Debating Most Christians is Basically Pointless

Here’s why debating (orthodox) Christians is so tedious, and virtually impossible to do productively:

[NOTE: When I refer to Christians I am speaking of the orthodox variety, not those like myself who differ categorically with almost every doctrinal premise and Biblical interpretation found in the Church today, from Original Sin to Christ’s Resurrection.]

“Faith” by Christian definition contains no null hypothesis.  What this means is that the doctrinal premises Christians accept and assert are not beholden to any sort of rationally consistent plumb line.  Indeed, I submit that for a Christian to accept that reason is efficacious, or even worse, NECESSARY, to “God’s Truth”, is heresy, at least implicitly.  Faith is beyond reason because God is beyond reason, so it is assumed.

This is of course entirely false, as God is, I would argue, perhaps THE most rational Ideal out there when defined correctly (“correctly” meaning: In a way which does not endemically contradict him). Anyway, the relevance of this is that it is impossible for the rational person to disprove Christian doctrinal assertions or interpretations because proof by definition is a matter of reason…of consistency and non-contradiction.  And reason is mutually exclusive of  “faith”.  Of course this also makes it impossible for the Christian to prove HIS assertions.  The standard of disproof for the critic is also the standard of proof for the Christian (and vice versa).  And this is another reason why debating Christians on matters of doctrine and interpretation is an almost entirely fruitless enterprise.

Here’s the paradox:  In order to truly debate a Christian, the Christian must have first ALREADY rejected the “no null hypothesis” root of their arguments.  And this necessarily means to reject those arguments, in essence, which equals a rejection of the doctrinal premises and interpretations—as these simply do not survive alongside a null hypothesis.  In either case, null hypothesis or none, the debate is pretty much over before it begins.

I wouldn’t necessarily say that debating Christians is a complete and categorical waste of time; there is a lot to be said for the manner in which persons engage one another.  You might be surprised at how successfully you can evangelize a Christian by simply not being a dick about things. (In other words, don’t model your approach after asshats like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, whose patronizing and irascible manner could turn off the Devil himself (and they are both completely wrong about everything, by the way…they pat themselves on the back for dismantling the object farce that passes for Biblical doctrine in orthodox Christianity—a task even my 10 year-old can do with facility—and think they are actually dismantling the scriptures, themselves…embarrassing.) But don’t expect to dazzle Christians with logic.  They punted that away a long time ago.

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10 thoughts on “Debating Most Christians is Basically Pointless

  1. I will tell you what it’s not. It is not a belief in that which one cannot rationally explain. Because that which you cannot rationally explain you cannot actually know. So you can’t actually have faith in it. Faith in other words is not a euphemism for “mystery is truth”, which is a contradiction.

  2. There are things I cannot explain that I still believe. The taste of chocolate, consciousness, laughter… Etc. I agree that faith shouldn’t be baseless but sometimes our beliefs can’t be 100% rational.

  3. I cannot know for certain that this chair will hold me when I sit. I have faith that it will. Is this irrational faith? No. Because a chair which can bear my weight is not a contradiction. Is it irrational faith to believe that God created everything out of nothing (ex nihilo)? Yes. Because something from nothing is a contradiction.

  4. Your question takes us off the beaten path wrt to my overall point: faith in that which contradicts is not faith. Christians manipulate their critics by punting their (Christian) doctrinal contradictions into the endless abyss of “God’s Mystery”. This is a rejection of a null hypothesis, which makes it impossible to debate them. There is no way to disprove that which rejects all reasonable standards of proof, and there’s no way to prove it, either. So the whole exercise is a waste of time.

  5. If you are going to assert creation, then the definition for it and the argument of it either doesn’t contradict or it’s false. This is why I don’t like going down rabbit trails on how I define this or that. I’m not convinced people really understand the magnitude and significance of the fact that so much of what we accept on faith is bullshit, and how much work it is to rebuild our ideas from the ground up.

  6. I spent some quiet time this morning reading over many of your 2013 posts. Wow, great stuff. It was like a refresher course on how much of Calvinism is totally ingrained in Western Christianity. One thing you said in one of the pieces had to do with Jesus coming as a human compared with a book as his “Word”. Loved that. The implications are vast. It’s as if people forget the most important thing!

    I have lost my zeal for debating or even discussions with most Christians. I have tried to think of some sound bite questions that might get them thinking. Mainly in the areas of personal responsibility and individualism as opposed to total depravity and determinism. I still enjoy reading people who have left the institutions. They seem to have a broader more philosophical view.

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