cuchulain

Attacking beliefs

189 posts in this topic

I realize this is a topic in another area of the forum, but it's one that seems to be necessary here as well in my opinion.  And I have some questions regarding this topic.  

We aren't supposed to attack each others personal beliefs.  Nor are we supposed to attack each other.  I get that.  I can understand it.  But I don't see much happening in terms of debate if we can't attack a person's position(their belief).  I mean, anyone can claim to speak to God, or angels, or demons, or Jesus, or Odin, or whoever...how do we go about politely questioning these statements?  I personally have had issues with this, and understand that others do as well.  I try to attack the position, although maybe attack is too strong a word, more like debate?  The simplest thing for me is to ask for proof.  But some of us ask for proof in a very judgmental way(myself included from time to time, unfortunately).  

It would be especially appreciated to have some of the moderators respond to this question, but I appreciate anyone's input into how to politely question another members beliefs(or lack thereof), and I think everyone here would appreciate a little more courtesy on all our parts toward each other?  I may be mistaken, of course.  

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i'd say you do pretty well most of the time.i tend to stay out of these topics as i have been misunderstood more than once.

personally,if i have a question,i ask.how the person chooses to answer it,if at all is up to them.

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That's the problem for me, though.  Most of the time isn't good enough, by my standard.  I am working to do better, I suppose that's the best I can do.

I can certainly understand staying out of these topics because of misunderstandings.  Sometimes I think people misunderstand on purpose, but on a forum like this where I can't see the person or their body language, and miss so many of those usual cues that give things away, I think the best I can do in the future is just give everybody the benefit of the doubt in what they say, and hope for the same in return.  Now, occasionally there are those who make statements that are just blatantly in opposition to what they have said elsewhere, even sometimes in the same topic.  But, I begin to think that for the sake of peace, it's best to just leave it alone.  Present my position, answer questions that are put to me in a polite manner, ignore questions that I consider rude.  

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I just noticed, a lot of moderators haven't been here in weeks, if not months...unless the last visited thing is broken?

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2 hours ago, cuchulain said:

I just noticed, a lot of moderators haven't been here in weeks, if not months...unless the last visited thing is broken?

It isn't broken. The answer to your unspoken question is Facebook.

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I spent a couple years phrasing everything I posted here in the form of a question, as an experiment in Socratic Method. It did make a differwnce, in terms of how often I offended. It did not prevent it.

I used to do a lot more "just my opinion" and "I could be wrong" but I was cured of that by the couple of people who would routinely ignore the caveats and get loudly indignant. 

It can feel like a no-win situation sometimes, I know. I think you've got it pretty well figured out, though. Don't be mean. Give people the benefit of the doubt. And be ready to let stuff slide when there is nothing to be gained by getting your back up.

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I'm visiting because it has been quite a while. That, and I just received an email from someone on the board here for the first time ever. It was a mildly lengthy monologue directed at me, on sin and why only someone who is a pathetic person doesn't believe in sin. After responding (with a polite but firm no thanks), I decided to stop by and check everything out here. It does seem awfully quiet.

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15 hours ago, Avidan said:

I'm visiting because it has been quite a while. That, and I just received an email from someone on the board here for the first time ever. It was a mildly lengthy monologue directed at me, on sin and why only someone who is a pathetic person doesn't believe in sin. After responding (with a polite but firm no thanks), I decided to stop by and check everything out here. It does seem awfully quiet.

You may have stopped in on a slow day, or a day everyone was recuperating from a heated discussion. ;)

Anyway, I'm sorry you were prompted to visit due to an unwanted communique.  But please return often and contribute. I am always welcome to the idea of folks teaching me new things, or discussing things that matter to me, or just for the comradarie. (I just know I misspelled that word.)

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Maybe beliefs shouldn't be attacked? That might eliminate some squabbles.. There's a difference in discussing a persons faith, and constantly putting them on the defensive. Saying; "This is why I don't/can't believe as you do" is different from "What a load of garbage, prove it" :)

I've noticed that a polite question is usually asked, but after I respond, that's when the questioner begins to denigrate what I believe with disparaging remarks. So a seemingly sincere inquiry turns into ridicule. My mistake is returning the criticism. 

One problem is that we often exaggerate or over-emphasize what we think are the negative aspects of what someone else believes, and then begin denigrating it.. I've been guilty of mischaracterizing  others, usually by my own mistaken assumptions, rather than anything they've said. The solution would be to ask questions instead of jumping to my own conclusions.  

The difference between a debate and an attack might be as subtle as: "I don't believe as you do" rather than "I'm always fascinated by how someone who believes in nothing can be so self-righteous". I get responses like; You believe a myth - a book of fairy tales, Your god is a tyrant - a murderous thug, Your church committed genocide, Only a moron would think that way, blah blah.  Contemptuous remarks like that turn a civil conversation into rubbish.

I will make an attempt not to belittle others, I recognize that some of my crazy analogies don't always apply to what they think, and instead of making a point, I inadvertently insult them.  Few of us believe the same thing,  we aren't a group of like-minded people, so we will inevitably disagree and debate everything, but it probably just comes down to being considerate, polite, and  expressing ourselves  with a degree of respect for what others choose to believe.

 

 

 

 

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I try not to post on Christian topics because I am not Christian. I try hard not to post on atheist topics because I am not atheist. I once posted on a topic that asked about beliefs in general and was laughed at and (in my opinion) ridiculed.  I am not as good with the written word as most here nor can I fully communicate my deeply held belief and for that I was laughed at and scorned. I don't post much at all these days and have wondered lately why I am still here at all. Perhaps it is like slowing down and rubber necking at a traffic accident. You know it is horrible but you just can't take your eyes off of it

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I suppose part of it is knowing when to exit a toxic conversation. Being willing to let the other guy get in that last word without having to get even or escalate.

Not everyone who comes to the ULC is ready for the ULC. We have to expect that there will be people who are deeply prejudiced against our beliefs, or who simply have no experience interacting with people outside the narrow confines of the church they were raised in. There will be people who are only here to insult others. Some people are going to react to an innocent declaration of faith as if they have been physically assaulted.  I think knowing our own limitations in dealing with those people is important. If I know I can't talk to someone without it turning into a fight, I can't really blame them when it happens.

Edited by mererdog

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32 minutes ago, Brother Kaman said:

I sincerely hope I wasn't guilty of making you feel that way. I have questioned you about your beliefs, and I have tried engaging in some good natured ribbing with you, but was never really sure how you took it. Your sense of humor has been hard to read at times.

If I caused you any emotional discomfort, please let me know so I can try I learn from it.

I will say though that your beliefs have a unique difficulty when it comes to expressing them to others. Since the "You are God" is inherently personal, it can easily be taken as a personal slight. It can be hard not to see it as you saying that you know me better than I know myself, which is kind of demeaning. Thats a tough one to work around successfully. You do a pretty good job, from what I've seen, but I have seen it get you into some misunderstandings...

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" We aren't supposed to attack each others personal beliefs.  Nor are we supposed to attack each other.  I get that.  I can understand it.  But I don't see much happening in terms of debate if we can't attack a person's position(their belief). "

 

And the purpose of an attack is to destroy. What would anyone be interested in destroying someone's belief? Can you even do that? Is a belief a tangible thing that can be destroyed? I would submit that the answer to those questions would be no. Even if someone capitulated and agreed with everything you used to attack his belief, deep down do you think you have really altered that person most intimate beliefs?

" I mean, anyone can claim to speak to God, or angels, or demons, or Jesus, or Odin, or whoever...how do we go about politely questioning these statements?  I personally have had issues with this, and understand that others do as well. "

So what is the purpose of your questions? Are your questions formulated as an attack or as a means to gather information? Don't you think the forum exists to share information for the purpose of learning? We should not question the beliefs with negative arguments. You question beliefs with intent to understand.

" I try to attack the position, although maybe attack is too strong a word, more like debate? "

So, do you have any interest in learning about things you do not understand or believe?

"The simplest thing for me is to ask for proof.  But some of us ask for proof in a very judgmental way(myself included from time to time, unfortunately)."

Scientists demand proof. Theologians rely on faith. Somewhere in that I believe that science and religion have crossed paths. Can one prove the existence of their God? Is something that cannot be explained by science automatically attributed to God? Is something that cannot be explained by science simply yet to be explained through our lack of knowledge? Scientists learn though asking questions in a manner that allows them to learn. Why would theologians use attacks instead?

 

What I know about science and what I know about religion would both fit on the point of a needle. But what I have faith in fills an ocean. I don't know that I can answer questions regarding my faith an a manner that a scientist would understand or learn. That would depend on the scientist and what he is willing to accept as an element of a hypothetical. Scientists gather information for lengthy periods of time without arriving at a conclusion. Why should we be any different? Why should we begin our learning by attempting to destroy what we don't know before gathering all the elements available to draw a conclusion?

 

 

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Ribbing me is one thing but laughing with another member about my inability to express myself to your and his satisfaction is another. For me to tell you that you are God is me expressing my belief. I do not require you to believe that too, because it does not change my life one way or th e other if you believe that or not. I have said over and over again that my spiritual belief is not evangelistic. Disagree if you must (and I expect you to disbelieve, but do not ridicule and demean.

Edited by Brother Kaman

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Seems like everyone's belief here has become a personal slight to everyone else.

 

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4 minutes ago, Brother Kaman said:

Ribbing me is one thing but laughing with another member about my inability to express myself to your and his satisfaction is another. 

Please understand that they can be the same thing amongst friends. Where mutual respect is taken as given, it isn't really "you" laughing at "me" but "us" laughing at "ourselves". It looks like that mutual respect between us isn't the given I thought it was and so my words were hurtful rather than hilarious. Sorry about that.

And it is an unfortunate reality that, where another's beliefs don't match our own, expressing our beliefs is functionally the same as telling them that their beliefs are wrong, which most people will take as a personal slight. It's why religion and politics are such tricky subjects to talk about with strangers, you know?

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34 minutes ago, mdtaylor said:

 Don't you think the forum exists to share information for the purpose of learning? 

Partly. Partly it is for fellowship, right? Comforting people in time of need, encouraging people to succeed, or just enjoying another's company?

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7 hours ago, mererdog said:

Please understand that they can be the same thing amongst friends. Where mutual respect is taken as given, it isn't really "you" laughing at "me" but "us" laughing at "ourselves". It looks like that mutual respect between us isn't the given I thought it was and so my words were hurtful rather than hilarious. Sorry about that.

And it is an unfortunate reality that, where another's beliefs don't match our own, expressing our beliefs is functionally the same as telling them that their beliefs are wrong, which most people will take as a personal slight. It's why religion and politics are such tricky subjects to talk about with strangers, you know?

So we come here to irritate each other with our spiritual beleifs?  Little wonder that there are so many atheist on board.

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1 hour ago, Brother Kaman said:

So we come here to irritate each other with our spiritual beleifs? 

I don't. Do you? I see it as a sort of unavoidable cost. I don't know about anyone else, but I've gotten a lot out of my time on the forum. I've learned a ton by getting to interact with people on a level I don't get to do very often elsewhere. That is why I come back.

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19 hours ago, Brother Kaman said:

So we come here to irritate each other with our spiritual beliefs?  Little wonder that there are so many atheist on board.

For me personally, its rarely the people with spiritual beliefs that are any source of irritation (GB aside). Its the majority (not all) who believe in nothing (atheist/agnostics) who like to ridicule anyone with faith, especially Christians. But I don't mind, it keeps me sharp and its an argument they cannot win.  Some don't understand that 'belief' isn't a debate, so It inevitably leaves them frustrated and reduces them to name calling rants. 

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54 minutes ago, Dan56 said:

who believe in nothing 

There's that mischaracterizing others thing again, Dan. 

I would agree that "belief" is not a debate, but it is also not a Get Out Of Jail Free card. If, for example, I believed that black people are inferior to white people, my belief would be racist and expressing that racist belief would involve insulting a large group of people. Expressing beliefs that involve other people is tricky, at best. You can't express belief in sin without calling someone a sinner, even if only indirectly.

The reason  people react so negatively when I express my belief in pacifism is that it directly implies that things they have done, plan to do, or even just want to do are immoral. And I can't really blame them for being upset about that implication.

No one wants to be told they should feel guilty or ashamed, you know? And they certainly don't want to be told they deserve eternal torment or absolute destruction for acts they justified to themselves years ago.

Edited by mererdog

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The other thing Dan is you keep saying atheists and agnostics believe in nothing. The only things that unites atheists or agnostics is an absence of a belief in god and not an absence of belief in anything.  One can believe in a philosophy or a system of belief like Buddhism. Maybe if you stop preaching that they are wrong and talk to them as individuals and find out how they see things and treat that with the same respect you have for your beliefs and stop the preachy stuff that puts everyone's back up. 

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9 hours ago, mererdog said:

The reason  people react so negatively when I express my belief in pacifism is that it directly implies that things they have done, plan to do, or even just want to do are immoral. And I can't really blame them for being upset about that implication.

No one wants to be told they should feel guilty or ashamed, you know?

That's the complete opposite of what I have against pacifism. It doesn't make me feel immoral about anything. For me, a pacifist stands idle in the face of evil, which is tantamount to condoning evil. Nothing moral about that,  A pacifist is a victim waiting to happen. 

8 hours ago, Pete said:

The other thing Dan is you keep saying atheists and agnostics believe in nothing. The only things that unites atheists or agnostics is an absence of a belief in god and not an absence of belief in anything.  One can believe in a philosophy or a system of belief like Buddhism.

In context, I mentioned spiritual beliefs and faith in the same paragraph, so when I said they believe in nothing, I was referring to the spiritual realm (theism). Sorry I didn't make that clear.  I'm sure they have ideologies and philosophies, but nothing specific to religious beliefs surrounding deity. If they had a system of belief like Buddhism, wouldn't that make them Buddhist or something conferrable? In any respect, I'm not insinuating they can't believe in evolution, naturalism, socialism, pacifism. big bangs, etc. Everybody believes in stuff like that. 

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Dan Buddhists do not believe in god or that Bhudda is a god. There is nothing that Bhudda can achieve that those followers do not think they also can achieve. Taoism, Jainism, and some other eastern religions do not believe in a god. Most atheists see themselves as humanists and believe strongly in the dignity of humanity and achieving all we can be as human beings, but do not believe in god. There are many philosophers that do not believe in god. Some believe i  their own spiritual journey. Some also believe in marxism. Can you see Dan that some can believe in things as much as you do without accepting a god. It is not nothing

Edited by Pete

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12 hours ago, Dan56 said:

That's the complete opposite of what I have against pacifism.  

You missed the point Dan. I wasn't talking about what people have against pacifism. I was talking about why people react so negatively when I talk about it. It immediately puts people on the defensive, which is a clear indication that they are taking it as an attack. What you are talking about would not get anyone defensive, so it does not explain the reaction I am talking about.

As an asside, I would recommend looking into the history of nonviolent resistance. It has been proven capable of defeating evil on every level from street crime to imperialism. Now that I think about it, it isn't really an asside, is it? Whether or not you can effectively respond to an attack without a counteratrack is fairly germain to the topic at hand, eh?

 

As for the spiritual realm, it is a mistake to think that atheists and agnostics do not have that sort of belief. Atheists and agnostics only share a lack of belief in deity, and deity is not the only sort of spiritual belief. There are atheists who believe in ghosts, magic, nature spirits, etc. Many agnostics are some of the most superstitious people you'll ever meet. And I would stress that unless they have specifically addressed the issue, you usually can't tell the atheists who believe they were reincarnated from the atheists who don't believe in that sort of thing.

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