What errors are most often admitted by an atheist during a dispute with a believer and vice versa? How best to build this difficult dialogue and what should always be remembered by the discerning Christian?
About this, "Thomas" talked with the doctor of philosophical sciences, a professor at the Moscow State University, the Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow State University. S. Yu. Witte, Dmitry Gusev.
A believer and an atheist are not only opponents, but also comrades. Comrades for the misfortune of our mortality
- Dmitry Alekseevich, that a believer should always be kept in mind before starting a discussion with an atheist (besides, of course, the usual etiquette and respect)?
- Probably, before entering into a discussion with an atheist, the believer first of all must remember that he and his opponent are comrades in misfortune. By what misfortune? It is unfortunate to be a person, that is, to have a damaged nature, gravitating towards sin. But the difference between them is that the believer knows about this damage, and the atheist is not. But, as you know, knowledge of the cause of the disease is already largely a pledge of getting rid of it.
No one wants to die, neither to the believer, nor to the atheist, and the mortality of a man is something that in any case brings together both; that is, we are all "comrades in misfortune" not only to be imperfect, but also for an even greater misfortune - our mortality.
So, religion is often defined as the overcoming of death. In other words, a believer has some hope and, so to speak, a "metaphysical methodology" to overcome death, which he can and wants to share with his opponent - an atheist. And this is not superiority and "teaching," but a common sorrow and at the same time an amazing opportunity for all of us not to die.
We all fly in the plane, but each of us has to jump out of it at some point. So, you can jump without a parachute in full confidence that you are sure to break up and after that "nothing will be done." This is atheism. And you can jump with a parachute, though, there are no firm guarantees that it will open, but still there is a significant chance that you will not break up and, after landing, you will live on. This is what religion says.
By the way, the probability of opening a parachute depends largely on the person himself, on how diligently and attentively he has during his life added and prepared this parachute of his immortality. Although this does not guarantee anything for sure. But in any case, the believer has a chance that he - not to demonstrate his superiority, but because of love - wants to share with his neighbor, an atheist: "Take a parachute, do not be stubborn, do not jump so ...".
This "parachute suggestion" can be considered the well-known thesis of the religious thinker, scientist and philosopher Blaise Pascal, who spoke (and believers, atheists, materialists, idealists, scientists, and anti-centiasts will agree with this), that neither confirm nor to refute the existence of God, the immortal soul and eternal life is impossible, but one can only believe in the existence of this supernatural reality or believe that it does not exist.
And what is better? What to choose? If I believe in the existence of God, the immortal soul and eternal life, but in fact all this is not, then in this case I do not lose anything. If I do not believe in this supernatural reality, but in fact it is, - I lose everything.
Here it is necessary to say that Pascal is one of the founders of the theory of probability and game theory. He considered the card game from a mathematical point of view, analyzing the probabilities of events in order to choose the optimal bet size, multiplying the possible gain by the probability of the event.
If we apply this kind of reasoning to the problem of the existence of the supernatural world, the following is obtained. With the multiplication, albeit the great probability that God does not exist, a small value of "winning" is obtained, the magnitude is possibly large, but always finite. And when multiplying any nonzero, even very small, probability that God exists, and the human soul can inherit eternal life, an infinitely greater value is obtained for the infinitely greater value of "gain". Is it not obvious that the second option is better, since it's foolish to chase after finite quantities, if you can get infinite? The question is, in general, rhetorical.
In addition, it must be remembered that an atheistically minded opponent, most likely, or little, or does not understand at all about what he argues, does not understand the very subject of the discussion. Therefore, it is necessary to try, through something, to understand it gradually, to bring it to the discussed problems - from some obvious "axioms" to unobvious "theorems".
For example, in response to the question of why you did this and that, when you did not seem to want it, he said: "It happened, I do not know, I could not help myself." Here it is just possible to "catch": if you, an adequate adult, say that it happened, and that you could not help it, then something in you (as well as in me, because I'm the same) is not So. And what is wrong? Let's understand ...
The main difference between knowledge and faith can be formulated as follows: they know - because; believe - no matter what
- And you know, this often happens during the discussions about the existence of God: they wanted to discuss something, share knowledge, and eventually quarreled and betrayed each other anathema ...
- And such a heat of emotions is not accidental. Because our nature is damaged. Remember the famous words of the apostle Paul: I do not do good, but I do what is evil, which I do not want (Rom. 7: 19). Who among us has not encountered a situation when you clearly realize that you do not want to curse, angry, condemn or take offense, but nevertheless it all happens for some reason. And after that you will argue that a person completely owns himself and does exactly what he wants?
And this applies not only to disputes between believers and atheists, but in general to any disputes. With all its possibilities, the person is still very far from perfect, so the discussion often is not a constructive discussion of the problem, not a joint search for truth, but a clash of ambitions and a statement of "sovereignties" when instead of arguments and reasoning, statements are made: "You're not right! "," It's not so! "," I do not agree! "," This is wrong! ". And these are still quite soft "arguments", which we bring down on our opponent.
In addition, it is important to understand one feature: in the dispute between believers and atheists, it is about faith, not knowledge, because atheists are, in fact, the same believers, only their religion is anthropocentric, that is, the place of God in it human.
Here, in order to avoid unfoundedness, one important remark must be made: the majority of both believers and atheists recognize the axiom that neither confirm nor deny the existence of a supernatural world is impossible. And then what is possible? Only believe - either in what it is, or in the fact that it is not. Ask the atheist the question: he knows that the supernatural world does not exist, or does he believe in it? Of course, he believes, because it's impossible to know, with which he - once again stress! - can not disagree.
What is the main difference between faith and knowledge? If very briefly, it is possible to offer such a formula: "They know - because; believe - no matter what. " What does it mean? Knowledge is the acceptance of something by reason and evidence, so acceptance is forced and not free. The statement: "I know that the sum of the inner angles of a triangle is equal to 180 °" means that I can not disagree with this thesis and must admit it is true.
In addition, knowledge is objective. This means that I can do nothing with this amount: regardless of my desire or unwillingness, it will remain as it is. I also can not do anything with the number of planets in the solar system - it does not depend on me. In the field of objectively existing, in the field of knowledge, I can not change anything.
A different matter is faith. It is subjective, personal, a lot depends on myself and my efforts. It is not accidentally famous: According to your faith, let it be to you (MF 9: 29), originally born in the religious world, has long ago transcended its boundaries and is now a certain cultural and historical topos, that is, a common place to which not only religious but appeals and secular, and even atheistic consciousness.
Thus, the existence or non-existence of the supernatural world is not indifferent to either the believer or the atheist, since he directly and personally affects both. Therefore, probably, and are seething with such passions in their discussions.
It is impossible, arguing about the supernatural world, to impose on it our ideas about the world visible
"However, in such disputes, atheists often say that they do not have to prove that there is no God. It is necessary to prove only existence, and this should be attended by believers. They themselves, atheists, are only ready to critically examine their arguments. Do you think this is the right approach? Is it really necessary to prove only the existence of something, and not absence?
- This kind of argument is widespread and, at first glance, looks pretty convincing. However, it violates the law of identity (the fundamental logical law, according to which any utterance - thought, concept, judgment - must retain the same meaning throughout the reasoning, - Ed.), Since there is an inconspicuous identification of material objects belonging to the physical world , and objects of non-material, or ideal, world-wide supernatural.
After all, we are talking about objects of the physical world, the existence of which requires proof, and nonexistence does not need. Say, to prove that the 15-th planet of the solar system does not exist, it is not required, but it is possible and necessary to prove the existence of such exotic megaworld objects as black holes. But here's what, as they say, the focus: all this is true for the natural world, in which we are physically located; and for the world of the supernatural it is completely inapplicable.
- Because a person simply does not have the tools to prove any phenomenon of the supernatural world.
Supporters of the argument you cited, perhaps, do not even consciously identify the essentially non-identical - the natural and supernatural reality. By the way, the very identification, produced by atheists, is psychologically quite understandable: if there is no supernatural world, then the natural or physical world is the only one existing. Well, since one can not identify the non-identity, the above argument, for all its external credibility and even attractiveness, does not work.
At the same time, it becomes clear why disputes between believers and atheists are so intransigent. After all, both are forced to prove their rightness. And as we have already said, theism, that is, faith in God, and atheism - this is a distinct credo, personal worldview foundation, the premise of a certain behavior and structure of all human life, a meaningful vector on which "I stand and can not do otherwise." How can you not prove this ?! It is the desire to justify the truth of its credo that makes believers and atheists unresponsive to each other's arguments.
Often the discussion ends unsuccessfully, because the believer takes the position of ideological superiority over an atheist
- What mistakes are most often made by atheists in a dispute with a believer?
- We already said about the most fundamental and fundamental mistake of them: an atheist, criticizing religious ideas and subjects, transfers the properties of the natural world to a fundamentally different world, supernatural. As if he argued that since a segment has a center, then a straight line also has a center, on the grounds that both the segment and the line are geometric objects. Here it is important to remember that in the transition from the finite to the infinite everything changes and the possible becomes impossible, and the impossible becomes possible.
- And believers? What are their typical mistakes?
"A believing person often, in many ways involuntarily, takes the position of a certain worldview superiority over his opponent who" does not know, "" is mistaken "," does not understand, "and which can be" taught "," enlightened "," educated "and" formatted " , telling him how everything is arranged "in fact."
What to do? First of all, remember that a convinced atheist does not need either "learning" or "formatting", since he proceeds from the assumption that his opponent is "mistaken", who must be "reasoned" and "put" on " correct worldview rails ". Therefore, the believer should not rush headlong into the discussion, but, mindful of the principle of "seven times measure ...", very carefully approach the subject of the dispute, having previously compiled a "portrait" of his opponent: what can and can be talked about with him, and what do not pay attention to how to place accents, which arguments and examples, and so on.
Let us recall the amazing and profound words of the apostle Paul: For, being free from all, I enslave everyone to all (in order to gain more (1 Cor 9: 19), for all I have become all to save at least some (1 Cor 9: 22) .
- Are there any situations when you need to immediately abandon the dialogue, so as not to waste energy, time and nerves in vain? And how can they be recognized in time?
- The techniques used in the dispute are usually divided into loyal (correct, permissible) and disloyal (incorrect, unacceptable). When the participants in the discussion set out to establish truth or reach agreement, they use only loyal methods. If someone resorts to disloyal, it means that he is interested only in winning a dispute, and at any cost. People who use them, do not know how to listen and hear, behave aggressively, for them, opponents are not only knowingly wrong, but they are people of the "second class".
At the heart of such behavior is a certain personality device (or rather, its spiritual damage), and also that a person is trapped in false ideas: he seems to know everything, understands everything, that everything is simple and clear for him. Here can help the famous method of Socrates: do not argue with such a person, but ask him a few "leading" questions - so that after a few answers he himself realized, at least in part, that he understands far from everything and is not perfect.
Scientific theories are just different models of the world, which do not tell us at all about how everything is arranged "in reality"
- What can not in any case be tolerated during a polemic - neither to the believer, nor to the atheist?
- One should not allow the use of disloyal methods of argument. It is desirable to know what they are. This helps to expose their use in this or that discussion. Sometimes they are used involuntarily, unconsciously, often in passion. In such cases, the indication of using a disloyal reception is an additional argument, indicating that the opponent's position is weak.
Unlawful methods of dispute are violations of the rules of evidence. For example, false, hypothetical, or conflicting judgments can be used as arguments; the truth of the arguments may depend on the truth of the thesis, and the confirmation or refutation of the thesis is inferred from the arguments insufficient for this.
For example, materialists and atheists often try to play synergetics (synergetics - the scientific direction that studies the laws and principles underlying the processes of self-organization in systems of different natures - Ed.) As a "trump card" of anti-creationism: if matter is capable not only of degradation, but also to self-organization, self-development, if in material systems there is a spontaneous transition from lower forms of organization to higher ones or spontaneous birth of order from chaos, then from this it would be supposed to go ynaya evolyutsonizma victory over creationism.
But should it? Or would we very much like to follow? Here is an example of how an anti-creationist thesis is derived from insufficient arguments: the fourth of the basic laws of logic is violated-the law of sufficient reason (the logical principle according to which any proposition can be considered reliable only if it has been proven.) - Ed.).
Where does matter have the ability to self-organization? You can answer: it is inherent in her. But this is a logical mistake - the anticipation of the foundation, when the judgments are used as the true ones, the truth of which is yet to be established.
In order to avoid misunderstandings and for the sake of justice, we should note that a kind of opposition to the synergistic and evolutionary vision of the world is the teleological argument that "the picture without the artist will not draw by itself" - that is, from the infinite expediency, harmony and impeccability of the universe, the thesis of his creation . Although here we can point to the same logical error of the anticipation of the foundation, as well as the error of the imaginary following.
Atheists tend to appeal to science and try to juggle with the term "proof", for example: "science has proved that the universe occurred as a result of the Big Bang about 14 billion years ago"; "Science has proved that the diversity of species of living nature is the result of evolution"; "Science has proved that the impeccable expediency and the delightful harmony of the world is the result of synergistic processes." And the concept of "prove" they are sophistically identified with the concept of "finding the truth."
Meanwhile, to prove - this means only to show or demonstrate that a thesis A follows from a certain thesis B, and no more. And this demonstration may not have anything to do with the truth.
What, then, are scientific theories? Yes, only the various alternative models of the world, nature, man and society, which do not tell us how everything is arranged "in reality".
Thesis of the sixth:
People often confuse the proof of some idea in a dispute and their desire to regard this thought as true
- You said that you can not use disloyal methods in a discussion. Could you please explain how to recognize them?
- Most often, the use of such techniques involves the substitution of the thesis: instead of proving one position, one proves another. In general, when something can not be firmly proved, often, instead of honestly admit it, violate the law of identity and create the appearance of evidence, identifying the justification of the thesis and our desire that it be true.
And here again we come out on the balance of knowledge and faith - when our mind approaches the fundamental boundaries of knowledge, it oversteps through them and enters the domain of faith, but at the same time self-delusions, as if it still remains within the boundaries of knowledge.
One can give an example of one fundamental contradiction of atheism: the death of a person is affirmed as an absolute end, complete nothingness, non-being - it is to such an end that human being comes. It turns out that the existence of man is, and there is nonexistence, which is a contradiction, or a violation of the laws of logic. Here is a very good illustration of this from Faust's IV Goethe:
"The end? What a ridiculous word!
What is the end? What, in fact, happened?
Once something and nothing has become identified,
Was it really something that was obvious? "
In other words, if the existence ends in non-being, can it be said that this is real being? What in religion is called the soul, in secular consciousness is usually called a person, and in philosophy this is often referred to as existentialism. By and large this is the same thing that my "I" as such. So, if a person absolutely undoubtedly exists, how can it ultimately not exist? After all, what is, it is always; but what is not, it is never there. Therefore, it is necessary to speak not about non-being, but only about changing forms of being. What is in question in the religious understanding of human existence. Atheism, however, does not fundamentally affirm the change of the forms of being, but the complete and irrevocable end, namely the non-existence of the individual after death.
Surprisingly, even an atheistic consciousness, seemingly "officially" asserting such non-existence, involuntarily revolts against it. Remember the piercing words from the famous Soviet song:
"It seems to me at times that soldiers,
From the bloody fields that have not come,
Not once we fell into our land once,
And they turned into white cranes.
The day will come, and with the crane pack
I'll swim in the same gray mist,
From under the sky like a bird's call
All of you whom you left on earth ... "
And then argue after that with the fact that the human soul is a Christian by nature. In philosophy, this would be called a "personal implicit knowledge," which, incidentally, is manifested in atheists, for example, that when they come to the graves of deceased relatives, they talk to them, talk about their lives, their joys and sorrows, share experiences and ask for advice.
- And what are other disloyal methods of argument?
- Often a person tries to formulate the opponent's thesis as broadly as possible, and his own - to narrow down as much as possible, since it is more difficult to prove a more general position. Sometimes one of the contestants begins to ask a different opponent a lot of questions, often even irrelevant, just to distract his attention and drown the argument in lengthy discourse.
Quite often substitution of the thesis is manifested in the use of synonyms with different semantic colors. They can have a positive or negative, laudatory or pejorative connotation. Thus, the use of the word "militarism" instead of "military" or "boys" instead of "young people" is an implicit substitution of meanings.
A variation of this technique is "hanging labels" on the opponent and his position.
Before starting a discussion, try to find not what separates you from your opponent, but what you agree with
- What are the rules that must be followed to make the dialogue fruitful? To avoid both empty declarations, and polite assent?
- This, in fact, the observance of necessary and sufficient conditions for discussion. If they are not fulfilled, then there is no point in the dispute. What are these conditions?
First, it is necessary to have some subject of dispute - a problem, a question, a topic, otherwise the discussion will inevitably turn into a meaningless and empty verbal bickering.
Secondly, it is necessary that, in relation to the subject matter of the dispute, the parties actually adhere to opposing convictions. Otherwise, the discussion will turn into a discussion of the words: opponents will talk about the same thing, but use different terms, thereby automatically creating the appearance of a divergence of views.
Third, it is important that there is a common basis for the dispute - some principles, beliefs, ideas that are recognized by both sides. If there is no such basis, that is, arguing does not converge at all in any situation, then the discussion becomes impossible.
Fourth, knowledge of the subject matter of the dispute is required. If the parties do not have the slightest idea about it, then the discussion will be meaningless.
Fifthly, the dispute will not lead to any positive result, if there are no specific psychological conditions: attentiveness to one's opponent, ability to listen, a desire to understand his reasoning and readiness to admit his mistake and the rightness of the interlocutor.
- During a discussion with an atheist, did he discover something new and important for you?
- To be honest, I myself was not so long ago, if not an atheist, a skeptic, or, as they say, an agnostic. And who is a skeptic? Is he a believer? Is not. Hence, if he is not an atheist, he is close enough to him. Therefore, your question affects not only my communication with atheists, but it turns out, and communication with me "past."
So, one of the observations or discoveries I recently made in communication, not only with atheists, but with believers, is that the proud statement of an atheist: "I do not believe in God," the believing person turns out to be able to answer : "I do not believe in God either." Of course, an atheist can cause confusion. And then you can add: "I also do not believe in the God you do not believe in."
What is it about? The fact that an atheist, speaking of his unbelief, means by God not the reality that the believer, and "criticizing" God, he criticizes not his, but his ideas about Him and "fights" with them, and not with God . That is, surprisingly, with yourself.