisfaction you will need to meet is yours.

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      2. Even Street Epistemology does not have much effect on the interlocator. Usually the person or persons watching the conversation is most impacted. SE works best when you can share the conversation on video or you have an audience.

        I know Richard Carrier has said on numerous occasions that presenting facts have changed minds over time.The backfire effect is sometimes short lived. SE did not change my mind. I went to the sources, arguments presented against Christianity and over many years changed my mind.

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    1. No, I prefer to use the second method, the Socratic Method to engage your beliefs. Interested in trying it?

      Here is the question: How do you know that Jesus of Nazareth is alive today and that you have a personal relationship with him?

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      1. Good question! He is not alive in the bodily standing next to me sense. I love and admire him. I am thankful that he sacrificed his life for me and I desire to honor him by living a life worthy of that sacrifice. It pains me to know that he suffered. I know that I have relationship through my experiences in that respect.

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        1. Kevin, if not in the bodily standing next to you sense, in what sense is Jesus alive today?

          To save time, a followup: How is this sense different from the alive-today sense of Martin Luther King Jr., Shakespeare, or any other admirable character from the past who can’t stand next to you?

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        2. (Sorry for not getting back to you sooner. I was out of town.)

          You said: I know that I have relationship [with Jesus] through my experiences in that respect.

          Could you give us an example of one of these experiences that you believe confirms that you have a relationship with Jesus of Nazareth?

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          1. No worries. I am the same way right now. I don’t even work and I can’t seem to get caught up.

            There are lots of ways I experience my faith. Tough to describe to someone who just rejects outright but you can try yourself. Do an experiment. Just try one thing that you think Jesus would do. It does not need to be complicated. Compliment somebody, open a door or send someone a card. Note what happens. Do it again. Then again. The results will be compelling. You will at least see that Jesus deserves your consideration.

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            1. Are you saying that if I do something nice and feel good about it that that is proof that Jesus is alive?

              If Jesus is alive and is the omnipotent, omniscient Creator, it is certainly possible that he is responsible for my good feelings after doing a good deed, but wouldn’t you agree that there are other possible explanations for my feeling good after performing an altruistic act?

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              1. Not sure I view Jesus that way but my point is that the life of Jesus deserves your attention. I agree that a few things can be explained away but when you start adding things up it is life changing.

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                  1. Sorry. Thought I addressed this. Jesus died, was resurrected then after being alive in the physical sense was taken to heaven where he resides at the right hand of God.

                    Gary … Can you share your experience with church? Curious as to why you work so hard to debunk Christianity. When I was an atheist, I mainly didn’t care about Christians.

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                    1. I will be happy to share my experiences but I would like to finish the current topic.

                      You said this in a previous comment: “I know that I have relationship [with Jesus] through my experiences in that respect.

                      Would you please give us an example of one of these experiences?

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                    2. There are many! I would love to explain each and every one! For time let me take a simple one. I didn’t used to pray that much. Mostly if I needed something. Jesus prayed a bunch. In fact, he said to pray without ceasing. I saw this and basically tried as much as possible. Not that much really. More than I was though. Hugely beneficial to me! I was calmer, more content, saw people differently, approached situations with a different attitude, etc. My wife even noticed a difference. When I attempt to apply biblical concepts to real life there are wide ranging benefits.

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                    3. That is great that your life is better, Kevin.

                      However, I have met Jews, Muslims, Mormons, and Hindus who claim that their lives have dramatically improved since they chose to follow the teachings of their religion. So, is the feeling of contentment about one’s life a reliable source of evidence about which religion is true, and more specifically, are feelings a reliable source of evidence for whether or not Jesus is still alive and that you have a personal relationship with him?

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                    4. Correct! The feelings/experiences are much the same. One feeling is not reliable it is true. Multiple feelings may start you thinking. When you realize others are having the same experience you start asking questions. When you find history and writings that support those feelings you start demanding answers. Then you put those answers to the test. Repeatedly. Christianity works.

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                    5. You originally said, “I know that I have relationship [with Jesus] through my experiences in that respect.“

                      You state above that the feelings and experiences of people of many different religions “are much the same”. So would you agree that feelings and personal experiences are not reliable sources of information about which religion is true?

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                    6. There are many Jews, Muslims, Mormons, and Hindus who claim that they have had multiple, compelling feelings/experiences that confirm their faith. So how do we determine who is right?

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                    7. Like I said before. Put it to the test. You tell me. Start applying the tough questions to each one. Which religion do you think stands up to scrutiny? Add atheism to that list. For me it falls apart almost immediately but I can see it’s appeal.

                      Now will you answer my question about your religious experience? No need to share personal stuff. Just curious.

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                    8. So you agree that feelings and subjective personal experiences, even a lot of feelings and subjective personal experiences, are not sufficient evidence to determine which religion is true. One needs to “apply tough questions”. What kind of questions?

                      You can find my story of my religious experiences on my “about” page here:

                      https://lutherwasnotbornagaincom.wordpress.com/

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                    9. Not sure why I did not read that from the beginning. I’m sorry church let you down. Me too. I have been in that moment and come to a different conclusion. It seems like you have thrown the baby out with the bath water. Just because a few things don’t reconcile with what you believe doesn’t mean it is all wrong. Truly saddens me to ask this next as I am not sure I want the answer … These few debates we have had are strengthening my faith. I am not your target audience and I understand if you would rather I bow out.

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                    10. No, I’m not interested in bowing out. I find your views interesting.

                      So how do you know, Kevin, that you have a personal relationship with an invisible, mute being if you agree that feelings and subjective personal experiences are not reliable indicators of the truth?

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                    11. What evidence do you have that Jesus is alive today other than your feelings and perceptions, Kevin?

                      This is the Socratic Method. It is a non-confrontational, non-judgmental approach to evaluating the rationality of someone’s belief system. You say that you have a personal relationship with an invisible, mute, all-powerful being. When asked how you know that this being is real (alive and well), you respond that you know he is alive and well based on your feelings and perceptions. Yet, you have agreed that many people of many different religions have strong feelings and perceptions about their faith and, therefore, feelings and perceptions are not reliable sources for determining which religion is true.

                      I’m not asking you for evidence that Jesus of Nazareth existed. I am not a mythicist. I am asking you: what other evidence do you have for your belief that you are in a personal relationship with Jesus of Nazareth?

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                    12. Not sure I can give you what you are looking for. I can share with you that I have connection as do many. You also cannot prove that I do not. The evidence is all around you but instead you want to go down a philosophical rabbit hole.

                      How many children do you have? I have 2.

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                    13. It is a simple question, Kevin. I know I am in a relationship with my wife because I can see, hear, and touch her. You can’t do any of that with Jesus of Nazareth. So how do you know that you are in a relationship with him?

                      That is how the Socratic Method works. The person making a claim is challenged with probing questions to see if his or her claim holds up to rational scrutiny. Does his or her claim meet the standards of Critical Thinking. The questioner continues asking probing questions until the person making the claim either gives a good, sound argument for his belief or he realizes that his claim is based on faulty logic.

                      But let’s end our use of the Socratic Method as I believe we have reached a dead end for your claim that you have a relationship with Jesus of Nazareth. A person using the Socratic Method would end the discussion here and let the person being questioned ponder his position.

                      Let’s now move beyond the Socratic Method and analyze our conversation: The reason you do not want to continue discussing this issue is because you have realized that you do not have any evidence for your claim that you are in a relationship with a man who was born in circa 3 BCE other than your warm fuzzy feelings and subjective personal experiences about your belief that this relationship exists. Your alleged relationship with an invisible, mute being named Jesus is no different than the child who has invented an imaginary friend named “Bob” for the purpose of providing a sense of security, comfort, and entertainment.

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                    14. Perfect! You are married and have a relationship with your wife. Me too! I bet you love her. I love my wife too! We just made a connection. Do we have a relationship? Not yet but as we learn more about each other it could be even though I may never see you face to face. Do you see how this could apply to Jesus?

                      btw … One of my philosophy professors used a similar method. He never called it Socratic though. I never liked it much. It was only useful in that it got your brain working. There never seemed to be anything useful to put into practice.

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                    15. You do not have a relationship with me, Kevin. Someone is posting comments on this blog directed to you. Someone using the name “Gary”. As far as you know, I could be a Russian troll named Popov.

                      But at least the Russian troll is directing messages addressed to you. So a “connection” does exist between you and whoever it is that is responding to your comments on this blog. Can you provide any such communication directed specifically to you from Jesus of Nazareth? No. You cannot. Do you see the difference, Kevin? You cannot provide any evidence that you have a personal relationship with a being named “Jesus”. You believe that you do based on warm fuzzy feelings and subjective perceptions. You have no more evidence for your relationship with Jesus than the child who believes he has a relationship with his invisible friend, “Bob”.

                      Please provide better evidence, or admit that your belief is based on unreliable evidence (feelings).

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                    16. You are correct. This would be one of the reasons why we have so much variation in beliefs. The Russian troll has lead people astray. However, after repeated interactions and input from millions of others we can eventually figure out that the Russian troll is not Gary at all.

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                    17. You are avoiding the question, Kevin. But that is to be expected. Your cherished belief that you have an invisible superhero “best friend” is too dear to you for you to let go of simply because it has been clearly demonstrated that you have no good evidence to hold this superstitious belief other than your intense emotions. Feelings are very powerful.

                      You are not using critical thinking skills, Kevin. You are evaluating truth claims through your emotions. That is not rational. You are using poor logic.

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                    18. One or both of us are deluded. Bottom line is I like my delusion better.

                      I do need to bow out for a time. Sorry. I am leaving town and will have no service for part of it. Will attempt to check back but no guarantees. Have a good week!

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                    19. I like my delusion better.

                      Kudos for admitting that your belief that you have a personal relationship with an invisible, mute being is a delusion. So, what is my delusion, Kevin? I do not claim to have a relationship with any invisible beings.

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