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Talking About Losing Faith


TheYoYo
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Hey,

 

I'm giving a talk in a few weeks, at an event run by the atheist society at my university, based on my experience of losing faith. I think we have an ex-Muslim and an ex-Buddhist who are planning on talking too. I'm not too nervous about this part, I've tried to understand my journey in and out of Christianity, and I think what I've prepared is honest and makes sense.

 

The bit I'm worried about is the question and answer session!

 

Whilst obviously this is a pretty unusual situation - to be giving a talk to a group of random people on campus, some of whom I probably know, others that I don't - I figured some of you might have enough experience of the hard questions people sometimes ask about your deconversion, to be able to help me!

 

So, what questions do you think are most likely to be asked?

What are the biggest barriers to people understanding us, and how do you think I might best be able to address and overcome them in my talk?

 

I want to be really well prepared, because I was planning on inviting some of my Christian friends along, to give me a chance to just tell my story on my own terms without them interrupting.

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First of all, I think you should make sure you can talk uninterrupted at first, so you can finish your story before the Q&A.

 

Secondly, I think you should make clear that this is your personal story, and the journey you made might not apply to all de-converts. Basically, don't give the impression that you will have all answers to all questions, but rather that you will answer according to your viewpoint.

 

Lastly, if you have fundamentalists, apologists, extremists, etc, they will try to ask the "difficult" questions. What I find difficult with some questions is not that I don't have an answer, but rather that the answer is too long to give or too complicated. Sometimes it doesn't even matter if there is a reasonable explanation. A lot of people do not have experience in intricate thinking, and some answers are very complex, so they won't understand why the answer really answers their question. The fundy/apo/extreme group will most likely want to trip you on "proofs" and arguments for God's existence, like morality, designed universe, first cause/Kalaam, presuppositionalism, etc. You might get the question like this: "How can you not believe in God, since we can't explain morality without God?" (or similar) You just have to think through how you want to answer it, but not without going too deep or too long. Just have a good, short answer for it.

 

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Also, you might consider what questions are out of bounds. From your description I assume they can't make statements like, "Atheists are immoral," or "You were never a true Christian." Is that correct? So you might have a witty response if that comes up, to deflect it a bit.

 

The list so far:

 

Where does morality come from?

The universe looks designed, there must be a designer.

There must have been a first mover, a first cause, which is God

The atheist worldview is flawed, and the only worldview which is complete is the Christian.

Atheism is immoral

...

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Hi TheYoYo,

 

In case they look for emotional reasons as to why you deconverted, they might ask:

 

Why do you hate God?

A variation is the comment: You must be mad at God to no longer believe.

 

Just because Christians hurt you, or were poor examples of the faith, why would that make you reject Christianity?

 

These are the questions I have heard the most. The important rational ones were covered by Han.

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Secondly, I think you should make clear that this is your personal story, and the journey you made might not apply to all de-converts. Basically, don't give the impression that you will have all answers to all questions, but rather that you will answer according to your viewpoint.

 

This is definitely something to keep in mind. If there's something that you can't answer, then it's probably not something that directly pertains to your reasons for leaving the faith. Simply admit that you don't know and then point out that the issue raised doesn't have anything to do with your particular journey. Don't feel like you have to know everything about every possible question, because that's just not possible for anyone, not even the most experienced debaters.

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