Debating a Christian at work.
My two cents. That may or may not work. I think that you are preparing a lot, but may not be preparing the right information or approach.
What are you debating for? Do you want to convince him that he's wrong? Do you want to state your educated reasons why you don not believe? Do you want the debate to be an ongoing thing? What do you expect to happen at the end?
Then, before stating and giving anything you have, I'd start by listening to him first. I start with asking questions. Sometimes what you get is some kind of testimonial, some story about how wonderful their lives are after finding their god, etc. That information is important to you because that's what you should be addressing or at least acknowledging. If people hold on to nonsensical believes because they feel safe, or because their religion is what gave them peace of mind, or a safety net away from a lifestyle that they feel otherwise they couldn't change, there's no logic and information or teaching, or history, or documentation that would make them change their mind. To them it's not about education or information; it's about what the religion gives them.
Prepare to listen to what he has to say to understand what they actually believe and how he applies those believe to his life, along with why he's so convinced about his believes.
Tell him you'll gladly discuss the Bible with him if he will also study a textbook on organic chemistry and biological evolution with you.
Thanks for all the responses, good info and links. I enjoyed the videos.
We had a small discussion today concerning "demon possession". I had mentioned that I didn't find the Creation account credible because of the talking animals mentioned within it. So, now we have to go through the idea that "demonic possession" is real.
I'm afraid that as some have suggested, we won't really get very far in the discussion of Genesis because rationality doesn't seem to be very high on the list.
I think I've finally got him to agree to discuss the problems I find in the Bible (instead of the emotional experience of the Lord coming to be with him, which I have no idea how to debate).
If his experience is emotional... then share your emotional reaction with him. Or... You could say something like...
"I can see that your experience has given you a lot of comfort. I find the most comfort in seeing the world through the eyes of science. If there is a God, I think he understands my needs and I don't think he would deny me that which brings me the most comfort. I would really appreciate it if you would stop assuming that I am unhappy because I have a different experience from your own. I have already been saved and I am very happy with my circumstances just as they are."
All good questions. I sometimes wonder, why I'm even bothering to debate him. I don't really think that I will be able to convince him that his beliefs are not consistent with reality. He seems to be the one to always want to talk about it and save my soul. In a way, I'm wondering if his world view is the result of his upbringing as a Christian and maybe his lack of knowledge in some areas. Maybe I'm just curious about what makes him tick. He is obviously very intelligent. I'm just amazed at how different his world view is from mine.
He believes that a shoulder problem he had in the past was "faith healed" (although it flared up again recently). So his personal experience with religion will probably have a big influence on facts or logic I try to present.
Good idea. I had thought about getting him an inexpensive "flat earth" book to try and contrast some of his illogical beliefs with more illogical beliefs.
pseudy - He believes that a shoulder problem he had in the past was "faith healed" (although it flared up again recently). So his personal experience with religion will probably have a big influence on facts or logic I try to present.
I imagine that was a big face palm moment for you.
Even the jobos had good arguments against 'faith healing'.
Today, I finally started the discussion with my friend on Genesis chapter 1. As I expected, we were only able to cover the first 5 or so verses in over 2 hours of discussion (with some interruptions).
I tried to get him to read information from some of the sub-headings in the Wikipedia article:
Genesis creation narrative
I got the impression that he really didn't wanted to bother with it, but want to start the discussion instead.
(The following is extremely condensed and paraphrased. I hope that I accurately portray his thoughts)
Previously he had told me that the Bible states in Gen 1:1-5 that On the first day, God created the Heavens (universe) and earth (without form), then light.
Basically, I tried to establish the idea that Gen 1:1-2 was not part of the Creation account and it acted more like an introduction. Each of the creative days follow a textual formula where God commands an action, followed by the occurrence of that action, followed by the phrase "...then it was evening and morning, the xth day".
He claimed that every creative day ended with the phrase "...then it was evening and morning, the xth day" and it included all of the previous actions not included from the previous day, so he didn't see a problem with including Gen1:1-2 with Gen1:3-5. I pointed out that it would be more consistent to view each creative day starting with "And God said ..." and ending with "...then it was evening then morning". I think he finally saw the point and conceded that it didn't really matter and we moved on to Gen 1:3-5.
Surprisingly, he chose to argue that God did indeed create light on the first day even though the sun was not created until the 4th day. He chose to believe that God was able to illuminated the sky (since he is the creator, and not bound by his creation) even though the sun was not created until day 4.
I argued that I thought that was inconsistent and he was using the "God did it argument".
I brought up my idea that the ancient Hebrews may have not necessarily felt that the illumination of the atmosphere was tied to the sun and if the account was viewed in this manner, it made more sense. At one point I asked him if the source of illumination of the sky was the same on day five as it was for day one. He indicated that by day 4 the sun would have taken over and illuminated the sky.
Eventually I suggested that we agree to disagree, even though overall we kind of agreed that light was present without the sun, we just varied on the details. He still insisted that his view was consistent.
I'm pretty sure that I've really done nothing to persuade him to see my point of view and it will likely take a long long time to get to that point. I am a little irritated that he seems to think that we can go over one or two minor issues and I should be persuaded to become a Christian.
PX: I'm afraid that ... we won't really get very far ... because rationality doesn't seem to be very high on the list.
That actually was the implied point of my previous post.