Debating evolution, intelligent design and cosmology with a JW
- I know this will sound insulting in regards to your father, so I apologize in advance. But if someone becomes a JW at age 40ish than I don't think there is much logical reasoning you can do.
Maybe but I just don't understand. If I could not intellectually defend my position then I would seriously reconsider my position.
- Show him ERVSs and Chromosome #2
- I can never understand how stories of talking snakes,worldwide floods and losing you superpowers getting a haircut among hundreds of other bizarre stories sound much more credible than evolution.
- Go back to basics and show him a picture of that chicken where they turned on a part of its dna and grew a tooth, then discuss the evidence of that lizard or gecko in Florida that evolved after they introduce another lizards in to its ecosystem. Maybe you have done this already but its hard to argue against proof.
- ask him if it would not be a greater act of creation if the species were predestined to create themselves without further tinkering by the maker.
Welcome to the site Stumbler, I very much enjoyed your informed and rational arguments.
Your father's reply was very disappointing after all the effort you had put in to be clear, logical and not provocative. Alas! the witness brain has been specially wired to fight against anything which might deny it the limpet-like grip on the Watchtower delusions. Anything which disagrees with JW thinking is a frontal attack on the only thing which gives them hope in life: their delusional beliefs.
As you pointed out to your father that you are more interested with the information that leads to a conclusion regarding evolution than the concept itself (words to that effect). I'm sure this was lost on him but is a profound reality for those looking for truth. With JWs the conclusions come first as proposed by the GB, and evidence is manufactured according to the requirements of the doctrines.
- Hello stumbler83. Trying to unplug someone from a cult at 60 can be very dangerous. Please tread carefully.
It is a very impressive and well-researched document you have assembled with evidences for evolution. I won't claim to be a very effective communicator, however I think you should re-assess your approach with your dad. Clearly, he just dismissed your article out of hand and properly without researching any of the items in the article. You could properly have written pure nonsense and it would have had no different effect.
I try very hard to follow these rules when I talk with jehovahs witness:
- Never assert any conclusions but ask questions; only assert what is factually verifiably true
- Frame the conversation: They claim so-and-so is true for this reason. Make sure it is very clear what they are arguing.
- anticipate where the discussion will go and ask questions which will make your points at that later time stronger (for instance I have never had a conversation which did not terminate with a variation of: you must have faith. At that point it is useful that the conversation started out with something that could not be answered in that manner).
- play stupid
- be patient
- ask them to define things, explain things, etc. for future use, especially when you know they can do so. Don't do it to expose them, it serves little purpose.
- The conversation will always end in one of two ways. Either they will change the subject, or they will insist on arguing something else than what you started out with (how the conversation was framed). Point this out when it happens and make conclusions: Okay so the reason you mentioned in the beginning of our conversation does not actually demonstrate that what you wanted to say was true? they will object. Ask why & restart the argument with the same line of questions.
- When you hear an illogical argument, wonder out loud. Repeat it. Say things like: "Let me see if i get this straight" and recap it faithfully using the bad logic.
- talk very slow and allow for pauses in the conversation.
For instance, a few years back I was stopped by a jw couple and we began to talk about the bible. I told them I did not believe there was a god but I would very much be interested in hearing what they thought was the best reasons to think there was (framing the conversation). So one of them brought up the point that the earth is precisely the right distance from the sun and that proved that the earth was designed. So i knew then where i would want to end up, that the earth can be in a range of distances from the sun and support life & there are billions of planets anyway. But instead of saying that I said that was a very interesting point and asked them how far the earth could be from the sun to support life? like was it only a band of a few hundreds of kilometers? (framing the conversation&asking definitions) Of course they did not know, but instead of saying that proved it was a poor argument, i asked if in order for me to accept the argument as good, wouldn't I first need to know how wide a band the earth could be in from the sun to support life? (the point was that they too would have to know this but i did not say so myself). They agreed. So I said that the reason I ask is because the earth is not going around in a circle but an ellipse, so sometimes it is far from the sun and sometimes it is close (factual statement). Did that indicate to them that the band in which the earth could be in was not very narrow? I asked a few more questions like that and managed to bring in the idea that there was billions of stars with planets of all sorts of sizes and distances, but without ever directly saying their *conclusions* were wrong or providing any direct conclusions myself.
They changed the subject to prophecy -- again I asked which prophecy they found the most convincing (daniel). I asked them what it was about and they gave me details. So I wondered out loud: Okay so let me see if I understand the argument: If daniel wrote these things in 600BCE, and they later happened, that proves the bible? (yes) me: Okay I think that's a pretty good argument. How old are our oldest copies of Daniel? (the exchanged looks and then one of them said they were very old). So I said: I saw a documentary and it said our oldest copies were from around 100-150BCE... so what I am getting at is if i should accept this argument, wouldnt I first need to proove that daniel was really written in 600BCE? (yes) So what physical [i said physical on purpose] evidence demonstrates that? (they gave me an answer that the bible demonstrated it) So i asked again: yes it is certainly in the bible, but I am interested if there are any physical things, like books or something, which mentions daniels prophecy before 150BCE? We went over it a few times and arrived at the conclusion only the bible mentions Daniel. Instead of pointing out this was circular I just recapped the circular logic: Okay so if we accept the bible is true regarding daniel, then daniel is a prophet? But Daniel is also the best proof the bible is true? (they objected: there are many proofs the bible is true) I said: Yes I accept there are many reasons. But that was why I was asking for the best reasons, and for the best prophecy, and you brought up daniel? But I mean, suppose I wanted to convince myself of the argument, wouldnt i first need to check there was evidence daniel was written before 150BCE? (this was exactly what they agreed to before). We went over it a few times and I patiently just followed the circular logic around and around. At some point of them ofcourse said I had to have faith in the bible, so we discussed what faith was. This brought me to the point I had planned all along: But I started out asking if there was evidence that God existed, and you said there was -- so I asked for the best evidence. So you brought up the sun, but we don't know how far the earth can be from the sun and still support life. And then you brought up daniel, but we don't have any proof when daniel was written. I mean, can you see why this is difficult to accept? now you say I must instead have faith; but why didn't we start there? (I cant remember what i said then).
The conversation ended by them saying they would provide answers to my questions if i gave them my email, which i did. I got an email 3-4 months or so later (IIRC) with just a link to jw.org something about faith. I think I answered that I think we simply disagreed if a person should be convinced by faith or by evidence, never heard back.
I'm familiar with that method but I don't think I have the patience or discipline. I'm too tempted to jump in and explain why their arguments are circular or invalid. It's not that I need to be right so much as logically fallacious arguments and dogmatic ideological thinking irritate me.
That's something I may need to reflect on.
The problem is if I've tried to apply Hassan's strategies but the JWs I know are not intellectually curious enough to provide answers any further than copy and pasting from JW.ORG