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    26 Feb '13 03:19
    I grew up in a three-times-a-week-to-Protestant-church-service family. In my mid-teens I realized that there were questions about a Bible-based belief system that I could not get satisfying answers to from anybody in the church. I drifted away from the church, and have classified myself as agnostic ever since.

    In the decades since then I have had opportunity to discuss—debate, if you will—five Believers in an informal but in-depth way. I tried to show them problems with their beliefs, and they tried to defend their beliefs. The result in all five cases was that I came away just as sure that Christianity is false as I had been before the discussion, and as far as I could tell they came away with just as firm a belief in the bedrock truth of Christianity as they had before the discussion. In fact, one person I debated was a “Chreaster Christian” (attended Christmas and Easter services only), and is now an every-Sunday attender of Christian church services.

    Have you had more success in persuading people to convert or deconvert (as your particular case may be) than I have had? If so, what seemed to be the argument that the other person found irrefutable?
  2. SubscriberFMF
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    26 Feb '13 03:301 edit
    Originally posted by Paul Dirac II
    Have you had more success in persuading people to convert or deconvert (as your particular case may be) than I have had? If so, what seemed to be the argument that the other person found irrefutable?
    I have no desire to "deconvert" anyone and never try. I have some friends who [years ago] had trouble extricating themselves from two different religious cults and I helped them as best I could, but it was nothing like an attempted "deconversion". They had made their own decisions. I "deconverted" myself about 10-12 years ago in what felt to me like a natural spiritual and intellectual progression, but I do not try to proselytise or persuade people with regard to the non-religionist spiritual path I have chosen.
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    26 Feb '13 04:212 edits
    Originally posted by Paul Dirac II
    I grew up in a three-times-a-week-to-Protestant-church-service family. In my mid-teens I realized that there were questions about a Bible-based belief system that I could not get satisfying answers to from anybody in the church. I drifted away from the church, and have classified myself as agnostic ever since.

    In the decades since then I have had o ...[text shortened]... than I have had? If so, what seemed to be the argument that the other person found irrefutable?
    I am a non-denominational, anti-organised religion, shoddy Christian. I never try to convert people but I do believe in 'divine appointments', a term I heard once and which I like as for me it refers to those moments in life when God brings a person into contact with someone who is seeking him and who would benefit from your/mine particular witness to the gospel.

    Most people's knowledge of 'God' seems to stem from their experience with their particular chosen organised church and therefore it is mostly poor. Your post would indicate that you associate church attendance with a persons conversion or de-conversion (neither thing exist in my opinion) and that you suppose that a person's level of commitment or depth of conversion can in some way be measured quantitatively by their numerical attendance in church - is this the case? Sorry if I've misunderstood you.
  4. Cape Town
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    26 Feb '13 04:521 edit
    Originally posted by Paul Dirac II
    Have you had more success in persuading people to convert or deconvert (as your particular case may be) than I have had? If so, what seemed to be the argument that the other person found irrefutable?
    I have not, to my knowledge, ever de-converted anyone (other than myself). However, I believe several people have changed their views due to discussions on this forum.
    Most of the people I have spent time discussing religion with (apart from this site) have been Christian creationists intent on converting me to their religion. The more moderate Christians tend to be a lot less interested in discussion and I generally don't bring up the topic myself. Similarly I have not really discussed religion with the few Muslims I have known beyond basic questions about their beliefs and practices.

    As for irrefutable arguments, many of the arguments presented on this forum are irrefutable, but that doesn't seem to persuade believers as they believe despite the evidence or logic and not because of it.
    For me, the most irrefutable argument against young earth creationism, is the existence of stars. But since most young earth creationist lack sufficient education to understand the basics of astronomy and the speed of light, they never seem to be persuaded.
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    26 Feb '13 06:053 edits
    Originally posted by divegeester
    Your post would indicate that you associate church attendance with a persons conversion or de-conversion (neither thing exist in my opinion) and that you suppose that a person's level of commitment or depth of conversion can in some way be measured quantitatively by their numerical attendance in church - is this the case? Sorry if I've misunderstood you.
    Church attendance correlates with things like tithing, Bible-reading, and prayer, I would think.

    Going off on a tangent, I will say that most of the Christians I have brought up Christian radio and TV broadcasting with express a disdain for those evangelists. I asked a Christian man who is disgusted by Christian TV if he would be willing to pray that God will remove dishonest and false preachers from this line of work. His response was to say he refuses to pray that prayer, on the basis that the Bible predicts "there will be false prophets," and who is he to pray something contrary to the Bible. I found that interesting.
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    26 Feb '13 07:062 edits
    Originally posted by Paul Dirac II
    Church attendance correlates with things like tithing, Bible-reading, and prayer, I would think.

    Going off on a tangent, I will say that most of the Christians I have brought up Christian radio and TV broadcasting with express a disdain for those evangelists. I asked a Christian man who is disgusted by Christian TV if he would be willing to pray tha se prophets," and who is he to pray something contrary to the Bible. I found that interesting.
    Church attendance correlates with things like tithing, Bible-reading, and prayer, I would think.

    Certainly tithing. And there is a lot of pulpit-prayer and sing-along-a-hymn activity in organised churchianity.

    I asked a Christian man who is disgusted by Christian TV if he would be willing to pray that God will remove dishonest and false preachers from this line of work. His response was to say he refuses to pray that prayer, on the basis that the Bible predicts "there will be false prophets," and who is he to pray something contrary to the Bible.

    The misanthropic fatalist view of world and spiritual events is not exclusive to religionists, although the JWs here (currently sulking) are expert proponents. I would certainly not form a view based on n =1 even if I was looking for a reason not to believe anymore.
  7. Standard memberGrampy Bobby
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    26 Feb '13 07:30
    Originally posted by Paul Dirac II

    I grew up in a three-times-a-week-to-Protestant-church-service family. In my mid-teens I realized that there were questions about a Bible-based belief system that I could not get satisfying answers to from anybody in the church. I drifted away from the church, and have classified myself as agnostic ever since.

    In the decades since then I have had op ...[text shortened]... be) than I have had? If so, what seemed to be the argument that the other person found irrefutable?
    "I realized that there were questions about a Bible-based belief system that I could not get satisfying answers to from anybody in the church."

    May I ask for a summary of those questions?
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  8. Standard memberGrampy Bobby
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    26 Feb '13 07:38
    Originally posted by divegeester

    Church attendance correlates with things like tithing, Bible-reading, and prayer, I would think.[/b]

    Certainly tithing. And there is a lot of pulpit-prayer and sing-along-a-hymn activity in organised churchianity.

    I asked a Christian man who is disgusted by Christian TV if he would be willing to pray that God will remove dishonest and false p ...[text shortened]... certainly not form a view based on n =1 even if I was looking for a reason not to believe anymore.
    Primary purpose of the local assembly of Believers in Christ is to enable them to be systematically exposed to the accurate teaching of the scriptures (from the original languages by a prepared pastor-teacher with the gift) for the purpose of Growing in Grace and aquiring the Mind of Christ. All else = fluff.
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    26 Feb '13 08:181 edit
    Originally posted by Grampy Bobby
    [b]"I realized that there were questions about a Bible-based belief system that I could not get satisfying answers to from anybody in the church."

    May I ask for a summary of those questions?
    -[/b]
    The problem of evil/suffering was a biggie. Why should a five-year-old girl suffer from leukemia? I extended my questions to animal suffering as well.

    If God wants us to believe in special creation (as most people in my church did), why didn’t he make fossil evidence and DNA evidence point straight to that, so that nobody would ever even dream up the idea of evolution?

    Why is there a lack of harmony within “the body of Christ” (the church) on some basic issues such as whether a female can be head pastor of a church?

    The Bible says “thou shall not kill.” Are we required to be vegetarians? Is capital punishment okay? May I shoot an armed intruder who has broken into my house? Should I carry a weapon and kill the enemy if my country drafts me into a shooting war?

    The New Testament promises that whatsoever you ask for in the name of Christ, it shall be done. Yet I remember people praying for a very ill individual in that church, and she died. How can they say scripture is inerrant?

    Why does God allow Christians to lose their ability to witness for Him due to senility, brain tumors and strokes?

    A baby born with fluid in the skull where there should be a brain (anencephaly, they call it) may live a few days because it has a brain stem that allows the heart and lungs to work. But what purpose does God have for making/allowing babies to be born like that? If they go to heaven, what thoughts and personality traits do they have in heaven, when they never had thoughts while on earth?

    A pastor at our church was forced out due to inappropriate behavior with a married woman in the church. Our congregation had voted “yes” overwhelmingly to have him become our pastor at the end of his trial period of preaching some sermons at our church. Why did God not warn the congregants that they should vote ”no” on him?

    Jim buys a bowling ball on Saturday, and is only able to put ten dollars in the collection plate on Sunday, instead of putting eighty dollars into the plate. As a result of that “missing” seventy dollars, a church-supported missionary in New Guinea does not have enough gasoline to drive that extra mileage to a more distant jungle village to preach. As a result, Utu dies unsaved and spends an eternity in Hell. How is it fair that such a thing happens to Utu because thousands of miles away somebody chose to buy a bowling ball?

    Not back in those days, but in years since then I have jotted down examples of speaking in tongues from Christian broadcasts, and asked some Christians if they could interpret. None could. Why?

    I could list some more, but I will leave it at this for now.
  10. Standard memberGrampy Bobby
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    26 Feb '13 08:391 edit
    Originally posted by Paul Dirac II

    1]The problem of evil/suffering was a biggie. Why should a five-year-old girl suffer from leukemia? 2]I extended my questions to animal suffering as well.

    3]If God wants us to believe in special creation (as most people in my church did), why didn’t he make fossil evidence and DNA evidence point straight to that, so that nobody would ever even dream ...[text shortened]... could interpret. None could. 16]Why?

    I could list some more, but I will leave it at this for now.
    Originally posted by Paul Dirac II

    1]The problem of evil/suffering was a biggie. Why should a five-year-old girl suffer from leukemia? 2]I extended my questions to animal suffering as well.

    3]If God wants us to believe in special creation (as most people in my church did), why didn’t he make fossil evidence and DNA evidence point straight to that, so that nobody would ever even dream up the idea of evolution?

    4]Why is there a lack of harmony within “the body of Christ” (the church) on some basic issues such as whether a female can be head pastor of a church?

    5]The Bible says “thou shall not kill.” 6]Are we required to be vegetarians? 7]Is capital punishment okay? 8]May I shoot an armed intruder who has broken into my house? 9]Should I carry a weapon and kill the enemy if my country drafts me into a shooting war?

    The New Testament promises that whatsoever you ask for in the name of Christ, it shall be done. Yet I remember people praying for a very ill individual in that church, and she died. 10]How can they say scripture is inerrant?

    11]Why does God allow Christians to lose their ability to witness for Him due to senility, brain tumors and strokes?

    A baby born with fluid in the skull where there should be a brain (anencephaly, they call it) may live a few days because it has a brain stem that allows the heart and lungs to work. 12]But what purpose does God have for making/allowing babies to be born like that? 13]If they go to heaven, what thoughts and personality traits do they have in heaven, when they never had thoughts while on earth?

    A pastor at our church was forced out due to inappropriate behavior with a married woman in the church. Our congregation had voted “yes” overwhelmingly to have him become our pastor at the end of his trial period of preaching some sermons at our church. 14]Why did God not warn the congregants that they should vote ”no” on him?

    Jim buys a bowling ball on Saturday, and is only able to put ten dollars in the collection plate on Sunday, instead of putting eighty dollars into the plate. As a result of that “missing” seventy dollars, a church-supported missionary in New Guinea does not have enough gasoline to drive that extra mileage to a more distant jungle village to preach. As a result, Utu dies unsaved and spends an eternity in Hell. 15]How is it fair that such a thing happens to Utu because thousands of miles away somebody chose to buy a bowling ball?

    Not back in those days, but in years since then I have jotted down examples of speaking in tongues from Christian broadcasts, and asked some Christians if they could interpret. None could. 16]Why?

    I could list some more, but I will leave it at this for now.

    [All sixteen relevant questions, so far.] Please list others that were perplexing at the time (and now). Sense I'm getting is that you're still persistently seeking the truth but find its dimensions and specific applications contradictory and problematical whenever people per se get in the way.

    (thanks)
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    26 Feb '13 08:44
    Originally posted by Grampy Bobby
    [b]"I realized that there were questions about a Bible-based belief system that I could not get satisfying answers to from anybody in the church."

    May I ask for a summary of those questions?
    -[/b]
    The one question I have always had for theists that I have never had a satisfactory answer to, is 'what is the soul'. Its interesting that the concept of the soul is at the centre of most religions, yet nobody seems able to explain it to me, nor apparently understand it themselves.
    I think any serious discussion of the soul with a theist would either result in de-conversion or avoidance. The latter seems to be the standard on this forum.
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    26 Feb '13 09:06
    Originally posted by Grampy Bobby
    [All sixteen relevant questions, so far.] Please list others that were perplexing at the time (and now).
    Why does the church pay for insurance? Why not instead pray that the church property will be kept safe by the Lord?

    For that matter, who do individual Christians buy insurance?

    Why do modern Christians so often choose the medical approach to healing, rather than having members of the church lay hands on them and pray for supernatural healing?

    Why does our nation have a court system that is slow, expensive, and prone to mistakes? Why not eliminate court trials and jurors, and simply have the suspect brought before a Christian elder, so that the elder can pray to ask God if the suspect is guilty? That would be quick, cheap, and inerrant. Nobody would be locked up for something he didn’t do, and nobody who was guilty would be released. Justice would be swift and sure.

    When a passenger jet slams vertically into the ground at 500 mph, should we expect the passengers and crew who were true Christians to walk away unharmed?

    Why do both Believers and nonbelievers get maimed or killed in car wrecks? If they pray for a safe journey prior to getting into their vehicle, do they lower their chances of wreck to precisely zero?

    Jesus says the only valid reason for divorce is adultery. Why do I know Christians who divorced for other reasons?

    The Bible talks about gathering together for prayer. Is God more likely to answer a prayer request if multiple people are praying than if just one is praying?

    If God is absolutely sovereign over every atom in the universe, should we expect that in warfare the bomb fragments will move on trajectories that will leave Believing soldiers and civilians unharmed?

    The Sunday school teacher told us that Believers in Bible times would have shunned alcohol, except that water was prone to contamination back then and could cause disease. Why didn’t they just pray that God would supernaturally purify the water for them?

    If we pray that God will remove mercury from the food chain, so that we all can live healthier lives, will God remove mercury from the food chain?

    I’m off to bed now.
  13. Standard memberGrampy Bobby
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    26 Feb '13 09:211 edit
    Originally posted by twhitehead

    The one question I have always had for theists that I have never had a satisfactory answer to, is 'what is the soul'. Its interesting that the concept of the soul is at the centre of most religions, yet nobody seems able to explain it to me, nor apparently understand it themselves.
    I think any serious discussion of the soul with a theist would either result in de-conversion or avoidance. The latter seems to be the standard on this forum.
    The essence of what it is to be a human being; that distinction which differentiates us from all other species. Hunger, thirst, copulation, safety, self preservation we share with the pyramidal food chain creatures in the jungle. Only human beings are defined as having an immortal soul. The life of all other species is "in their blood", which means finite existence which terminates with physical death. Rene Descarte observed, "I think, therefore I am". Bullcrap! "I Am, therefore I think" accurately separates the cause and effect, the function and the source of an activity exclusive to the human race. Last, for now, God has actually shared his own person with us in the design format of our souls in creation. We, too, have self awareness; unique personality; cognitive capabilities for rational thought; memory storage; capacity/need to acquire norns and standards; self determination; volitional choice, etc. Consequently, we (our real persons/our souls) must/will reside at one of two addresses for all eternity: with Him, sharing His Happiness or separated from Him, alone and miserable without cessation forever. Gives one pause, doesn't it? (thanks for the chat... time for a nap)
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  14. SubscriberFMF
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    26 Feb '13 09:41
    Originally posted by Grampy Bobby
    [We] (our real persons/our souls) must/will reside at one of two addresses for all eternity: with Him, sharing His Happiness or separated from Him, alone and miserable without cessation forever.
    Have you ever "converted/deconverted anybody" by simply making this assertion - or variations on it?
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    26 Feb '13 11:11
    Originally posted by Grampy Bobby
    The life of all other species is "in their blood", which means finite existence which terminates with physical death.
    And how are we different. How do you define 'life' in such a way that it does not terminate with physical death?

    Rene Descarte observed, "I think, therefore I am". Bullcrap! "I Am, therefore I think" accurately separates the cause and effect, the function and the source of an activity exclusive to the human race.
    Are you claiming that animals cannot think? Or am I missing something?

    Consequently, we (our real persons/our souls) must/will reside at one of two addresses for all eternity: with Him, sharing His Happiness or separated from Him, alone and miserable without cessation forever. Gives one pause, doesn't it? (thanks for the chat... time for a nap)-
    No, I am afraid it doesn't give pause because I don't really understand what you are saying. I still don't get what you mean by the word 'soul'. Can you be more specific? What exactly is my soul and why should I care what happens to it after I die?
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