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Old 23rd January 2013, 12:38 PM   #1
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Why I have a tough time talking to believers.

Let's take an intelligent person, A. Conan Doyle, and let's make him believe in something silly, say the Cottingly Fairies. Now he wants to tell you that they're real and they're the greatest thing on the planet.

This is how I look at believers. There's not significant difference for me between the Cottingly Fairies and Jehovah.
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Old 23rd January 2013, 12:40 PM   #2
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Often times skeptics and rationalist will be accused of simply dismissing religious believers as stupid.

No. In fact I wish it was that simple. If I could just go "Well you're an idiot" and go about my day, it would actually be a lot easier for me.

What gets me, what really just makes my brain hurt is trying to figure out the disconnect, how demonstratably not crazy people can say crazy things.

Penn Jillette had a great "Big Think" talk about this where at times its like religious people are speaking in a code that they didn't give us the Rosetta Stone for.
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Old 23rd January 2013, 12:42 PM   #3
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I'm pretty much with you there. One thing that helps though is that, using the fairy analogy, this person has been raised not only to believe in fairies, but with some extremely harsh punishments in store for them should they question fairies.

If they didn't believe in fairies, they would be ostracized from their families, called immoral by their community, and (they are led to believe) tortured for all of eternity.
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Old 23rd January 2013, 12:48 PM   #4
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Arthur Conan Doyle did indeed believe the Cottingly Fairies were real, and went to great lengths to prove it. Looking at the pictures today you'd say "First day with photoshop?"
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Old 23rd January 2013, 12:52 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Gawdzilla View Post
Let's take an intelligent person, A. Conan Doyle, and let's make him believe in something silly, say the Cottingly Fairies. Now he wants to tell you that they're real and they're the greatest thing on the planet.

This is how I look at believers. There's not significant difference for me between the Cottingly Fairies and Jehovah.
What do you have on hand, to convince me, the natural world is all there is ? once you accomplish that, i will deconvert.......
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Old 23rd January 2013, 12:52 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by JoeBentley View Post
No. In fact I wish it was that simple. If I could just go "Well you're an idiot" and go about my day, it would actually be a lot easier for me.

What gets me, what really just makes my brain hurt is trying to figure out the disconnect, how demonstratably not crazy people can say crazy things.
Same here! Though I have come to see people, brilliant in certain things, be complete morons in other! I call them special, or complex, and depending on the subject still STUPID!.
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Old 23rd January 2013, 12:53 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Gawdzilla View Post
Let's take an intelligent person, A. Conan Doyle, and let's make him believe in something silly, say the Cottingly Fairies. Now he wants to tell you that they're real and they're the greatest thing on the planet.

This is how I look at believers. There's not significant difference for me between the Cottingly Fairies and Jehovah.
And different religions believe in different races of fairies.
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Old 23rd January 2013, 12:54 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by GIBHOR View Post
What do you have on hand, to convince me, the natural world is all there is ? once you accomplish that, i will deconvert.......
Wrong way round. You claim that a magic invisible being exists. Prove it.
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Old 23rd January 2013, 12:56 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Gawdzilla View Post
Let's take an intelligent person, A. Conan Doyle, and let's make him believe in something silly, say the Cottingly Fairies. Now he wants to tell you that they're real and they're the greatest thing on the planet.

This is how I look at believers. There's not significant difference for me between the Cottingly Fairies and Jehovah.
The only issue I have with your position is that you took all believers and put them into one single Pigeonhole. Not all believers are fundamentalists ignoramuses with whom a serious discussion is impossible. By closing yourself to dialogue with anyone who disagrees with you, you are turning into the very same thing you're fighting against.
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Old 23rd January 2013, 12:57 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by GIBHOR View Post
What do you have on hand, to convince me, the natural world is all there is ? once you accomplish that, i will deconvert.......
As daffyd says, "Whatcha got?"
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Old 23rd January 2013, 12:58 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by GIBHOR View Post
What do you have on hand, to convince me, the natural world is all there is ? once you accomplish that, i will deconvert.......
We are under no obligation to disprove all of your fantasies. By all means, go on believing. However, if you want to be taken seriously, then it is your obligation to provide evidence.
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Old 23rd January 2013, 12:58 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Ron_Tomkins View Post
The only issue I have with your position is that you took all believers and put them into one single Pigeonhole. Not all believers are fundamentalists ignoramuses with whom a serious discussion is impossible. By closing yourself to dialogue with anyone who disagrees with you, you are turning into the very same thing you're fighting against.
A. C. Doyle wasn't a fundamentalist ignoramus. You missed the point of the OP there.
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Old 23rd January 2013, 12:58 PM   #13
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I guess one of the huge cultural differences between Britain and the States is that I can easily say......"I don't have a tough time talking to believers at all"...........because I don't think I ever do. And even if I did, religion is just something that people keep to themselves over here, and would never dream of talking to other people about. It's not taboo, it is just a non-subject. No one is interested, and no-one would waste their time talking about it.

The same doesn't seem to apply to other nonsense. Crystals seems to be the current favourite. Others seem obsessed with horoscopes. In those circumstances, we have a quick conversation about evidence and about being stark raving mad, then move on to talk about the weather, in the normal British way.

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Old 23rd January 2013, 01:08 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by MikeG View Post
I guess one of the huge cultural differences between Britain and the States is that I can easily say......"I don't have a tough time talking to believers at all"...........because I don't think I ever do. And even if I did, religion is just something that people keep to themselves over here, and would never dream of talking to other people about. It's not taboo, it is just a non-subject. no one is interested, and no-one would waste their time talking about it.
I generally really try hard to avoid the "Well you don't understand because you aren't XXXXX" card but... yeah. I think people even in other secular Western democracies that usually have if not an equal at least a parallel for most social quirks that at least let them put it in context... just really don't have anything really comparable to America's "Religious Right" and just really can't get how much influence it has.
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Old 23rd January 2013, 01:08 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by MikeG View Post
I guess one of the huge cultural differences between Britain and the States is that I can easily say......"I don't have a tough time talking to believers at all"...........because I don't think I ever do. And even if I did, religion is just something that people keep to themselves over here, and would never dream of talking to other people about. It's not taboo, it is just a non-subject. no one is interested, and no-one would waste their time talking about it.

The same doesn't seem to apply to other nonsense. Crystals seems to be the current favourite. Others seem obsessed with horoscopes. In those circumstances, we have a quick conversation about evidence and about being stark raving mad, then move on to talk about the weather, in the normal British way.

Mike
I left the subject line generalized for a reason. "believers" in fairies, Nibiru, small/medium/bigfeets, "pyramid power", it's all in the same bucket for me. The fact that the religious folks made a special effort to get religion exempted from the list of delusional behaviors tells me they're aware of the true situation as well.
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Old 23rd January 2013, 01:11 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by MikeG View Post
I guess one of the huge cultural differences between Britain and the States is that I can easily say......"I don't have a tough time talking to believers at all"...........because I don't think I ever do.
Same here in Belgium. I don't know any believers.
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Old 23rd January 2013, 01:12 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by GIBHOR View Post
What do you have on hand, to convince me, the natural world is all there is ? once you accomplish that, i will deconvert.......
There's no evidence that anything besides the natural world exists. So there you go.
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Old 23rd January 2013, 01:18 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by dafydd View Post
Same here in Belgium. I don't know any believers.
No UFOlogists? No "pyramid power"?

No Greens?
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Old 23rd January 2013, 01:26 PM   #19
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I have no such problems.
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Old 23rd January 2013, 01:28 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by Gawdzilla View Post
No UFOlogists? No "pyramid power"?

No Greens?
I meant religious believers. I know lots of woos who believe all sorts of nonsense, but none of them believe in sky daddies.
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Old 23rd January 2013, 01:33 PM   #21
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Actually, having said that, I end up having something of a tough time talking to alt-med woos. My sibling-in-law swears by cider or vinegar tablets. Somebody brings some herbal remedy or homeopathic pills into the house. My parent recommends we feed our two-month-old son goat's milk; somebody even recommended raw milk.

For stuff that affects my son, I'm quite explicit: "AAP.org link or GTFO." For the rest of it, I just try to talk about clinical trials and medical efficacy and leave it alone, but it can be very frustrating.
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Old 23rd January 2013, 01:41 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by Gawdzilla View Post
A. C. Doyle wasn't a fundamentalist ignoramus. You missed the point of the OP there.
And I never said he was. In fact, you took him as an example and created a hypothetical scenario where he believes in something silly and defends it blindly. You then concluded by saying that this is how you look at all believers. My post was in response to that by saying that you should not put all believers in a single pigeonhole, because not all believers are like that.
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Old 23rd January 2013, 01:41 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by AvalonXQ View Post
Actually, having said that, I end up having something of a tough time talking to alt-med woos. My sibling-in-law swears by cider or vinegar tablets. Somebody brings some herbal remedy or homeopathic pills into the house. My parent recommends we feed our two-month-old son goat's milk; somebody even recommended raw milk.

For stuff that affects my son, I'm quite explicit: "AAP.org link or GTFO." For the rest of it, I just try to talk about clinical trials and medical efficacy and leave it alone, but it can be very frustrating.
Now you how atheists feel.
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Old 23rd January 2013, 02:00 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by dafydd View Post
I meant religious believers. I know lots of woos who believe all sorts of nonsense, but none of them believe in sky daddies.
And as I said, there's no real difference between people who believe in gods and people who believe in fairies or that other nonsense.
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Old 23rd January 2013, 02:01 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by Ron_Tomkins View Post
And I never said he was. In fact, you took him as an example and created a hypothetical scenario where he believes in something silly and defends it blindly.
Doyle DID believe in the Cottingly Fairies.

Quote:
You then concluded by saying that this is how you look at all believers. My post was in response to that by saying that you should not put all believers in a single pigeonhole, because not all believers are like that.
Given you didn't understand that OP this part is irrelevant.
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Old 23rd January 2013, 02:02 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by dafydd View Post
Now you how atheists feel.
And that's Jenga.
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Old 23rd January 2013, 02:09 PM   #27
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Originally Posted by Gawdzilla View Post
Doyle DID believe in the Cottingly Fairies.


Given you didn't understand that OP this part is irrelevant.
Ok, fine. I was confused then. So Doyle DID believe in the Cottingly Fairies. So what? My argument still stands: You're putting all believers in a PigeonHole, and I'm telling you that not all believers are like that. That is my point. Do you understand now my point? Do you realize that that is what you're doing? Do you realize why it is intellectually dishonest?
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Old 23rd January 2013, 02:30 PM   #28
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Originally Posted by Ron_Tomkins View Post
Ok, fine. I was confused then. So Doyle DID believe in the Cottingly Fairies. So what? My argument still stands: You're putting all believers in a PigeonHole, and I'm telling you that not all believers are like that. That is my point. Do you understand now my point? Do you realize that that is what you're doing? Do you realize why it is intellectually dishonest?
No, it's not. You'd like it to be, but it's not. Believers vary in what they believe in, but the fairy-fanatics and the god-huggers are the same just below the surface. If this is the first time you've run into this, sorry about that.
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Old 23rd January 2013, 02:38 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by Gawdzilla View Post
No, it's not. You'd like it to be, but it's not. Believers vary in what they believe in, but the fairy-fanatics and the god-huggers are the same just below the surface. If this is the first time you've run into this, sorry about that.
Well, you started the OP by saying that that is how you envision "believers".

Quote:
This is how I look at believers. There's not significant difference for me between the Cottingly Fairies and Jehovah.
You never made a distinction between fairy-fanatics and other types of believers. If you do believe in that distinction, then I take back what I said but you certainly didn't make it clear. From your OP it seemed that you put them all into one single pigeonhole entitled "believers".
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Old 23rd January 2013, 02:39 PM   #30
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Originally Posted by Ron_Tomkins View Post
Ok, fine. I was confused then. So Doyle DID believe in the Cottingly Fairies. So what? My argument still stands: You're putting all believers in a PigeonHole, and I'm telling you that not all believers are like that. That is my point. Do you understand now my point? Do you realize that that is what you're doing? Do you realize why it is intellectually dishonest?
To the extent that all believers in deities, fairies, unicorns, etc., by definition BELIEVE in something without evidence for it, the details are inconsequential.

All believers partake in the invisible supernatural ice cream; the differences are merely their preferred flavors and toppings.
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Old 23rd January 2013, 02:44 PM   #31
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Originally Posted by Ron_Tomkins View Post
Well, you started the OP by saying that that is how you envision "believers".



You never made a distinction between fairy-fanatics and other types of believers. If you do believe in that distinction, then I take back what I said but you certainly didn't make it clear. From your OP it seemed that you put them all into one single pigeonhole entitled "believers".
I don't believe there's a difference between fairy believers and god believers, I've said this more than once in this thread already I do believe. You believe in gods, fairies, pyramid power, Nibiru, all same-same GI.
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Old 23rd January 2013, 04:02 PM   #32
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There is a woman living around the corner who firmly believes in homeopathy and shuns medical science. In cases of illness she consults a dowser. She has put her children's lives in danger twice. Her husband has just left her, mainly because of these shenanigans. He belief is just as irrational and as potentially harmful as a belief in a god.
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Old 23rd January 2013, 04:10 PM   #33
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Originally Posted by Ron_Tomkins View Post
Ok, fine. I was confused then. So Doyle DID believe in the Cottingly Fairies. So what? My argument still stands: You're putting all believers in a PigeonHole, and I'm telling you that not all believers are like that. That is my point. Do you understand now my point? Do you realize that that is what you're doing? Do you realize why it is intellectually dishonest?
Obviously their are differences in believers. Some are fanatics, some are luke-warm, some are believers in name only. Some are authoritarian, some are not. But the point is that which particular supernatural belief they follow is not one of the important factors.
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Old 23rd January 2013, 04:12 PM   #34
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Originally Posted by Irony View Post
Obviously their are differences in believers. Some are fanatics, some are luke-warm, some are believers in name only. Some are authoritarian, some are not. But the point is that which particular supernatural belief they follow is not one of the important factors.
Yep, there's a underlying pathology there that is fundamental to the problem.
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Old 23rd January 2013, 04:14 PM   #35
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Originally Posted by Irony View Post
Obviously their are differences in believers. Some are fanatics, some are luke-warm, some are believers in name only. Some are authoritarian, some are not. But the point is that which particular supernatural belief they follow is not one of the important factors.
A good point. Is there a difference between believing in a sky daddy and believing that Reptilians control the world?
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Old 23rd January 2013, 04:21 PM   #36
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I think one of the disconnects non-believers have about believers, is they seem to think that most believers hold their belief in god as always the central point of their belief system. In fact, most believers I know rarely try to defend the existence of god, or even bring up god in conversation. Unless they are challenged about it, or ridiculed about it. This kind of ridicule seems silly to me, when the important thing is not what they believe in so much as what they do because of that belief.

More often than not, it seems to me that believers have a morality system they are trying to act by, much of which is shared by non-believers. It's just that the tradition of where that system comes from, or the history of how that morality was imparted to them, differs.

Some of the most useless conversations are a non-believer trying to prod a believer about why their beliefs are silly. A more constructive conversation would be finding common ground, such as what you both do NOT believe in, such as psychics, or medical woo, and find a way to cooperate on protecting consumers from those elements.
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Old 23rd January 2013, 04:23 PM   #37
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Originally Posted by Denver View Post
A more constructive conversation would be finding common ground, such as what you both do NOT believe in, such as psychics, or medical woo, and find a way to cooperate on protecting consumers from those elements.
A very good idea. I'm willing to give it a go. Theists And Atheists United Against Woo......except for a bit of the woo.

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Old 23rd January 2013, 04:25 PM   #38
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Originally Posted by Denver View Post
I think one of the disconnects non-believers have about believers, is they seem to think that most believers hold their belief in god as always the central point of their belief system. In fact, most believers I know rarely try to defend the existence of god, or even bring up god in conversation. Unless they are challenged about it, or ridiculed about it. This kind of ridicule seems silly to me, when the important thing is not what they believe in so much as what they do because of that belief.

More often than not, it seems to me that believers have a morality system they are trying to act by, much of which is shared by non-believers. It's just that the tradition of where that system comes from, or the history of how that morality was imparted to them, differs.

Some of the most useless conversations are a non-believer trying to prod a believer about why their beliefs are silly. A more constructive conversation would be finding common ground, such as what you both do NOT believe in, such as psychics, or medical woo, and find a way to cooperate on protecting consumers from those elements.
You have fun with that.
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Old 23rd January 2013, 04:27 PM   #39
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Originally Posted by Gawdzilla View Post
You have fun with that.
Actually, it can be fun to work with people of different belief systems, and even be friends with them, and respect their intelligence and their history and their family and societal differences. It's less fun, at least to me, to see them as silly, because of those.
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Old 23rd January 2013, 04:28 PM   #40
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Originally Posted by GIBHOR View Post
What do you have on hand, to convince me, the natural world is all there is ? once you accomplish that, i will deconvert.......
Skepticism, critical thinking skills, the scientific discipline, and a lack of empirical evidence pointing elsewhere.

I'm predicting that's not enough.

Last edited by John Jones; 23rd January 2013 at 04:47 PM. Reason: Clarity
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