TED Conversations

Farokh Shahabi Nezhad

CEO & Co-Founder at Idearun, BipFa

TEDCRED 20+

This conversation is closed.

Is there any way to prevent religious debates from turning into a big fight?

People discuss lots of things, politics, sports, anything
But when they discuss religious opinions, most of the time, they get all angry and try to win even with fight.
why is that? why that can't be a normal subject?
and more important, How can we prevent this?

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Closing Statement from Farokh Shahabi Nezhad

Tnx everyone for their replies. I enjoyed learning from different aspect for this problem.

I can only conclude this : Don't argue with someone unless they are open minded and ready to be changed and challenged.

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    Feb 13 2013: It's faith vs. faith. never a good combination.

    And don't let anyone persuade you that atheism isn't a faith in itself. It most certainly is, especially the 'militant' type from the gospel according to St Dawkins.

    The stronger one's faith, or belief, the further away from intelligent argument one gets.

    The only way intelligent discussion can take place is by genuinely wanting to understand an opposing view. It takes empathy to do that, plus the ability to question one's own standpoint.

    By definition, a belief system endemically has no intention of understanding its polar opposite, unless it has the courage to doubt itself - by which time it begins to move out of 'a belief', into a subject for stimulating discussion.
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      Feb 13 2013: Re: "don't let anyone persuade you that atheism isn't a faith in itself."

      How is the absence of a belief, a belief?
      What if one says they are a "non-believer" instead of the term atheist?" Is my "faith" now non-belief?
      One does not refer to one's self as a non racist.
      This is the reason Sam Harris does not use the term atheist.

      Re: "a belief system endemically has no intention of understanding its polar opposite"

      This too seems to be a questionable statement.
      A person with a belief system can understand an opposing belief system with out the intention of accepting.
      I understand communism, I do not accept it.
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        Feb 13 2013: Theodore, there are degrees of atheism just as much as there are degrees of religious faith. The more extreme or fundamentalist they are, the less likely it will be to want to understand their polar opposites.

        If a discussion descends into name-calling, belittling and elitist proclamations, there is usually some sort of faith/belief powering that argument. It may be because faith/belief moves too far away from rationality into emotion - thus being less open to a balanced discussion.

        We're getting into semantics here, but "non-belief" seems to me not the same as full-blown atheism. Atheism can no longer be regarded as a moderate stance and is almost used as a badge of honour in order to garner affirmations from like-minded others. Thus a preparation for "going into battle" in an argument, rather than seeking understanding.

        The very fact that you understand communism means that you can discuss it as much with a communist as you can with a capitalist without getting too heated, and with less likelihood of offense. Am I right?

        Understanding affirms or disproves emotional responses, and is a more effective way of approaching religious debate.
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          Feb 13 2013: Ahhh, the magic words, " seems to me."

          So when you write "Atheism can no longer be regarded as a moderate stance" you are really saying, "To me, Atheism........"
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        Feb 13 2013: Who else would it seem to? Should I be supporting every opinion I have with evidence? All evidence started life as opinion > hypothesis > theory before being accepted as mainstream. I enter debates with opinions just as much as you do. You are welcome to accept or decline them as much as you want.

        Yes you are right. To me, Atheism seems to be many things. Not least having a presumption towards ridding the world of religion completely, rather than trying to understand why billions of people subscribe to it in some form.

        I personally do not subscribe to any organised religion myself and am doubtful of the existence of God. But what gives me the right to devalue another person's way of understanding the universe without having prior understanding of them and why they believe it?

        I know you don't do this Theodore - but one never wins debates by inflicting injury on those who oppose. Injuring opposition in a debate is always a puerile, hollow victory.
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          Feb 13 2013: I think over the last 10-20 years atheism as evolved in its definition and use. It may be time to redefine. I understand both your points and agree with both as long as we modify the definition of atheism OR come up with a new word for one or the other.

          Atheism, as a simple lack of belief in a god, I do not add my belief systems. I do not believe in Smurfs either, but I certainly would not call my lack of belief a system. I also do not like classic cars, and I do not go to classic car shows, AND I do not go to seminars about why I hate classic cars and rail against those that do.... For me it is a non issue.

          Allan I would agree with your definition if you were to take the idea of Atheism and expand it to a belief system such as Dawkins prescribes. Militant Atheism. OK, that I interpret as something new and more in depth than the denotative definition of Atheism.

          Gay used to mean happy, but has evolved so that an individual can no longer use the denotative definition of the word. I wonder if the word "atheism" will go the same way.
        • Dan F 50+

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          Feb 13 2013: Hi Leo and Allan,

          The reason a person is an atheist is why this debate can be upsetting to the conflicting religious point of view. Please look at my post below for my explanation of why I am an atheist.

          World class naturalist like Richard Dawkins and academic types such as the late Christopher Hitchens take and took issue with religion because of what has been learned, especially since Charles Darwin about biology and how the human condition is less unique from other living organisms than religious belief authorities and systems want to concede, because of the implications.

          No one cares if you don't believe in Smurfs or like classic cars, but if you said you don't believe in the spaghetti monster, ears would perk up. Trust me.

          Atheism as a consequence of academic knowledge is only becoming better defined.

          I like Theodores's rational on this topic.
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        Feb 13 2013: Leo, I think you're right about redefining atheism. Especially since Dawkins seems to have commandeered the word almost as his own, distorting it to represent a blunt instrument with which to club religion to death - in spite of the known evolved capacity of the human brain to intuit the spiritual as much as it can the scientific.

        Because of the aggressive connotations many perceive in the word 'atheism', maybe 'unbelief' or 'non-believer' would be a better badge to wear when embarking on a debate that really does want to get somewhere, but can't, because of an almost studied refusal to empathize.
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          Feb 13 2013: You must be a therapist or something like that. Your statements are in the definitive when they are actually just perceptions, yours, as I have already pointed out. Why the reluctant to own your perceptions? I find it intellectually dishonest to frame the conversation in a knowingly distorted fashion. You do know better, but still resort to this "bad habit" even when your called on it.

          Re: atheism
          Atheist no doubt defend themselves, even in an agressive manner, because they are so discriminated against by an overtly religious world.
          Philosophers such as Plato argued that atheism (as we understand it today) was a danger to society and should be punished as a crime.
          During the Early modern period, the term "atheist" was used as an insult and applied to a broad range of people, including those who held opposing theological beliefs, as well as suicides, immoral or self-indulgent people, and even opponents of the belief in witchcraft.
          The poet Percy Bysshe Shelley was expelled from the University of Oxford and denied custody of his two children after publishing a pamphlet on The Necessity of Atheism.
          Seventeen states still have a law which states you must believe in God to maintain public office of any kind despite the excerpt from the Constitution of the United States, Article VI, Section III: ”… no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”

          So who is doing the labeling here, isn't it those with atheophobia?
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        Feb 13 2013: You forbid me to have opinions, and now perceptions are barred too because you see them as 'distortions' and 'intellectually dishonest'...?

        A recipe for good debate is surely one rich in opinions and perceptions? If opinions and perceptions were forbidden, then such a debate would have to be anchored in evidence and dogma from past knowledge - and thus would not get anywhere. Hence the thrust of Farokh's original question.

        I don't think it's dishonest to proclaim doubts about current so-called certainties, without having to consult that ubiquitous monkey on the shoulder who keeps whispering: "Evidence! Everything you say must be supported by EVIDENCE!" That may be all very well for logicians in search of their holy grail of WHAT we are - but what about WHO we are?

        You might accuse me of being dishonest again, because here comes another opinion:

        I maintain that science - incredibly beautiful though it is, will not be able to get much beyond establishing "what" we are. "Who" we are, on the other hand, is not a scientific discipline and I further maintain because of that, such important existential questions render science impotent. Therein lies the problem: Science then morphs into atheism because of that widening gulf of understanding.

        I'm not particularly atheophobic. What bothers me are the extremities of both atheism and religious fanaticism, what might be the causes of them and why they cannot be discussed without getting overheated (see original question).

        Now, I've put forward some suggestions in an attempt to answer that question. I may be right, I may be wrong, but it certainly isn't intending to be distorted and I am not dishonest.

        Yes you're right. I am a therapist. Well spotted.
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          Feb 13 2013: Let's be clear, I never said you were "dishonest," (or used the word opinion).
          I wrote, "I find it intellectually dishonest to frame the conversation in a knowingly distorted fashion."

          Here is the evidence: Ahhh, the magic words, " seems to me." So when you write "Atheism can no longer be regarded as a moderate stance" you are really saying, "To me, Atheism........"

          This is what, "Your statements are in the definitive when they are actually just perceptions, yours," meant.

          Your framing "atheism" as being, a definitive, ""don't let anyone persuade you that atheism isn't a faith in itself."
          I am merely pointing out the difference between these two statements.
          1) Atheism is a faith
          2 I think, ( perceive, believe etc) that atheism is a faith.
          ...and claiming that you do understand the difference.

          Here you qualify atheism, ""non-belief" seems to me not the same as full-blown atheism. (underline seems to me), but again revert back to the declarative form of framing, by using "is," and writing:

          "Atheism can no longer be regarded as a moderate stance and is almost used as a badge of honour in order to garner affirmations from like-minded others..."

          So you mean "full blown atheism" and we are now informed that this is just opinion, even though it is a declarative statement, that left unquestioned constructs what "is" in a definitive manner? Correct?

          In psychology this is akin to me saying, "I make me feel angry."
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      Feb 14 2013: Very good point.
    • Feb 18 2013: WoW...

      You folks have cranked up a whole new offshoot. atheism !!!

      But I have to say that your arguments are closely aligned with Obama's..
      Idea of penalties for the non-purchase of Health Insurance Policies.

      In psychology this is akin to me saying, "I make me feel angry."
      hahahahahahahahahahahaha what a gas..

      Sorry, I am too tired to get involved with this... lol
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        Feb 18 2013: "I make me feel angry." is a correct albeit awkward sounding statement, as opposed to the more common misrepresentation of emotional understanding, "You make in angry"

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