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Discussion in 'Christian Philosophy & Ethics' started by The Transcendentian, Jun 12, 2019.

  1. The Transcendentian

    The Transcendentian Wise Guy

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    I don't know if anyone has posted a thread like this one before.
    I'm still new here (on CF) and I don't know what I'm doing. I don't even know if this is in the right forum.
    Here goes:

    I know that many Christians (myself included) enjoy having heated debates with atheists and other non-Christian people.

    After hanging around this site looking at some of the debates and talking with a family member about it,
    I have come to the conclusion:

    Debating an atheist, or other person who believes a lie and is fully convinced that it's the truth, is completely pointless and hopeless.
    They will never accept that what you are saying is true simply because you can prove it or argue for it well in a debate.

    Debating someone, is not going to in any way help win them or other people to Christ.

    You can present the truth in the best, fullest, most convincing way possible, but a person who wants to be an atheist is going to stay an atheist no matter how many times you disprove their beliefs or prove the truth of yours.

    If one the main commands from God that Christians have is to try to win people to Christ, maybe we should stop trying to save people by proving them wrong (because it's not working).

    I think that being "the light of the world" does not mean telling people how wrong they are.
    I don't mean we're not supposed to tell people that they are wrong, I mean that once they've been told once or twice, they don't need to be told again and again in different ways that we believe they're wrong.

    Whether they admit it or not and no matter how much of a "logical thinker" they are, all humans think and reason on an emotional foundation. Therefore it makes since that the best way to win atheists and other unbelievers to Christ is by showing them the love of Christ.

    It really bothers me that some (I think most) Christians start name calling and bullying when they get angry in a debate. That's not at all going to win people to Christ.

    Instead of doing things the same way our non-Christian opponents in debates are doing, maybe we should try doing things differently. Be in the world but not of the world.

    Just a thought.
     
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  2. Anthony2019

    Anthony2019 "Only Me!" Supporter

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    I heard it said once that how we live our lives and treat others is the fullest expression of what we believe.

    Not everyone is going to agree with what we say, but if we treat people kindly, then our behaviour will have a more lasting impact than our words.
     
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  3. Mel333

    Mel333 Member

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    Yes, I've a few who have lashed out. I have found from the experience not to meddle with another's opinion unless they have asked a question or advice on here.

    The verses that I came across after the experiences were:

    1 Cor 4:20
    For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.

    Proverbs 10:19
    Sin is not ended by multiplying words, but the prudent hold their tongues.
     
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  4. timewerx

    timewerx the village i--o--t--

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    I never had this problem when discussing with Atheists about my faith.

    If you lack objectivity, you'll run into problems with them.
     
  5. Jonathan Walkerin

    Jonathan Walkerin Active Member

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    You can argue whatever but you can not prove it. Which is kind of the point for atheists.

    I am all for converting by leading with example.
     
  6. grasping the after wind

    grasping the after wind That's grasping after the wind

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    Though persuading others is a goal of debate, discussion and argument, it is not the sole purpose of the process. Even if the person one is engaging with does not accept the core principles one takes as given as self evident but find different and contradictory principles to be so, one can profit from the exchange. I know I have clarified my own thoughts by engaging in debate with those that disagree with me. It sharpens one's mind and forces one to become aware of the flaws in one's own arguments. By engaging with people of opposite opinions, one becomes aware of why they hold their views and can understand that they are not simpleminded fools but just have basic beliefs about the nature of the world that differ from one's own. Some that one encounters will assume one is a simpleminded fool or a malevolent person because they are so convinced of their
    own intelligence and correctness that they believe only an idiot or a monster
    could possibly disagree with them but others are more reasonable and less close minded and , though they may well continue to disagree, will at least find a better understanding of one's actual position and instead of demonizing one and all that agree with one will come to respect, even if grudgingly so, the reasonable nature of the opposite POV. This latter because they will realize that given the basic set of base principles the conclusions arrived at are logical and reasonable. They just do not agree with the idea that those basic set of principles are self evident.
     
  7. myst33

    myst33 Well-Known Member

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    I think its very individual. Some debates are useless, some are not.

    And if a debate is public, think more about silent, undecided readers than about the already decided oponent.
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2019
  8. thecolorsblend

    thecolorsblend If God is your Father, who is your Mother?

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    Any time I see someone refuse to debate anybody who holds a certain point of view, I take it as an implied admission that they can’t meaningfully respond so they simply want to deny someone else the chance to say their piece.

    As it goes for debating atheists, if you see the thing as a contest to be won or lost, I can understand why engaging with them isn’t an attractive prospect.

    Me, I see discussions with atheists as a chance to inform them, learn something myself and maybe, just maybe, change the mind of someone reading the discussion.

    I don’t believe that avoiding discussions with atheists is a good idea, particularly since no small number of atheists have converted to Christianity. There is a pastoral concern with that community which we should not ignore.
     
  9. section9+1

    section9+1 Well-Known Member

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    Atheists here have hundreds of postings which means they've been around a long time and have participated actively. Still atheists. If they were searching for something they should have found it by now. Atheists on a Christian site for so long means they are not really searching for anything good. An atheist can convert, but it seems the Holy Spirit hasn't extended himself much around here. As far as I'm concerned they can leave. I avoid much communication with them but I suppose others can do what they like.
     
  10. -Sasha-

    -Sasha- Handmaid of God

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    There is a difference though, between debates and discussions.
     
  11. grasping the after wind

    grasping the after wind That's grasping after the wind

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    Yes, a discussion can, but does not have to include opposing ideas but including opposing ideas is requirement for a debate.
     
  12. 2PhiloVoid

    2PhiloVoid Life is lived in the shape of a "?" Supporter

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    In a very general sense, I think you're right that it's more or less ineffective to argue with non-christians and atheists, or at least it is now in the 21st century since we have the technological, social and psychological dynamics that we do. Myron Bradley Penner, a philosophical Anglican priest, agrees with you; and I agree with his more general thrust of existential, empathic admonition for the Church.

    However, despite the fact that discussion with atheists is becoming increasingly ineffective, this doesn't mean that well-timed, well-placed, and as you've implied as to what should be "well-mannered," dialogue with these non-believer folks is also completely useless. If anything, I think we should remain in dialogue with non-believers, but at the same time, it's probably more important for Christians to first work on greatly reducing the infighting that goes on among themselves, reduce the amount judgements propounded about supposed heresy and other ideological infidelity in our ranks, and stop slapping each other over the head in the name of a particular concept of "truth" that only God Himself can really show to any one of us on an individual (and later, on a corporate) level.

    As for proving people wrong, we might also realize the social nature of the society we've become, a society of intolerants in our identities--and not just of "intolerance" as an emotional reaction--whose seeming priority isn't to the Kingdom of Christ as much as it seems to be for one's nation of birth or ideal land of citizenship. As Christians, we have our priorities disordered, and in the U.S. particularly, but maybe also in the rest of the English speaking world, many Christians are waking up each day and thinking that apologetics means to stand in the gap to save not people, but the law of the land, the political agenda of the land, and the supposedly previously hegemonic order of a particular cultural taste as sacro-sanct, a prioritization that seems to fly in the face of the fact that Jesus Himself, both in the Old Testament and in the New, didn't take these kinds of clear-cut political sides between either the Jews or the Gentiles.

    Nevertheless, I do agree with you, too, that debating isn't necessarily, nor even often, going to win the lost to Christianity, especially when, these days, many of the lost are those who were formerly Christian anyway. I do know one thing, and that is when I'm surrounded by pigs I won't be throwing pearls; when I'm surrounded by wolves, I'll be contemplating the best course of escape; and when someone slaps me on the face, I'll offer them the other cheek rather than back-step in retreat.
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2019
  13. thecolorsblend

    thecolorsblend If God is your Father, who is your Mother?

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    There is also a difference between notebook paper and sandpaper.
     
  14. -Sasha-

    -Sasha- Handmaid of God

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    Indeed there is, do you use those words interchangeably also? The OP was referring to the pointlessness of debates, not discussions. Maybe I mistook what you said?
     
  15. com7fy8

    com7fy8 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    We can sow seeds which God can use.

    Example works > for example > 1 Peter 3:1-4.

    People do need to know about sin, so they can realize they need how Jesus died for our sins.
     
  16. eleos1954

    eleos1954 God is Love Supporter

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    [/QUOTE] can present the truth in the best, fullest, most convincing way possible, but a person who wants to be an atheist is going to stay an atheist no matter how many times you disprove their beliefs or prove the truth of yours.
    [/QUOTE]

    Many atheists have been converted. We are to put forth the truth as we know it ... we are to do this in a kind way.

    Whether one accepts the scriptural truths or not is up to them ... they have heard it ... what they do with what they hear is their choice.

    Mark 16:15

    And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.

    2nd Timothy 4

    2Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and encourage with every form of patient instruction.

    3For the time will come when men will not tolerate sound doctrine, but with itching ears they will gather around themselves teachers to suit their own desires. 4So they will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.

    5But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

    We plant seeds in the hope they will grow into a mature plant. ;o)
     
  17. Archivist

    Archivist Senior Veteran Supporter

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    Actually I have had some very engaging conversations with some of the atheists and non-Christians on CF.
     
  18. The Transcendentian

    The Transcendentian Wise Guy

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    I think I should clarify that:
    I don't mean to say Christians should never debate unbelievers. I simply mean that debating does not seem to be an effective tool of evangelism.
     
  19. The Transcendentian

    The Transcendentian Wise Guy

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    True and good advice.

    I don't think it's impossible for an atheist to be converted, I just think that it's not going to happen as a result of a Christian having an intellectual debate with them.
     
  20. The Transcendentian

    The Transcendentian Wise Guy

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    I think that I can't respond in a way that an atheist opponent in a debate would find meaningful.
    Someone else has had, and will continue to have, plenty of chances to say their piece.

    I think I agree with this part.
     
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