Sometimes I start to reply to posts and by the time I get my point made I have written too much. I reread it and sometimes I scrap it. I have amended my viewpoint or thought of another angle. However I am happy with that because someone has said something to make me think.
That gave me an idea. Maybe rather that debating theists (I am always doing it) I will ask them to reply in writing to my points. After all they are always giving me crap to read.

So I did an interesting experiment today with some “doubters” before I tackled the deluded ones. I have been debating with them for a few weeks now. So rather than listen to more “But what if there really is a god?” or “How can you be so sure?” I suggested that they spend 15 minutes writing down what their beliefs actual were and WHY they believed them.

This compelled them into thinking about what they were writing. They had to “listen” to their own arguments. They were not just blindly repeating some mantra type answers.

They all found it more difficult to do than they had expected. I could see a lot of lines getting crossed out. However the surprise came when I asked each one in turn to read aloud what they had written. It sounded so immature. When one said “I believe in everlasting life after death”, he started laughing.

One could nearly hear them thinking “Is this what I actually believe?” I got more doubt sown today without saying a word. It would be interesting to see if these results could be replicated. Maybe I have been spending too much time perfecting arguments and rebuttals. Ok – they are needed but I will try this with the Witnesses next weekend.

The point is that because they were asked to write down what they believed they were forced to analyze it and confront themselves, rather than confront me and argue against me. If you analyze yourself you must use Reason, not Faith and the seed of Doubt is firmly planted – which is my only objective.

PS - Put up my “Science Dog” icon just in case anyone thought I was ugly :)

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This is a great idea! I am constantly arguing with people on Facebook and the like (whenever i put up a quote from a famous person defending or supporting atheism or religious ambiguity) I constantly find myself going on diatribes proving to them the innacuracies of their own faith. Maybe if I utilize your process I will not only save myself from early onset carpal-tunnel syndrome, but it might force them to analyze what exactly they are fighting for and against a little more closely, rather than just regurgitating the common themes of Christian dogma.
Yes I think that because they are made to use their reasoning skills in a subtle way - rather that me trying to force them to - they have no choice but to analyze every point rather than taking it for granted because they have always thought so.

Many people say they believe (in) something but in reality it is not belief. It is only that they have accepted a concept as true for so long and without question that they label it belief. So if they can be "kick started" into using reason and logic the doubt will grow. Hopefully then they will have no choice but to arrive at a point where Atheism is the only choice left. Occam's Razor in action without me mentioning it to them. I think the same - writing it down -could be done for all supernatural beliefs.
Excellent points.

However, I prefer to challenge theists with a gauntlet to the face, and the question, "Swords or pistols?"

I kid.
I know what you mean. Sometimes when I have made a “winning” point in an argument with a Theist I realise it is worthless because they have not grasped the meaning of it. I may have just debunked their argument that goat herders 3000 years ago did not know the world was round - whatever the Hebrew word for a sphere was or was not.
Then - and I know its coming - they give me that smug “holier than thou” you poor atheist look. I can see no thinking process in their eyes. I want to shake the fool by the neck (breath in – breath out). I mean I want him to write it down on paper and read it out loud to me :) The pen may be mightier than the sword or pistol :) ha !

I will definitely try this out next chance I get, and let you know how it goes.

"I realise it is worthless because they have not grasped the meaning of it."

Exactly!  I absolutely adore your idea, because it might give us a chance of actually reaching them.  If there is one thing I have learned, it's that nothing I say will change their minds.  They have to do it themselves.

That is, in fact, the only way I was able to deconvert.  In retrospect, the few atheists I had ever met made some outstanding points, but because it was face to face, not a single word reached me.  It was as if they were speaking another language.

Yes, it is proving to be a good system for me. A person can only de-convert themselves. I just want to create enough doubt to start the process - enough to get rid of the fear of having doubt. I will update once I have tangible evidence and fine tune it.

very good way to make people think.

I definitely think it is worth trying out. Just to sow some doubt can be enough.

The only people who DOUBT the existence of Santa Claus are children who have started to think for themselves - started using logic. Other people either believe (younger children) or disbelieve (adults i.e. mature children).

I can't ever recall believing in Sanity Clause. I always knew that the gifts were from my parents, probably because they didn't seem to make any effort to pretend otherwise.
Your mom is Santa??!!

I never had that though, I had my belief that was backed up by a ton of good hard evidence truly shattered suddenly by my parents choosing to tell me Santa wasn't real the summer I was 8 years old. My mom did too good of a job of hiding the presents - and using different wrapping paper for Santa's presents, and different handwriting for the ones from Santa, and Santa gave special non-brandname candy and the charade was just SO well orchestrated. My parents told me while on the beach, and also told me I had to continue to pretend he was real for my little brother though, and that was sort of comforting, because I could sort of be in denial for 2 more Christmases if I felt like it, and pretend Santa still existed. But when they told me, I faked a smile and ran back to the ocean and started crying. I do think Santa can be fun... but I feel uncomfortable with the idea of lying to my kids, when they ask genuine questions and expect truthful answers and in any other context I'd tell the truth. I feel uncomfortable setting them up to be heartbroken later, even if only for a short amount of time and the happy memories would outweigh it.

The “heart break later on” won’t last too long and what they learn from it about the nature of belief will help them to think critically about other “beliefs”. It is strange how theists don’t believe in Santa but do in a god and have no comprehension of the paradox. Santa is a harmless belief. Let them enjoy it. Never met an Atheist who does not enjoy watching kids unwrapping presents on Christmas morning.


It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.
Frederick Douglass


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