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Why won't religious people debate religion?

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chakka35 | 15:30 Mon 12th Mar 2007 | Religion & Spirituality
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I ask this as a result of many experiences but I will limit myself to three here:
Firstly there are those long correspondences I have had over the years with religious people on all aspects of the subject. Where I have offered fact, evidence, argument, reason and logic, their responses have comprised blind faith, unsupported dogma, rejection of reason and, most frequently, blatant evasion of any point which they cannot answer. (Incidentally, many Christians are hampered by the most appalling ignorance about the origins of their own religion, some believing, for example, that the gospels were written by Jesus' disciples.)
Second is the theological response to Richard Dawkins' brilliant book The God Delusion. I have read many reviews of the book by professional religionists (clergymen, professors of theology and the like) and not one of them has chosen to meet Dawkins' facts, arguments and logical conclusions head-on. Again we find evasion and, sad to say, sarcasm and sneering � together with what Dawkins calls the Argument From Personal Incredulity ('Does he really expect us to believe �.?') which our own Theland is fond of using when pontificating about the origin of the universe. Which brings me to�
Finally, there is the failure of believers on this site to respond to serious opportunities to knuckle down to it. A good example is the question I asked on 07/02/07 which aims to show that the Judaeo/Christian 'God' could not possible have created the universe because (among other reasons!) the chronology is wrong. Since this is pretty fundamental to religious creationists you'd expect quite a response. But apart from a half-hearted attempt at the beginning to question the age of the universe there has been nothing, despite two reminders fromwizard about it.
So� why won't religious people debate religion?

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I think we all know the answer to this one.
Agreed. The answers are in the queston - but I know what you mean chakka35. (Sorry if this post appears twice - it disappeared the first time so I thought I'd try again!).
Hi Chakka, I think it's important to remember that whilst your position on the issue is based in logic and rational thinking, the faith position is based upon a spiritual connection that goes beyond the bounds of logic and rationality. Therefore the argument is basically like someone speaking English having an argument with someone speaking French.

You have clearly made your decision based upon research and rational thinking, ,my position is based upon having some out of this world religous experiences, a very real relationship with God and a strong faith that has guided me through some very difficult times. So basically we have different starting points, I think if you had walked in my shoes and had my experiences you would discard your rational thinking, you think that my position is irrational.
I personally do try to avoid topics that come up debating if God is real due to the reasons given above. I think the numbers of non-believers very much outweigh the believers on here as I mentioned earlier, most of the arguments are incredibly unbalanced and merly dismiss religeon as a form of brainwashing for simple minded. I also find many Bible interpretations so misinformed it's laughable.

But for me I'm secure in my faith and happy for others to have their beliefs, therefore don't feel the need to defend my faith at every turn or preach at every turn.
I'm not trying to be funny or anything but Fingerprint if your faith is based on some kind of spiritual awakening or epiphany then where's mine? Shouldn't God touch us all in this way?
Or do we have to be open to that kind of thing?

But then I remember even as a kid during prayers in assembly or our regular church visits thinking that it was all faintly ridiculous. That was long before I could rationalize and properly form opinions on all of it. Was my atheism pre-ordained?
They will debate THEIR beliefs but refuse to debate ours because they will get tangled up in knots. This thread is an example http://www.theanswerbank.co.uk/Society-and-Cul ture/Religion-and-Spirituality/Question376569- 2.html
Slavery is ok, its not ok, its ok because that was the custom,its not ok for the egyptians to follow the same custom. Thelan must have been pulling his hair out trying to justify that one and he was clearly getting agitated.
Fingerprint, I don't think religion goes beyond the bounds of logic - I think it refuses to acknowledge logic. I've had what you describe as out of this world experiences too - and many of them - but they have pushed me farther from the constricting bounds of organised religion and into something much bigger.

As for biblical interpretations, it's not the non-believers who misinterpret the bible - they don't interpret it at all - they just read what it says, so you shouldn't be laughing at them. It's the various religions that interpret the bible to suit their own particular doctrine - and if that's not the case, why are there so many divisions between all the different Christian churches?
Llamatron, pre-written prayers, repeated parrot fashion, are what gets me most about church services. They aren't just faintly ridiculous - they are completely ridiculous. A prayer should be personal and come from the heart - surely?
chakka35 - I want to talk about religion, or rather, Christianity, which is a different matter.
Sometimes though, it is like being machine gunned, as all of the ASHes line up and fire off volley after volley. It is difficult to respond quite often.
Also, in response to a particular point, maybe some research is required. That involves time, and with a family to feed, time is not a commodity I have in abundance. But I try.
I sometimes feel that a satisfactory response would be, "I am wrong. You are right. My faith is bassless. I am now an atheist."
God writes on our hearts His signature. It took me many years to slow down down and discover this. I was an atheist for many years. I felt as you do.
To get back to the original question. I want to debate, "religion" but one point at a time, and give me time.
Permit me to go out on a limb here, venture into a grey area in the hope of providing some understanding and suggest that religion presents an alternative belief system to those who find the one they were raised with unable to provide them with the guidance they need to achieve a degree of certainty about the course their life is taking. Although religion does not provide an acceptable alternative to many of us, to some it may appear to be a vastly superior belief system than the one they had previously been able to achieve. In addition many if not most established religions have a forgiving spirit to offer those who are willing to relinquish the reigns of their own self interests in exchange for a feeling of receiving acceptance and forgiveness of a guilt they may or may not have earned. Religion is a treacherous trap that is not easy to release ones self from once resigned to its tenuous grasp.

It is only fair and not without import to add that many secular groups offer a similar niche to those who have lost their way. And both social and religious affiliations have at times wreaked havoc on sectors of humanity at odds with their, not to be questioned, doctrines, dictates and dogmas. The only hope is to present a better alternative to religion. Whether it is appreciated and received or not there really is no other lest we be found guilty of their transgressions.

humm, why whack one beehive when there are two available ~ ~ </o�o\>
Naomi - What I'm saying is that a belief in God is not something people get from studying and weighing up rationally but from their relationship with God. I am certain that anyone who had walked in my shoes and who had my relationship with God they would no doubt have the same views as me. I'm not trying to convert everyone, I'm happy for people to have their own beliefs but I'm saying that faith is not based in rational thinking.

About the Bible, this is a document that was written a very long time ago, in a different language, in a different culture and in a different context. Many of the words don't even have the same meaning as we use today. I think that many people try to plow through it on their own and completely misunderstand it. For example to suggest that the Bible condones rape is simply untrue.

Llmanatron - I think a connection with God is withoubt doubt something you have to be open to. I read your post on another thread about seeing suffering and family members with disibilities and I can completely emphasise with the way you feel. I am very low at the moment because I have family in Zimbabwe who can barely get food. But the simple life and suffering actually bring you closer to God, I lived in Africa for a while and although there was terrible suffering it was amazing how clearly you could feel God and see him working in you life.
Lighter, I know the bible was originally written a long time ago in different languages, and by different cultures. However, the fact remains that it is this bible the churches teach today, and they all interpret it differently. As there are so any differences between them, they clearly (or maybe not so clearly!) each see in it what they want to see, and the various interpretations only add to the confusion.

They all tell us that the bible is the word of god, and, on pain of eternal damnation, we should believe and follow god's word, but how can we if even the churches are at odds over its meaning? What is god's word? No one seems to know for sure because you all disagree. If a non-believer finds something in there that doesn't fit with a particular church's theology suddenly they're told they don't know what they're talking about and their findings are laughable, because the bible doesn't really mean what it says. Confused? Mmmm .... just a bit! And Christians wonder why non-believers are non-believers - and can't take them seriously.
Fingerprint, sorry, I meant to address that last answer to you. Poor old Lighter's not even in on this discussion, so I don't know where that came from! Must try harder!
Naomi - Yes the Bible is open to interpretation as is anything in life and of course different denominations have different practices and beliefs that are borne from these different interpretations.

But there is a huge difference between interpreting something differently and making statements that are badly informed and simply untrue. I could read the Conservatives manifesto for the last election and interpret it as being cruel and uncaring and you could read it as being fair and sensible. Fine two different interpretations - but if I then said the Conservatives were proposing to rape all unmarried women this would simply be laughable because it's untrue and outside of any reasonable interpretation.

Another point that is always over exagerated is that people are threatened with eternal damnation if they do not believe. Maybe years ago this was the case, and maybe some very fundamentalist denominations do preach this way but for the most part Christian teaching focusses upon love and humanity. I have very rarely heard hell or the devil mentioned in Church and the Catholic Church also makes a point that it has never said anyone has gone to hell.
Fingerprint, I don't think there is a huge difference between interpreting something differently and making statements that are badly informed or untrue. If you interpret something wrongly - which most of the churches must be doing because they all believe differently - then it follows that the conclusions they have reached must be untrue. They can't all be right, can they.

I don't think the threat of eternal damnation is over-exaggerated. I take your point about the Roman Catholic church - and by the way, I'm pleased it's dropped the appalling concept of limbo too - (it has, hasn't it?) - but you only have to read the posts on here to see that the fear of eternal damnation is very real indeed in the minds of many Christians.

I haven't talked about women being raped or about anything I haven't found in the bible, but I have to say that your view of a reasonable interpretation may differ enormously from someone elses. Take Jehovah's Witnesses, or the Christodelphans' interpretation of what the bible tells them happens after death for example. Not the same as yours, is it - but surely a vital part of their belief system.

The problem is, Christians, whichever church they belong to, all think they have it right, and tell everyone else they have it right, but I've a sneaking suspicion that when you all eventually get to wherever it is you're all going, each and every one of you will discover you've been mistaken all along.
Come on Naomi - there is a massive difference between what is reasonable interpretation and what is blatantly untrue.

I have honestly very rarely ever heard any Christians talking about eternal damnation except for maybe fundamental Chrsitains, and there is no doubt that on answerbank 99% of the talk of damnation comes from non-believers who are trying to provoke that type of response.

I think what Jehovas Witnesses and other groups believe is a reasonable interpretation. I may not agree with them but I can understand how they have got those views.
Fingerprint, for a believer like you, you say you know where the Jehovah's Witnesses and the Christodelphians get their ideas from - and so do I - but you don't believe them - and therefore you must think they're ideas are not true. If you thought otherwise you would believe them.

And you are of course right in that it is certain groups of Christians who talk about hell and damnation and believe it will happen to anyone who doesn't think as they do - but they do talk about it a lot whether they're spurred on by non-believers or not. Look at some of the sermons posted - look at the biblical texts posted. I think that's what winds everyone up.

By the way, has the Catholic church finally decided to drop the concept of limbo? I'd be interested to know.
Naomi - I agree the concept of Limbo is terrible and has probably caused a great deal of upset to many families. It's from the 12th Century and has not really been talked about for years, almost nobody in the Church believes in Limbo these days and it's about to be abolished this year.
Naomi - I should add that Limbo has never been an article of faith, i.e. a central Catholic belief. It's just a characteristic of a long-standing school of thought that very few Catholics follow. It is generally believed that babies who die before birth or soon afterward go to heaven.
Fingerprint, but what about those who aren't baptised?

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