How can we reason with non-religious people?

Much debate happens here between Catholics and Protestants; and we both use the Bible to argue and prove our points. But what happens when the person you’re debating with doesn’t view the Bible as anything more than a collection of fairytales?

There are politicians, businessmen, and everyday joes who just don’t give a fig what the Bible says. How can we argue with them? How can we convince them that things like gay marriage, and abortion are intrinsically evil? It’s a difficult thing indeed to live in a world where peoples’ minds are closed and they will NOT entertain the notion of a Higher Power.

Thoughts?

What I experience from many people is that they are unreasonable. It is not just that they ignore or ridicule the Bible. They actually lack the ability to reason. Or they lack the ability to be truthful. You can make arguments without any reference to scripture and the mere fact that you make an argument that agrees with scripture seems to cause them to think you are referring to scripture.

A recent example for me is an argument with a friend where he was promoting gay marriage and adoption and I opposed it. I made the simple point that depriving a child of a parent is a deprivation. I said that in the past losing either a father or mother was considered a deprivation. Therefore either the people of the past were wrong, and the spiritual ‘Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child’ should be ridiculed for thoughtless bigotry, or gay adoption is a deprivation. I nowhere mentioned the Bible. There were several back in forths in the form of emails. My friend’s eventual response included something about my argument being based on a narrow definition laid out in the Bible. I had nowhere mentioned the Bible. Yet he imagined it to be in my argument. Furthermore none of his replies ever addressed a point I made. He just kept changing the focus of the discussion.

My answer to your question would be that if people are reasonable we simply reason with them. We find foundations, truths, they agree with and reason from them. But the bigger problem is the unreasonableness of people. They will deny truths to justify the conclusions they desire. The first chapter of Romans discusses this. For those folks we do all that we can do, we pray for them.

Ooh, tough question. I usually debate with my agnostic friends, who at least consider the possibility that the Bible may be the Truth (they’re open to anything), but when someone has their mind set against the Bible? It’s probably better to go with secular arguments to back you up. There are many atheists against abortion and gay marriage (okay, less for gay marriage, but they exist) for non-religious reasons, and you can use their arguments. I recently stumbled across several websites dedicated to pro-life atheists. Their arguments and opinions against abortion pleasantly surprised me.

The hard fact is that all you can do is pray.

If a person does not believe in religion, then using religion as a reason will not work. A brief example from a class I taught where the topic was gender roles and feminism. A student who had identified himself as an evangelical Christian quoted the verse about wives being submissive to their husbands to justify the role of women as homemakers and mothers and not working outside the home, etc.

I decided to play “devil’s advocate”, so I asked the following questions and made the following statements: “I don’t believe in your God. Why should I have to live by what YOUR God says? Why should the laws in MY country have to conform to YOUR religion’s teachings when I don’t believe in what your religion teaches? Sure, you could get a majority of YOUR kind to pass a law to say whatever you want and threaten me with prison if I don’t comply with the teachings of YOUR God and religion, but you can only change my behavior, not what’s in my mind and heart – and I don’t believe in YOUR God. So you can threaten me like a three-year-old with punishment but you won’t open my heart to YOUR God.”

He was silent except to say that I would be damned for eternity. I responded “You don’t get it. I don’t believe so the fear of hell has no power to change me one iota.”

I concluded by saying to him and the class that this is the argument that people of faith will have to encounter or choose not to encounter. I added that the amount of people who consider themselves pro-life has actually increased a small amount over time…and some theorize this is due to better ultrasound so people hear the beating heart earlier than before and are moved. Notice, that I did not say anything about God or religion in that statement.

In short, religious people need to realize that there is another mindset out there and have to learn to think like others think.

I hope that helps

You cannot argue with these people from a position of faith - so don’t try.
You can make your views known (and they can dismiss them) and you can vote your conscience and that is about it.

Now this does not mean one cannot engage such people in discussion on such matters. It just means that quoting Scripture or Magisterial documents is pointless.
One must present arguments that are more science and sociologically based.

Peace
James

Agree, likewise the use of logic and reason as well.

=rfournier103;11731841]Much debate happens here between Catholics and Protestants; and we both use the Bible to argue and prove our points. But what happens when the person you’re debating with doesn’t view the Bible as anything more than a collection of fairytales?

There are politicians, businessmen, and everyday joes who just don’t give a fig what the Bible says. How can we argue with them? How can we convince them that things like gay marriage, and abortion are intrinsically evil? It’s a difficult thing indeed to live in a world where peoples’ minds are closed and they will NOT entertain the notion of a Higher Power.

Thoughts?

Perhaps sharing this would have the desired effect [which BTW is always up to Gpd]

http://web.mnstate.edu/gracyk/courses/web%20publishing/aquinasfiveways_argumentanalysis.htm

God Bless you;
Patrick

it’s difficult. If a person has absolutely no religious faith and properly follows the laws of the land, you can imagine why he might feel aggrieved if someone with faith in God tells him that what has been democratically put in place is evil.

“Evil” is a word that people of no faith associate with convicted murderers, for instance. They don’t want to hear that their political leaders (whom they may have voted for) are instigating evil policies.

I really think you have to accentuate the positive. Focus on God’s love, His promise of salvation and the way He gives meaning to a world which largely thinks wealth equals the pinnacle of a life well-lived. You can’t just start with the really contentious things.

Of course, the laws of the land may well include legal rights to abortion and gay marriage. Personally, I don’t think it’s helpful to keep mentioning them together, but that’s just my opinion - one is about two people who love each other wanting to make a public commitment and the other is something completely different, with no real positive outcomes for anyone.

Very good points. :thumbsup:

In fact, I would try to avoid using the word “evil” in such discussions unless it really fits in with the non-faith-based argument being presented.

I really think you have to accentuate the positive. Focus on God’s love, His promise of salvation and the way He gives meaning to a world which largely thinks wealth equals the pinnacle of a life well-lived. You can’t just start with the really contentious things.

:thumbsup:

Of course, the laws of the land may well include legal rights to abortion and gay marriage. Personally, I don’t think it’s helpful to keep mentioning them together, but that’s just my opinion - one is about two people who love each other wanting to make a public commitment and the other is something completely different, with no real positive outcomes for anyone.

For myself - I am less concerned with what laws are on the books than with what people believe and think and how they act. Our effort needs to be to help change the hearts of individuals - - once enough individuals come around to our view on a given subject, the laws will follow.

Peace
James

Live by example, showing love and charity in all that you do. That is what the early church did to convert the pagans and others. It took almost 300 years.

Let the Holy Spirit do the heavy lifting, just set a good example. “They’ll know we are Christians by our love…”

At least that’s how I approach it, and I reached that conclusion from a combination of reading these forums, listening to Relevant Radio, discussions with priests, and socializing with other Catholics and Christians.

And pray, of course. :slight_smile:

You have hit the nail on the head with this post. :slight_smile:

I have debated abortion with atheists and they always accuse anti-abortion views as being entirely religious. They refuse to acknowledge the baby in the womb is a human life and can be valued as such. Some have gone so far as to call it a parasite, and others insist it is a mother’s body part. Then when shown pictures of a developing fetus their tactic turns to “You are a man so you have no right to dictate what a woman does with her body.” which of course just goes back to me saying the baby is not the mother’s body part. It’s futile. They want a veil over their eyes.

I think you guys reason very well but we shouldn’t expect results right away in front of our eyes so to speak. It is frustrating. Atheism is an system around the physical existence , with how you fell as most important together with a kind of “for the good of all/society”.
That means for example that they considered ok to put in jail for 2 years a person procuring an abortion in some countries, but also to consider abortion mandatory after the 2nd child in other.

It seems to me that, once we have shared, and demonstrated by our actions what our faith is, it is up to the Spirit to convince, to turn hearts.

Jon

Thanks for your kind comment. :o

In my life I have found that my “example” is more accepted by friends, co-workers, business associates, and even my catechism students (the dreaded teenagers!). However, with my own family, it’s a far more arduous task. I think of how the Lord was so accepted and loved by his disciples and friends and those he met on his travels. But then he returned home and it was “He’s not a big shot–that’s Mary and Joseph’s kid!” So I’m in good company :wink:

So, in a sense, that is my cross to bear.

I comes down to a question of authority. Whom will I put my trust in? God? Or myself?

How can we argue with them? - please don’t

How can we convince them that things like gay marriage, and abortion are intrinsically evil? - you can’t

It’s a difficult thing indeed to live in a world where peoples’ minds are closed and they will NOT entertain the notion of a Higher Power. - yep, I believe the “difficult thing” you refer to is called a cross… also see fastenatingguy’s post quoted above

=JustaServant;11733211]I comes down to a question of authority. Whom will I put my trust in? God? Or myself?

This earns a GOLD STAR:)

God in His Perfect Wisdom limits our choices.

Either we ARE in charge

Or God is in Charge and the responsibility can’t be shared:thumbsup:

How can you ever hope to make a friend out of someone you’ve already declared your enemy?

I echo the agreement with fastenatingguy’s response. Love, compassion, and in service of sentient beings is the best way to communicate your faith. Those who are inspired by your example will ask. I don’t have any need to preach the dharma because the dharma exists whether i say a million things or nothing about it at all but I try to show it in my practice in everything I do and everything I say.

Christian influence has saturated western society, even those who aren’t Christian have a decent grasp on the whole Christian belief system and all of it’s many flavors. So getting into theological arguments to prove the other person wrong is futile. Nobody wants to listen, because everyone is so self convinced they are right that they will get so defensive that neither person will get absolutely anywhere.

You can’t argue with them. It’s a matter of faith, not reason.

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