Monday, June 27, 2011

some opinions on dialogue with the religious

  • No matter how personally gratifying, calling anyone "insane" or "stupid" for holding different beliefs is likely to end the dialogue. Of course, the same applies to calling the irreligious "heartless" or "lawless".
  • Discussion about particular proofs may not be as illuminating as discussion about general principles and standards that affirm or disqualify propositions. For instance, is it permissible to detect the supernatural through intuitions that manifest as shivering? And in regard to some major world religions, is the truth of claims within the sacrosanct text(s) utterly beyond questioning? Depending on differences on central points such as these, delving too soon into peripheral arguments could be futile. Intact philosophical roots are unshakable by indirect blows.
  • Technique is also important for better credibility. Responding to a proof with a proof from another domain shows an apparent lack of confidence and forthrightness. Whenever someone advances a metaphysical objection, the relevant approach is to undermine the objection metaphysically. Whenever someone refers to a testimonial, an opposite testimonial is appropriate. Flatly ignoring a statement seems evasive and inflexible. Even if the assertion is ludicrous, it needs to be patiently corrected in detail rather than contemptuously dismissed.
  • A few exhibits are so old and well-known to not be worth mentioning. Every thinking adult who has an opinion about religion already has a well-established viewpoint on the topic, so raising it is fruitless. Examples: 1) Human existence is suboptimal in myriad ways, so supernatural beings cannot be both benevolent and powerful.. 2) The universe must have an origin, so there must be a creator god. 3) People have ethics, so there must be a judgment god. 4) It's impossible to absolutely prove nonexistence, so the supernatural could exist. 5) The number of contradictions among religions is innumerable, so no possible god is sufficiently universal to be credible.

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