Dear atheists or the world,
I joined this website several months ago, after realizing my lack of faith in any sort or deity. However I lack the information to have a argument with any sort of religious person. So,I am asking my fellow atheists to share some tid-bits,books and/or facts that i can research and memorize for further use. Please keep in mind im only 15.Also, my parents don't know of my lack of belief, so books have to have a discrete title.
sorry everyone i dident check my spelling
a) Richard Dawkins- The God Delusion
b) Christopher Hitchens- God is Not Great
c) Sam Harris- The End of Faith (and/or Letters to a Christian Nation)
Am I telling you not to read them? I am not. In fact, read them. Just don't walk away from them thinking that they're anything even approaching a case for atheism
I don't know, I think Dawkins made a great case for atheism in the God Delusion. Perhaps it does not catch the essence of and refute the shit out of every single theistic argument, but to say it doesn't even approach a case for atheism is something I would disagree with strenuously. That book was the catalyst for the recognition of my atheism, my rediscovery of science, and the introduction to Skepticism that I had been practicing unwittingly on a rudimentary level. Granted, I was primed for the message, but those in the clutches of religious fervor will not be persuaded by any argument or rebuttal.
Maybe I was tickling your low hanging fruit for a response?
Okay, I was and I wasn't. You may very well be right. I say that because I can't read the book again tonight and provide a renewed analysis (it has been awhile since I have read it and I don't doubt that I'd find the arguments less profound or sophisticated now). But, to the more general point is that to say it doesn't make a case for atheism. I provisionally disagree. I think it makes a great case. Perhaps it doesn't make great argument fodder when up against theists schooled in mental gymnastics and rhetorical tricks to win arguments and reassure their own faith, but that doesn't mean that the book doesn't make a case for atheism.
Obviously, the OP was looking for debate help, so I'd say you are spot on. Perhaps I an picking nits or perhaps you are overestimating his debate opponents. But, I think Dawkins does make a good case for atheism in the God Delusion. But I'd agree that it shouldn't be any atheists Bible.
How's that? If you don't agree with me here, then we will have to leg wrestle this out. And, I should remind you, that it is your turn to buy the plane ticket.
first of all, as nelson said, you have to read a lot; but you mustn't stop to dawkins & co. books, even though they are very interesting and complete: you absolutely must read whatever is good to get knowledges (history, science, literature, art, music and so on)... the more you know, the more they can't rip you off.
but the most important thing to remember during this kind of arguments is to avoid bumptious or aggressive attitudes: leave them to believers. you are going to discuss about your ideas and to get informations about what they think (and know) about religion.
good luck :)
Why do you need to argue?
Granted, being able to justify your beliefs (or non-beliefs) to a hostile audience is a good quality, there is likely no immediate need for it, is there?
Well, if so, you'd do well to follow Nelson's advice. The critical thinking part is really the key. And remember that no matter how aligned you are with the facts, you can still lose an argument with someone with better rhetorical skills. Winning arguments should not be your goal; educating yourself and becoming a critical thinker should. Debate helps with that, but it is a two edged sword.
The Internet is one of your best resources there are tons of great sites like this one some are blogs others are news sites what ever you are looking for its out there. Looks like Nelson gave you a good reading list and some sage advice. If you really want to be able to talk/argue about Atheism you need to define for your self why you are an Atheist what caused you to lose your belief when you have thought about these questions and can answer them you will have a solid foundation. You are also going to want to get familiar with religion's read the different holy books a good understanding of what religious people believe and why goes along way to understanding them and knowledge is power. Last thing I would advise is look for a local Atheist group and go to a meeting if possible. Good luck and keep asking questions and never be afraid to ask for help or admit you don't know something.
...never be afraid to ask for help or admit you don't know something.
Well said, Bill!
That's a key difference between theists and atheists -- we don't claim to know everything. We simply apply logic to reasonable evidence. No faith necessary. ;)
I'd recommend focusing on critical thinking rather than anti-religious readings, especially if you're not looking to draw attention to your new epiphany. As Nelson says, learning about philosophy and logic will be invaluable -- not only in discussions, but also in helping understand and critique further reading.
Unfortunately, I don't have any recommendations off the top of my head for introductions to critical thinking, but you can probably find some good basics on the web, possibly even wikis. You can probably pick up some interesting philosophy books that are pretty innocuous sounding...
If you're being challenged by theistic friends or relatives, there are a few quick concepts that can come in handy:
1. Religion often relies on itself to establish its own veracity (circular reasoning). For example, people often claim to know that God exists because of the Bible, which they believe because God wrote it. Theists have trouble explaining why their version of God is better than all others for that very reason -- they'll usually reference their own religious texts to explain why their view is the right one. Remember that atheism is not a religion or a belief. As many stalwart atheists have said, we simply believe in one less God than they do.
2. Most religions establish logical inconsistencies or contain contradictory concepts. For instance, Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) essentially argue that God is all-knowing, all-powerful and all loving. This creates one of the biggest dilemmas with religion: how does evil exist? Why would God create evil or allow it to exist? There are all sorts of examples of inconsistencies with the text itself, but even taking high-level broad characteristics presents serious problems for religion.
3. Religion tends to view the universe the opposite way that science does: it answers questions before looking at data, rather than using data to come up with informed theories. This leads to a common question that theists like to ask -- "how can you explain all the beauty (and design) in the world, if there's no God?" Also, it leads strong theists to be a bit dismissive of science. There are associated points you can make to anyone who brings up "beauty" as a premise for God's existence:
4. Morality is tough to define, and it confounds the religious and non-religious alike. In religious discussions, it's often interesting to ask about what makes morality. Do theists believe that morality is a priori (regardless of God), or does good comes from God's commands? Either way, there are problems for theists. If morality exists without God, then we can obviously be moral without reading the Bible or the Quran. If morality is simply a result of God's command, then it has no inherent meaning and is essentially a dictator's tool of oppression. In the end, theists lose claim to moral high ground because they're following certain perceived rules in an attempt to gain favor with God.
Also try to remember that most people belong to a religion because of where they live, rather than a result of extensive critical thinking, so keep thinking!
Anyway, welcome to the forums, Tyler!
Use the internet, take notes, and have of follow up discussions.
It's OK to not know all the answers. If someone brings up a point you don't know the answer to then just ask to put the conversation on hold until you get a chance to find out more about it. It'll show that you are not in a pissing match and actually do care about finding out the truth instead of just winning an argument.
Post up here but make sure you have made a reasonable attempt to learn some on your own first. Lots of people want to help but very few want to spoon feed anyone. I can't imagine anything that hasn't been brought up before. Religion produces so little new information that you can count on the topic having already been discussed at length.
Learn about science! Want to blow your mind away at things that are amazing. Take some time and learn about how stuff actually works. It's way more amazing than the stories the men that wrote the bible could ever come up with. Radiometric dating (carbon dating is a form of it) is kinda boring and techy but if someone can prove that radiometric dating is bogus then they are really one to something.
Learn what the scientific method is. The method is basically a way to reality check yourself and it works on everything. Good scientists spend an enormous amount of energy into the scientific method. It helps make sure things are right and takes the blind faith out of things.
The bible is ridiculously weak in this regard. It's full of things that can't be verified or repeated.
Oh don't waste your time trying to prove that God does not exist. Focus on things that are reality based. You wouldn't waste your time trying to prove that the Santa isn't real. It's the same for God. The only difference is that some people still believe in God and probably in Santa too :)
you must be very proud of the fact you persuaded your older brother with such a clever argument. you have my absolute respect ;)
I find that the more I have learned about science, not necessarily in the context of disputing theists' claims, the more amazed I am that anybody can believe religious drivel. I got to a point a few years ago where I stopped needing to defend my atheism, and I've stopped feeling as if I need to apologize to anybody for it.
I will talk to people about how I feel, but I tend to stay out of the typical debates. My goal isn't to convince them I am right - that would be an exercise in futility in most cases. If they ask, I will tell them what they want to know, but most of the time they don't really want to know. They want to convert me. Make no mistake about this.
There should be some science classes you can take in school that will enable you to openly learn about how the cosmos really works. I hope so anyway. (I recently met someone from Nebraska who was not taught evolution in school.) If your school doesn't teach it, seek it out. Education and support are the keys to be comfortable in your atheism, IMHO.
Good luck to you!