Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 13

Thread: The validity of arguments from conversion

  1. #1
    Professor

    Join Date
    May 2016
    Location
    Colorado
    Last Seen
    Today @ 02:17 AM
    Gender
    Lean
    Independent
    Posts
    1,506

    The validity of arguments from conversion

    You might of heard of this before. Basically, when someone uses their story of being on one side and now they're on the other side. The basic idea behind this is that perhaps the same thing which won over the person in question will also win over whomever is still on the original side.

    The problem with this is that we can see it all over the place. Oftentimes, the side employing it actually loses more people to the other side than vice versa. There are plenty of anecdotes of Christians who used to be atheists. But there are also atheists who used to be Christians. In the political realm, it's all over the place - with conservatives who used to be progressives, progressives who used to be conservatives, alt righters who used to be libertarians, libertarians who used to be progressives, socialists who used to be conservatives, and people who've been all of these and decided to become centrists.

    My two cents on this are that it's not a bad idea to talk about your conversion in certain circumstances but it shouldn't be an argument for why your new ideology is correct as in "I left a certain belief, therefore it's wrong".

  2. #2
    Sage

    RAMOSS's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Last Seen
    @
    Gender
    Lean
    Undisclosed
    Posts
    38,758

    Re: The validity of arguments from conversion

    Quote Originally Posted by Masterhawk View Post
    You might of heard of this before. Basically, when someone uses their story of being on one side and now they're on the other side. The basic idea behind this is that perhaps the same thing which won over the person in question will also win over whomever is still on the original side.

    The problem with this is that we can see it all over the place. Oftentimes, the side employing it actually loses more people to the other side than vice versa. There are plenty of anecdotes of Christians who used to be atheists. But there are also atheists who used to be Christians. In the political realm, it's all over the place - with conservatives who used to be progressives, progressives who used to be conservatives, alt righters who used to be libertarians, libertarians who used to be progressives, socialists who used to be conservatives, and people who've been all of these and decided to become centrists.

    My two cents on this are that it's not a bad idea to talk about your conversion in certain circumstances but it shouldn't be an argument for why your new ideology is correct as in "I left a certain belief, therefore it's wrong".
    When it comes to the whole apologist genera of books, the most popular books are from people who claim to have been skeptics, but 'got converted'. Sometimes the stories seem to be a marketing technique more than anything.
    Quote Originally Posted by Hannah Arendt
    "The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the convinced Communist, but people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction (i.e., the reality of experience) and the distinction between true and false (i.e., the standards of thought) no longer exist."

  3. #3
    Dark Lord
    NWO_Spook's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Death Star
    Last Seen
    Yesterday @ 10:08 PM
    Gender
    Lean
    Other
    Posts
    4,287

    Re: The validity of arguments from conversion

    Many atheists were once believers in a specific faith and later changed their position through the examination of the said faith's claims and dogma (Matt Dillahunty for example). The more perspicacious of these individuals do not denounce the existence of a god or gods, but promote self examination of one's belief system through reason, which is a far more logical stance, as opposed to merely denouncing the existence of a god ~ for this is simply an example of rejecting one belief system and espousing another. Many argue that atheists do not believe in a god or gods when in actual fact, most atheists do not see any reason to believe in the existence of a god or gods, and that is the fundamental difference when apologists inevitably try to reduce atheism to the status of a belief system.

    If one changes one's position on an ideology or belief system, then one should be able to support one's stance with a well developed and reasoned argument for said position, and not merely denounce the 'other side' through specious and fallacious claims.
    Last edited by NWO_Spook; 10-17-19 at 08:38 PM.
    'Let's smoke these losers' ~ D. Vader, Battle of Yavin

    'Uh, oh, there's just no way to spin this' ~ D. Vader, on the destruction of Alderaan

  4. #4
    Educator
    Join Date
    Apr 2019
    Last Seen
    Yesterday @ 09:47 PM
    Gender
    Lean
    Slightly Liberal
    Posts
    674

    Re: The validity of arguments from conversion

    How you come to change your mind about an issue might be of interest to others in a way that is peculiarly relevant to the discussion. On the other hand, as the OP correctly points out, this phenomenon is pervasive and no single group has a monopoly on converts. It's not obvious either how stories of conversion are going to produce the same kind of response with other people who did not share in this change of mind.


    With that being said, we could look into examples and try to see if there is some value added to the discussion by people who recount the story of how their opinions and beliefs evolve. I am perfectly aware that by choosing an example I risk antagonizing some people because we probably have all matters of opinions represented on this forum. However, grounding things in things we experience generally adds a layer or two of depth to a discussion, so I'll try to do my best to do it with a measure of tact.

    On Youtube, you can find a video from PagerU showcasing Dave Rubin explaining why "he left the Left." This fits right into what the OP is talking about and it also touches upon complicated social issues that have been raised recently. One of the things that stuck hard with Dave Rubin was that he heavily valued freedom of speech and that he considered discussion to be a good way to handle disagreements. We also all know some more radical groups of people on the left who have recently taken positions that are anathema to this point of view.

    If we want to be fair with people who have trouble with some aspects of freedom of speech, it is absolutely true that some groups of people have suffered more than others from certain types of comments. Going in another direction, I have also encountered people who took the position on issues pertaining to the black community, white people shouldn't be heard or that their views should be discounted; likewise for issues pertaining to women and the opinion of men; and, so on. Of course, we probably only get extreme cases reported and someone can make a reasonable case that the hands-on experience of some people might have something to a discussion that cannot be introduced by someone else. That would be an argument to give some weight to first-hand experience, though I don't think we can rely solely on feelings and personal experiences to discriminate across propositions for policy, for example. In other words, if you pause and tune out some of the noise, some of the issues raised by people on the left are worth contemplating. You can always pick someone sufficiently close to either pole of the political spectrum to find ideas that are completely disconnected from reality -- and that is quite the temptation.

    Going back to Rubin and his issue with values like freedom of speech, racial integration, etc., he made the point in that video that too many people among those who call themselves liberals eventually adopted ideas that conflicted too much with these values. Back when the video was released, you probably could have chalked that one off to Dave Rubin's peculiar experience and point fo view. On the other hand, Rubin is not alone. We have Bill Maher and Dave Chapelle routinely poking at this same crowd of radical people. A Democratic presidential candidate, of all people, was taped without her knowing it (set aside the ethical conundrum with the choice made by journalists to publish the segment anyway) saying that she thought the right was meaner than the left and that people on the right were those involved in lies and smear campaigns, only to point out she now thinks the exact opposite.

    Of course, it's not because 4 people made similar comments that they are right. However, it is quite something from public figures to stick their neck out and criticize their own side. Part of the point I am trying to convey is that when Ben Shaprio or Denis Prager argues something is going wrong with some groups of people on the left, nobody is surprised. Both of them are very religious, socially conservative and have written books on their political views. Not a lot hangs in the balance for them. With Rubin, you could make the case he didn't risk much. With Bill Maher and Marianna Williamson, they risk alienating some friends, clients, audiences, etc. Moreover, neither of them intends to become conservatives. Part of the potential appeal of some of those conversion stories, or of the milder version that we can call "internal criticism stories" is that people who can be ideologically far apart might agree on a very small subset of points. When that happens, chances are, it gets to something real.

  5. #5
    User
    Join Date
    Dec 2019
    Last Seen
    Today @ 11:36 AM
    Gender
    Posts
    71

    Re: The validity of arguments from conversion

    Quote Originally Posted by NWO_Spook View Post
    Many atheists were once believers in a specific faith and later changed their position through the examination of the said faith's claims and dogma (Matt Dillahunty for example). The more perspicacious of these individuals do not denounce the existence of a god or gods, but promote self examination of one's belief system through reason, which is a far more logical stance, as opposed to merely denouncing the existence of a god ~ for this is simply an example of rejecting one belief system and espousing another. Many argue that atheists do not believe in a god or gods when in actual fact, most atheists do not see any reason to believe in the existence of a god or gods, and that is the fundamental difference when apologists inevitably try to reduce atheism to the status of a belief system.

    If one changes one's position on an ideology or belief system, then one should be able to support one's stance with a well developed and reasoned argument for said position, and not merely denounce the 'other side' through specious and fallacious claims.
    Everyone has a belief system.
    They do not need to articulate it, most people do not.

    Concerning the existence of God(s), they may believe there is a god, and that is a part of their belief system. It maybe a very small part.

    They may believe there is no God. That is part of their belief system. It may a small part.

    They may be undecided about God, believing they lack sufficient knowledge to decide yes or no. That is a part of their belief system.

    Many individuals may have little concern on the god issue. It just does not enter into their daily activity. They believe there is no god, that is a relative certainty, conceding the Scientific position that there is no absolute certainty, about anything.
    As far as they are certain about anything, they are certain there is no god.
    Such a person could hardly be labeled as having an Atheistic belief system, they may prefer to be recognized as having a Scientific belief system. A part of that belief system is atheism.

    Someone else may have a self described scientific belief system, with elements of Judaism, Christianity, or any other theistic religion.

    There is no conflict.

    To say "I find no need to believe there is a god, their is no doubt in my mind that there is none, but atheism is not part of my belief system." is simply denial of the facts.

    As you may know, some self described atheists do believe in a higher power, that can only be referred to ad god.

  6. #6
    Dark Lord
    NWO_Spook's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Death Star
    Last Seen
    Yesterday @ 10:08 PM
    Gender
    Lean
    Other
    Posts
    4,287

    Re: The validity of arguments from conversion

    Quote Originally Posted by Norml View Post
    Everyone has a belief system.
    But not all belief systems are based upon nothing more than faith.

    They do not need to articulate it, most people do not.

    Concerning the existence of God(s), they may believe there is a god, and that is a part of their belief system. It maybe a very small part.

    They may believe there is no God. That is part of their belief system. It may a small part.

    They may be undecided about God, believing they lack sufficient knowledge to decide yes or no. That is a part of their belief system.

    Many individuals may have little concern on the god issue. It just does not enter into their daily activity. They believe there is no god, that is a relative certainty, conceding the Scientific position that there is no absolute certainty, about anything.
    As far as they are certain about anything, they are certain there is no god.
    Such a person could hardly be labeled as having an Atheistic belief system, they may prefer to be recognized as having a Scientific belief system. A part of that belief system is atheism.

    Someone else may have a self described scientific belief system, with elements of Judaism, Christianity, or any other theistic religion.

    There is no conflict.

    To say "I find no need to believe there is a god, their is no doubt in my mind that there is none, but atheism is not part of my belief system." is simply denial of the facts.
    Is that the subject under discussion?

    As you may know, some self described atheists do believe in a higher power, that can only be referred to ad god.
    I've yet to meet one.
    'Let's smoke these losers' ~ D. Vader, Battle of Yavin

    'Uh, oh, there's just no way to spin this' ~ D. Vader, on the destruction of Alderaan

  7. #7
    User
    Join Date
    Dec 2019
    Last Seen
    Today @ 11:36 AM
    Gender
    Posts
    71

    Re: The validity of arguments from conversion

    Quote Originally Posted by NWO_Spook View Post
    But not all belief systems are based upon nothing more than faith.,
    Ridicules. Of course they are. All of them. Some more than others.
    Science starts with three assumptions. You know what an assumption is, a belief without convincing evidence.
    You have to have faith in something, to believe anything.


    Is that the subject under discussion?
    Well, my post was in reply to your post, so yes, I suppose it is.

    I've yet to meet one.
    Just a guess, but I imagine there might be quite a few people you have never met.

  8. #8
    Dark Lord
    NWO_Spook's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Death Star
    Last Seen
    Yesterday @ 10:08 PM
    Gender
    Lean
    Other
    Posts
    4,287

    Re: The validity of arguments from conversion

    Quote Originally Posted by Norml View Post
    Ridicules.
    What?

    Of course they are. All of them. Some more than others.
    Science starts with three assumptions. You know what an assumption is, a belief without convincing evidence.
    You have to have faith in something, to believe anything.
    Some belief systems are based upon evidence and observation, not merely faith, and that is an important distinction.

    Well, my post was in reply to your post, so yes, I suppose it is.
    We are discussing the validity of arguments from conversion.

    Just a guess, but I imagine there might be quite a few people you have never met.
    Your perspicuity is astounding. It was absurd to state that atheists can believe in 'higher powers' (if that is to be interpreted as a supernatural entity), for if one believes in a 'higher power' then one is not an atheist.
    Last edited by NWO_Spook; 12-11-19 at 06:32 PM.
    'Let's smoke these losers' ~ D. Vader, Battle of Yavin

    'Uh, oh, there's just no way to spin this' ~ D. Vader, on the destruction of Alderaan

  9. #9
    User
    Join Date
    Dec 2019
    Last Seen
    Today @ 11:36 AM
    Gender
    Posts
    71

    Re: The validity of arguments from conversion

    Quote Originally Posted by NWO_Spook View Post
    What?



    Some belief systems are based upon evidence and observation, not merely faith, and that is an important distinction.
    There is a group of individuals who believe the moon landing was a hoax. These beliefs are based on evidence and observations. Top 8 Examples Proving the Moon Landing Was a Hoax - EnkiVillage

    So this distinction you claim, is meaningless, and has no importance. Evidence and observation is no guarantee of accuracy.

    The world view of Science is that there is no absolute proof for anything. There is only varying degrees of probability, some very high, others not, but no absolute proof. Anyone who does not accept this, does not accept the full assumptions of Science.


    It was absurd to state that atheists can believe in 'higher powers' (if that is to be interpreted as a supernatural entity), for if one believes in a 'higher power' then one is not an atheist.
    Some self identified atheists say they believe in a higher power. That is what they say about themselves, despite your objections. You are not the undisputed monarch of language.


    “I’m an atheist, but I do have faith in a higher power that I insist is greater than all the rest.
    The higher power I bow down to goes by a few names: Reality, truth, nature—sometimes mother nature, though its maternal instincts are not to be relied upon.
    My higher power is reality. Science is how I pray to it, trying to guess ever better its heartless ways.

    Can anyone define reality? Though we’ll debate what reality contains, I think it’s not hard to define. Reality is the set of all things that don’t change, no matter what we believe or do.
    We know reality by its consequences. We learn about it from its history. We’re married to it ‘til death do us part—our deaths, not its death. We're married to it. It's not married to us. Reality is in this respect timeless.
    Reality makes it possible for me to live, if I play my cards right, and kills me if I don’t.
    That is my faith. Faith that, in the end, reality wins all battles and all debates.”
    An Atheist's Devotion to a Higher Power | Psychology Today


    But among the so-called “nones” — a broad category of atheists, agnostics and those who answer “none of the above” on questions about religion — fully 72 percent believe in a higher power of some kind.

    Overall, 70 percent of the nones said they believe in a spiritual force. Among agnostics, it was 62 percent. Even among atheists, nearly 1 in 5 (or 18 percent) said they believe in a higher power.
    Just why so many agnostics, and even atheists, believe in a higher power is a matter of debate.
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/...-of-the-bible/


    The findings from the Pew Religious Landscape survey demonstrate that “atheist” is still a label that is somewhat in flux. In a society dominated by religion, nonreligious individuals may still struggle to define themselves. How one chooses to identify can also be deeply personal, and what “atheism” means to one individual may be slightly different to another.
    Do You Believe in Atheists Who Believe in God? - TheHumanist.com


    While none of the atheists surveyed said they believe in the God of the Bible, about 18 percent said they believe in another higher power or spiritual force. Cragun said he suspects that this higher power that atheists and many other religiously unaffiliated folks are referring to is not necessarily supernatural and may lack other classic Judeo-Christian characteristics.
    Many Americans Prefer A 'Higher Power' To The God Of The Bible, Study Finds | HuffPost

  10. #10
    User
    Join Date
    Dec 2019
    Last Seen
    Today @ 11:36 AM
    Gender
    Posts
    71

    Re: The validity of arguments from conversion


    As you can see in the above graph, up to a third of self-declared atheists in China believe in astrology. A quarter of Brazilian atheists believe in reincarnation, and a similar number of their Danish counterparts think some people have magical powers.
    Agnostics were more likely to believe in supernatural phenomena than atheists across the board. Notice how the graphs have similar patterns but with different point values New report finds many non-believers still believe in the supernatural - Big Think
    Americans are deeply religious people—and atheists are no exception. Western Europeans are deeply secular people—and Christians are no exception.
    These twin statements are generalizations, but they capture the essence of a fascinating finding in a new study about Christian identity in Western Europe. By surveying almost 25,000 people in 15 countries in the region, and comparing the results with data previously gathered in the U.S., the Pew Research Center discovered three things.
    Second, the researchers found that American “nones”—those who identify as atheist, agnostic, or nothing in particular—are more religious than European nones. The notion that religiously unaffiliated people can be religious at all may seem contradictory, but if you disaffiliate from organized religion it does not necessarily mean you’ve sworn off belief in God, say, or prayer.
    Atheists Are Sometimes More Religious Than Christians - The Atlantic


    You can play the no true Scottsman fallacy card all you want. Some self described atheists believe in a higher power, and some believe in the supernatural.

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •