Emotional arguments against god? Would it be effective?

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Emotional arguments against god? Would it be effective?

Post  MisterChristopher on Tue Sep 08, 2009 11:22 am

I almost would bet this could fit under "Gospel of Doubt" but I think this merits its own thread.

I think most people arrive at non-belief rationally, but this does not seem to happen when people become believers. They arrive at their beliefs emotionally, for a variety of circumstances, rather than the (insert religion here) God is the most rational god to believe in because of X (well, they try this but there are always fatal flaws in every rationale, and they already believed because of an emotional cause).
Do any of you think taking the approach of trying emotional arguments would be as effective as rational one when talking to theists? Or does it not by making us play (or some would stoop) to their level?
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Re: Emotional arguments against god? Would it be effective?

Post  jifrock on Tue Sep 08, 2009 7:07 pm

I am little sceptical of your basic premise here Christopher. From my perspective, for the majority of believers, belief in 'god' is not so much a choice but a result of their environment. For many, the existence of 'god' is a fundamental building block of their world view. When the default majority position of family, society and culture is that there is a 'god' and that your successful negotiation of this life, and the next, is dependent upon maintaining the deities good will, most will go with the flow - an entirely reasonable choice based upon the social evidence to hand.

The emotional challenge is letting go of a world view - think of what is like to have your world view challenged. When someone tells me they don't like Radiohead, I am aghast. How could they not like Radiohead - I mean, they're just like the greatest band EVER! Are you mad! I get a little pissed, tell them they're an idiot, and suggest they go back to their Avril Lavigne and return when they have grown a brain. I mean, it's Radiohead dude! I can't imagine what it is like for a believer to read someone like Hitchens, say. I read his introduction to The Portable Atheist - a highly charged and emotional polemic against belief. I found myself irritated and angry, and I am an atheist.

My concern with the emotional way would be the push-back. Like those Holtzman Shields in Dune - if you go in too hard and fast and you will get repelled - you have slide in slow and delicately.
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Re: Emotional arguments against god? Would it be effective?

Post  MisterChristopher on Tue Sep 08, 2009 9:14 pm

Hm. Interesting points jif, you are definitely right about the people that are more or less born and raised into it. However, I do have to contest the greatness of radiohead. IT SUX (jk, or am I?)

In retrospect, my premise does seem weird. Perhaps emotional arguments are a no go, especially when you are indeed challenging a worldview. Reflecting on this issue, I didn't become an atheist over night. It was a 3-year long (at least) process. Perhaps if some one became an atheist (via an emotional argument, or something like that) overnight, I'm sure it's quite possible for them to go right back the next night.

/thread I presume and thanks for the input
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Re: Emotional arguments against god? Would it be effective?

Post  pandamonium on Wed Sep 09, 2009 12:34 am

I don't know if I'm in the minority on this one, but some of my non-belief is motivated by emotion. My emotions, however, led me to the opposite conclusion from many believers because, I think, of my interest in science. The universe is just too crazy and complicated to be left to the machinations of some sort of deity. Especially not the Christian God. So my arguments are supported by rational thought, but I do feel "in my gut" that there is no God. Like a Star @ heaven
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Re: Emotional arguments against god? Would it be effective?

Post  Nicholas on Wed Sep 09, 2009 4:57 am

MisterChristopher wrote:Hm. Interesting points jif, you are definitely right about the people that are more or less born and raised into it. However, I do have to contest the greatness of radiohead. IT SUX (jk, or am I?)

In retrospect, my premise does seem weird. Perhaps emotional arguments are a no go, especially when you are indeed challenging a worldview. Reflecting on this issue, I didn't become an atheist over night. It was a 3-year long (at least) process. Perhaps if some one became an atheist (via an emotional argument, or something like that) overnight, I'm sure it's quite possible for them to go right back the next night.

/thread I presume and thanks for the input

Right there, in bold. You are challenging not just a worldview, but something many believers hold nearer and dearer to their hearts than almost anything else. You are challenging them to their core, not just a random opinion of theirs. If so many of them take calm, rational arguments against faith as attacks (providing they don't flat out ignore you), there is no way turning it into an intentionally emotional debate is going to do anything except further entrench them in their superstitions. More often than not, it'll backfire.

Logic. Reason. Critical and rational thought. These are the things we have on our side, these are our strengths, and we should use them. Tempered with a little tact and respect, we have our best chance at pulling someone out of their religious mud-hole.
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Re: Emotional arguments against god? Would it be effective?

Post  snafu on Wed Sep 09, 2009 5:40 am

The closest thing to an emotional argument I can think of is the desire to be a responsible truthseeker, which is often common ground at the intention level between the two sides. Establishing a common goal in this way can build a bridge and facilitate discussion on the best way to proceed. Issues lke dogmatism, fundamentalism etc.. come out, and can be easily seen as false for all the "other" religions, but the hump is to get someone to realize they are no better than the fundy's if they refuse to shine the spotlight on their own beliefs as well. If they don't want to, they can't then winge about others, and need to realize they can't call themselves responsible.

That's how it went for me anyway. I realized one day, that to be responsible meant examining my own beliefs.

cheers
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Re: Emotional Arguments

Post  blacklens on Wed Sep 09, 2009 6:00 am

snafu wrote:The closest thing to an emotional argument I can think of is the desire to be a responsible truthseeker, which is often common ground at the intention level between the two sides. Establishing a common goal in this way can build a bridge and facilitate discussion on the best way to proceed. Issues lke dogmatism, fundamentalism etc.. come out, and can be easily seen as false for all the "other" religions, but the hump is to get someone to realize they are no better than the fundy's if they refuse to shine the spotlight on their own beliefs as well. If they don't want to, they can't then winge about others, and need to realize they can't call themselves responsible.

That's how it went for me anyway. I realized one day, that to be responsible meant examining my own beliefs.

I think this is a very good tactic. I have to try it out sometime :-)
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Re: Emotional arguments against god? Would it be effective?

Post  Moses on Wed Sep 16, 2009 12:00 am

I think there's a powerful emotional-moral argument to be made against hell. From Robert Ingersoll's 'Why I Am An Agnostic':

For the first time I understood the dogma of eternal pain --
appreciated "the glad tidings of great joy." For the first time my
imagination grasped the height and depth of the Christian horror.
Then I said: "It is a lie, and I hate your religion. If it is true,
I hate your God."

From that day I have had no fear, no doubt. For me, on that
day, the flames of hell were quenched. From that day I have
passionately hated every orthodox creed. That Sermon did some good.

It's hard to contemplate all that suffering and still say "God is love." For me, at least, this was a major faith-killer. Though hell can go the other way too, scaring people into deeper fundamentalism.
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Re: Emotional arguments against god? Would it be effective?

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