Debates Versus Arguments January 2, 2010

Debates Versus Arguments

When you’re talking to other people about religion, do you ever feel like you’re in A while they’re in B?

Who am I kidding… There are plenty of atheists whom we could place in B.

(via Indexed — Thanks to Ungullible for the link!)

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  • Ben

    Who am I kidding… There are plenty of atheists whom we could place in B.

    Uhm … you mean, there are plenty of us who are so sure about the nonexistence of gods, that they don’t even accept the possibility of being wrong anymore?

  • Jeff Dale

    Then again, it sometimes helps to keep in mind what the term “argument” means in philosophy: a set of premises attempting to support a conclusion. In other words, an argument is the evidence and reasoning by which you justify your beliefs.

    A “debate” consists of [1] each side presenting and defending its own arguments, and [2] each side listening to and objectively engaging the opposition’s arguments. Anything else is just a shouting match or an infomercial.

  • Is that the 5 minute argument or the full half hour?

  • Revyloution

    No it isnt.

  • percival

    Yes it is.

  • littlejohn

    “Dromedary Hump,” pen name of the fellow who wrote the book advertised in the upper right, claims to know with absolute certainty that god does not exist. So I suppose a discussion with him could fall into category B.
    Most of us have no problem saying mermaids, unicorns and so forth absolutely do not exist, even though we can’t prove it. Why are we reluctant when in comes to god? Same amount of evidence, after all.

  • @littlejohn

    Which god?


  • Julie

    LOL!! Wondered how long it would take for the MP quotes to start.

  • Shatterface

    It’s like the global warming ‘debate’. If even one scientist says he isn’t absolutely 100% certain that climate change is due to CO2 emmisions the skeptics jump on it and say ‘See – scientists don’t agree!’ as if there’s some 50/50 split.

    You can’t be 100% certain of anything – but just how close do you have to be to render that ‘uncertainty’ meaningless?

    I’m sure enough that I’m willing to bet eternity in hell against the possibility of there being a god. If you aren’t certain there isn’t a god you might as well burn witches just to be on the safe side.

  • I don’t think this is a good diagram. I think doubt and certainty would be better replaced with “Willing to Change” and “Unwilling to Change”

    I am fairly certain that my opinions are correct, but I would be willing to change them if proven wrong.

  • When having a disagreement, I don’t think the key differences are “doubt” and “certainty”…everyone has a combination of both. Rather, it is “open” and “closed”…it makes a huge difference on a debate/argument if the participants are open to what the other has to say, even if s/he is certain that the other is wrong. Openness in this case simply means the willingness to listen, to try to understand, to seek new information, and to broaden one’s view.

  • I assume you’re using “argument” in the popular meaning of “fight”. And yeah sure we can put atheists in B, we’re only human after all.

  • That wasn’t five minutes just now.

  • ThatOtherGuy

    Well, I dunno. While you will undoubtedly find atheists in B, you won’t nearly as many as you will theists. B is totally their thing.

  • Onotheo

    The diagram shows some parts of ‘opinions’ belongs to ‘doubt’ and some to ‘certainty’, so what is the remaining part that belongs to neither? ‘Opinions’ I haven’t heard of?

  • What do you mean, ‘opinion’? Atheism is an undisproven null hypothesis…! Or is it a theory? Oops, I’m full of doubt on this one… 😉

  • An argument is between those involved in the argument. A debate is judged by or meant to sway those observing the debate. The Venn diagram above is wrong.

  • muggle

    I too think this diagram rather sucky. So if you know something is true and you insist on operating on facts, you’re just being stubborn and close-minded? Even when the opinions you’re being so-called close-minded too should be laughed off the goddamn stage?

    Get real. I’ll choose to be labelled that Atheist in B and stubbornly refuse to drink the Koolaid for the next Jim Jones. So sorry for not being more open-minded. /sarcasm

    I’m really goddamn sick and tired of being labelled not PC enough when I deny the possibility of “God”. “God” by definition cannot exist.

    First, you’d have to define “God”. How to?

    Something with super human powers? Like Clark Kent? Guess that would be easy enough to prove but you would have to discount magic tricks, special effects and the like.

    Something worthy of worship? While, personally, I don’t think anyone’s worthy of worship, millions of Elvis fans would quibble with me but no one’s ever been able to prove to me there’s any reason I should worship him or Jehovah. Or Thor for that matter. Or why I should unless they were perfect and supernatural.

    Some perfect being? How could we know they were perfect? How could we imperfect beings perceive perfection? Also, you have to get over the hurdle of said perfect being having created this mess. Evolution — which is basically trial and error really — makes sense. A creator “God” doesn’t. Because to be perfect, “God” would be incapable of making a mistake and no one can seriously argue that mistakes are nonexistant in this universe. No, free will doesn’t cover it. Because a perfect being would only be able to create other perfect beings (anything less would be a mistake, an imperfection) incapable of making the wrong choice, given it.

    Anything less than perfect and supernatural could not rightly be called “God” but just another being on a level with all the others.

    So you know what? Fuck anyone who claims I’m not being respectful enough of the absurd.

  • Dan

    I’m really glad to know that I was in A the other night when i had a discussion with my mom about what happens when you die. She was definitely in B. A lot of times I end up in B too, but i kept my cool and told her that it was fine that she believed that but I wasnt so sure.

  • Lymis

    I think your Venn diagram is flawed. The point you are making is valid.

    As onotheo says, what are the opinions that fall outside the two overlap regions? For that matter, what is it that people are in doubt or certainty about that isn’t inside the center circle?

    I think what you are actually aiming at for the center region is something that reflects the idea that we form conclusions based on our inputs, from personal observation, social consensus, and the paradigms with which we view the world. It isn’t really “opinions” that you are examining, but the willingness to examine alternatives to the conclusions we hold, and what inputs we might be willing to allow to that.

    But yes, and bluntly, you don’t have to be an atheist to run head first into theists who utterly refuse to examine “what they know” based on any external input. Even when there is a theoretical shared basis (like a belief in God), there are plenty of people unwilling to budge on what they think they know.

  • Joffan

    It needs another circle, also called “Certainty”, and the intersection between the two certainties is marked “Fight”.

    For Science Pundit, I suggest that you read “Debates” as “Discussions”, which I would have preferred and I think is closer to what was meant.

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