Belief in a "higher power"

How do you convince someone who believes in "something greater"

Atheism, secularism & freethought etc.

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Belief in a "higher power"

#1  Postby vega » Aug 01, 2016 8:50 pm

How would you convince someone who believes there is "something greater" than us, some sort of "energy". This person does not believe in any particular religion nor does he believe in any Gods from religious text. He has his own version of God. He does have a penchant for conspiracy theories and "things that happen for a reason". When you explain physics, he is not convince. He "feels" there is something greater.

What's the best way, in your view, do approach this type of person?
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Re: Belief in a "higher power"

#2  Postby scott1328 » Aug 02, 2016 12:44 am

What is the point in "convincing" this person?
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Re: Belief in a "higher power"

#3  Postby Griz_ » Aug 02, 2016 12:57 am

I went through a rather long period where I rejected religious dogma but clung to a belief in some nebulous "higher power". It's a natural progression and he or she is on the right track. Give your friend a copy of "The Demon Haunted Word" by Carl Sagan. It's what won me over.
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Re: Belief in a "higher power"

#4  Postby vega » Aug 02, 2016 2:44 pm

Griz_ wrote:I went through a rather long period where I rejected religious dogma but clung to a belief in some nebulous "higher power". It's a natural progression and he or she is on the right track. Give your friend a copy of "The Demon Haunted Word" by Carl Sagan. It's what won me over.


That's a great idea. Thanks!
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Re: Belief in a "higher power"

#5  Postby vega » Aug 02, 2016 2:50 pm

scott1328 wrote:What is the point in "convincing" this person?


I care about this person, he is a family member. I think he would be better off being more critical about his beliefs. Lack of evidence and contradictions have convinced him to give up his former religion, but he still clings to this idea that there must be "something greater", "some coincidences are not coincidences", and things of the sort.
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Re: Belief in a "higher power"

#6  Postby laklak » Aug 02, 2016 3:08 pm

Unless it's actively detrimental, like anti-vaxing or the like, I'd just leave him alone. Nobody want to be proselytized, no matter from which end of the spectrum.
A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way. - Mark Twain
The sky is falling! The sky is falling! - Chicken Little
I never go without my dinner. No one ever does, except vegetarians and people like that - Oscar Wilde
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Re: Belief in a "higher power"

#7  Postby scott1328 » Aug 02, 2016 3:49 pm

vega wrote:
scott1328 wrote:What is the point in "convincing" this person?


I care about this person, he is a family member. I think he would be better off being more critical about his beliefs. Lack of evidence and contradictions have convinced him to give up his former religion, but he still clings to this idea that there must be "something greater", "some coincidences are not coincidences", and things of the sort.

Remember, it is very difficult to reason someone out of a position that they didn't come to by reason.

It sounds like emotional arguments conviced your family member. An approach might be to focus on the emotions behind his position.
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Re: Belief in a "higher power"

#8  Postby NamelessFaceless » Aug 02, 2016 5:01 pm

Griz_ wrote:I went through a rather long period where I rejected religious dogma but clung to a belief in some nebulous "higher power". It's a natural progression and he or she is on the right track. Give your friend a copy of "The Demon Haunted Word" by Carl Sagan. It's what won me over.


Yes, I went through that phase too.
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Re: Belief in a "higher power"

#9  Postby Griz_ » Aug 02, 2016 5:12 pm

NamelessFaceless wrote:
Griz_ wrote:I went through a rather long period where I rejected religious dogma but clung to a belief in some nebulous "higher power". It's a natural progression and he or she is on the right track. Give your friend a copy of "The Demon Haunted Word" by Carl Sagan. It's what won me over.


Yes, I went through that phase too.


This is why I recommended the book because this person sounds like they may be just where I was when I read it. It really just convinced me about things I was already thinking. Reading vega's posts, it sounds to me like this person might be in just the right frame of mind for it. He may be ripe for the very persuasive argument which Sagan makes. It wouldn't convince a person steeped in religion but for a person who has rejected religious dogma already and is searching for answers it may be just the thing to convince him/her to reject superstition and accept reality.

I wasn't able to say I was an atheist until I read it. Before that I called myself an agnostic, or spiritual or other such nonsense.
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Re: Belief in a "higher power"

#10  Postby NamelessFaceless » Aug 02, 2016 9:10 pm

I never read the book but it sounds interesting.

In my case, I got to the point where I just tried not to think about it. It was when Mr. Faceless said he wanted us to start going to church that I finally had to confront my beliefs. I finally just had to admit to myself that I don't really believe and I hadn't for a long time. I swear, it literally felt like I had just thrown off some heavy chains. I finally felt free.

But while I was still in my phase of believing in a higher power, I vaguely recall wanting to believe, or more accurately just thinking that I should believe. Probably more accurately I was scared not to. If I had someone I cared about explaining to me why they didn't believe it probably would have worked just as well. I recall asking my BF at the time if he believed and he said he did. I didn't have anyone around me who didn't believe.

I didn't have time to read back then, so I don't know if someone could have recommended a book to me or not. If the person described in the OP wants to read it, that's probably good. Otherwise, my advice to the OP would be to just let it happen naturally.
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Re: Belief in a "higher power"

#11  Postby vega » Aug 02, 2016 9:50 pm

Thanks for the tips. About the concerns of proselytizing and the suggestions of just letting it happen naturally, I understand where you are coming from. No one wants a view imposed on them. But this is not the case. He constantly brings it up, he loves to debate everything. He also left the Mormon church maybe 20 years ago, so he made a big leap then, but still clings to this. It seems he needs to hear the right arguments. He is also very curious, but his sources for knowledge are terrible.

I'll try the Sagan book and give him some thinking tools, hopefully he'll realize the way the world is does not depend on feelings.
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Re: Belief in a "higher power"

#12  Postby Griz_ » Aug 02, 2016 11:02 pm

Don't give him any Hitchens, he's not ready for that. But it's very good later on after you realize the con and are going through the anger stage. ;)

It sounds like you two are good friends, have him read The Demon Haunted World and let that form the basis for discussion.

Good luck
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Re: Belief in a "higher power"

#13  Postby surreptitious57 » Aug 03, 2016 1:48 am

I have a rule that I do not try to convince anyone of anything. I can tell them why I think something is true or false
but it is for them and only them to decide what to do with that information. I am not in favour of browbeating any
one to think like me. I much prefer them to think for themselves. But if they do end up thinking like me they do so
because they want to not because I want them to. For my goal in life is to acquire knowledge from others not force
my own knowledge onto others. I have no interest in that whatsoever
A MIND IS LIKE A PARACHUTE : IT DOES NOT WORK UNLESS IT IS OPEN
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Re: Belief in a "higher power"

#14  Postby Alan B » Aug 03, 2016 9:02 am

He seems to be at the 'half-way' stage. Sagan's book sounds interesting - that might just tip him over.

I sort of went through this stage once where I had decided that a mystical magical being did not exist, so I invented the idea that this 'God' was really part of the Human conciousness and was distributed across the planet in each Human Being, rather like the seeds on a strawberry. I discussed this with the local vicar - he looked at me like I was Satan incarnate. :lol:

(At the time I was going through confirmation lessons at the insistence of my then wife. I was the only one that chose not to be confirmed).
I have NO BELIEF in the existence of a God or gods. I do not have to offer evidence nor do I have to determine absence of evidence because I do not ASSERT that a God does or does not or gods do or do not exist.
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Re: Belief in a "higher power"

#15  Postby Fallible » Aug 03, 2016 2:24 pm

Confirmed. That always makes me laugh. 'Yes, I can confirm this is definitely a person'.
She battled through in every kind of tribulation,
She revelled in adventure and imagination.
She never listened to no hater, liar,
Breaking boundaries and chasing fire.
Oh, my my! Oh my, she flies!
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Re: Belief in a "higher power"

#16  Postby Evolving » Aug 03, 2016 2:32 pm

Laugh? It was an experience of deep mystical significance to have an elderly gentleman smear grease on to my forehead.
How extremely stupid not to have thought of that - T.H. Huxley
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Re: Belief in a "higher power"

#17  Postby Thommo » Aug 03, 2016 2:39 pm

I believe in a higher power. She's called Chloe, she's small, but very feisty. She controls every aspect of my life from when I go to the supermarket, to when I am permitted to get up in the morning and go to bed at night.
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Re: Belief in a "higher power"

#18  Postby Fallible » Aug 03, 2016 6:54 pm

It's cats again, isn't it.
She battled through in every kind of tribulation,
She revelled in adventure and imagination.
She never listened to no hater, liar,
Breaking boundaries and chasing fire.
Oh, my my! Oh my, she flies!
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Re: Belief in a "higher power"

#19  Postby Thommo » Aug 03, 2016 7:06 pm

Maybe. :shifty:
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Re: Belief in a "higher power"

#20  Postby Fallible » Aug 03, 2016 7:11 pm

Maybe like a fox!





















:ask:
She battled through in every kind of tribulation,
She revelled in adventure and imagination.
She never listened to no hater, liar,
Breaking boundaries and chasing fire.
Oh, my my! Oh my, she flies!
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