Sunday, 24 January 2010

Is arguing with a believer a waste of time?

A few days ago I came a cross a thread on a calvinist blog with a title along the lines of "Christians - Why did your God create the earthquake in Haiti?" There were the usual nutty ravings and silly responses on both sides of the argument - but there were also some sincere and thoughtful posts. I decided to join the discussion, and put the naturalistic case, without the need for God. It was like dangling a juicy worm in a lake full of hungry fish, and soon I had the host of responses, ranging from those assuring me that I would roast in hell unless I repented, to those who sympathised and tried to convert me.
I guess what I found was exactly the same as many others before me - You cannot have a rigorous logical debate with a deeply religious person. It's bizarre that two people might share a common language and yet completely fail to understand each other. Every time I produced what appeared to me to be a watertight argument for a straightforward non-God reason for something, an answer would come back which defied argument. For instance I would get the response: "Only God can understand why He did this, and we cannot comprehend His reasons." Another resonse was to quote from the Bible, and explain that something happened because it said so in Bible, which is God's word, and which is infallible. This is a circular argument and there's really no point in further discussion.
Something in me really wants to help free these people from the tyranny of their narrow minded and artificial view of the World, and to marvel instead at the amazing and awe inspiring beauty of everything around us, without this God which humans have created. But I wonder if it is wise to try. What would be the effect of losing such a deeply held belief? I found it a very scary and shattering experience! But looking back from this disatnce it's one of the best things that ever happened to me.

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