Magi Mike's Blog

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Arguing with a Believer is Futile—Pelligrino

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Someone calling himself Pater Pelligrino has written very truly on a list:

What is really interesting in all these debates between IDers (Christian Fundamentalists) and those who accept evolution, is that nothing, no matter what is said or read in online forums, will ever change a believer’s convictions. No argument or discovery or fact can ever be convincing enough to change a believer’s mind.

The most famous example of this is Kurt Wise who, incredible as it may seem, has a PhD in Geology from Harvard University where he studied under the supervision of Stephen Jay Gould(!). Wise is famous for stating that:

if all the evidence in the universe turns against creationism, I would be the first to admit it, but I would still be a creationist because that is what the Word of God seems to indicate

The obvious objection is how can one know that what is written in the Bible is, in fact, the word of god, while what is written in the Koran, or the Bhagavad Gita, or The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy isn’t? Faith, by definition, is belief in that for which there is no proof. So, it all comes down to the circular reasoning of “I believe it because I believe it”.

Evidence is irrelevant. The people who argue against evolution think they see holes in the theory. There is still work to be done in explaining the details of how natural selection drives the creation of new species. However, the theist does not believe in creationism because he finds the argument for evolution unconvincing. Rather his religious faith takes precedence and determines his view on evolution. Like Wise above, even if the theory were rock solid perfect, with all the details accounted for, the creationist would still believe what he wants to believe. To someone wearing red tinted contacts the world will always appear red.

As I have learned from years of such arguments, there can be no fruitful dialogue between creationists and atheists. Either they end up talking past each other, or the debate degenerates into name calling.

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Written by mikemagee

30 August, 2010 at 12:48 am

5 Responses

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  1. Vice-versa

    mcoville

    30 August, 2010 at 12:45 pm

  2. Well, you make the point very successfully. You utterly ignore the argument. It does not work at all vice-versa.

    Mike Magee

    30 August, 2010 at 3:30 pm

  3. In answer to Wise if all the evidence indicated otherwise I would still believe for that is what the word og god indicates.
    St Augustine (354/430) “To think that the pentateuch is literally true is the sign of a weak mind”
    p.s. convince a man against his will he,s of his own opinion still.

    Sean Keyes

    30 August, 2010 at 6:32 pm

  4. It doesn’t seem often that we agree, Sean, but both your quotations are on the dot. Of course, a man who is rational and is following the arguments is not being persuaded against his will. His reason ought to be persuading his will through the strength of the arguments. Believers, however, will not let their wills be persuaded by the arguments, generally because they refuse to read them, or do so only cursorily so as not to let them register. If these defenses fail for some reason, and they do read and inwardly digest the arguments, they often react with anger and abuse.

    Augustine was a genius of his day and age, but confined by the limitations of current knowledge and conventions. Christianity was fashionable, and his mother was a Christian, so he eventually became one, but only after ten years as a Manichaean which allowed him to reject Manichaeanism, the independent existence of evil as a force in the world. Most US Protestant Christians and many Catholics are still Manichaeans. Indeed they seem to believe that evil is more powerful than good, and can see no wrong in using evil against evil, as they see it. As I see it, that really is evil — as Augustine said, it is the absence of good! Only goodness can defeat evil, the absence of goodness, not reinforcing its absence. Glad to see you are getting online.

    Mike Magee

    30 August, 2010 at 7:28 pm

  5. In answer to your last reply.- believers of every stripe not just christians qualify admirably as far as the last four lines of the paragraph is concerned.
    Augustine was the main teacher, philosopher, theologian up to the time of Thomas Aquinas (13th century) Augustine used Plato to a greAT degree. Thomas used Aristotle, they are the two main teachers in the Roman Catholic church up to prsent day. Give them a whirl and see what you think. I may very well go online on a regular basis if you print out all that we discuss and keep it for me.

    Sean Keyes

    31 August, 2010 at 3:35 pm


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