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How to talk to a true believer

I think this blog has failed to do something it could do reasonably well: Help literal Bible-believers and non-believers to understand each other.

There are too many stereotypes flying around on both sides (notably with both atheists and self-professed fundamentalists accusing each other of stupidity), and I think I have sometimes taken the lazy route of treating fundamentalism as ridiculous. The truth is that when you believe the Bible literally, it does form a coherent worldview. There are tensions and difficulties with it, but that’s true of all worldviews, and usually we’re all blind to the faults in our own belief systems.
This is not me going soft. I certainly will not stop supporting the victims of abuse. This is just me saying “We’re not getting anywhere by attacking each other.” I want to join Adam Laats in saying “why can’t we all just get along?
I had a message the other day from one of my oldest friends. It said (in part):
The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is calling you back to Himself. It is time to stand up and be counted.

The seed which He put in you, even as a young boy the things that He spoke into your heart, He wants to bring to pass.

You have calling, you have purpose, you have destiny, and as you read this now, you know exactly what I’m talking about!

Open your Bible Jonny, take a deeper look! Allow His love to carry you, allow His grace to keep you. When everything has turned to dust, what remains true is God Almighty. He is calling you!

Now, I could say a lot of things about this, but I’m only going to say one: The idea that I just don’t think God exists is incomprehensible to my friend.

Read the rest of this entry

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Why fundamentalists will never listen to me

From Marianne Talbot, I have learned a useful expression: a self-sealing argument. This is an argument which cannot be refuted, because it doesn’t allow any counter-argument. Almost every fundamentalist argument is self-sealing. This is why, in the end, I concluded that fundamentalism couldn’t possibly be true. Some will accuse me of scientism for this, but I concluded that unless a belief is testable, there’s no point holding it. All will become clearer if I show you an example.

The worst insult a fundamentalist can ever throw at you is ‘unbeliever’. On the face of it, this is a very strange accusation to make.

Liberal Christian: “I don’t believe the virgin birth was a literal event.”
Fundamentalist: “A pox on thee, UNBELIEVER!!!!!!!!!”
LC: “Er… yes, I don’t believe that, so you could well describe me as an ‘unbeliever’ if you like.”
Fundamentalist: So you admit it! You are full of UNBELIEF!!!!1111!!!
LC: *puzzled face* Read the rest of this entry