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My Annoying Conversation


mwc
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So I go to my sisters (a 10 drive) over the weekend to watch my niece graduate. Things are going good enough until I hear a conversation going on during the party the next day between my brother and my brother-in-law and his brother over religion. I wander within earshot since this is actually a rare thing for this group. My brother knows enough but not on this particular topic so they're all talking out of their asses. It's actually amusing so I move in closer. A little too close.

 

Before I know it the subject changes fairly quickly and my brother draws me in since, despite his still believing, he knows I know my stuff and it seems he just wants me to put my BiL and his brother away. So I try to escape but people start to gather around, including my mom and dad, who actually want me to talk. I'm a little freaked out so I start to answer their questions and I have to now publicly admit that I'm an atheist. Not that I'm ashamed of it, it was actually very easy, but I felt it odd that it came up before we could continue. My BiL now says something to the effect of "Wow! I bet your mom is happy to hear that" and looks her way for some response from her to which I reply "She already knows" and just continued with the conversation at hand.

 

Anyhow, we did the usual stuff. I don't believe in jesus. I ran them in a circle about morals so that they denied saying what they said just a few moments earlier (that got some laughs...and even though others agreed they had said morals came from god they refused to admit it that is what they said...and this was a room of xians for the most part that I was aware). We ran through the Exodus (doesn't this ever get old to them? bleh).

 

But...here's the kicker. I lost. I couldn't answer how the names of the 12 territories got their names if the 12 tribes weren't named after the 12 sons of Jacob. I gave a theory that it might have been after a local leader/king during the time but I couldn't say for certain but historically this was the most plausible and the stories simply integrated those names into them. That was it for me. After being accused numerous times of being on some "high ground" the whole time it turned into some "pity" fest. I was then labeled an agnostic instead of an atheist and the conversation abruptly ended.

 

I later gave my brother a little smack on the arm for getting me caught up in that mess. You can't "win" an argument with my BiL under normal circumstances and I've never thought that I would need to even try to have a religious discussion with him (it must be a new thing with him that I didn't know about...I'll be on guard for next year at my nephews' graduation). My brother told me he thought I wanted in since I looked like I was having a hard time holding back. Maybe, but I was more entertained my the stupid things being said than anything. My BiL's primary "authority" was some television shows (several times during our conversation he would say "You must be watching different shows than I am because ..." which of course I would say "Probably because I've actually read the source material" which he took to mean some book as opposed to the translated source texts) and he also said, true to form, that he didn't need to gather anymore information than what he had since he had "faith from birth."

 

While irritating I actually found this to be a fun little "learning experience." I'll definitely know better for next time. I'll have to get a better answer to this "12 tribes" question. And, while I didn't "win" the argument it was clear to me that some of those that did stick around to hear the bulk of this conversation were turned off to how my opponents handled themselves. I may not have de-converted anyone but I think I showed that atheists are calm, knowledgeable, moral people that don't have to resort to logic twisting and other games to make our arguments. I also found out later that one of my nephews thinks very similarly to how I think (my brother's wife's kid). He's quite smart, currently lives with his dad in the bible belt, graduated this year as well and was impressed by his uncle (it's nice when they tell you these things). So maybe speaking up, even though I "lost," I still managed to "win" after all?

 

mwc

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So I go to my sisters (a 10 drive) over the weekend to watch my niece graduate. Things are going good enough until I hear a conversation going on during the party the next day between my brother and my brother-in-law and his brother over religion. I wander within earshot since this is actually a rare thing for this group. My brother knows enough but not on this particular topic so they're all talking out of their asses. It's actually amusing so I move in closer. A little too close.

 

Before I know it the subject changes fairly quickly and my brother draws me in since, despite his still believing, he knows I know my stuff and it seems he just wants me to put my BiL and his brother away. So I try to escape but people start to gather around, including my mom and dad, who actually want me to talk. I'm a little freaked out so I start to answer their questions and I have to now publicly admit that I'm an atheist. Not that I'm ashamed of it, it was actually very easy, but I felt it odd that it came up before we could continue. My BiL now says something to the effect of "Wow! I bet your mom is happy to hear that" and looks her way for some response from her to which I reply "She already knows" and just continued with the conversation at hand.

 

Anyhow, we did the usual stuff. I don't believe in jesus. I ran them in a circle about morals so that they denied saying what they said just a few moments earlier (that got some laughs...and even though others agreed they had said morals came from god they refused to admit it that is what they said...and this was a room of xians for the most part that I was aware). We ran through the Exodus (doesn't this ever get old to them? bleh).

 

But...here's the kicker. I lost. I couldn't answer how the names of the 12 territories got their names if the 12 tribes weren't named after the 12 sons of Jacob. I gave a theory that it might have been after a local leader/king during the time but I couldn't say for certain but historically this was the most plausible and the stories simply integrated those names into them. That was it for me. After being accused numerous times of being on some "high ground" the whole time it turned into some "pity" fest. I was then labeled an agnostic instead of an atheist and the conversation abruptly ended.

 

I later gave my brother a little smack on the arm for getting me caught up in that mess. You can't "win" an argument with my BiL under normal circumstances and I've never thought that I would need to even try to have a religious discussion with him (it must be a new thing with him that I didn't know about...I'll be on guard for next year at my nephews' graduation). My brother told me he thought I wanted in since I looked like I was having a hard time holding back. Maybe, but I was more entertained my the stupid things being said than anything. My BiL's primary "authority" was some television shows (several times during our conversation he would say "You must be watching different shows than I am because ..." which of course I would say "Probably because I've actually read the source material" which he took to mean some book as opposed to the translated source texts) and he also said, true to form, that he didn't need to gather anymore information than what he had since he had "faith from birth."

 

While irritating I actually found this to be a fun little "learning experience." I'll definitely know better for next time. I'll have to get a better answer to this "12 tribes" question. And, while I didn't "win" the argument it was clear to me that some of those that did stick around to hear the bulk of this conversation were turned off to how my opponents handled themselves. I may not have de-converted anyone but I think I showed that atheists are calm, knowledgeable, moral people that don't have to resort to logic twisting and other games to make our arguments. I also found out later that one of my nephews thinks very similarly to how I think (my brother's wife's kid). He's quite smart, currently lives with his dad in the bible belt, graduated this year as well and was impressed by his uncle (it's nice when they tell you these things). So maybe speaking up, even though I "lost," I still managed to "win" after all?

 

mwc

 

What evidence does he have that the 12 sons of Jacob weren't named after said territories?

 

It would even be plausable to say that Jacob only had 12 sons because there were 12 territories/tribes, if there were 15 territories/tribes, who's to say he wouldn't have had 15 sons?

 

It would be easy, and probably more correct, to assume that the story was made up to explain how there were 12 territories/tribes to begin with, in light of the absence of actual facts about how they came about.

 

Kind of like God being the explination for how we stick to the ground and don't float off into space, why the moon seems to emit light, why Europeans had the right to take over Native American territories, or why a line of nobility gets to rule over a particular territory.

 

Is it because God wills it, or are there other more plausable explinations?

 

[Gravity, Reflecting light off the surface from the sun, because the natives were more primative technologically and couldn't stop them, because Noble families aquired political and military power over a long period of time.]

 

To quote Douglas Adams: "God used to be the best explination we'd got, and now we've got vastly better ones. God is no longer an explination of anything, but has instead become something that would require an insurmountable amount of explaining."

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You must have done fairly well for yourself if the "sticking" point they could find was over something as trivial as the naming of the 12 tribes. Especially if they started with their big guns like morality without God. In conversations like that, you will never really beat them. Even if you have soundly beaten them, they will find some point where you either can't win or you aren't informed enough to completely dismiss it. When they find that place, they will act as if you failed at everything. But that's just silly. If they need to feel that way then you don't need to worry about them.

 

Who "wins" is a trivial thing. But if you change the winning terms, you will know if you won a lot more easily. Did you logically answer their points, even if they didn't accept the logic? Did you avoid losing control of your emotions? At any point did they need to move the topic of the discussion from one thing to another to avoid being soundly whipped? I would say that if you passed those three criteria, you could consider yourself a "winner" in the conversation. Or, at the very least, accept that you didn't lose it and held your own.

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What do the names of the 12 tribes have to do with the existance of God? When people bring something like that up, I haul them back to the point. Also, it is appropriate to say, "I don't know," rather than to try to come up with an explanation when you are queried about something you don't know much about.

 

Back to the point, so what if a man name Jacob actually existed? So what if the tribes were named after his sons? The Bible does contain some historical information. So does the Odyssey. Does that mean Zeus exists?

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I don't understand the need to look at it as either a win or a loss MWC. It sounds like it was a fairly amicable exchange of ideas. Maybe it was a win-win.

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When they find that place, they will act as if you failed at everything. But that's just silly. If they need to feel that way then you don't need to worry about them.

Yep. That's what happened. I've read the stories on here but never actually experienced first hand. It's really an odd thing to go through...it almost makes your head spin it happens so fast. ;)

 

Who "wins" is a trivial thing. But if you change the winning terms, you will know if you won a lot more easily. Did you logically answer their points, even if they didn't accept the logic? Did you avoid losing control of your emotions? At any point did they need to move the topic of the discussion from one thing to another to avoid being soundly whipped? I would say that if you passed those three criteria, you could consider yourself a "winner" in the conversation. Or, at the very least, accept that you didn't lose it and held your own.

According to my nephew and my mother, among a couple others, I answered all their questions logically without breaking a sweat. My BiL especially tried jumping from one topic to another and answering questions that were never asked (and got quite angry when I, and finally pretty much everyone in the room, kept telling him this on one particular side-tracked question but I wasn't going to let him just slide past doing it again).

 

I can say without a doubt that this forum prepared me for some of the tricks used to manipulate conversations and how to deal with them (basically...don't let them do it).

 

mwc

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What do the names of the 12 tribes have to do with the existance of God? When people bring something like that up, I haul them back to the point. Also, it is appropriate to say, "I don't know," rather than to try to come up with an explanation when you are queried about something you don't know much about.

I actually did answer "I don't know" but that wasn't good enough so I told them what a plausible historical explanation would be. This "weakness" apparently allowed them to sink their teeth into me as they had an "absolute fact" instead of a guess.

 

Back to the point, so what if a man name Jacob actually existed? So what if the tribes were named after his sons? The Bible does contain some historical information. So does the Odyssey. Does that mean Zeus exists?

Yes? :)

 

mwc

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What do the names of the 12 tribes have to do with the existance of God? When people bring something like that up, I haul them back to the point. Also, it is appropriate to say, "I don't know," rather than to try to come up with an explanation when you are queried about something you don't know much about.

I actually did answer "I don't know" but that wasn't good enough so I told them what a plausible historical explanation would be. This "weakness" apparently allowed them to sink their teeth into me as they had an "absolute fact" instead of a guess.

 

Back to the point, so what if a man name Jacob actually existed? So what if the tribes were named after his sons? The Bible does contain some historical information. So does the Odyssey. Does that mean Zeus exists?

Yes? :)

 

mwc

 

LOL!

 

By the way, I didn't say this in my first post, but good job.

 

I'm such a cynic now that I refuse to have these conversations with Christians. The last few times I have done so, the Christian has ended up in tears or gotten seriously angry.

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What evidence does he have that the 12 sons of Jacob weren't named after said territories?

Evidence? EVIDENCE!? How dare you. ;)

 

It was annoying that he pulled the same old stunt where everything I said needed evidence, right then and there, but the bible mentions cities and other things (some that have actually been found) so it's true and the things that haven't been found simply haven't been found...yet.

 

So he mentions Jericho and other cities. The bible says they're in a certain place...they go look...and there they are. Wow.

 

This is where I mention the entire Exodus story with 2-2.5 million Hebrews walking around the desert (the city of Los Angeles) and sitting around one place for 38 years. The bible mentions where they were. We go look...and find nothing. He says maybe they're looking in the wrong place. They haven't found it...yet.

 

The evidence for the names is that the names are the in the bible story and the territories had those names. What more could you ask for? Circular arguments are the best since the more times you go around the more the evidence builds up. :)

 

mwc

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I don't understand the need to look at it as either a win or a loss MWC. It sounds like it was a fairly amicable exchange of ideas. Maybe it was a win-win.

Doubtful. It's kind of like discussions on this forum. The person you're actually debating is unlikely to take away anything at all but you hope that any onlookers will be able to come away with something.

 

Like I said at the end of my post, I was happy that my nephew said that he felt like I did. My mom, a xian, disagreed with my BiL who was "representing" their side (she told me later she wanted to just yell to him to shut up). So I really hope that others at the party could see that his form of religion and xianity isn't rational or reasonable and that even though I was an atheist that I did support these ideals just as others who don't believe in their god do (2/3's of the world). I never tried to deconvert them or anything I just pointed out holes in their views...pretty much just like I do around here.

 

mwc

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It's kind of like discussions on this forum. The person you're actually debating is unlikely to take away anything at all but you hope that any onlookers will be able to come away with something.

It's funny, when I first started to speak with people online I was acutely aware that others were watching. Now though, I only think of the person that I am addressing.

 

It sounds like you held your own fairly well MWC. Why does it seem to take a mountain of knowledge to counter an ounce of faith?

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I couldn't answer how the names of the 12 territories got their names if the 12 tribes weren't named after the 12 sons of Jacob.

You didn't know it was 10 sons and 2 grandsons? :o

 

Seriously, I consider you the winner in that debate because you showed that you were the knowledgeable one, you were the one who kept calm, and well, you were right. I'm sure your BiL will continue down his ignorant path, but you may have saved your nephew. :)

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I couldn't answer how the names of the 12 territories got their names if the 12 tribes weren't named after the 12 sons of Jacob.

You didn't know it was 10 sons and 2 grandsons? :o

Uh oh. I'm glad that little technicality didn't pop up since it slipped my mind. :)

 

Seriously, I consider you the winner in that debate because you showed that you were the knowledgeable one, you were the one who kept calm, and well, you were right. I'm sure your BiL will continue down his ignorant path, but you may have saved your nephew. :)

Thanks. I doubt I would have done so well against a group of total strangers but I was surprised at the positive feedback I got afterward.

 

I don't look forward to doing this again but it's nice to know I can if I have to. Maybe others here can take comfort in knowing that, if they have to, they probably have what it takes to withstand one of these debates too.

 

mwc

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I can say without a doubt that this forum prepared me for some of the tricks used to manipulate conversations and how to deal with them (basically...don't let them do it).

That is the most valuable lesson you can take from this website. It isn't about knowing all the answers or responding to the machine-gun-questioning they come up with, but to be in control and show calm confidence.

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mwc, as I've stated before...you head is an encyclopedia of knowledge. Anyone listening to what you were saying had to take away valuable insights.

 

It's not about winning, IMO, it's about the truth.

 

I guess I should comment on what the truth is, but Garnet put it nicely:

 

Back to the point, so what if a man name Jacob actually existed? So what if the tribes were named after his sons? The Bible does contain some historical information. So does the Odyssey. Does that mean Zeus exists?

 

It matters on the perception of the audience. A whole bunch of misinformed people can say that you lost when another group of people that know what you're talking about will say that you won.

 

The truth needs no defense.

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That is a rough situation. No matter how well you handle yourself, it is still usually like banging your head into a brick wall. I always end up insulting them in the end because their ignorance is appalling to me. I guess if you kept your cool then you did just fine.

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Thanks. I doubt I would have done so well against a group of total strangers but I was surprised at the positive feedback I got afterward.

You're welcome, mwc. I think how you fare with total strangers would depend largely on the strangers. If I understand correctly, most of your family were keeping quiet while your brother-in-law did all the ranting. Well, if a whole group started ranting, I think the only thing left to do would be to roll your eyes, shake your head and walk away, because their ranting would prevent them from hearing anything anyone else has to say. If, on the other hand, there was only one belligerent one in the group, or if they calmly took turns asking questions/making statements, then I think you would do quite well. :)

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