I'm reading things on here and trying to learn as much as I can from everyone. I am not a confrontational person at ALL, and so when someone argues (and I mean argue. I can have calm, friendly discussions just fine), my mind goes blank and basically says, "Sh*t! Someone's arguing with you! Quick, throw emotions at them! That'll confuse 'em!"
I don't like that that's what happens. I'm wondering if anyone else was once in the same position, and what you did to get away from it.
I put this in "Theist Arguments & You" because I'm mostly concerned about my lack of ability to defend myself against a theist at this point. I'm slowly making it known that I am an atheist, and sooner or later I'm going to be confronted about it.
The best way to learn a new trade - is to submerse yourself in it.
Go to you tube and start watching debates by Hitchens, Dawkins and Harris. Take notes on anything you don't understand - And research them.
You could also just start looking up 'logical fallacies' in wikipedia , etc.
If you can't seem to remember your points of argument when debating - There may not be hope for you :P
Maybe I just need more time for everything to sink in. I actually spend a lot of time reading/watching debates, and just reading in general.
There might not me hope for me, but keep in mind: I've never really had the chance to debate anyone. The closest I've gotten to a debate are arguments with my boyfriend where his stance is, "I'm right, you're wrong. End of story." Not exactly conducive to getting better at it... :/
Otherwise atheist/theist topics just don't come up around me. Thanks for the tips though. I haven't actually utilized wikipedia much. Or taken notes. I'll try that and see if anything sticks better.
Debating is just a skill, like wresting, or playing chess. It is verbal Jujitsu. If it is something you want to learn how to do well, you can. Personally, I think it is important, like self defense training. But just like martial arts, it needs to be used with great discretion. It is not something you practice on your little sister, or any other loved ones.
But when we find our freedom under attack, like we are now by the Tea Party Movement, we need every thinking person to contribute, each in there own ways. One example is writing editorials for your local paper. Some people are great at that, even though they may never do face-to-face debating with anyone. Others love the "in your face" confrontation.
Right now, we have a bunch of loonies on the right stating "I'm right and you are wrong". Their debating style is based on fear, intimidation and threat of violence. The weakest debaters among us can help by simply staying "no, that is not true". We don't have to worry about supporting evidence, because they are the ones making all the assertions. They need to provide evidence, which has not been forthcoming. You don't need any fancy arguments to fight ignorant assertions. "That sound's silly to me" is good enough!
You have to kind of make it your hobby for awhile, then you'll get better at it. Really learn to understand the opposition's key points and theories and become fully aware of how they think.
The difference between me and someone close to me is that I understand their spirituality because I've been where they are. They claim they understand my atheism but continuously show that they do not, because they have never been where I am.
Our best experience comes from the fact that we've walked on both sides of the fence (most of us), but they have only walked on one side. You can fully understand them, but they can never truly understand you without becoming an atheist themselves.
(I believe that to understand atheism inevitably means becoming an atheist. But that is just my opinion.)
Start with the things that made you question religious dogma in the first place, and build from there. For me, the questions never stop forming in my head no matter how much I learn.