Winning the Battle

I recently received notification of a post by an ex-Christian blogger who goes by the name of Logan. I’ve been following his blog for quite some time and although he writes only sporadically, I always enjoy his posts. (Some of you may recognize him when I tell you his de-conversion was directly related to his oldest son declaring he was an atheist, which he wrote about here).

In Logan’s most recent post, related to the power of persuasion, he suggests that “we as humans are primarily emotional and intuitive thinkers. We want to believe we are primarily logical and rational thinkers … and adds … but we aren’t!” He amplifies this thought by referencing an open letter written by Dennis Augustine (ex-minister who was helped by The Clergy Project).

In the letter, Augustine describes how he left the faith via emotion, not reason. Here are a couple of excerpts from the letter:

I’m sure that I don’t have to remind you that it’s pretty pointless trying to reason with a believer. It is futile to try to reason a man out of a belief that he wasn’t reasoned into.

[…]

I’m convinced that reason … is pretty ineffective against the armour-plated defenses that shield believers from reason: the shame of sin, the terror of isolation and a fear of death (the ultimate isolation).

[…]

I think that it’s easy for people who are so steeped in a scientific environment dominated by the intellect to think that evidence and reason will make the difference; they can but only after one breaks through the walls around someone’s heart.

As I read these statements, I thought about the many times I’ve read arguments against Christianity in which non-believers have done exactly this; that is, used reason and scientific evidence in their attempts to break through the armor of the believer. While there’s no doubt this approach works with some, I tend to agree with the ex-minister that emotion is the predominant factor behind many (most?) deconversions.

Fundamentalists seem to be especially resistant to reasoning. Any kind of cogent argument is immediately dismissed … and their counter-attack usually includes emotional accusations, such as the non-believer/atheist left the faith because they hated god or their feelings were hurt or they are angry at god, etc., etc.

At the close of his post, Logan included a link to a video validating the power of emotion over reason called “Mr. Rogers and and the Power of Persuasion.” Well worth watching.

P.S. If you’re so inclined, I suggest you follow the link in Logan’s post to the actual letter by the ex-minister — and then read Logan’s comments at the end of the letter. He shares a personal story that happens all too frequently behind closed Christian doors.

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